Controlling the controllable
I’ve had a continuous dialogue running through my head the past few days and I can’t make it stop. I know I’m not alone when I admit I’ve had a hard time sorting through my feelings of fear, sadness, frustration and utter disbelief as the Coronavirus spreads like wild hellfire across THE world and into OUR worlds.
This morning I sounded part of this dialogue to a dear friend and he reminded me of something I used to always say to him & something I needed to hear…
Focus on controlling the controllable.
The main root of frustration and concern is that people still aren’t taking this PANDEMIC seriously and how their actions are going to make the next month’s reality a catastrophe.
But I can’t control the actions of people. I can’t control their thoughts or beliefs. I can’t control the pressure that is being put on the healthcare services we desperately need.
He advised me to focus on trying to voice my concerns to give people understanding rather than hard information, to try to find a way to transfer the growing severity of the situation into the reality of our own everyday lives, into a currency we all understand. Disease, disaster and death happen all the time and it’s an instinctive and protective behaviour to keep it at arms length until it hits close to home. But this is different. This has already affected all of us. Every single one of us are already playing a role in this chapter, whether we like it or not and whether we believe it or not. Those that are most equipped to deal with this have already cried out their warnings, begging us to listen and stay at home.
I tried trying to talk myself out of these cycling feelings, tried rationalising them until they aren’t problems. I originally put them down to the repercussions of self-isolating alone whilst I was unwell. I’ve been trying to implement the tricks and tools I use to manage an over anxious and creatively irrational brain, but it isn’t working. The trouble is, you can’t rationalise what’s already rational. The penny dropped this week that they are not overreactions of the cautious, they are not the ‘what ifs’ of an anxious brain. They are my processings of the realities currently experienced by my family friends and their colleagues working in the NHS and the hospitals around the world. Not only are they scared, but they are voicing their fears and that is what dropped the penny for me, and it dropped bloody fast, with the weight of the world.
Now growing up with medics for parents and family, you learn that you’re ‘fine’ until you are near-death or severe trauma. Broken ankle? Get on a plane. Broke your nose? It adds character. Airways closing up? Have a hot whiskey and go to sleep. Knocked yourself out on a wall when you bailed off your horse? Take a nap. Sliced your leg open with a machete? Duct tape and go to work. The list goes on and we all still laugh about the endless times parental care looked a little like medical neglect. So when I sought the advice of the medics in my family after I developed a dry cough 10 days ago, their cautious response surprised me. The decision was unanimous. I shouldn’t go to university and I should self isolate. Now this was before any guidelines were given other than to self-isolate if you had returned from a country with confirmed cases. I was concerned and I listened despite feeling like it was ridiculous and over cautious and that I wasn’t that ‘ill’. I wasn’t worried about myself, and neither were they. ‘It’s not about you Rosie, it’s just the right thing’.
My how the world has changed in the past 10 days. How the people I know, love and admire have changed in the past 10 days. These often blase & matter of fact healthcare professionals have gone from being cautious, to concerned to scared & overwhelmed. They are trained for life and death, they are trained for trauma and they are trained for emergency. They aren’t trained for this and they are scared. Please understand, it is not the virus itself they are scared of, just the multifaceted destruction they are watching it leave in its wake.
Just as I am hearing these worries and these realities first hand from the people who are seeing the disease up close and personal, the doctors, nurses and HCAs in the NHS and abroad, I am also reading and witnessing people’s disregard, not just for the severity of the situation but for it being true full stop. It is not exaggerated. It is not ‘just flu’. It isn’t only to be worried about by the old and vulnerable.
It is real and it has stopped the global economy in its tracks. The people whose entire career is to prepare for Pandemic situations are worried. The people whose careers are in emergency medicine are worried. The people who spend their lives studying virology and immunology are worried. The people who save lives every day are worried. The (sane) leaders of the world are worried. Our own government is worried. The professionals in countries that are weeks ahead of us in dealing with this are worried for us. They are begging us to learn from their situation.
How are over half the public still not worried?
This virus is an unknown entity, causing an unknown disease with unknown consequences on a medical, economical, social and ultimately global scale. My scientific education taught me enough to recognise that Modern medicine and science are being pushed beyond their capabilities to keep up at lightning speed as the virus presents itself and reveals its full spectrum.
The NHS are currently treating people that were infected 2 weeks ago and hospitals are already full. Emergency treatments & surgeries have already been delayed or unable to occur because of the pressure it has already put on resources. Private hospitals that are used to the same routine procedures are being prepped to open up as trauma centres, people are being called back into work after retirement or from their research, the newly qualified are expected to step up – all healthcare professionals are going to be pushed well beyond their training. These nurses, doctors and healthcare workers are all turning up to work and putting their lives on the line. The psychological fall out from what they experience is going to be monumental, that is something that I can’t shake from my mind. It won’t be the matter of life or death like they are trained for, it will be choosing who gets the chance to fight for life or death. They are being thrown into a baptism of hellfire and highwater.
And as for those people that were infected over the last few days, that will need treatment in the next two weeks..what do you think is going to happen then?
I am not writing this for dramatic effect or in the idea of the worse case scenario. I’ve toned it down, taken as much of the emotional charge out of it as I can. The reality we are facing IS scary and it IS serious. The reality of our individual and our collective actions have kaleidoscopic consequences that a majority of us won’t be dealing with ourselves, that we will just be inconvenienced by.
The reality is also that it will end. We will come out of this and life will return to normal but we will collectively be responsible for the collateral damage this country walks away from it with and for the devastation left in the rubble and aftermath of its wake. If human compassion and social responsibility aren’t enough for it to hit home then try this…
Most of us may not be at risk to this particular disease but our health is as vulnerable as ever. Accidents won’t stop happening, Cardiovascular disease won’t take a break, Cancer doesn’t discriminate, degenerative disease won’t go on standby, Pregnancies and births will still have complications…the list is endless.
We have a healthcare service for a reason. We needed them before this virus and we are going to need them after. We undeniably need them now. The NHS was already falling apart, this could very much kill it, in more ways than one. Help them, support them and do what they are telling us, they’re the ones that will be saving lives, at the risk of their own lives, health and futures.
This isn’t a drill.
This isn’t an opt in system.
There isn’t a back up.
The whole world is being brought to its knees.
WE ARE THE CONTROLLABLES.
The only way this virus stops is if we keep away from each other despite the consequences.
Take responsibility for your role, stay at home unless it is essential, trust that we will be ok and keep loving & supporting each other responsibly and keep thinking about the bigger picture.
Author: Rosie McLaren
This blog was originally posted by Rosie McLaren on beggingforthreads.wordpress.com. It was reposted here with permission of the author. Thank-you, Rosie, for your thoughtful contribution.