When thinking of topics I wanted to discuss with you all, I couldn’t get out of my head the pandemic we are all involved in currently. The Coronavirus is flooding the media, news, and the local and federal legislation we are all subject to. The anxiety that this virus is causing brought concerns to my mind for our community. While it is not my ideal content, I feel that we cannot escape thoughts around it, so it might be beneficial to share ideas and emotions with each other. I want to share with you all my thoughts and concerns as well as tips for us during this time.
Whether we want to admit it or not, having a spinal cord injury or disorder puts us at a very high risk when it comes to illnesses that affect the lungs specifically. That makes this specific pandemic a high concern on our list. This virus directly attacks the lungs and makes it hard to breath, this coupled with a fever and a few other symptoms can make any individual feel very bad, very fast. For us, our SCI/D makes it harder for us to clear our lungs. Most of us have experienced this with other illnesses such as the flu or even the common cold. Our health care providers explain that we’re a high risk for developing pneumonia. I know I dread every winter when illnesses seem to run rampant. Will this year be the one I am hospitalized with pneumonia? Will this year set me back in terms of my health, which then affects every other aspect of my life?
This time induces anxiety for multiple reasons, but the biggest one is simply the unknown. We don’t know how bad it will get here. We don’t know when or if it will pass, and we don’t know what would happen to us if we got it. With the lack of medical care available in our country currently, there has been talk of doctors or medical personnel deciding who gets the available ventilators. They unfortunately have to make these decisions based on a stereotypical cost-benefit analysis. Who has the most potential of recovering, who has the better quality of life, and who has underlying medical conditions that might make them more difficult to treat? Not to mention, it’s a lot harder for us to escape germs. Most of us use mobility devices that touch the ground and other surfaces which then touch our hands, our cars, and our homes. It’s not easy.
All of this anxiety can bubble up, especially when we are confined to our homes.
So, what can we do to reduce anxiety and stay partially sane during this time of so much unknown? Well a lot of people are recommending routines. These can help us feel a sense of accomplishment and normalcy. I like to write out lists of things I want/need to accomplish during a day or weeks period. Physically crossing items off or checking them off a list is so satisfying and gives you a way to track your progress. While most of our routines won’t be the same as they were before the pandemic, they can include online school or work, cleaning, organizing a room or drawers, or going through clothes or shoes you might not wear anymore. I’m sure we can all find things to do that we have been putting off. For myself, I have been trying to self-motivate to complete my college courses online.
One thing that is important to keep in mind, however, is that this is a time of high stress. Everyone seems to be “accomplishing” a lot of self or home improvement. With that being said, it’s not mandatory for you to feel that pressure. During times of high stress, sometimes you need to take a roll back and spend time on your mental health. This might include spending more time than you’d like to admit on the couch, I know I have been. But that’s okay. There is no wrong or right way to quarantine during a pandemic none of us have experienced before.
I would like to leave you with some encouragement. During this time, do whatever makes you happy and keeps you healthy. This is not a time to take risks or put yourself in un-needed danger. If you need help, ask for it and feel empowered in doing so. If you’re feeling motivated, listen to that and encourage your body and mind to be on the same page, split up tasks into smaller day or week projects. If you’re feeling anxious, reach out to your mental health providers, a lot are offering online or phone services. If you’re feeling unmotivated, binge watch a Netflix series, or watch the new movie Crip Camp!
There are no expectations during this time. Reach out to your loved ones or friends and connect the only way we are able to right now. Let’s all share tips of how we are combating this. Now is the time to rely on each other, even if we are strangers, let’s be there for one another knowing we have at least one common bond. Keep practicing social distancing where you can, make sure to frequently sanitize your mobility devices, and wash your hands!
My name is Madisyn Hess and I am 20 years old. I am currently a junior at Christopher Newport University. I am completing my undergraduate degree in Psychology and I hope to pursue a Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy. I am a T-10 paraplegic, and I have an adorable service dog named Oxford. In my limited free time, I love to watch movies or TV shows, occasionally “bingeing” them (whoops), and I enjoy trying new restaurants as well as new types of food. You can find me dancing, singing, or trying any adaptive sport I can!