It has been a while since I have written about a personal event. As many of you know, my present role has placed me at the forefront of our COVID-19 response. First and foremost, I could not be more blessed than I am for our team and how we, as an organization, have risen to the occasion.
Months ago, when COVID-19 began, one of our early discussions was the need for scarce resource allocation protocol. In our deliberations, besides the protocol we also knew we needed to provide emotional support for those making tough decisions. Suddenly, it struck me at that moment, how about my own health, how was I going to care for myself? Undeniably, I have an incredible and supportive family, fantastic friends, and a strong faith, but would I require more?
Throughout our continuous activities, I would recall these conversations. Furthermore, those incidents when I became short with others, I would realize that my reaction is likely a manifestation of my stress. When I began to experience trouble sleeping, I accepted it and decided to “work my program.” In all actuality, it did not occur to me that I had relied on tried and true habits that I had created over the years, until I had my yearly physical this week, via Zoom, of course! When one of the questions posed to me was, “I know you do a great deal for others, how is it going for you?” With sudden clarity, it occurred to me perhaps I had been deploying the right things for me personally, since I was able to converse on emotional topics without uneasiness and with a feeling of fulfillment.
However, I shared that although I was coping as best I could, that yes, I was under an incredible amount of stress. I was having nightmares, a new experience for me, but that I seemed to feel at peace. From there, my doctor proceeded to commence with probing questions to ensure I was not kidding myself. Suddenly, I realized that even virtually, care and concern was being provided to me by a true healer. I shared that I exercise every day, I was continuing my daily personal prayer in the mornings, and that I had added some new habits.
I began to attend religious services on Facebook 4 – 5 times a week. Furthermore, I spent more time with my wife and family playing games and began to Zoom with my extended family and best friends from high school on a scheduled basis. Additionally, I allowed myself to have crying spells as frequently as needed.
Being honest with my physician about how I was dealing with this crisis led to a meaningful conversation that was cathartic for both of us. Allowing ourselves to feel, to be human, to understand the behavioral science that impacts us just as a physiologic condition, is foundational. I also realized, that habits that do not seem as necessary during more normal times can become our life raft during tough situations.
Truthfully, who knows how this entire situation will turn out. All I know is if I want to continue to help others, I can’t forget to help myself. This includes allowing myself to be supported, having habits that are practiced even more frequently, and remembering that as a human being, I am fallible.