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  • Mary MacCarthy

Iranian immigrant: it's hard to focus, due to Covid-19 crisis back home

Updated: May 7

Ali Mollahosseini is a software engineer quarantining in Colorado, but his mind is constantly on his family back in Iran - the first country outside China that was hit hard by COVID-19.


Sadly, two individuals in Ali's immediate circle of friends have already died of the virus, and others have been infected.


I find his story difficult to read. He's already been through the suffering that many Americans will have to face in coming months. Suffering we're already seeing in New York and Washington state.


But Ali offers wise advice on how to cope with sadness and stress, and how to simply get through each day.


HOW AM I GETTING BY? It’s difficult to even think about how I am getting by. My family is back home, in Iran - which is one of the countries that was first hit badly with coronavirus. At first, the government denied the crisis. But eventually, the virus spread all over the country with a huge number of fatalities. The actual numbers of cases and deaths are for sure a lot higher than official reports. Unfortunately, because of U.S. sanctions - especially after Trump broke the Iran deal - importing medical equipment and medicine is nearly impossible. That makes the crisis so much worse. Hospitals are overwhelmed, medical staff do not have the required equipment, and many doctors/nurses are facing difficult choices every day - i.e., who to save today? My mom has a heart problem (she has an artificial valve in her heart and a pacemaker), my dad is 70+, and my sister is eight months pregnant. Every time I receive a call from Iran, I think: “What if it is bad news?!” Two weeks ago, the father of one of my friends died from Covid-19. Her mother also became infected, as well as her brother, and her 8 year-old niece. My friend is an Iranian living in the U.S, and she was not able to go home for this difficult time. And they were not even able to have a funeral for her father.

Another friend lost his 30 year-old cousin this week. Even thinking of going through this hardship while being miles away from family is devastating and heartbreaking. I really wish I never had to see another person going through this. And just thinking that it can happen to me is a nightmare.


Personally, it is not a very good time for me either. I am doing fine at work. I live in Denver - where I'm a software engineer. My job allows me to work from home. However, it’s hard to concentrate, to focus, and to get things done in these circumstances. I hurt my knee two months ago and tore both my ACL and MCL. I had my knee surgery scheduled last week, but it was canceled due to coronavirus spread. Physiotherapy sessions, which were a big help before, are also cancelled. Since the "stay at home" directives were announced in Colorado, people go for a walk to release their stress and get exercise. That’s not possible for me.

I had a housekeeper, Sussane, who helped me to clean my apartment after my knee injury. I've cancelled her and fully quarantined myself. I continue to pay her, without making her come to clean my apartment, and highly encourage other folks to not cut the wages of these individuals. Many of them are not even qualified for unemployment benefits, etc. At the end of the day, we are all together in this situation. So, how am I getting by? It’s difficult but I’m trying to keep my spirits up. I try to cut down my exposure to news and social media (despite working for a social media company). I meditate and read books. And the thing I found most effective, is: “In this crazy, fluid, and unprecedented time, just have a plan for tomorrow. Don’t think about the future, and live in the moment,” (which, as an engineer, is very uncharacteristic of me LOL).

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