By Eric Redard, Volunteer Services Manager of Home Health Foundation
The month of July has been very difficult. There isn’t any one thing that I can put my finger on that specifically made it more challenging, yet it was a hard month. I do think things are starting to affect me on a deeper level, and I’m finding myself more emotionally drained when I get home than before. The longer we are in this state of “changing realities,” the more stress accumulates and takes its toll on my mind, body and spirit.
I feel like we have gone through different phases as the pandemic has been in our midst. At first, it was shock and disbelief. How could we be having a pandemic… in 2020? Where did it come from? How can we all stay safe? We went into survival mode with heightened awareness of everything around us, and trying to gather as much information (and toilet paper) as possible from all the sources we could find.
As the initial impact calmed down, we then hunkered down and made the best of the situation. I compare this to managing things during a blizzard or tornado, as someone said during a Volunteer ZOOM meeting. “We can survive this. It won’t be here for long.” We understood the situation was serious, but we didn’t comprehend the eventual timeline. We thought that wearing masks, staying six feet apart, constantly washing our hands, not hugging and staying inside would be the way we would live for a little while. People said, “There will be a vaccine soon. You’ll see.”
With July came another phase, at least for me. Maybe this month was more challenging because I finally accepted that the pandemic doesn’t have an end date, and we are going to be living this way for the foreseeable future. Let that sink in. This is our current reality. If we knew that this would end in February 2021, it would be a very different story. We would have a goal ahead of us with a time attached to it. However, there is no timeline with COVID-19. We are in a constant holding pattern, not knowing where or when we are going to land.
A couple of weeks ago, I started Spinning® for self-care because I felt like I was riding an emotional merry-go-round, and stress was beginning to affect me physically. To help pass the time and inspire me to stay on the bike (for more than five minutes), I began watching motivational videos on YouTube. Knowing you can get lost for hours on YouTube, this was a good choice. Not only did it help me stay on the bike for long periods of time, it fed my soul. One particular saying repeated in many of the videos particularly resonated with me: “Anything is possible for one who believes.”
I know many people have uttered these words. A Google search brings up countless entries. In one particular video, Kevin Garnett of the Boston Celtics repeatedly screams, “Anything is possible!” after beating the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 6 to win the 2008 NBA Championships. As I continued to watch these videos, I began to realize how my mindset needed to shift in order to not just survive the pandemic, but to thrive during it. Not everything during this time is bad; there are silver linings. It’s a matter of perspective.
Instead of seeing all the roadblocks, we need to visualize the paths that we can take to arrive at the same destination. The journey may not look the same (i.e., virtual vs. in person) but it will have the same outcome. Roadblocks and challenges will always be there, so now we need a shift in perspective and attitude to look past them and see new opportunities.
“Anything is possible for one who believes” means that we not only believe in the outcome, but also in the process. For the Celtics to win the 2008 NBA Finals, it was a process with many ups and downs. They didn’t win every game. They fell down, had to get up and then fell down again. They had to wholly believe in the process, knowing that it would take many steps to attain their ultimate goal.
It’s the same for us. We, too, have fallen down and had to get up, only to fall down again. It’s hard to get back up so many times. We have to wholly believe in the process, and in the people who are leading this process, in order to even get back up once, let alone multiple times.
Yet, we need that conviction, that belief in the process in order to achieve our ultimate goal – which is not just getting through this pandemic, but persevering and continuing to be there for our patients and their families… and each other.
If you ask me… I believe.
About Home Health Foundation
Home Health Foundation, which includes providers Circle Home, Commonwealth Nursing Services, Hallmark Health VNA, Home Health VNA, Home Health VNA of NH, Merrimack Valley Hospice and York Hospital Hospice as part of the Wellforce Health System, provides essential home health and hospice care in all the places patients call home. Together, these agencies are leading the development of a new era of innovation, with a relentless focus on transforming home-based care. For more information, visit HomeHealthFoundation.org.