You aren't alone
Do we remember what a world not dominated by a pandemic feels like? I often find myself saying to colleagues in the healthcare field, "Remember when we thought healthcare was stressful before COVID?" And we either roll our eyes, let out a huge groan, or respond with a long pause of silence.
It's every newspaper’s headline, the lead story on the news, and all-over social media. We wonder what more there is to say, and yet there is. The virus is under control... it's not. Cases are down...they are up. ICU beds are opening... they are full. Commerce is easing restrictions...or closing down again.
Sometimes it feels like 2001, and I'm watching the 9/11 Twin Towers in NYC. Over and over again. It's the proverbial rubbernecking at a car crash on the highway. We can't help but look. It's not our car, and we're safe. Hopefully, it's no one we know, but it's somebody's loved one. Well, so is the person dying of COVID-19.
The "Great Mask Debate"
Maybe it will be a New York Times Bestseller someday. Did they work? Did being forced to wear one compromise my freedom? Was it a political statement?
What is clear is the science of respiratory viral contamination and infection. We've heard it too many times to count. Our respiration contains moisture. In the moisture are tiny droplets. Inside the droplets are the common cold, influenza, tuberculosis, legionnaires disease, measles, mumps, whooping cough, and the list goes on.
What baffles many of us in healthcare, and undoubtedly many who are not, is that we know how to minimize transmission and infection, so why can't we do it? Large groupings of people often have one thing in common: no masks. The domino effect on the economy… the entertainment and hospitality industries, education from preschool to grad school, travel, healthcare, isolation, and elder care, is staggering.
We're experiencing COVID fatigue, exasperated with an enemy and villain we cannot see, fed up with countless alterations in every aspect of our lives, and just plain sick and tired of the hyper-vigilance, required or not. None of this is the way we wish it to be, but at a certain point, "it is what it is."
Staying vigilant is exhausting, frustrating, and burdensome. It evokes countless feelings that can be a challenge to manage. Nonetheless, we remain vigilant for ourselves, our parents, our children, our elderly, our neighbors, the frail among us, our colleagues, our clients, and for complete strangers.
For yourself and those closest to you, validate how difficult it is to run a marathon with no end
We're creatures of habit: we measure everything. How long until the weekend? How long until our vacation? How much more holiday shopping time do we have? The proverbial ball drop in all the little corners of our lives. COVID-19 isn't 26 miles and doesn't have a measuring stick. I am asked every day: "What does the future hold? What should we expect? What's going to happen with the virus?" And the truth is, I don't know.
What I do know is how to be prepared
I understand how to stay as safe as I can. I am vigilant. I know how to protect the caregivers who work for me, the clients who depend on me, my family, neighbors, and friends. I live by the Three W's:
I wear my mask
I wash my hands
I watch where I go.
It's no mystery. It's within our ability, and it's not fancy, complicated, or expensive. It works.