Aranka Matolcsy is self-isolating in West Paris with her son, Colby, 8. They are seen through the sliding glass door at their house. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

WEST PARIS — Going into self-isolation with her son with Down syndrome has understandably been a challenge for Aranka Matolcsy.

But it is a challenge for which Matolcsy has been preparing for most of her life.

“As my therapist reminded me,” Matolcsy said, “I’ve spent my life coping with tremendous stress, and I’m built for this.”
Matolcsy’s son, Colby Martel, 8, has a cardiac defect and an abnormal heart valve. And a diagnosis of Down syndrome comes with repressed immunity and lung problems.
Two weeks ago, after speaking to her son’s cardiologist and pediatrician, Matolcsy decided to take her son out of school and self-isolate with him in her West Paris home.
“I’m going to be completely honest and say that I’m scared,” Matolcsy said. “My son is high risk.”
Matolcsy has health concerns of her own. She has asthma and has battled pneumonia.
As a result, she is vigilant in her concern about germs in her and Colby’s space.
For years, Matolcsy has maintained a protocol of decontaminating her car whenever she prepares to drive somewhere.
“I do my keys, my wallet, my steering wheel, the door handles and my phone. Every single time,” she said. That’s not new.”
A close follower of world events, Matolcsy said she feels this type of global emergency was inevitable.
“There’s so many different scenarios that can unfold that can create a societal and economic crisis,” she said.
Matolscy said she keeps a three-month supply of canned foods and dry goods on hand at all times. When she bought a .22-caliber rifle several years ago, she thought it might be useful for dispatching troublesome squirrels.
“It could potentially feed us now,” she said.
Matolcsy’s preparedness has not stopped at holing up during the coronavirus pandemic.
“I have a ‘go box’ with fire-starting material, a compass, some cash, a first aid book,” she said.
Matolcsy said she also keeps hydrogen peroxide, alcohol and vacuum-packed medications on hand.
She said she wishes she had more bandages and a new scalpel included in her provisions. She used her scalpel to perform minor surgery on one of her chickens’ feet, but would like a new one, she said, just in case.
In planning for what could be lengthy self-isolation, she has reconsidered her summer garden.
Bypassing experiments with unusual crops, this year, Matolcsy said: “I’m going to keep it to tomatoes, beans, carrots. I can preserve beans. Carrots last a long time. And I make a lot of marinara and chili.”
Having a child with special needs, Matolcsy said she is accustomed to a certain amount of “alone time.” And while Colby’s behavior has improved as he has gotten older, Matolcsy has not always felt she can spend time with him in public.
”I’m used to being isolated with him, so that’s not new,” she said.
She said she is surprised she now feels less stress in her life than before the pandemic.
“Something has radically shifted,” she said. “There’s nothing else more important for me to do than to protect my child. And that means staying home alone with him. I have no problem doing what’s best for him.”

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