Working and living though the COVID crisis: Reflections of an SLP

Thursday has always been my favorite day of the week.  The work week is 80% over, it’s buffalo chicken day in the cafeteria at work, and there’s not the pressure of getting home on time to start the weekend.   It’s like a nice calm before the weekend storm.  I really miss loving Thursdays…

Lately, no day has felt as good as Thursday used to.  All the days just run together.  The positive thing is that I’m still working.  I’m considered an ‘essential employee’ as a speech pathologist, and for that, I’m very grateful.  I genuinely enjoy going to work, seeing my patients, and interacting with another human being in person as opposed to via video chat.  Work does look a lot different than it used to.  If you know me, you know that I love routine, and structure.  I not only love it, but I crave it.  I thrive on it.  I find extreme comfort in coming into the same office I’ve had for the past 9+ years, and that my morning work rituals can be completed without much thought.  Lately, my morning work rituals look much different, and I’m struggling with that.  Things are tense, and people are morphing into much different, more anxious versions of themselves.  It’s hard to have a conversation that doesn’t revolve around COVID-19 (although I am impressed with myself that it took me 225 words to mention it here).  It’s just hard to do a lot of things.

There is something I didn’t expect to feel in all this… guilt.  I feel guilty that I get to keep working, and that some of my friends don’t.  I feel guilty that I live alone, don’t risk infecting my family like much of my coworkers.  I feel guilty that I’m anxious about working with one or two COVID patients in a day, when some people are working on COVID floors or on COVD units with people way worse off than what I’m seeing. I feel guilty that my days off aren’t as productive as I think they should be. I just feel guilty.  All the time.  About everything.

I’m working on turning my guilt into something else, though.  Instead of feeling guilty about still being able to work, I’m focusing on being grateful that I still get to work.  Instead of feeling guilty about living alone, I’m focusing on supporting my coworkers and friends who have no choice but to isolate from their families.  Instead of feeling guilty about being anxious, I’m focusing on the fact that I get to be there for these patients in a time when their families cannot.  As far as my unproductive days go… I know that I need time to decompress and practice ‘self-care’ as the kids say, but I find that I’m at my best when I’m busy.  The more downtime I have, the more time I have to wallow in my own self-pity.  Now, I’m not learning a new language, or picking up a new hobby (I will NEVER be able to knit regardless of how hard I try), but I am trying to keep the wheels spinning as much as possible.  I’ve got more than enough ARC work to keep my busy, my podcast list is never ending, and I’ve binged watched all six seasons of Schitt’s Creek about four (ok, five) times. 

There obviously isn’t a right or wrong way to digest all that’s happening to us working in healthcare right now, and it’s very easy to focus on all the things we can’t do.  I always tell my patients to focus on what they can do.  I also say to give yourself some time during the day to be sad, grieve, feel your feelings, whatever you want to call it, and then move on so it doesn’t consume you.  I think it’s about time that I take my own advice.  It’s ok to acknowledge that things are tough, but let’s focus on what isn’t tough right now – empathy, compassion, and understanding.  That Thursday feeling will feel..even sweeter.. when it returns at the end of this.    

Thank you, Allison, for your reflections on this difficult topic. Feeling similar, or have another point of view to consider? Drop us a line in the comments below??!

Interested in more clinical tips, articles, and resources for your practice? Sign up for our bi-weekly mailing list below! We promise to treat your inbox with the respect and love it deserves 🙂