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COVID Crisis Post 34: Mental Health.

Is New York at that delicate tipping point where we may be starting to lean away from being in full shutdown and leaning towards slowly reopening?

Based on Governor Cuomo's quarantine order, we will not know until May 15th at the earliest since New York's stay-at-home order has been extended till then. BUT there are starting signs for sure.

I am not sure how to feel about this. Hospitals are beginning to perform not AS urgent surgeries, those that could be delayed but not indefinitely. The ramp up will be slow as it should be to ensure hospitals do not "blatantly" defy Governor Cuomo's executive order regarding elective cases. But I hope we do not become complacent and assume we are past the worst part of it all. We STILL know little about how this virus functions, and a possible 2nd, even 3rd wave or more, could still occur.

Clearly, I do not want us to rush and get back to business "as usual". But if I may, I would like to be selfish for a moment. I have a messed up left shoulder I injured during my trip to Bolivia. If it needs surgery, which it very much may, I selfishly want to get it over with and start my 3+ month recovery ASAP. And the longer it takes to reopen elective surgeries, the later in the year my recovery will be.

Do not get me wrong, I will be HAPPY to delay a procedure if it helps to keep everyone safe, my shoulder injury is obviously not life-threatening. Just a mini vent is all.

And in NYC, the slow ramp up towards the new "normal" will be even more essential. The moment NYC says restaurants or bars can reopen, I GUARANTEE they will be SLAMMED. There will need to be very strict measures put in to minimize a risk of a new outbreak. I have no idea what that means, whether its putting limits on patronage, 6 feet distance at all restaurants required, no big groups, etc.

And could there be something as strict as proving you have antibodies in your blood against COVID-19 before you can go anywhere? Unlikely, but just a thought.

Though there are signs life may start trending towards "normal", this battle against the virus is far from over. My colleagues at the various city hospitals continue to get slammed. They continue to decompress smaller hospitals in the other boroughs, and as a result, their census continues to increase. BUT it does seem like things are starting to slow down, and hopefully that trend continues.

I want all the non-healthcare people out there know I am OKAY with you complaining about how much the lockdown sucks, assuming you are doing your part in keeping everyone else safe. If you are one of those people who clap but then essentially backstab us healthcare workers, you are exempt from my okay.

But for those who do, I get a little irked when I hear some people mutter things along the line of "stop complaining, the workers in the hospital have it so much harder". That may or may not be true. But I think it is important we do not minimize others struggles since any difficulty in life is ALWAYS relative.

Yes, we are putting our health at risk going to work every day. But what about those people who are putting their marriages at risk? I believe relationships require a healthy amount of independence, and this could be putting a massive strain on relationships as a result.

And how about those people who are struggling with any type of mental illness, whether it be depression, anxiety, substance abuse disorders to name just a few? We are social creatures and being locked up is not healthy for any of us.

How about people who have lost their job? Those concerned with their childrens education and well-being? Those concerned about their parents well-being? How about THEIR own well-being?

We should not minimize others struggles during this pandemic just because we made the choice to take care of sick people. We take for granted the fact we get breaks from family, while also having the ability to have consistent social interaction with others. We also take for granted the fact we have a JOB.

PLEASE do not take this interaction lightly. It is a HUGE part of why we are all able to maintain our sanity during this pandemic. Others may view us as being heroes. Maybe in some respects we are. But I think what others are doing is pretty heroic too.

So if any of my non-healthcare friends are struggling, for ANY reason, irrespective if related to the pandemic or not, PLEASE reach out to me and know you have an ear that will always be willing to listen and support you. Your feelings should never be trivialized or compared to others struggles.

Because how you feel ALWAYS matters.

It is essential we not ignore the significant mental health strain this pandemic is placing on many of us. Because even before this pandemic, our healthcare system has failed so many in regards to mental health. We need to do better. We can do better.

We just need to choose to do so.

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