Touch and Go

My place of employment is open now, but I'm not there. None of the choices feel good.

At the same time, Covid has forced us to make some incredibly difficult decisions around risk. Should we go back to work? Do I go to this march? Send kids to preschool? Visit elderly relatives? Take that road trip? Go to college? How will we even know if we’ve made the right choice for our own health and the health of others?

I initially chose to put my massage practice on hold on March 15. The state allowed massage practices to reopen on June 1. The clinic where I see my clients waited three weeks after that, taking the time to invest in and install new equipment, reconfigure the office, implement the most effective safety measures, and train and educate therapists.

I set my return date for July 1 and immediately felt better. I had a plan. I had protocols. I had numbers trending downward. I had some sense of direction and purpose. I was ready to get back to showing people I care about them through my hands. I couldn’t wait to see my clients. But before I returned, I made myself a promise: I would listen to my body. I hadn’t spent the last three years getting healthier to stop paying attention to my gut.

At first, it felt great to be back. I had work to do inside the room—bodies twisted from work-from-home postures and caretaking duties and exhausted from carrying so much stress. We spent more time prescreening and communicating with clients, disinfecting and letting the rooms sit empty, with filters running and windows open between appointments. Clients and practitioners wore masks. We changed our protective gowns between clients. We ran a tight ship.

I had the best framework, and yet, as the weeks went on and numbers spiked, the headlines called for the need to shut everything down again and I felt unsteady. People were dying—including our dental surgeon and two family friends. My colleagues and I were doing everything we knew to minimize risk, and yet the risk was still there, asking me how I felt about it. I was starting to spend more time thinking about the unknowns. Not because of where I was, but because of who I am.

I am not someone who is good at uncertainty. My eating disorder had given me a sense of control, a false sense of safety, for most of my adult life. I have been in recovery for three years. I am still learning how to best assess risk and deal with the unknowns. These variables, so specific to my experience, demand that I pay attention.

Categories: Covid Chronicles