I was talking about COVID anxiety with my adorable physical therapist during a recent rehab session. I suspect anyone with “therapist” associated with his or her name is getting an earful right now. “What is keeping you up at night?” asked the ever-attentive Meagan. “The three Ps–Pain, Pandemic, and Politics,” I blurted out without pausing.
Pain and the pandemic have been BFFs inside my solar plexus over the past few months. I decided a pandemic was as good a time as any to undergo a second knee replacement surgery. Since we were sequestering in place anyway, why not multi-task?
My previous knee replacement surgery a year ago resulted in a drop foot for seven months. Swapping orthopedic surgeons, therefore, seemed prudent. The upside was no drop foot. The downside? A lot of pain. The knee pain was preceded by elbow pain in May from a biking accident resulting in surgery to repair a “terrible triad.”
Typically I write and wail about such injuries. But I’ve been too embarrassed. The last couple of years have not been kind to many of my body parts. I’m fairly sure TSA agents, suspicious of all the metal on my person, will direct me to my own body cavity search line if airline travel is ever in my future. I dreaded burdening friends with meal deliveries and imposing on their schlepping services.
As if pain and the pandemic were not enough, our political climate is contributing to a nationwide anxiety epidemic. Surveys document how political strife is tearing families and friendships asunder. Other studies document the anxiety provoking-capacity of the pandemic.
My psychologist son confirms this supposition. His Chicagoland practice has never been so busy. Patients confess to burgeoning social anxieties from failure to exercise their social muscles. Real fears about rent and mortgage payments haunt people’s waking and sleeping hours.
So, what do we do? My pain is subsiding. The month mark seemed to make a difference. I have no hope the election will result is a cessation of political strife. But maybe, just maybe, we will start figuring out ways to be in proximity with each other in spite of the pandemic. Maybe proximity could be the fourth P in my scenario. Recently my husband and I had dinner with friends outside at a favorite restaurant. We laughed, ate, drank, and enjoyed the slightly cooler temperature of our Orlando locale. A friend and I enjoyed lunch outside earlier in the week. Being in proximity with my peeps is definitely an anxiety reducer for me.
I’m not willing to brave inside venues yet and I still can’t figure out transportation north to visit grandchildren. I still plan to be exceedingly careful. My masks are permanent accessories these days. But I’m willing to make sacrifices to be able to hear familiar voices even if they are six feet away. So, if we are plagued with the three Ps, try adding a fourth in the form of a little bit of proximity. Your solar plexus will thank you.