Plan to Thrive…

While alone in my office, having already moved all my appointments to a virtual platform, I decided to check in with my wife, Karen, who I knew was at home in bed feeling rather ill. Our concerns were that she had the virus. After talking with her and realizing her symptoms were not improving, she phoned her physician and it was decided she should be tested for Covid-19. My thoughts quickly shifted to a surreal sense of survival and fear that something so unknown and out of my control would now have a foothold on my spouse and likely myself. There was only one place to be and that was at Karen’s side and getting her the attention and the care necessary to gain the upper hand with this virus. Fortunately, my remaining appointments were very flexible with my abrupt need to postpone and relocate those appointments later in the week.

As I rushed home so many thoughts ran through my mind. The local news and national news had not adequately explained what needed to be done in order to get tested. All we knew were that resources were scarce and protocols were blurry at best. After speaking with her physician we understood that it was the primary care physician that would make the call and the appointment at a drive through site at a local hospital. The test was ordered and we made our way to GBMC’s drive threw evaluation tent. As we drove up to the MASH looking site, a medical person walked up in full protective gear and asked that we roll down our window a quarter of the way. After confirming the identity of my spouse we waited for a few moments before being motioned forward to the nurse/doctors waiting to swab her nose. Those nurses and doctors were so patient and wonderful as they explained the procedure, the discomfort Karen would feel, and that it would only take a moment. Within 5 mins, we were on our way home. As we drove home I had a sense and feeling of relief now to have been tested yet the realization that I have likely now been exposed began to sink in. The cough I experience for much of the allergy season had worsened over the past week but the adrenalin I felt as I was hustling to keep my practice running may have kept me fairly stable. My symptoms were not quite what Karen’s had been the last two days, but that quickly changed. By weeks end the two of us were in varying stages of exhaustion, fever, headache, cough, and flat on our backs. Couldn’t move, no motivation, no appetite, Karen couldn’t smell or taste a thing which produced some panic that this virus was going to get worse for the two of us. We had agreed we would ride this out together, care for each other as best we could and support the other till our health returned to normal. Fortunately, though normalcy is a relative term now, we are able to look back having endured and successfully reached the other side of this awful virus. We weren’t alone. Friends, some we haven’t seen for many years, current friends, a very committed and supportive office assistant and our kids, brought us food, checked in on us daily, sent us videos, Face Timed, Zoomed and kept us feeling loved, cared for and encouraged. All of which became our road map to thrive.

The estimates tell us that several million of us in the US will be infected by this virus. Of the staggering number of those infected, we also hear the projections that 150-250 thousand may lose their lives to this ‘invisible enemy’. The news shares images and stories of the suffering and of the heroism and creative resiliency of our Nation. We are a people created to survive and adapt. Though that adaptation may not be readily known in this moment, there is within each of us a spirit of ‘not giving up’, an inate sense of survival that fuels a persistent pursuit of moving forward each day. Remaining connected to your community, family, your faith all become vital to our ability to thrive through this adversity. For the first time in many of our lives we can’t have a consistent long view of life as we knew it before. Our view may have to be one of ‘today’, the present moment. Otherwise we may become lost and paralyzed in the fear of what the future may become.

I am often asking my clients… “What’s your plan?” or telling them to “have a plan” when they are faced with circumstances that bring them to my office. Having a plan is vital to our process of survival. Plans aren’t rigid, they are flexible, fluid, yet once a plan is made, stick with it, see it through, learn from it. Whether we formulate a plan and follow it step by step, or use it as a template that continues to take shape as it moves you forward to whatever that ultimate goal might be, starting with a framework gives us structure and stability. Take notes, make observations, all of which help you to see how effective your steps are as your plan unfolds. Take risks…think outside your comfort zone…dig deep inside your creative well called the human spirit. As Karen and I write these words, we look at each other and acknowledge that the two of us need to remind each other of these very words as we plan to thrive.

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