I vaguely remember beige walls, a low hum of voices and machines that go beep- and feeling lost and alone. But I will never forget the kind eyes, and the squeeze on my hand as the orderly wheeled me down the halls to the operating room. It was a minor thing, long ago when I was a teen, and my first experience in a hospital.
Anyone I know who has faced the uncertainty and fear of a hospital stay, separated from those we know and love, has a similar story. What we learn is, it’s the people behind the medicine who heal and comfort us, often perfect strangers until we arrive at our most vulnerable.
Now, for over a year, these workers are being called to be heroes. From the doctors and nurses to the cleaners, and all the professionals in between who take patients’ blood, bring our food and all the other people essential to the operation of medical services and care.
The healthcare system is challenged. Everyone in the medical frontlines either faces this virus or tries to deliver other essential health care- because none of the other health problems have gone away. And these workers are on the edge of exhaustion.
Their silent struggles
Here’s what they face- Like us all, they face the uncertainty, a society turned upside down, and all the stress that entails. Like all essential workers they go to work risking not just getting sick themselves but taking it home to their family.
Now add to that the grief of dealing with patients who do not have the support of their loved ones there with them, who are scared at either their condition or of getting Covid. In the Covid wards, only about 30% of the patients make it out, and it is the doctors who have to deliver the news to grieving family.
Doctors and other professionals on Covid wards must isolate from family during their scheduled working weeks. They live in a separate room, use a separate bathroom, and visit their kids and spouse online. All this while they battle a disease with more contagious and virulent strains evolving.
“It’s a perfect storm for mental distress and the consequences it can bring- sleeplessness, exhaustion, anxiety, all of which impairs functioning day to day, and impacts relationships, at home and at work.”
Rest to Reset
Now more than ever our health professionals need support. We put them on high pedestals, expect perfection, and may even view them as superheroes. But they are just human like the rest of us, and deserve to have a well thought out self-care program.
It may be different what each person needs and responds to, talk-therapy, massage, yoga.
While we see these workers as essential to us, they are people who have needs and limits. Each and everyone of us is responsible to maintain our health, through diet, exercise, and relaxation. That makes us better able to perform our duties, which are essential to us and our families, even if we are not essential workers.
Now, in a pandemic, an old economy we practice- going to work and soldiering through if we’re sick, will be the death of us. At all levels we must place the health and well-being of the people working above the urgent need for their services or the economic impact of sick-leave and other health benefits. Professionals who have these benefits must be urged to use them, and programs must be developed which are accessible, private, and suited to their needs.
Right now we can show gratitude for the effort they are putting in. Let them know that they are appreciated, that we know they are doing their best, and they are heard.
So, while taking care of us is their priority, taking care of themselves is even more important. And we should show the support they need. After all, they need to rest to reset just like everyone.
Please join our free Meditation Class for Inner Peace and share with anyone you know who needs an hour of self-care