One can expect every winter that eventually the days will become shorter, the temperatures will become colder, and for many snow will fall. In healthcare we can also expect during this time the seasonal flu will make its appearance. While each year it varies to some extent, it is still a rather predictable occurrence. However a Global Pandemic is rather unexpected and unpredictable, it’s taking things to a whole new level. It’s a level I think by now we can all agree was one we never hoped to reach. It’s no accomplishment you write home to mom about, it’s not a status you happily share to Facebook, rather it’s a colonoscopy one begrudgingly endures along with its horrendous accompanying bowel prep. In case you’ve failed to understand the analogy: a Global Pandemic is the equivalent or rather much worse than crapping your brains out and having millions of cameras stuck up your ass. I’m sure one could come up with a handful of other suitable reviews when it comes to describing a Pandemic but this one seemed to do just fine.
What I’m getting at here is that we as humans, although we may not be eager to admit it, do not do well with change. Think about it, every year follows a pattern, down to the month, date, and even time. There is nothing to predict because it is routine, it is known and it is known well. (But throw in a leap year and well that has everyone confused.) Our societies thrive off of routine, and while one persons routine may vary drastically from another’s we still have routine in our individual lives. We wake up, (some of us remember to eat breakfast, the most important meal of the day) we go about our day, we go to bed. We wake up the next day and repeat the routine. Wether we follow this routine during the day or during the night we can expect a routine. Just like the setting and rising of the sun, the changing of seasons, the return of the flu, and many other things. We thrive off our multiple routines, it provides structure in our lives, when things go the way they expect them we consider it a success. We prepare for situations so that we can continue on routine. It isn’t until there is an interruption in routine that stress arises. While it would be the biggest understatement of the year to say that a Global Pandemic was simply just an interruption in routine, it is in fact true.
COVID-19 was not something any of us had expected or predicted. While research has shown throughout history that pandemics have certainly occurred before, and also shown they would likely occur again, none of us could have predicted just what to expect. Unlike the flu, and our annual preparation for it with the administration of a vaccine, COVID is different, it was unexpected and we didn’t have a leg up on it. One can prepare all they want (research also shows we definitely attempt to do that considering we’ve created a seed bank in case a handful of us were to survive a zombie apocalypse) however when you think about it it’s rather difficult to prepare for something unpredictable. Like the zombie apocalypse seed bank, (although much effort has gone into the concept) until one finds themselves faced with a zombie situation they will likely be unaware of things they still needed and or had left out of their preparations. Again if you’re lost on the analogy here: we can prepare all we want, and we will likely believe we have prepared well, but until we are met with a situation we aren’t aware just what we’re being faced with. The US along with many other countries did in fact have some preparation in terms of a pandemic, likely more than you and I realize, however it wasn’t until we found ourselves wearing underwear on our faces as masks that we were able to realize all that we had left out of the preparations. No matter how much preparation goes into plans, we are bound to miss something. That causes change, an interruption in our routine, it becomes stressful, it can feel like a colonoscopy.
The big picture here is that we experienced a change, a big, astronomical change in our routine. We still are experiencing this change, and likely will continue to for quite some time. Just because COVID may some day be gone does not mean that all it has affected will suddenly return to how they once were. This is a change that has affected each and every human on this earth, it’s much greater than a colonoscopy, some might even say it goes deeper than a colonoscopy. Wether we ourselves have personally had COVID, had a loved one with COVID, or somehow only know people with Type O Blood and magic unicorn immune systems we are all being affected by COVID in a myriad of ways. This Pandemic has caused more than a toll on health, its caused change in every aspect of our daily living. It goes beyond physical well-being and digs deep into mental and emotional well-being. For some it has cost them everything, and for others they’ve simply barely tasted the bitter reality.
We could debate all day on the severity, or even the existence of this illness but that is far beside the point. That was conversation for 8 months ago, here and in the now we must talk about the reality. And while that reality may look different for everyone, there is one thing that remains the same: change has occurred to each of us. While the average human being has likely experienced their handful of change throughout the years very few of us currently alive have experienced a change of this nature. It is only natural that emotions are all over the place. Our entire society has gone from somewhat civilized to that of a flock of chickens running around with their heads cut off, we’ve turned into millions of oily skinned hormonal middle schoolers grasping to comprehend emotions, we are an entire society undergoing never ending colonoscopies. It makes sense that what one is feeling is likely no where near what the next is. For many a colonoscopy is a breeze, for others it’s a dreaded event they put off for years.
I think buried in all of this talk of colonoscopies and chickens is that we are going through unprecedented times. We are all experiencing what has been a year worth never repeating. No matter how hard you’ve been hit personally this year you’ve still taken a blow, as has your neighbor, and unfortunately most likely your great grandma Jane and great grandpa Joe. Somewhere along this never ending nightmare though we seem to have lost our humanity, our desire to love our neighbors, and our resiliency to fight back. We’ve turned our heads and closed our eyes to avoid the reality and it has caused us greater loss and heartbreak. That’s not to say that we’ve lost all hope but rather that our hope together as a society has faded. We started off strong with a plan to return to what once was, but somewhere along the way got lost in our individual wants, needs, and opinions and left behind that of the greater good. We are officially one year into the longest colonoscopy in existence and we can no longer run around with our heads chopped off. We need to reverse our decapitations, take the underwear off our faces, put our masks on (and cover our noses), and buckle down. We need to believe in our ability to heal from this like the zombie seed bank creators believed in the preservation of corn and cauliflower. We need to wake up and accept that for change to occur we must all partake in the participating. We need to pick our neighbors up when we notice they’ve fallen down, we need to hand each other our heads when they’ve been chopped off, despite our differences. We need to not fear change but rather learn to adapt and embrace the adaptations. This is no longer about personal beliefs and individual opinions, we’ve done that long enough now, this is about humanity at its very core and it is on each and everyone of us to step up and do our part.