Posts Tagged With: coronavirus pandemic

Day 2696: The Age of Anxiety

Yesterday, during what felt like an age of anxiety on Easter 2020 at a Boston Whole Foods Market,  I noticed this magazine in a check-out line:

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I’m pretty sure that magazine came out before COVID-19 anxiety, which is aging all of us. During any age of anxiety, it helps to know that you are not alone, as that magazine cover reminds us.

Do you see evidence of the age of anxiety in the other images I captured yesterday?

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I’ve been experiencing an age of anxiety because my INR has not been within range for TWO MONTHS (partly because of my having COVID-19 and taking antibiotics for suspected pneumonia), until yesterday.

I celebrated my INR being in range with …

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… chocolate bunnies (on sale)!

Here‘s a post I wrote, during a different age, about how to reduce anxiety (which can multiply as quickly as bunnies).

Do any of my photos, above, reduce your anxiety?  This is my favorite anxiety-reducing photo from today’s post:

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That neighborhood cat seems to be doing okay during this age of anxiety.

Here is The Age of Anxiety (Symphony #2) written by Leonard Bernstein in 1949, inspired by the 1947 W.H. Auden poem The Age of Anxiety:

There have been many ages of anxiety throughout our evolutionary transitions. How are you getting through this one?

As always, I’m getting through this age of anxiety with gratitude.

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Categories: life during the pandemic, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

Day 2693: Some things can’t be undone

Last night, after spending many hours in online therapy groups joining with people who felt undone by the COVID-19 pandemic, I saw Bonnie Raitt on our TV …

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… performing the song “Undone,” with the line “Some things can’t be undone.”

Some things can’t be undone, like the USA’s initial reaction to the coronavirus pandemic, which will result in many more lives lost.

My other photos from yesterday can’t be undone.

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That salmon was perfectly done.

Some things can’t be undone, like my ordering this massager to undo the knots in my neck, shoulder, and back after working every day from home:

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Some things can’t be undone, like my having a pacemaker (see warning #7 above).

Some good things can’t be undone, like the incredible acts of bravery and kindness performed every day by health care workers, like Emergency Medicine Physician Halleh Akbarnia:

I have been an Emergency Medicine Physician for almost 20 years. I have worked through numerous disasters, and I’m used to the daily grind of heart attacks, gunshots, strokes, flu, traumas, and more. It’s par for the course in my field. Yet nothing has made me feel the way I do about my “job” as this pandemic has—that knot-in-the-pit–of-your-stomach sensation while heading into work, comforted only by the empathetic faces of my colleagues who are going through the same. I am grateful for their presence, knowing they are both literally and figuratively with me, that they understand and accept so profoundly the risks we take each day. I also hope that my friends and family forgive me for my lack of presence during this time—precisely when we need each other most—and that they realize that their words, their encouragement, and their small gestures that come my way daily are the fuel that gets me through each day. This is a story for all of us.

I met my patient, Mr. C., on my first real “pandemic” shift, when what we were seeing that day was what we had been preparing for. He was classic in his presentation, his X-ray findings, his low oxygen levels… we just knew. And he was the nicest man I had met in a long time. Gasping for breath, he kept asking if we needed anything, and that it would all be okay. He told us he was a teacher but that he was learning so much from us, and how much he respected what we were doing. The opposite could not be more true.

We had to decide how long we would try to let him work through this low oxygen state before needing to intubate him. His levels kept falling and despite all our best efforts it was time to put him on the ventilator. He told us he didn’t feel great about this, “but Doc, I trust you and am putting myself in your hands.” That uneasy feeling in my stomach grew even more in that moment. But he, with his teacher’s steady voice, kept me grounded, where I was supposed to be. I saw his eyes looking at me, seeing the kindness in them, even as we pushed the medications to put him to sleep. To say this was an “easy” intubation is an understatement. It was not. He nearly left us a few times during those first minutes, but he kept coming back. We fought hard to keep him with us. The patience and strength of my team that day, truly remarkable.

I handed him over to my friend and colleague, Dr. Beth Ginsburg, and her team in the ICU, and her calming voice reassured me that they had it from here. And then for the next twelve days, I waited and watched his progress, knowing the statistics, and how sick he was when he got to us. They did their magic, and just yesterday my new friend Mr. C was extubated. I decided to go “meet” him again.

Mr C. was in the COVID stepdown unit, recovering, without family. Nobody was allowed to visit him; even worse, his wife had been home alone in isolation for the past fourteen days, too. My heart broke thinking of how that must have been for her. I cautiously went into his room, donned in my PPE, and when he saw me, he stopped for a second. A moment of recognition.

I introduced myself. “I’m Dr. Akbarnia, Mr. C. I was the last person you saw in the ER. You told me you trusted us to get you to this side. Looks like you did just fine.” He started to cry. He said, “I remember your eyes.” And I started to cry. What he didn’t know is that, at that moment, I realized that we do what we do exactly for people like him, for moments like these. His strength, his kindness, his calming words to me meant everything. At that moment, my heart (which had been beating over 100 bpm since this pandemic began) finally slowed down.

I sat down and we talked. I told him that while he is here, we are his family. He will always have a place in my heart. And whether he knows it or not, he will be my silent warrior and guide as I take care of every patient, COVID or not. He will fuel me until the day I hang up my stethoscope.

(Picture and story posted with full permission from patient)

ETA: I was asked if this can be shared. Please do.

#covidsurvivor #hope #covid19 #advocatehealth #condell #frontliners #inthistogether #heartofaphysician

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Some things can’t be undone, like my daily gratitude to all who help me create these daily posts, including YOU.

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Categories: group therapy, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

Day 2686: Doing new things

During times like these, we’re all doing new things.  Doing new things can be

  • scary,
  • intimidating,
  • frustrating,
  • exciting,
  • challenging,
  • annoying,
  • exhausting, and
  • enlightening.

My new photos show us doing new things, including …

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… using a beloved book in the remote versions of my Coping and Healing groups,

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… trying a new fish we’ve never eaten before,

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Harley practicing LESS social distancing, and

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… all of us here working hard to forgive ourselves and others.

I just learned new things about the Faroe Islands when I searched YouTube for “social distancing music” and found people doing new things here:

 

If you’ve never left a comment before, consider doing that new thing, here and now.

It also helps to do familiar things, like my expressing gratitude for all those who help me create this daily blog, including YOU.

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Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, staying healthy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 25 Comments

Day 2685: Coping strategies during a pandemic

Yesterday, after I was sharing coping strategies with a Coping and Healing online group, I found this online article “How to look after your mental health during a pandemic.”

The coping strategies in that article include

  • Coping with loneliness.
  • Tools for coping with anxiety.
  • Open communication and simple relaxation.

Here are some quotes from that article:

“Physical distancing and isolation measures, the closure of schools and workplaces, are particularly [challenging for] us, as they affect what we love to do, where we want to be, and who we want to be with.” —Dr. Hans Henri P. Kluge, World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Europe

” Routine is very important for well-being, so … write a list of people and activities that lift your spirits; be sure to prioritize time for connecting with others and doing things you enjoy every day.”  —  Tania Diggory, founder of Calmer.”

… we can also reconnect with those hobbies and relaxation techniques that don’t require a screen — reading, taking a bath, gardening, listening to music, playing music, journaling, writing, arts and crafts, cooking new recipes, stroking your pet,  daydreaming … so much to savor and enjoy.” — Kat Hounsell, founder of everyday people.

“Personally, I’m sticking to what has worked for me in the past when I want to be calm — for example, learning and practicing simple relaxation techniques, like breathing exercises, muscle relaxation, mindfulness [and] meditation [which] can all be very helpful in alleviating mental distress.”  — Dr. Hans Kluge

Most of these issues and coping strategies came up in my Coping and Healing online group yesterday, which included one member theorizing that the pandemic was caused by a conspiracy of house cats, who want us to be home more.  Several cats were attending the group (including Oscar) and none of the cats denied it.

Do you see any coping strategies in my recent photos?

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I think letting go of self-judgment, guilt, shame, and worry are important coping strategies, especially during a pandemic.

Music and dance are wonderful coping strategies, and the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater has posted this on YouTube:

For a limited time only, as part of Ailey All Access, you’re getting access to watch Alvin Ailey’s ‘Revelations’ in its in entirety from your own home. We hope this rare opportunity brings you a moment of joy during these uncertain times.

Please share your coping strategies during a pandemic in the comments section, below.

Gratitude is always a coping strategy for me, so thanks to all who help me create this daily blog, including YOU.

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Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, staying healthy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

Day 2683: Alone

Over the years, I have written, while alone, these blog posts with “alone” in the title:

Day 163: Alone in the presence of others

Day 247: No one is alone

Day 289: Sometimes, it just helps to know you’re not alone

Day 839: Never worry alone

Day 908: You are not alone

Day 1028: Can’t do it alone

Day 1180: Alone

Day 1294: Alone/Connected

In the three years since I wrote that last “Alone” post,

This week, I’m going to conduct five Coping and Healing groups  and each one of us participating will be alone in a room because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

I may wear this t-shirt while facilitating a Coping and Healing group this week:

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I alone took all these other photos yesterday:

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Michael alone makes amazing meals for me.

Here are some quotes about “alone”:

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.  — Helen Keller

I only go out to get me a fresh appetite for being alone. — Lord Byron

It is far better to be alone, than to be in bad company. — George Washington

We are rarely proud when we are alone. — Voltaire

I want to be with those who know secret things or else alone. — Rainer Maria Rilke

I don’t want to be alone, I want to be left alone  — Audrey Hepburn

The only real progress lies in learning to be wrong all alone. — Albert Camus

Look at the sky. We are not alone. The whole universe is friendly to us and conspires only to give the best to those who dream and work. — A.P.J. Abdul Kalam

If it’s true that our species is alone in the universe, then I’d have to say the universe aimed rather low and settled for very little. — George Carlin

We allow our ignorance to prevail upon us and make us think we can survive alone, alone in patches, alone in groups, alone in races, even alone in genders. — Maya Angelou

When the people you love are gone, you’re alone. — Keanu Reeves

To live alone is the fate of all great souls. — Arthur Schopenhauer

 

A year ago, when people were able to gather in groups,  Nat Shirley and I  performed this song which I did not write alone.

If you have thoughts and feelings about anything in this “Alone” post, you alone can express them in a comment, below.

I’m sure I’m not alone in my gratitude that we’re all alive, here and now.

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Categories: group therapy, personal growth, photojournalism, staying healthy | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

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