With apologies and gratitude to the Rolling Stones. The link below takes you to a youtube recording, the full tune as released on Let it Bleed. Songs from my youth.
but if you try sometimes, you just might find,
you get what you need.
This is one of those times. I imagine that no one wants this to be the time of Covid-19 and with all manner of limitation on what we can do, and great risk that if we aren’t careful, there will be even greater loss and suffering. However, this is where we are. Fussing about it gets one nowhere and denying risk to oneself and others leads to greater loss and tragedy. I find myself in a challenging place with all this. I don’t like limits any more than anyone else, and at the same time, I do understand the math and the public health implications very well. Darn that medical education. My first career was as a family doctor.
I took my medical background and experience and recognition that a lot of symptoms, illnesses, etc that medicine did poorly with were related to a history of trauma, often unrecognized and unacknowledged. That’s been the primary focus of my professional work since 2001. As many of my clients had health issues and/or medical trauma, my common joke was that I am bilingual, I speak medicine and I speak therapy/trauma therapy in particular.
And now, in this time of Covid-19, I am using all my skills. I am working in a small way in a medical setting, helping out an emergency shelter for ill homeless individuals. They have a place to stay while they recover. A nurse and I split the daily duty of checking in with each person to assess their symptoms. Better, worse, the same. We aren’t providing direct care, but we are liaisons to the system and are hopeful that this will reduce the spread of illness, covid-19, flu, or a cold through the general community, particularly amongst this already vulnerable population. So far, so good.
I’m also still seeing some of my therapy clients remotely–via phone, FaceTime or Skype. About half are choosing to wait until they can be seen in person, and the others are giving this new way a try. Not ideal, but my hope is that it will fall in the “good enough” category. I am also recognizing community trauma and needs, falling into many categories. The first, and most obvious, is fear and anxiety, a direct response to living in a time of global pandemic. Another I noted yesterday while at the shelter, when I saw K, the director of city housing operations. He was both happy that things are going better than he hoped, and he looked exhausted at the same time. The change from Friday to Monday was marked.
The changes I saw in K reminded me of the toll on the helpers, and what I call the insatiability of systems and need. There is always more to do, and a need that may seem more pressing than our own, and yet if we don’t attend to our needs, we won’t be of use to others in the future. So I’m finding some more ways for me to be of service at this time, as support and reminder to the caregivers. I’m too many years out from the daily practice of medicine to be working in the hospitals without considerably more training. There are others better suited by virtue of current training than I. I can help at a less medically intense level, and I can also help the helpers and remind them of the lessons I have learned over the years. So I imagine I’ll be doing more writing and teaching and encouraging along the way. I don’t know how it will all play out, but I’m getting a feel for it. Stay tuned.
And I will close with another youTube video, posted today by a friend of a friend which reminds me that we are all in this together, no matter what fear based reactions may tend to tell us. Peace and healing to us all. For the heroes and helpers.