Those who like me have had to endure living with long term pain or other disabling conditions may have an advantage over individuals lucky enough to have lived lives of relatively good health. Living with a serious health condition, unfortunately, can provide the opportunity to develop coping skills to address the emotional issues which inevitably arise when facing such conditions as presented by a catastrophe such as a pandemic. We have already had to face losses including friends, careers, and activities we once enjoyed to name just a few. Many patients suffering from chronic conditions have had to adjust to the loss of the most basic simple pleasures life has to offer such as taking a walk on the beach or enjoying a favorite dish not to mention the more extreme losses such as losing one’s career. Those who have been lucky to remain healthy, have not been conditioned to accept such a range of loss as part of their normal life experience.
Whether we are accustomed to losses or just experiencing them for the first time, we all have to look at what we do have and try to focus on the positive, when possible. Believe me, this is not being said lightly. We are in the midst of a world crisis and there isn’t a person on this earth immune from the potential that this has to alter their lives.
To hunker down indoors and be separated from one’s job coupled with the elimination of normal social contact, and most of all not being able to be with our families is a huge adjustment. We have a new granddaughter born a week ago and have no idea when we will be able to travel to NYC to meet her in person. We can no longer attend our America for Safe Access conference this week in DC, and we are unable to travel to my jaw doctor in Ohio. The only doctor able to adjust my constantly dislocating Ehlers-Danlos jaw. And just this morning, I received a text about the cancelation of my colonic appointment due to the office closure. And right next door to us is our oldest son’s home. We have only seen my son and his family through the window and have had no contact in person for a week. It feels like we are all going to wake up and realize this is just a bizarre nightmare.
We have a good friend whose love is dying of a brain tumor and now can’t be with him to comfort him. In all likelihood, he will not live long enough for our friend to caress him one final time and say goodbye. We have a friend whose granddaughter is fighting for her life and is to have no visitors except her mom. We watch the homeless and wonder how long before it spreads among them. Eating halls are closed as are locations they would use for bathrooms. And we think we have it bad?
As we are able to open ourselves up to the human tragedy surrounding us, we can certainly find much more difficult circumstances others are facing but it sure doesn’t eliminate the anxiety (often extreme), confusion, and unknown we are all trying to cope with. As you try to be careful and as germ-free as possible, we have no way of knowing if we have been exposed, ourselves. So, as we live in this dark time, let’s share any ideas you can add to this article of creative ways to address the issue of social isolation.
- Consider face-timing a loved one – to see each other in person is priceless and a way to feel connected
- Consider going back to the way it used to be and write a letter to the one you care about
- Consider calling a person you know is pretty isolated already and check in with them. It means the world to me when someone checks in with me.
- Make a plan with those that care and reach out as to what your desires are if you get inflicted – do you want to be taken to the hospital if you are already older and health compromised or better off battling this at home?
- Consider playing peaceful calming music
- Like gardening? Enjoy getting your started outside or try planting something inside and enjoy watching it grow
- Able to read? Enjoy a good book or listen to a story to ease your mind
- Consider putting a diffuser on and enjoy some calming essential oils
- Consider if you really need that check we are supposed to be getting and if you are holding your own financially, consider donating it to help another who is struggling. Those retired already live on fixed incomes that so far, are not getting jeopardized.
- Consider going outside and taking a walk if you are able or sit outside on that nice sunny day and absorb those rays on your face
- Consider taking on cooking challenges and try new dishes or those you haven’t had time to create in some time
We are being tested maybe more than ever right now. We each have to decide how we want to approach our individual challenges. This is frightening, confusing and overwhelming. But despite that, we are alive with a life to live right now so let’s make the best of this horrible situation and try to keep finding the good that is around us. Be safe and well.
May life be kind to you,
Ellen Lenox Smith
Author of: It Hurts Like Hell!: I Live With Pain– And Have a Good Life, Anyway, and My Life as a Service Dog!
The information in this column should not be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is for informational purposes only and represents the author’s opinions alone. It does not inherently express or reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of National Pain Report.
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