This whole practice of social distancing has brought a couple of things to my attention. Things specifically related to my lifestyle. As many of you know I had a below-knee amputation three weeks ago. With this, I am still on leave from work. Generally, I work remotely from a home office. This means that at a minimum, roughly 40 hours a week I am not physically in contact with humans. I miss having the routine of work and communication with my coworkers. I miss working with others towards a common goal. I miss the mental stimulation and learning that I have at my job. I know that I must be patient for just a bit longer and then I can slowly start working again. Healing is my first priority, but it is challenging.
One thing that I was worried about after my surgery and my two weeks of live in friends/family helpers ended was being alone and isolated. I have struggled with mild depression for most of my life. It has been under control for some time now, but when I was paralyzed and alone for months back in 2015/2016 from Transverse Myelitis I did not handle it well. Not working and having a purpose shook me to my core (on top of having to create a new identity for myself). Isolation with a steady handful of visitors was simply not enough to prevent me from going into a deep funk.
Something that I struggled with and continue to struggle with during Social Distancing is phone conversations. They honestly have been making my anxiety spike so I have been avoiding them altogether. When my phone rings my heart races and I feel panicky. Sometimes I answer, but mostly I let it go to voicemail and try to work up the courage to call the person back. I know that whenever I talk to someone the virus will be brought up. It is not even about having similar or conflicting viewpoints on the preventative measures that are in place. It is about being reminded of the stress it is putting on everyone and the feeling of impending doom. Being reminded of the terrible financial situations that my loved ones are in or will be in shortly. I care so deeply and worry about them so much that the weight is almost unbearable. I know that I need to try and muster up the courage to reach out to those I care about.
I am also finding it challenging because I cannot go for a walk without help. With only having one foot I am limited to my walker for short distances and my wheelchair. In a month when I get my first/temporary prosthetic this will improve. The biggest challenge with the wheelchair is that we have a handful of steps from our main living area to the front door and then an additional two steps to get outside. I am not able to carry it down by myself. If Nick gets it down I could use it for a walk while he is at work, but then I am not using it around the house like the doctor would like me to. This greatly reduces my fresh air and change of scenery. I am also not getting as much sunlight as I would like. Hopefully, in the next week or two, it will warm up enough that I can sit out on the deck for a bit.
One bright side that I have experience with COVID-19 social distancing practices is that my family is around. Taylor does not have school and Nick is working remotely most of the time. This allows me to see and hear the people that I love even if we are not specifically interacting. It has also given me another purpose, aside from rest and recovery. I am now a pseudo home school teacher. I get to structure and bestow knowledge to mini-me’s mind. We started with a loose block schedule which was lovely. Once we received lessons and assignments from her teacher we needed to rework the schedule to accommodate the workload. After a couple of days, I decided that we would merge the two because I really liked having my own lessons mixed in. I named her daily timeline COVID-19 TORTURE SCHEDULE. Humor is important.
Some of the things we worked on during my lesson time were: virtual museum tours, learning to cross-stitch, watching documentaries, chess, scrabble and conversations about life. I plan to continue to push her with choosing a topic and we can research it together. Encouraging her creative writing and artsy side with craft projects is also a top priority. We read a bunch, cook meals from scratch, as well as making time to goof off and make silly videos. Helping out around the house with chores, baking treats and loving on the dog is also a priority. I want to instill a sense of community and belonging by having her contribute to our household. Being a good person who knows they are important, worth being loved, deserves to be treated well and can do anything is all I want for my daughter.
Taylor seems to be handling the isolation from the outside world alright thus far. She also appears to be loving her home school teacher which is pretty awesome. I wasn’t sure how it would go since we both have similar and strong personalities. We are eleven days in for Social Distancing and on our sixth day of schooling remotely. My fingers are crossed that this will continue. Especially when I start back at work. Only time will tell, but I hope that we both make it out of this alive (not even taking the virus into consideration for this comment).
I hope that everyone is coping well and doing everything they can to stay healthy, both mentally and physically. Please fight the urge to go out because you are getting stir crazy. We all need to do our part! If you are struggling with similar things like I am what are some of the strategies you are using?