Does anyone else feel like we are waking up every day living the same day over and over again? Every day this week I have woken up with a sense of dread, with some fear hanging over my head It’s like the movie “Groundhog Day.” The alarm goes off, and here we go again.
I have always related to life best through pop culture. Right now I think life feels somewhere between Groundhog Day, The Hunger Games and The Day After Tomorrow. Probably Outbreak too, I’m sure, but I haven’t watched it yet. We have death tickers on the evening news. We have people going to work in fields that used to be considered relatively safe who now aren’t sure they can even go home without significant risk to their families. We have earthquakes and tornadoes and none of that is even reported very much on the news because we’re drowning in COVID reports.
What I’m noticing is that my temper is shorter, and I’m becoming much more isolated. Not even just “socially isolated.” Family isolated. Friend isolated. Co-worker isolated. I don’t even talk to my husband and kids as much as I did before. Trying to maintain any type of quality relationship amidst so much “unknown” is a foreign concept to me. I need facts. I need to know an expected timeline, which we don’t have. I need to know how to best protect myself and my family. I need some kind of normal somewhere. I never thought I would see the day that I missed taking care of heart failure patients (as complicated as they can be), but I’m desperate to titrate lasix and review echos and try to figure out hemodynamic graphs. I need all this stuff to distract me from the disaster that has been my life over the past year.
I miss being one on one with my patients and trying to figure out how to help them manage their health, before the threat of a deadly virus came around. In the past when I’ve been stressed I’ve always thrown myself into figuring out complicated patients or reading up on disease processes I don’t understand. But it’s like now, even that has been limited. We’re trying to keep our patients safe by keeping them at home rather than bringing them into clinic and facing the possibility of exposure to a virus they are ill-prepared to fight off. It’s definitely safest for them right now.
But still. I miss the sweet little 80-something patients who needed to talk about how to restrict their salt intake. I miss arguing with my kids about which restaurant to eat at. I miss arguments with my husband about why in the world I would cook Indian food when he hates most of the ingredients, or how I’m spending too much money on make-up because now I can’t even go shopping. I miss getting all worked up about something tiny because it was the biggest worry in my life. All those problems that got under my skin so much before are now the problems I wish I had.
I see these ads on Facebook that say things like “Let us help you navigate your new normal,” and I get so infuriated. I wish the ad were a person, and I could grab them by the collar and say to them, “Listen sister, this is not a new normal. If it is, just kill me now.” (Yes, I know I’m being dramatic and politically incorrect and blah, blah, blah but you know what? You’re thinking it too. I just admit what I’m thinking more openly than most people).
I can’t wait for the day when I can go back to seeing my senior citizens in clinic and talk to them about how yes, there is actually a lot of salt in fried squash and no it doesn’t count as a vegetable. And hear my kids say, “Can I just eat cereal at home instead?” after I bought them dinner at Cracker Barrel that they didn’t eat. And listen to my husband say, “Did you really spend $75 at Sephora?” …..And I’ll be able to say yes because they’ll be open, and I’ll be able to go make bad decisions because I’m impulsive and I have no respect for the dollar.
If nothing else, the stress of it all has shown me that the problems I thought were so bad before really weren’t that bad. In the grand scheme of things, I’m very blessed. I have my husband and kids, my extended family, my books, and a safe warm house to live in. But at the risk of sounding spoiled, can I just have my old problems back? What “old problems” do you miss now that you have new ones?