Women's International Network

Donna Denise Scharnagl – Newsletter

It was easy in the beginning to be dubious of it all. I mean we simply weren't getting a constant stream of credible information. And then, wow! We were getting way too much information.

My Experience:

I still remember the bits and pieces of February, especially because one of my colleagues had just come home for the winter holidays  (January) from a Masters course she was following in China and we were teasing her about sanitizing everything she touched … looking back, … it doesn’t seem so funny now.  I remember my small little town held a community dinner, late February — over 150 persons crammed into a small room. The next day word circulated that someone in the neighboring town had “it” – the coronavirus.  I distinctly remember doing a mental checklist:  was anyone at the dinner from that small town?

Another one of those “moments” that sticks in my memory is the discussion at work with my colleagues on Friday the 6th of March – ‘who would be in the office on Monday the 9th  and who wouldn’t’ … in the end, no one was.  Two of my colleagues went in till Wednesday the 11th but only to transfer as much info to servers as possible so that everyone could easily work from home. 

It was very easy during that first weekend pre-decreto. We were a bit surprised at the draft that was circulating of the decreto – but, I don’t really remember any “rebellions” going on. In fact, it seemed like life as normal (where I lived, which is decidedly more countryside than city). The only thing that had really changed was the news, which always started with the words CORONAVIRUS EMERGENZA.

In this day and age, news travels fast – however, it seemed as my family in the States was oblivious to what was going on.  I was totally surprised that I didn’t receive any messages like “How are you?” – “you OK?”   

Looking back, this was my first clue that they had no idea what was happening abroad. 

Monday, the 9th – I figured, just to be prepared – before it all became official on the 11th,  I would settle up some accounts and stock the larder.   I went down into town to fill my car with gas and request my asthma prescription from the doctor.  This was at 9am. 

As I drove by the supermarket, I noticed the line of eager shoppers  (so, all that stuff I was seeing on the news about waiting to get into the supermarket was real!?!?) Well, it suddenly hit home.  I revised my morning immediately – called my daughters-in-law and a 75-year-old Aunt… “I am in line, tell me what you need …”

And so it began.

I spent the first week sanitizing the house (Lisiano, my partner, was still working outside of the house and he traveled a lot for work), stocking up the pantry & my meds, and working – I thankfully still had some work coming in and I let it occupy as much of my time as possible …

The second week wasn’t much different from the first. Between me and my Italian family – whoever got to the supermarket first would make the rounds for everyone:  fresh bread, pampers, Tommi’s favorite merenda, cat food, — any hand sanitizer? … dream on…  (now we find it everywhere we go – the entrance to the supermarket, drug store, newspaper stand – even the food trucks have at the beginning of there orderly lines (don’t know what is more surprising:  orderly lines at the food truck or finding hand sanitizer….)

I really didn’t have a good reason after the second week to leave the house, now, it all seemed like ages ago… 

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Donna Scharnagl Coronavirus journal :: Women's International
Donna Scharnagl Coronavirus journal :: Women's International
Donna Scharnagl Coronavirus journal :: Women's International
Donna Scharnagl Coronavirus journal :: Women's International

I kept to a schedule. 

I got up in the morning at 7-7,30, got dressed,  breakfast, checked the animals, cleaned the house, sanitized (OK, I might NOT have been doing that before 😂 ) and settled in front of the computer at 9,30 for work. 

I need a schedule, I know how easy it ia for me to slip into a downward spiral.  I saw it happen during 9/11.

To be honest, I was still on the fence about just how serious this could all be all the way up to 18th of March when I canceled the Business Lunch meeting …

It was really only after a phone call with Dave Evertsen, Heather’s husband, that somethings began to take on a new light.  I started looking for credible news sources online in English – and still, the only thing I saw was the States wasn’t really dealing with it as a nation.

And then it really started to sink in. Clients began to cancel their contracts, and then when Lisiano was sent home for lack of work….

Not only was he sent home – but we had three or four days when he had to stay inside.  He tried to enjoy the late mornings in bed watching TV – even though I knew he was thinking of the mortgage payment – his kids and their mortgage payments.  But I knew, I couldn’t succumb to the temptation of lazing in bed.

Towards the end of March, I actually got a few messages from my family … but I could tell they were light years behind us on the information … We were watching military trucks take coffins out of the city in Bergamo and they were still looking for toilet paper…

Lisiano & I have curtailed our TV time, we spend as much time outside as possible and we do have a good reason to be outside: 12 dogs, 4 cats (plus newborn kittens), chickens, rabbits & ducks.  They need us to be alert and active every single day. And they are one of the best stress-relaxing features I have.

It really wasn’t till our ZOOM board meeting (April 4th), when I came into contact with others, that I saw just how many different ways there were of living the pandemic.

Of course, I won’t say things don’t go without a few worries.  I have had ongoing bronchitis since before Christmas – so every cough had me doubting my health.  I have asthma, so I also knew I was at high risk if I were to be exposed. At Christmas, I broke a tooth, and my dentist and I were in the middle of getting a permanent crown … thank goodness, the temporary was in place before they had to shut their doors (especially since she is in Florence & I am in Arezzo).

My Mom was supposed to cruise over and visit with me at the beginning of May – obviously, that ain’t happening.

My last niece in the States was looking forward to her graduation – everything grad-night, prom, the ceremony… obviously that ain’t happening.

We are waiting for the birth of Lisiano’s 4th grandchild – Rachel…. mid-May – this (thankfully) happened without any problems.

Life goes on …

Silver Lining

I wonder if the real silver linings will be things we will see in hindsight. At the moment, things I see that hold so much promise:

People being pushed into the tech.  I know we may feel like it is too much tech – but this may be the incentive to initiate so many things that really do need to be updated – especially SMART WORKING and learning opportunities.

I love the way Italy seems to be taking it all “in stride” especially when you hear stories about people in other countries spitting on others to pass the virus  … or purposely ignoring social distancing mandates

I marvel at the pollution situation, the reverse results really show we CAN do something about it all.

Personally – I would never have thought people helping others as a silver lining – but then again I never doubted that there would be all kinds of people stepping up to the plate to help each other in a time like this … even though I am still perplexed about the toilet paper sell-out (outside of Italy) 

Our newest silver lining

…  came to the family on 28 May at 2.4 kgs and 51 cm …  Rachele Bruni!  The latest grandchild … and of course, I am not biased at all – she truly is the prettiest newborn just south of Florence !