COVID-19 Quarantine: How do you make it through the next month? Create a Sense of Progression.
It is the 5th week of essential lock-down for our family. We started social distancing prior to the general order in California and our city. I had been following the COVID-19 MD Facebook groups closely. Before most were social distancing, we had cancelled our early March vacation and cancelled Mr. Plastic Picker’s parents trip to New York. Thank goodness, as New York is now the epicenter of COVID-19. California has done remarkably well, but even with hundres of thousands of cases averted and thousands of deaths prevented – we have many dissenters. Probably there are not many, but they are taking up a sizeable share of the blogsphere. I had a high school friend post on facebook COVID-19 misinformation. I replied but didn’t have the energy to have a prolonged facebook discussion. I ended it with let’s just be grateful that we in California are doing okay.
I have complete sympathy for those that believe this misinformation. They are worried about their jobs, families and cannot see the danger that is lurking outside if we stop the quarantine early. They do not understand as well because they are not physicians. Anyone is healthcare realizes the power of prevention. HPV vaccine prevents cervical cancer. Counseling about the dangers of smoking prevents lung cancer. Getting a toddler to eat more fruits and vegetables prevents obesity and cardiac disease. It is an advanced concept, the idea of disease and death averted . But it is to be expected that a portion of the lay public is ranting and raving. In the end, they don’t really have to know. Their grandparents will live, and the avalanche of medical need will be averted. Prevention never gets fanfare, never gets credit, and never makes the news cycle. And we are actually preventing the death of those that are most disenfranchised, the poor, the elderly, and black americans. It is a difficult thing we are asking of society, to protect those that we never tried to protect in the beginning.
General pediatrics is all about prevention, and Dr. Plastic Picker understands. I am so fortunate today. Rather than jumping back into the inpatient service, I am at home on vacation because California quarantined early and we #flattenthecurve. I have college and medical school classmates who are working in the heart of New York City in the ICUs right now. They are exhausted and are staring the ravages of COVID-19 straight in it’s hideous face. This week was the kids’ original spring break and we were planning on flying to El Paso to see the Carlsbad Caverns, White Sands National Park and take an epic Southwest road trip. But we are content to be at home under quaratine, and blessed that thus far California is doing okay. I understand that chance landed me here, and my colleagues are waging battle 2000 miles away.
I have decided to stay relatively quiet on the blogsphere and Facebook groups. Our society’s multiple factions have to discusss and process this experience. Individuals need to rant and rave. But in the end, as long as we #stayhome for another 4-8 weeks – we will be okay. We’ll reemerge and figure out what this post COVID-19 world will look like. There is collateral damage to the economy and other parts of our population, and for that we need to accept it and mourn. But there is really no question about what is the right thing to do now. We hold the line, stay home and continue to quarantine at least for 6 more weeks.
Until then, what will I do for 4-8 weeks? I am on vacation this week, but next week will return to work. I think what is stressing people out is that they don’t have a sense of progression. They feel like nothing is happening. It’s the biggest irony that since nothing is happening, that is SOMETHING. That something, is COVID-19 is not spreading. But we can create an artificial sense of progression. This is particularly important for those that haven’t had the time to create a rich internal imaginary life.
This is how I am creating an aritifical sense of progression for the next 4 weeks. Let’s just take it a month at a time. Five Things I am Doing for the Next 4 Weeks to Give Myself A Sense of Progression
- Gardening: This is something I have never thought I would be interested in. But gardening is the best distraction right now, and the best way to establish a sense of progression. You plant some seeds, or propogate some succulents and watch them grow. We are sprouting some potatoe buds, repotted some succulents, and we are trying to grow some herbs on our balcony – and it has been wonderful. I highly suggest tomatoes because in the end, you’ll have something great to eat!
- Made A Bird House: I am so sad to miss my shorebird friends that I would meet on the beach. The beach is closed and I can hardly see them from the sidewalk. But there are sparrows and other birds in our neighborhood. I have been noticing them more. I made a birdhouse out of a repurposed shoebox and will decorate it with my ocean plastic that is PRECOVID-19. Mr. Plastic Picker is picking up some birdseed today. I’m hoping it will attract some birds for me to meet and learn to identify.
- Property Exchange/Rental Property Purchase: I blogged about this a few days ago, but I am in the midst of a property exchange for an upgraded rental property https://drplasticpicker.com/dr-plastic-picker-shares-real-estate-investing-advice-for-mds/. Applying and closing on this transaction takes time, and attention to detail. I have always enjoyed this process, and now even more so because it gives me a sense of progression. Every few days there is something to turn in or to check up on. It will give me structure during this time in quarantine and a sense of financial progression.
- Updating Finances/Budget: I have always been the CFO in our family, but since becoming Dr. Plastic Picker I have not been as careful about keeping track of our expenses. I know in general we have maintained a high savings rate, and our networth has gone up. Much of this is because we have stopped our mindless consumerism. But I am taking this quarantine time to go through all my financial paperwork for 2019, budget analysis, and prepare all the tax paperwork I need to file for our returns. I usually get this done, but this year I am taking it a bit more slowly but enjoying the process. This is a great thing to do if you have not done so already.
- Continuing to Blog/Instagram/Facebook as Dr. Plastic Picker: At some point, I will be back on the beach. I was worried that not being able to be there most mornings now, I would revert to my former chaotic state of mind. But I haven’t. Knowing the beach will be there for me when this is all over is wonderful. I have found peace in the backyard birds, in the garden and in still loving my fellow humans and the earth. Blog traffic shot up a few weeks ago, especially when I published the two pieces regarding COVID-19 on KevinMD. I was proud of those pieces. But I don’t want to be the COVID-19 commentary doctor, I want to be Dr. Plastic Picker. Now the blog traffic is back to normal at about 300 views a day rather than 500 views. We are at 60 Facebook Followers, 696 Instagram friends, and 170 blogposts. I am still committed to making 15 environmental changes for our family, publishing the weekly Hopeful Wednesday posts, and the Monthly Plastic Picking Totals and Secondary Environmental Changes post. We are still doing our monthly donations https://drplasticpicker.com/donation-round-up/.
So how do I make it through the next 4 weeks? I am doing so by realizing every day that we make it through quarantine are hundreds of lives saved. I make it through by creaing a sense of progression in my life. And all these things will in the end help the earth. Gardening will increase carbon sequestration, enrich our soils and decrease some food miles. Making a Bird House will hopefully feed some of our treasured and increasingly rare birds. The property exchange will continue to help Mr. Plastic Picker and I be FISE (Financially Independent to Save the Earth) and allow us to continue to do what we do. Updating the finances and budget will hopefully prove to me that being Dr. Plastic Picker and environmentally minded, is also fiscally smart. I think it will be. And continuing the blogging/instagram and Facebook as Dr. Plastic Picker keeps alive the team that we will need to face the next pandemic – the plastic pandemic. But until then, I’ll continue to live in my quiet corner of the world and day by day creating a sense of progression for myself. I hope that you can to, because we are all doing something – by doing nothing. If that makes any sort of sense. I hope this blog finds you well and thank you for reading.