Those on the Front Lines

For months the world has been watching the unfolding of what is perhaps the most unifying and isolating shared human experience in over a century.  There are plenty of mentions of needs in the medical community. Not a lot of in depth reporting on their experiences and concerns. The medical community is communicating inside their network though and their fear is very real and ingenuity astounding.

I have several close friends who work in hospitals.  My husband has been living in a hospital all week. The untold truth is: medical professionals are SCARED.  And rightfully so. I spoke with a doctor this week who couldn’t get the proper (N95) mask to wear in a surgery she participated in- there weren’t any.  When scared people flooded the market and bought up all the masks, they left medical professionals, who are risking and some even giving their lives to help those suffering, without this much needed protection.  Now there are doctors preparing to make their own protective gear, including face masks out of vacuum filters.

woman in orange crew neck shirt wearing white face mask
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Thank You 

To all the front line workers- you are making a difference.  Many more people were diagnosed this week than last week with COVID-19.  This information gives the world a more honest picture of what is happening and a better idea of who needs to be completely quarantined.  Thank you to those creating, dispersing, and working on the front lines to handle the tests.

Doctors, nurses, first responders, phlebotomists, techs, janitors, managers, laundry attendants, receptionists, food deliverers, pharmacists, and everyone else who works in hospitals and many other medical care professionals are out on the front lines 24/7 putting themselves and their families at risk.  They are saving lives! Thanks to all of them, more people recovered from COVID-19 today than died from it.  

Hospitals are doing what they can.

The challenges are momentous.  At the hospital where my husband is being cared for (for a vital, but non-covid-19 related procedure), he learned that  elective surgeries have been cancelled or postponed. He said it feels eerie with so many open rooms and few patients on the floor.  This is the calm before the storm. Lots of people are ramping up to work harder than they ever have. They are doing the best they can, but limitations make the situation far from normal.

You may not like being at home.  

A lot of people feel isolated, worried, perhaps even bored.  Do you ever think: I feel fine, and besides, I’m not going to visit my grandparents, or anyone over 70, so going into restaurants, bars or stores right now isn’t a big deal?  Do you worry about keeping small businesses afloat?  Your simple actions- of going out or staying in- do impact countless people in the long run.  Please do the whole world a favor and if your work outside home (for others) is not essential, JUST STAY HOME.

What CAN you do?

If you’re anxious, start by turning off the screens and taking some deep, slow breaths.  You can even take free yoga classes online for a month here. Buy a gift card -essentially an interest free loan- to those small businesses, get your food delivered (please don’t even meet the delivery person at the door right now), and meet up with your friends online or on the phone. 

 What if You Don’t Stay Home?

More people WILL get sick.  If you don’t stay home, more people WILL die.  A Washington Post article explains this in more depth with helpful diagrams here.. Even if you don’t feel sick, you could carry the virus.  Then more medical workers face more dangers. And as my brother shared with me this week: there will be more situations, he and many like him will face of having to make the terrible decisions already facing those in Italy of who gets a ventilator and who doesn’t.  They will have to watch people die, not because they don’t know how to treat them, but because resources are limited.  

Today YOU Can Make a Choice That WILL Save Someone’s Life.

So please, do the whole world a favor for the next several weeks.  Stay home. And know that by doing “nothing” you are doing something to make the world a little better in this strange and trying time.

 

Finding the Support You Need

Have you ever found yourself moving through life, certain aspects are getting harder, but you don’t really notice how much the challenges are rising around you until suddenly you are completely drowning in them?  

Im Lost Formula GIF - ImLost Formula Confused GIFsAs a freshman in high school, I started in the math class track that continued the trajectory I’d been on in middle school.  The problem: things moved a little faster than I could grasp in high school. I didn’t know where to begin in terms of asking for help, so I just didn’t.  I went through the motions: doing my homework, going to class, but quiz and test scores quickly indicated I was completely in over my head. My amazing, generous teacher spent hours after school helping me.  I grasped the concepts, but it soon became clear the pace of that course wasn’t ideal for me, so I changed tracks the following semester. I didn’t give up on the subject, but I needed to find a different avenue that supported my abilities better.

Fast forward to early adulthood and I found myself demanding help when struggles arose sometimes.  That, I painfully learned, can really push people away (as you may be well aware- but I had to learn the hard way).  In my current stage of life, I find it more helpful to try to identify what my goals/ideal situation, determine my needs, and brainstorm and seek creative solutions to achieving them.  I don’t demand something of one specific person, but I recognize my limitations and needs and reach out to find ways to address and support them with clear, kind, open communication to the best of my ability. 

My most recent example was this past fall. As I neared the birth of my (2nd) daughter and we were living in a new place with no family or close friends around, I knew we would need help and support around the birth.  So I reached out and was grateful to build new friendships nearby and also host several family members to visit back-to-back and be to care for our oldest (2 year old) daughter while I was in the hospital. We ended up feeling very supported, growing closer to loved ones and neighbors, and having wonderful visits both before and after the baby was born.

Are you comfortable asking for help?

Some of us have a hard time asking for help.  You may not want to be a burden on others. Do consider the weight your ask is on someone.  Again, this is why an ask, not a demand is important.  Perhaps you recognize you are struggling, but don’t know what would help.  How do you ask for help if you don’t know what you need?  

Asking for a specific help is not always the answer.  Often being honest and transparent with people close to us about our struggles brings the aide we need.  By opening up about challenges, even just hoping support is possible, we not only strengthen our connections with others, but in the process, the help we need has a way of showing up. 

What you are doing for those who support you?

 If you provide a compassionate sounding board and bring your skills and strengths to the relationship, you’re probably on a good track.  But if the answer is: not much, then maybe it’s time to find some ways to give back and show your appreciation.  

From foster moms to physicians, software engineers to stay at home dads, we all have struggles and successes.  Being honest with ourselves and others about these experiences can help us keep things in perspective. The types of friends we open up with will also make a huge difference in the quality of feedback and support they can provide.

Next time you find yourself a little off your A-game, consider asking yourself some of the questions below.  And while you are thinking about what you need, do something kind for someone else.  You’ll feel a little better.

Do you recognize when you need support? 

Do you let your close friends and family know when you are struggling with something? 

Is it difficult for you to let others in enough to know you could use their help?

Why?