Where do I even begin?
Like so many of you, I’ve been so overwhelmed with emotion this last month or so that I haven’t been able to put it into words effectively.
I’d been counting the weeks until I was sprung from my surgical boots and could actually leave the house. A week before my post op appointment, I started to get nervous at what we were seeing happening in the news, and realized I wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon. I even considered cancelling my appointment, but I knew I needed x – ray clearance to get out of the boots and there was no way to put that off. And while we had heard about precautions being set in place in medical facilities, the reality of what we saw was sobering.
Hubster of course had to drive me, and when we entered the building we were asked several questions by a nurse in a face mask, sitting at a desk surrounded by hand sanitizer, gloves and thermometers. We were cleared to enter the office and were shocked to see half the usual seats, with no tables and at least six feet between each chair. No paperwork was filled out, and the receptionists talked to us from a distance.
The doctor examined my foot from as far back as humanly possible after x – rays and then spoke to me from across the small room. He told me he agreed that with my immune issues PT wouldn’t be the best idea right now, and that I should contact them via email for a home treatment plan. (The fact that I am a PT and had a similar surgery on the other foot already made us both much more comfortable with this plan than we may have been otherwise.)
J and I headed home with a sense of reassurance that the medical community was taking this so seriously. And, for the same reasons, with a growing sense of dread. This was nothing to fool around with.
Being a health care professional myself (and a semi – germaphobe due to my own suppressed immune system) – I was putting safeguards in place long before anyone started recommending it. My kids are used to me walking around with cans of disinfectant spray hitting railings and doorknobs and light switches, harping about hand washing and covering coughs/sneezes appropriately, and avoiding sick people like the plague. I get sick super easily and a small cold for my kids turns into a month of misery for me, usually ending up in a round of antibiotics or steroids (or both) for a sinus infection. So in some ways, they don’t even blink at the uptick in those behaviors now.
Of course, there is always the knowledge of WHY I’ve gotten more diligent about it, and why Hubs is on board now too. We get groceries and goods delivered, disinfect boxes and bags on the porch and bring things in to wipe down. We pulled our son from school the Friday before they cancelled it, both due to concerns with him possibly carrying it home and getting sick and because it was spiking his usual level of anxiety to new heights.
As for preparation and supplies – luckily, I had just stocked up with my usual Amazon deliveries and grocery sales right before surgery, so we haven’t had to hunt for the basics like so many others. Little did I know my attempt to make life easier for the Hubster post surgery would come in so very handy for all of us. I’m grateful for the timing of that, as watching the chaotic result of hoarding supplies has been stressful in it’s own right. We are insanely grateful for that, and for my husband still working and for being in a safe situation that so many are not in right now. Feeling blessed doesn’t even cover it.
There is so much negative and chaos in the world right now that things can sometimes seem hopeless. My own anxiety ramps up every time I watch the news, and it certainly affects the kids as well. So, I decided to focus on what I can control versus what I can’t, and to focus on the good. It’s not that simple and it doesn’t always work, but I really try to keep a bigger perspective.
What works for me?
1.) Limiting news to morning and evening catch ups, unless there is a major announcement. I often color during the news as it helps keep me less anxious. ( It’s a great stress reliever to do with your kids as well!)
2.) Self care, however it looks for me that day. Some days it’s meditation – I love the Calm app ( https://www.calm.com/ ) and my teenage son (who has ADHD/Asperger’s and anxiety issues) also uses it several times a day. There are a lot of free apps that help with mindfulness and anxiety right now, we just prefer Calm. Headspace is another popular one you might want to try ( https://www.headspace.com/ ). Finding the one that works for you is key.
3.) Exercise/movement is another one I find helps A LOT. I’m still pretty limited on my go to stress relief ( no running for at least another three months) but I do what I can every day as I can tolerate it. It’s nowhere near as much as I’d like or what my mind needs, but every little bit helps. There are tons of streaming workout websites offering free workouts right now, like PopSugar (https://www.popsugar.com/fitness/ ), Alo Moves (http://alomoves.com) and Beach Body on Demand (https://www.beachbodyondemand.com/). Even walking outside is rejuvenating.
4.) Creative outlets – Honestly, with kids at home it can seem downright impossible to unwind and deal with your own anxiety. Our oldest is 19 and pretty self sufficient, but our 15 year old continues to need significant structure and supervision to maintain things going well on a daily basis, due to his mental health issues. So, even though my kids are chronologically teens, I get how hard keeping kids on a schedule and routine is right now, and how hard it can be to get that time for yourself. I try to get some kind of creative time in every day, whether it’s camera practice or knitting or trying a new recipe at dinner. Something to completely take your mind and firmly place it in the present, where there is no room for worry. Whatever it is on any particular day, that’s what I do.
5.) GO OUTSIDE!! Seriously, I feel like things seem much more normal after being outside for a while. Whether I exercise, or just sit on the porch with the dogs and read, being in the fresh air helps with perspective and peace. I keep the windows open a lot too, so if I can’t be outside I can let some of it in. And the dogs don’t mind at all!!
Honestly, some days none of this works and all the positivity I try to maintain is lucky to be apathy. No one knows how to deal with this much uncertainty or fear for this long a period of time and remain positive. Let’s all cut ourselves some slack. Lots of it. These are unprecidented times and there is no normal about it. However you need to get through and rest your brain on a daily basis IS the right answer for what you need. (Unless it involves addictions or violence, which is a whole other story.)
Some days I’m productive and things are clean and stuff is created and dinner is amazing. Some days, brainless tv is all I can do between supervision and check ins and the absolute minimum I need to get done that day. I remind myself I’m still physically healing and that I need to listen to my body, but also my spirit.
This past weekend while the kids were having some on their own time, Hubster napped for a few hours and I read an entire book. (I’m a fast reader, and James Patterson never disappoints.) It was a little piece of heaven in an increasingly crazy world.
So, do whatever it is you need right now and show yourself some grace. What are you finding quiets your mind these days? Wine? Running? Trashy TV? Share your ideas! We could all use some and this is a judgement free zone.
And, if you have some extra time on your hands, we’ve got some fun get to know you questions and some templates to get you started if you want to spread some love. ( Just saying, there’s never a bad time… )… 🙂