How are you feeling?
No, really, how are you feeling?
Fully vulnerable here: I’m scared. Worried. Agonized. Overwhelmed. Angry. Fearful.
The list goes on.
And I imagine you feel the same, too.
How do we keep going in a time of unprecedented uncertainty?
As you know, my own situation is layered with the fact that I was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and am undergoing chemotherapy. As the side effects of cancer treatment take hold, I add to them the very real worries of Coronoavirus infection to my immunocompromised body. I do not wish this burden to anyone.
But I worry less about myself than others: patients, our dear employees, my loved ones – many people fall into more than one of these groups – and we are all living with heavy burdens.
My heart hurts.
My brain hurts.
My body hurts.
Fertility treatment is literally on hold. We have been directed by the American Society of Reproductive Medicine and the Minnesota governor through a direct order that we must stop treatment. I will get into it later on whether fertility treatment is elective (it is not in my opinion), but our hands are tied. We can’t even do procedures that involve gloves. This effectively rules out almost everything we can do to help our patients build their families.
Super vulnerable: This morning I was feeling particularly hopeless. This is very unlike me; I am generally an optimistic person. I made a list of things I could not control. It was bleak.
I cannot control that there is a global pandemic. I cannot control that I have cancer. I cannot control that my life’s work and purpose have been – temporarily – taken away with an uncertain timeline to resume. I cannot control that patients whose own fertility timeline is limited are being forced to put their lives on hold. I cannot make this virus go away and get our lives back to normal.
And then I made a list of what I can control.
I can write in my gratitude journal every day; today’s entry was that I was safe for one more day. I can be present. I can show love to my family and pet. I can be kind. I can maintain relationships. I can eat nutritious foods when I am able due to my cancer side effects. I can hydrate as I am able. I can walk outside – alone – when energy allows. I can think and reflect. I can follow isolation guidelines to minimize my risk of infection. I can not give up hope.
And I can plan. Normally I do not have the luxury of time to think; I just do. Now I can plan. How to do better and be better. How to be a better physician, colleague, partner, parent, friend and human. As myself how I can help patients NOW. We may not be doing embryo transfers this week, but we will be back. And I can plan and be ready. We are finding ways to stay on top of the changing landscape and be able to nimbly slide back into our mission and work, only better.
Sending love and strength to all.