Latitude

Olena's Journal: July 25

Everybody’s sick except me.

Great-Aunt Olena (yes, I’m named for her) stopped answering her phone yesterday. That was the day Mom and Dad both came down with whatever-this-is, so nobody’s gone to check on her yet. We’re getting no outside news at all. The internet is down, long-distance calls get busy signals or, “We’re sorry, the number you are trying to reach is not in service” messages – even if the number was in service until the day before yesterday, even the number for the local MP a few townships away. The army guys at the roadsides tell people to go home, and avoid answering questions about food or water. The local phone lines still work, so we can call anyone we know here to find out how they’re doing. Answer: everyone’s sick except me.

The pharmacy was broken into last night. The vandals appear to have stolen some pain meds and anti-convulsants, and the diabetic supplies – at least some of them. It looks like the Home Hardware has been broken into, as well. Nothing is open. Even the reporter guy has stopped posting his updates in the window of the newspaper office.

When people have been calling here, I’ve been giving them the recipe for homemade electrolyte solution. Thank God I printed that for the kitchen before the internet went down! I’ve been telling them to boil water, too. I don’t know if there’s anyone at the water treatment facility, but I suspect there’s not, so if we’re not on a boil-water advisory, we need to be.

I got out Grandma’s canner and one-litre spaghetti jars, and sterilized everything as best I could in a hot-water bath, like I used to do when I helped her turn her tomato patch into sauce every August. Then I started making batches of electrolyte solution. If I’m the only healthy person around, and the only one with medical knowledge who’s not running themselves to exhaustion at the hospital, then I might as well do what I can to help. Once Katie and Mom and Dad got over their latest bout of puking up their toenails, I took the car and went on a little mission of mercy to drop off a one-litre jar at the homes of friends and neighbours who I knew really needed it. I told them to leave the jars on the porch and I’d collect them and make more. But if I couldn’t get a hold of them on the phone and they didn’t answer the door, I didn’t leave one for them. I suspect they’re not going to get much use out of it anymore.

Katie’s badly dehydrated, in spite of all the gatorade and electrolytes I’ve been trying to get into her. She’s raving, she’s occasionally convulsing, and she’s lost more weight than she could afford to lose. Her eyes look so big in her face now, but sunken, and I don’t think she’s seeing me when she looks at me. She’s got an icon the priest gave her a while ago, and she hasn’t let go of it for three days. I’m so scared for her. Nothing’s working. Why won’t she get better?

And why am I the only one who isn’t getting sick?

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