It’s Monday afternoon, and I’m watching huge, fluffy snowflakes fluttering to earth outside my window. They land gently, without a sound, the perfect antidote to the frightening headlines on my news apps and comments in my Twitter feed.
I should stop reading it all, I know. But I feel compelled to keep up with the latest COVID-19 developments. It’s like we’re all trapped in this horror movie, but we can’t close our eyes. We need to know how it ends. And we can’t leave the theatre.
I find solace in meditation, my writing, helping my clients to communicate their efforts in response to the pandemic, connecting with family and friends, studying for my German classes (now online), watching videos of people in Italy making music from their balconies.
And I’m finding workarounds to being mostly home bound. Last Friday, instead of driving into Boston for a long-awaited first appointment with my new rheumatologist at Boston Medical Center, I made an arrangement with him via MyChart messages to speak by phone. The Rheumatology Department is in process of switching over to telemedicine, but not there quite yet.
He was very generous with his time. We spoke for 40 minutes about a wide range of my concerns, not only my health status, but also about social distancing and risks of the virus for other family members. As for me, he said my age is a greater risk factor than my scleroderma. This varies, of course, for each individual, but in my case, my lung involvement has remained a lesser issue, thank goodness.
Earlier last week, my hand surgeon’s office checked in about my upcoming procedure to remove a bothersome calcium deposit from my right thumb. We agreed to postpone until June, earliest. I’ve been living with this annoyance for at least a year. No point in doing it now, even in an outpatient surgical center, as planned.
Sleep does not always come easily. It seems that I get a good night’s rest every other night. It’s hard to turn off the worries about what the future holds. But at least I’m not driving anywhere long distance right now, which is riskier when I’m fatigued.
Instead, I’m trying to walk outside as often as I can. Over the weekend, I took a long walk to our city’s oldest park, to clear my mind and get some exercise. It was crisp and sunny. On any normal weekend afternoon, with such good weather, the park’s playground would have been crowded with kids and parents. Instead, only one couple with a small child played briefly on a swinging saucer. Traffic was light. A handful of people walked or jogged around the park’s narrow pond, some alone, some in pairs. We passed each other with a smiled greeting and six feet of separation.
As I rested on a bench, a squirrel bounded across the grass. In all the years I’ve been observing squirrels, I don’t think I ever noticed that they jump instead of walk from place to place. Instead of being wrapped up in my head, I had slowed down my mind enough to simply pay attention. A good thing.
A guided meditation I was listening to this morning noted how important it is to see and acknowledge all the little things in life that are going right, right in front of us. It is so easy to get sucked into the terrifying vortex of COVID-19, the news of exponentially mounting cases, the sudden deaths of loved ones, the exasperating muddle of federal leadership. While it’s essential to be alert and informed by reliable sources, too much information doesn’t help me cope.
So right now, I’m just going to watch the snow fall.