It’s kind of like watching a car accident.
You don’t want to see it, but you can’t look away. Daily COVID-19 numbers were finally not the topics of conversation, headlines, or “breaking news.” But, alas, it didn’t last long. So, what wave would this be? Have we lost count? Are we becoming numb? Do we have the energy to gear up for this again?
Vaccination rates are better in Massachusetts than in many areas of the country. We want to return to the business of our own lives. Some of us have gone to church, the beach, out to dinner, and even on vacation! We’ve kept our masks handy, but maybe not on our faces. We have stopped assuming that face-to-face contact is such a threat and have had our nose swabbed once or a dozen times.
Remember when taking your mask off outdoors and getting that lung full of fresh air was so wonderful? We could smile at each other and see ALL the facial expressions that make our communication so complete. And that first meal at a restaurant (indoors or outside)? We felt as if we were really “getting away with something.”
Truth: I have felt the overconfidence of being fully vaccinated.
A little anxiety is never a bad thing, emphasis on a little. Have you ever read the “Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook?” It’s written tongue-in-cheek but addresses those who have a predisposition to anxiety. Anxiety sometimes gets a bad rap. It’s what causes us to study for a test, drive close to the speed limit, and get groceries before a storm.
It’s a warning that originates in our central nervous system, intentionally getting our attention so that we can be prepared. Sometimes, the preparation is mental and emotional; Sometimes, it’s action oriented. These messengers can serve us well. However, when anxiety spirals out of its intended purpose (to get our attention to a particular issue) and BECOMES the issue, it’s not serving us.
Just when we thought we were out of the woods … in comes the Delta variant, a mutation of the original SARS COVID-19 virus that seems to be much more easily transmitted and breaks through the immune system of even the fully vaccinated. It will not serve us well to ignore risk and take the “it can’t happen to me” approach. Maybe it won’t happen to us … but it just may happen to someone we know and love.
The magic statement of the moment seems to be “more questions than answers.”
So here we are, late July. School resumes in roughly a month, and in the classroom. My fully vaccinated 20-year-old daughter leaves for college in California two weeks from now, after having had her freshman year online. Dorms, dining halls, classrooms, socialization…more questions than answers.
Is a booster coming? Will it protect against the Delta variant? What variant is next? When will the FDA fully approve the vaccines? Will mandates follow in the workplace, schools, and medical facilities? Will the unvaccinated be at risk of losing employment or unwelcome at college? Will our communities return to some of the restrictions we have just been freed from?
This isn’t our first rodeo.
We did learn important things the first time around. We know that masks, social distancing, hand hygiene, and disinfectants work. We know that if we have common symptoms of COVID-19, we need to report them, isolate, and get tested.
Sometimes, amid chaos, we do well to go back to basics. While we impatiently wait for more information (hopefully accurate and consistent information), we can rely on what we know. None of us want this to be our new reality. Owning and managing a health care company, I am at the head of that line.
The demands of operating in compliance with all the many governing agencies have taken a new giant step and has those of us in healthcare juggling plates high in the air (yet again). There’s a twist: the plates are full of hot food this time around.
The old adage (which proves to be right) is here again: “It’s not either-or, it’s both-and.” It’s awful, and it’s reality. I dislike this truth more and more but need to sort out my issues with it. It’s the truth. As much as I want it to “not be this way,” it is. The lives of those I love, work with, and provide care to are at stake.
Here is where we are right now. Not yesterday, not tomorrow. Our best bet, and what I must do despite my frustration, is to be fully present today and do what needs to be done. Maybe you’ll join me.
(Joanne MacInnis RN CDP, is the President - CEO of Aberdeen Home Care, Inc.)