COVID vaccine bottle

Just like a brand-new date book, all clean, fresh pages, full of possibility, we would like the flip of the calendar to be just that: a clean slate ready for a new chapter.

This year (kind of like last year) feels more of the same to most of us.  We surely thought, or hoped, that COVID would be waning now, that the news would not be dominated once again with grids and graphs of numbers indicating infection, hospitalization, and death.  We thought we would have one vaccination, not three, and surely not hearing rumblings about a fourth dose.

We walk the tight rope of wanting to be upbeat, positive, and optimistic, yet also grounded in reality … which might not look as shiny and sparkling as we would like.  It is easy to get pulled into one camp or the other.  We all know the “doomsdayers” or “Debbie downers,” for whom the sunniest summer day with a perfect breeze is wrong for a myriad of reasons.

Trite sentiment has no red carpet for frontline workers, families struggling with sick children and no childcare, worsening mental health, and elder loved ones in facilities with COVID outbreaks and visitation lockdowns.  “It will all get better ... it will all be ok” is more hurtful than helpful.

We are where we are … and it is what it is.

Sometimes it’s healing just to say how we truly feel.  Validate.  I’ve found writing to help express things that are either very personal or not particularly helpful for anyone else to hear.  I have written lately about how deeply fatigued we all are.  The scrambling for testing, the enormous impact of Omicron, and the ongoing anxiety about what is and what may happen have taken their toll.  My rant doesn’t change anything.  The day still holds what it will, but what might be different is how I manage it.

Our opportunity/burden is to coexist with public enemy #1: COVID-19.

We are empowered to modify our behavior, reduce our risks, vaccinate, and boost.  Another huge but sometimes covert piece of the COVID-pie is how we are coping.  Most of us are living in a state of “hypervigilance.”  We used to focus on washing down the groceries.  Now, we wonder who has been vaccinated, who has had COVID, who was exposed, and how that impacts our inner circle.  It’s a constant state of quiet, growling, subversive worry.

A new year: ours to make of it what we will. 

We all have the wall calendar, datebook, or virtual version of the same.  A new year, not yet clogged up with all the appointments, birthday reminders, wakes, weddings, and fancy balls (McNamara’s Band for those so musically inclined).  At Aberdeen, we are consciously choosing to be more aware of gratitude.  With so much out of our control, we are empowered to consider all that IS within our control.  We are, perhaps, more aware of the fleeting and random joys that visit us regularly.  During less stressful times, we may have thought of those experiences as “normal.”  That discomfort, in any form, was “wrong.”

In our experience in the newborn year of 2022, we find discomfort all around us.  This week, trash and recycling curbside pickup was interrupted because of labor shortages directly linked to COVID.  My medical practice sent out an email that they are “underwater” with COVID-related issues, with instructions on how to proceed if you need care.  Maybe you are one of the fortunate few for whom COVID has not disrupted or threatened your wellbeing, job, family, and finances.  At this point, it seems that, like cancer, COVID has found its way into every grouping, every house of worship, place of employment, neighborhood, school, and family.  It’s close.

Walking the tentative tight rope, keeping our eyes out in front, and not being so distracted by what is clamoring for attention to our left and right… hyped up over one thing or another… we try to stay centered.  Protecting our central nervous system is beyond wise; it’s essential.  By empowering ourselves wherever we can, staying grounded in sound advice, and celebrating any and everything worthy, we give ourselves the chance to approach 2022 with new eyes.

Here’s to “20/20” vision in 2022.

Joanne MacInnis, RN, is the founder and president of Aberdeen Home Care, Inc., of Danvers, a concierge private duty home care agency in business since 2001. With 35 years of nursing practice, management and administration experience focused on home care and hospice, Joanne and her team specialize in advising and supporting families addressing the elders in their lives retain dignity and quality of life.

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