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I haven't seen my friends in 6 months due to COVID...but that's my normal.

I haven't seen my friends in 6 months due to COVID...but that's my normal.

chronic illness chronic pain covid disabled life friendship mental health neurosurgery pain awareness month pandemic rare disease Sep 01, 2020

I was reflecting last night on how I have not seen any friends in person over the past 6 months due to COVID. I chuckled a bit at this thought because, truth be told, quarantine life isn’t much different than my PreCOVID life. Only now, my absence on social outings is just seen as more socially acceptable than if I had to miss due to chronic illness.

PreCOVID I saw my best friend in person relatively frequently only because we work at the same location. We would have a quick chat in between patients, or on rare occasions, we would get to talk for 50 minutes when we had the same gap of “free time.”

My life essentially has looked like this the past year (with some exceptions): I see patients 3-4 times a week, many Fridays I receive Ketamine Infusions, and then I spend my weekends “recovering” from the work week, then repeat. That’s it. I don’t have the energy for much else and to be blunt, I’m pretty damn impressed with myself that I do this much! It is ROUGH and that is the understatement of the year.

Many able-bodied people have been struggling with staying in more due to COVID and I get it. That’s new to them. I’ve been quite comfortable with it as this has been my existence for countless years: work, recover (and I use this term very loosely), repeat. The fact that I now get to solely do telehealth instead of go into the office has been a huge help for my body. I absolutely miss seeing my patients and their families in person. However, there are multiple physical ramifications that go along with going into the office that I do not miss.

Funny thing is, able-bodied people during this time still have a more substantial social life than I do! From movie night Zoom calls, socially distanced visits, or long phone calls, people got creative! With most things going virtual, some people assumed that this would open up worlds of interaction for people with disabilities. It’s been great to see museum tours online and jobs encouraging employees to work from home. But at the end of the day, people with disabilities still only have so much energy.

Getting COVID on top of my other disabilities, in the middle of a pandemic, with most of my patient’s mental health symptoms increasing, has been completely and utterly draining (just like this run-on sentence!). During my initial struggle with COVID, there were many days I would cry before sessions with patients as I didn’t know how I would be able to make it through session. Many days I didn’t even have the energy to shower so I just wore a headband. I was desperately, and still am, trying to balance self-care with the increased needs of my patients.

I would frequently see patients while having 101.1 fevers, because my sickness just kept going and going. I did take one week off early on, but quickly realized that is not feasible for patient care as slowly weeks became months of sickness. I am now a COVID Long Hauler. Taking off work indefinitely for me is not an option for many reasons.

Now I see people begin to try to normalize their lives. Some are going back to school or work, others are expanding their social circles again. I’m still stuck here in slow motion.

Stay Mindful,

Dr. Melissa Geraghty, Psy.D.

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