A note from an Emergency Medicine wife during the COVID-19 quarantine.

Friday, 10 April 2020

Most of you who know me, know my husband. Besides the fact that he’s the main member of the family who keeps us laughing, he’s an Emergency Medicine Physician. It sounds so professional as he’s also the one striving for silliness when we need a smile. My husband has always had a love for life and saying “yes” to impromptu adventures. He works well under pressure, a skilled problem solver and helps people feel at ease. (This is a good thing as we have 4 children too!) While he has a spontaneous personality, he’s thoughtful and thorough. My husband is smart, has an amazing heart and, if you can’t tell yet, I’m beyond proud of the person that he is and the work that he does.

The current pandemic of COVID-19, a highly infectious virus, is one adventure he’d never expected. After 14 years of working in the Emergency Department, he’s facing something completely new. Every day is - email updates [so. many. emails.], checking-in on former residency colleagues who are still working in hospitals around NYC (a new ground zero), learning as much as he can about the disease we don’t know a whole lot about. I’m grateful the hospital my husband works at is not at a critical state (yet). We live in Erie, PA and are not experiencing the intensity that NYC and other major cities are. We’re hopeful the diligent practice of everyone STAYING HOME, or 6-feet social distancing, can help slow and eventually stop the spread of COVID-19.

It’s still terrifying.

I’ll be honest, I was gripped with fear during the first two weeks of our transition to crisis-schooling and my husband working with COVID positive cases in the E.R. I had serious anxiety as my head swam with all of the “what-ifs” - Will my husband bring it home and infect me? If (when) he does, will it be severe or manageable? Should he live away from our home for the next few months? But then, how will I handle work/school/mothering/household management with four kids, solo? Plus the attempts at remaining informed while also protecting my heart from the overload of news, social media, texts and emails. - I think we can all agree, things escalated fast.

As I type this, we just completed week four of crisis-schooling and received the news that classes will remain online/at home for the rest of the school year. We’re faced with the stark reality that social distancing is not going anywhere for a while. We’ve got a few more months (more?) ahead of us until the medical community and virologists have an idea of how to handle this pandemic.

My husband’s work in the Emergency Department reminds me: life is full of unknowns, we can handle challenges together and each day is a gift.

So, here we are,  isolated “together”. Journeying along a similar path but handling it in our own way.

Please trust, it’s ok to be completely unsure of what to do. We’re all figuring it out, even the medical professionals. Uncharted waters here, people.

  • Give yourself permission to just be whatever you need to be. Messy and organized, creative and ummm, non-Pintresty. Loving these elements of togetherness and screaming to just have a break from it all. You can be/feel all the things. Allow yourself to hold space for it all.
  • Be gentle with yourself and PLEASE loosen your grip on any expectations. We’re in a crisis, and you have to triage, moving your own moment of sanity to the top of the list, so while we’re at it, drop the mom-guilt over screen time.
  • Breathe. I’m over here feeling like a pinball between four kids while my husband continues his work in the E.R. This crisis has brought me back to many affirmations I repeated as mantras during my three pregnancies and four births (I count each twin’s birth as it’s own, because they were, indeed, different), “In this moment, I can breathe in and I can breathe out.” Sometimes that’s all we can do. 

emergency wife medicine

I see you and hold this space for you to feel it all.

When the grip of fear arises, don’t do anything but feel it and breathe in ~ breathe out.

When we feel ourselves mourning the loss of our normal lives, don’t do anything but feel it and breathe in ~ breathe out.

It’s possible we may come face to face with loss. What else can we do but breathe in and breathe out.

I am not able to spin this to say the next few months are going to be easy. We can not minimize the importance of staying home to keep yourself and each other safe. But, I can remind you to breathe.

Let each feeling rise to the surface.

Let yourself cry.

Just as we hold our little ones and allow them to feel that safe space to cry - to feel sad or hurt - hold yourself just as gently right now.

And then, again, I’ll remind you to breathe.


To my husband and every medical worker on the front lines, we remain grateful and hopeful. We’re washing our damn hands and staying home to stay safe.

Guided Meditation for Anxiety

 

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