• "Over the last six weeks the thought of me not being here for Sia and not watching her grow up is the thing that has kept me awake at night." (Supplied)Source: Supplied
What’s ironic is that the biggest danger to my heath is my one year-old daughter. She is always smiling at and running up to strangers and offering them high fives.
By
Con Stamocostas

18 May 2020 - 9:59 AM  UPDATED 18 May 2020 - 11:26 AM

“You do not have a greater risk of catching Covid -19,” explained my cardiologist.

“Yes! Yes!”  I yelled with relief in my inside voice and ran around the room pumping my fist like I scored the winner for Australia in the World Cup final. What a relief!

Six years ago, I had a heart attack and had two stents placed in my heart. So, when I read that Coronavirus posed a higher risk for those with heart disease and not just for older Australians I started to panic that this virus was coming for me.

When I heard the words “Do NOT have a greater risk” from my cardiologist I was ecstatic and relived. Unfortunately, the cardiologist kept talking. “However, your heart disease does put you at greater risk of dying from Covid-19 than the average population.”

The fist pumping and jumping suddenly stopped and I froze due to a cold sensation running through my body from head to toe. What I got from this conversation is that doctors don’t do the:  ‘Do you want to hear the good news or the bad news first?’ routine, like they do in the movies and joke books. In real life it’s Doctor Doom.

This information was a massive wake up call for me. Before I found out that I was at a higher risk of complications from Covid-19, I, like much of the population, thought that this virus was only affecting the elderly.

Before I found out that I was at a higher risk of complications from Covid-19, I, like much of the population, thought that this virus was only affecting the elderly.

My apathy to Covid-19 was shattered when I also read that contracting Covid-19 may cause acute myocarditis and acute inflammation of the heart, which causes acute injury to the heart muscle so the heart doesn't function as well. This information made me ponder about the important things in my life.

What about our dream holiday my wife, baby daughter and would take in July to Italy and Greece?  What about shopping? Can I still do that? What about shopping on-line, are packages safe? Will opening this letter kill me? What about drinking this coffee? And what if I washed my hands for 15 seconds instead of 30?

Jokes aside what has affected me the most during this pandemic is my fears for my own health as a parent. Over the last six weeks the thought of me not being here for Sia and not watching her grow up is the thing that has kept me awake at night.

Over the last six weeks the thought of me not being here for Sia and not watching her grow up is the thing that has kept me awake at night.

What’s ironic is that the biggest danger to my heath is not opening packages or buying coffee, it’s actually my one year-old daughter. Sia loves being social. She is always smiling at and running up to strangers and offering them high fives. So, taking her to the local park - something I loved to do before - began to cause me endless grief because her penchant for running up to strangers would put me within the 1.5 meter danger zone.

At first the outside people were very vigilant about social distancing. When I would take Sia out on her zebra scooter around the inner west shops and parks she would ride along with a silly grin, arm raised looking for high fives. Unfortunately for her, Covid-19 had turned everyone into high five deniers. 

Sia

But she was still determined. At the park my heart would skip a beat every time she would run up to little kids, teenagers and adults wearing masks looking for a high five. This is where my Covid-19 chicken game was spawned.  Which parent would yank their kid out of the way first?  Me of course! I always won.  My fears of contracting Covid-19 had me on high alert. Even if there was a minimal risk of contracting it from a two-second interaction there was no way I was going to let Sia put me at risk.

The danger didn’t stop there; my daughter’s obsession with dogs would constantly put me in the Covid-19 danger zone. Sometimes Sia’s cowboy waddle would be too quick for my 43 year-old aging legs and she would already be petting the cute and ugly canines.

When I would yank her away, without fail the chatty dog owners would say, “don’t worry my dog is friendly”. I would reply, “but my daughter is not,” and I would quickly walk away in a panic hoping their Covid-19 droplets didn’t come into contact with me.

Having to suddenly curtail Sia’s social instincts just as she was finding them and tear her away from family, friends and strangers was breaking my heart just as much as my fear of being an absent parent.

Having to suddenly curtail Sia’s social instincts just as she was finding them and tear her away from family, friends and strangers was breaking my heart just as much as my fear of being an absent parent.

After losing my firstborn son in-utero when he was 33 weeks old, Sia has become our miracle rainbow baby. Keeping her away from her grandparents that we have only seen a few times in six weeks while they are wearing masks has also been upsetting.

Hopefully soon she will be able to give hugs to her Yiayia and Pappou and maybe in a few years see her relatives in Greece. But in terms of high fives to strangers, daddy and his newfound germaphobe persona isn’t taking any risks on that one.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits.

Testing for coronavirus is now widely available across Australia. If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. The federal government's coronavirus tracing app COVIDSafe is available for download from your phone's app store.

SBS is committed to informing Australia’s diverse communities about the latest COVID-19 developments. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus

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