Pandemic Journal Entry #58?…Exhaustion. Easter. 911.

It’s been an eventful week. One night a drunk driver crashed through the guardrail across the street at 2:14 AM. He then proceeded to wander around our driveway, our neighbor’s yard and driveway, and tried to open our cars. I called the police. I live in the sticks. It took about 10 minutes for the police to come. The drunk guy’s friends showed up and sped off with him. The police missed them.

If I was in my hometown the police would have been there in two seconds. And I likely would have gone to high school with the responding officer. It was weird. Calling a stranger police. My wife and I also had a discussion that if we were actually in danger that was a long ten minutes to wait. Not a fan. As a result we are looking at alarm systems today.

I was about to purchase one at 3 AM the other morning, but decided to wait until daylight and after some sleep so I could think rationally. In retrospect that was a good decision.

Another night my cat ate my flowers (my wife had them delivered on the anniversary of my Dad’s death) at 4 AM and then puked.

Another night one of my kids peed the bed. Another night we found him sleepwalking in our bathroom where he peed on the floor.

So no sleep this week. And it’s Easter on Sunday. Trying to make it “normal” but also acknowledging that it will just be the four of us and so not normal.

All day with the boys. Every day. It was a year since my Dad passed on 4/6. I took the boys for a hike up by a waterfall. It was a beautiful day and thanks to the pandemic I wasn’t focused on my grief at all. More generalized anxiety due to COVID.

I made the boys masks. It’s bizarre sending my kids out with my wife to the post office (to mail masks to our friends and family who have asked for them) and having them wear masks. We’ve told them there are a lot of germs right now, and they are definitely anxious- hence the peeing I think- but we try not to emphasize the germs and illness piece. Though the masks they have to wear. It’s all bizarre.

My days are full with patients who I see remotely for at least eight hours, often straight through, then at night I make masks and try and catch some snuggle time with the boys. It’s an odd regimen. I have finished four weeks now. Four weeks of telehealth for my practice. Four weeks of making masks. Four weeks of no daycare for the boys.

For my wife it’s been three weeks of being out of work and a full time stay at home mom.

Our lives have taken on this strange rhythm. I find I like looking out my home office window and seeing the big pines sway in the wind. I like the fire going and walking downstairs and being able to hug my kids in the minute or two between patients. Then I feel angry at myself for liking any of this.

Because there is a deeper part of me that longs for our lives back. Normalcy. Going to daycare drop off. Going to my office. Running to the grocery store for a few staples. Running to the bank. Seeing friends. Playdates. Seeing my mom regularly. Going hiking with my sister and sister-in-law and niece. All of these normal, seemingly simple things, that we all took for granted.

I miss hot yoga. I don’t necessarily miss people. Naturally an introvert, I’m okay with minimal interactions. But I miss my people. I miss my friends. My family.

I have a very low no-show rate. That’s a bonus. Everyone is sitting at home. I am often their one and only “thing” to do that day. They greet me smiling and with some relief. I am still the same. I’m still somewhat snarky, I’m still very caring, I still cause their teenage kids to roll their eyes at me and I now am taking care of several parents of my teenage clients who need acute treatment for anxiety. It’s been multiple sessions when parents ask their kid to leave for a minute and they have a minute of breaking down with me, and relay their fears about COVID.

So many of my clients are afraid. Afraid of catching COVID, afraid of dying. Afraid of family members contracting COVID and dying. Afraid of not having a paycheck. Afraid of not being able to pay bills.

My Queer clients are afraid of the stories of doctors choosing who lives. They have asked, “If there is a trans person and a cis person who do you think will get the vent? If they know that I’m Queer I’ve got no chance.”

The fear and anxiety is palpable and after four weeks on quarantine it’s taking it’s toll on everyone.

I remain humbled and honored that family members of my clients feel safe with me and have asked to see me or another practitioner at my practice in these strange times. I’m lenient with the co-pays. I’m telling people I’m keeping track of who owes but if they need to wait and pay me in September they can.

I’m working late and starting early to see trans intakes and healthcare provider intakes. I’ve had far too many healthcare providers call. It’s heart wrenching. I am providing space for front line providers to talk. I hear about the conditions. I hear about the deaths. I hear about their fears for themselves and their families. They grapple with the loneliness and isolation that comes with working front lines. They can’t see their families. They haven’t been touched with affection in weeks. During the toughest months of these people’s lives they can’t hug or be hugged. 

I treasure every snuggle with my sons. I treasure every time I round a corner in our house and one of them bangs into me and wraps their arms around me. Because I see the strain in my client’s eyes, I see the bruises on their faces from the masks, and I hear their sobs as they recount their utter isolation.

The days are draining. The weeks are long. And now we are through a month.

To all the front line workers…I see you. You are incredibly brave, selfless, and it would be wrong if you didn’t have a few breakdowns during this. Please reach out for help. There are many mental health provider’s who are here for you. It hurts me in my gut to know you all are not getting hugs and affection right now. What a cruel punishment for the people who need it most. This is temporary. You will be hugged again!

To all the mental health providers seeing front line workers…keep on keeping on. This work is important. I’ve yet to meet a new client who is a healthcare provider who is anything but grateful for giving them space to grieve/feel/cry etc.

Meanwhile I will keep spending each day trying not to be come too accustomed to this life even as I find myself staring out at the pines not admitting to myself that I love the view.