I didn’t realize how profoundly I missed human connection in real life until I received a big dose of it recently.
Zoom has been a lifesaver, and old familiar face time has been a wonderful way to see and connect with friends and family. But that person to person contact while sharing the same space has been in short supply since COVID.
Make No Bones About It
It all happened when I decided to finally take care of my osteoporosis. As the threat of a new wave of COVID looms over us in the next few months I have been one by one getting all medical tests and exams out of the way.
I was at an NYU medical center near my home on Long Island, waiting for a Prolia shot. After years of trusting spokeswoman Sally Field’s advice of taking Boniva tablets for my osteoporosis with no discernable benefit, I decided to go for the big guns. A twice a year injection. Despite the ominous-sounding lengthy list of potential side effects from this drug, I weighed the benefits vs the burdens and made the appointment.
Because the shot is a serious one, it was administered at an infusion center where they generally perform chemotherapy. Used to dealing with cancer patients the nurses and staff were as kind, gentle, and solicitous as could be.
An attractive Hispanic nurse came into the small exam room where I was waiting to do a fairly long intake. Her opening question of whether I had a health care proxy did not initially instill confidence, about the safety of the drug.
When they got to the mental health portion of the intake things got a bit dicey.
I could easily answer yes when asked if I was feeling depressed. Since November 2016 I think 1 out of 3 Americans might answer in the affirmative. Of course, having a house in foreclosure, financial uncertainty and a husband in cognitive decline has certainly exasperated that for me.
Gently the nurse then inquired if I ever had suicidal thoughts?
Being truthful and a bit off guard, I again answered yes. Without missing a beat, she asked if I had a plan, and I realized where this line of questioning was going. I fumbled answering evasively.
The fact is I did. A clear, concise plan. I have visualized it, but I had no plans of executing it in the near future. A plan oddly made me feel safe.
It was there in the back of my mind locked in as though in a glass box marked Break In Case of Emergency. I had no intention of shattering the glass until I too was totally shattered. But being like a boy scout I was always prepared.
However, because I had answered in the affirmative regarding suicide, the protocol was they needed to send in a social worker to speak with me. A bit annoyed with myself for my honesty, I worried if I had now screwed my chance at getting the Prolia shot and would somehow be ineligible.
As I waited for the therapist, I kidded around with the nursing staff commenting that in these insane times who HASN’T thought of suicide. They all seemed to laugh and nodded in agreement. They even gave a thumbs up at seeing my Biden/ Harris T-shirt and I knew I was in friendly territory. We then consoled one another on the current state of our nation.
When the therapist arrived she sat across from me at a safe distance but with the closed curtain cordoning us off from the rest, there was a feeling of intimacy. Speaking gently, she commiserated how difficult and stressful these times have been, how we all are so emotionally depleted.
Sharing the bare bones of challenges in my own life, I realized I had not spoken of my fears out loud, face to face to another soul since March.
Like many New Yorkers, my own therapist has retreated to her country home since COVID. Our communication has been limited, with only one zoom call in 7 months
But here in front of me sat, a sweet young woman expressing genuine concern. With her mask on all, I could see were her expressive and compassionate large hazel eyes and it conveyed everything I needed. Just as I am sure she could see the gratitude and relief I expressed in my own eyes.
What I didn’t expect was how needy I was for face to face kindness and compassion.
I had no idea how much I missed being a few feet from a person and being heard. She said they would follow up with me. I left feeling recharged.
We are all suffering during this time. For those of us with pre-existing mental health issues, it can be compounded.
I went in needing a shot for my brittle bones. Who knew in addition I would get a shot of kindness for my brittle heart
© Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream, 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.