Stay calm in the face of pandemic anxiety
PLASTIC SURGERY

Stay calm in the face of pandemic anxiety

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I don’t like heights, so when a chairlift abruptly stops, and that sense of falling but not falling kneads the diaphragm, and while swinging, one eyes the snowy spot below of last conscious thought—the illusive cocoon of nestling security shatters.

So it is with this virus. I feel as if I am swinging back and forth on that chairlift—suddenly stopped, swinging perilously, not knowing.

Surgery is a rhythm sport— my crew and I clicking along with the ease of years of refining repetition. Stopped now, except for urgent (cancer) or emergent (trauma) procedures.

My partner Steve and I run a small business with a breathtaking overhead, as do many of you. What of single moms scraping by from paycheck to paycheck?

I don’t feel personally threatened. Hopefully 40 years of exposure to the nastiest bugs has hardened me, but we reconstruct older, compromised patients. My unease is for them.

I share a symptom with many of you—anxiety. I have a daughter in Cincinnati taking care of super sick kids; another locked down in Chicago, a son in Seattle.

The “click bait” national news barkers, huddled nastily in their ideological corners, do not improve the situation. No stronger argument for the preservation of local newspapers could be made.

I did not realize how long it takes to come up with a vaccine. Even if you break every rule in the ethical book, best-case scenario is a year.

I agree with all the draconian “lockdown” measures we are all enduring, but I don’t think this virus is the “Big One”, based on its arc in China.

I will follow the rules, keep my distance, care for those who need it, and not look at anything with numbers in it. Once a day, privately, for ten minutes, I will freak out, then be done with it. It is a time for strength and composure and equanimity.

Although it is cold on the chairlift now, it will quit swinging, and the ride will resume.

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