Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Enough whining

I really thought about editing my last post. I don't love memorializing moments where I'm pitying myself, or lambasting others who are really doing the best they can. Then I remembered that when the pandemic was announced, one of my goals was to document my experience. So I'm going to leave it. I'm also going to say though, your mental well-being, especially in times of stress, is really impacted by the basics. I haven't been sleeping well and that coupled with the stress of the unknown, frustration with the current governments proclamation that he would "bring it all back up in a week or two," and the pressure I feel to support and energize my staff led to (what I hope) was my tipping point. Yesterday was ROUGH. I woke up at 2:00 to C choking in his sleep. We still don't know why but it gave my stress enough of a boost that I was up for the day and was sitting at my desk by 5:30. I legit questioned my lifelong rule of not crying in prison. I couldn't tell if I was short of breath or having a panic attack. It all felt like too much but there was no way to take a break.

BUT, it worked out fine. I signed up for Headspace (PSA: currently they're offering free access to healthcare providers in public service with a last name and NPI number) and did a quick meditation at my desk. When I opened my eyes, the rain was dripping off my open windows in the most lovely, peaceful way. It felt like just the reset that I needed. After work I came home to two girls who had been absently promised a spa night. So we bleached and dyed their hair (no school for the foreseeable future so it's a self-expression free-for-all) and painted our nails sparkly green. I got a solid 7 hours of sleep, kicked ass at work today, and when I came home C made dinner while I ordered games from a local shop that's offering curbside pick-up, personalized recommendations, and near daily admonitions to avoid crowds and abide by social distancing guidelines. He legit gave C the games on a pole and smelling strongly of disinfectant.

I am LOVING the innovation and acts of kindness that people are coming up with. The game shop that's trying to stay open by offering a really personalized on-line shopping experience and safe curbside pick-up (I firmly believe they're offering an essential service. We we

re completely rejuvenated by the delivery of new puzzles and games and promptly played two rounds of Bananagrams.) My cousin's market just installed wrist handles on her store's doors so that people can enter without touching the handles. At work yesterday, some of us pooled our money to buy towels at the auto parts store so that the nurses could clean the patients in our hospital unit. We ran out of wipes and there's no delivery in site. Rather than complain, we rallied and problem solved and came up with a solution. I'm nursing a fantasy right now that even if the president does "bring it all up" that we'll all continue to social distance so we can flatten the curve.

I won't minimize the fact that I'm scared. I'm scared that since I can't isolate or control who I interact with, I'll get sick, or that I'll be an asymptomatic carrier, and I'll bring it home and get my mom or my kids or C sick. I'm scared that people I know are going to die. I'm scared that my patients will die. I'm scared that I'll lose so many staff that the mental health program will start to look like an old asylum, and that we may not be able to restabilize the patients when we return to "normal." I'm scared my kids might actually kill each other. This whole thing is really, really scary, moreso because we're still in the "waiting for the wave to hit" phase.

It's scary, but what I know about myself is that I can't live in the state of fear. I can't do anything about the what-ifs. I can't quit my job or abandon my staff. I can't 100% anyone from getting sick. We can't pack up and move to Wyoming. I can wash my hands all the damn time. I can preach social distancing in a prison. I can make sure that our patients get as much treatment as we can give them while we still can. I can make sure to eat lunch every day and to eat all the fresh fruits and vegetables I can find. I can immediately take a shower and change my clothes when I get home from work. I can make wiping everything down with disinfecting wipes sound like a privilege instead of a chore so my kids will do it all the damn time. I can allow myself to be scared and yet not let that paralyze me. I can look for the good and the fun and the kind and the extraordinary.

We'll get through this because we don't have any other choice. We can do this.

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