Wednesday, May 06, 2020

Boundaries in the age of COVID: Part 9

I found this piece intriguing, weirdly comforting. So well-written. An artist plunged himself into total darkness for a month, allowing his mind to neuroplasticize around lack of visual input and light stimulus, dump out all the junk that had accumulated. In these COVID times, I have been feeling somewhat discombobulated without any access to normal sensory input through the eyeballs at the ends of my fingers and hands, without familiar smooth grooving through normal mind channels. Anyone else out there feeling deprived of tactile sensory input these days? Tied inextricably to self-expression, livelihood, self-worth?
I must confess to experiencing a bit of grief about having fully retired my practice (although, as I keep reminding myself, it was high time). In some ways, the sensory deprivation described in this article reminds me that I liked, really really liked what I did for a living. Human primate social grooming.
Certainly, coming to terms with a new existence is now required.

It feels like a gut cramp sometimes. Part of my brain is dismayed that I actually burned a bridge. It thinks I self-amputated something, like both hands maybe. Brought home my stuff from work. Now sitting in giant plastic plaid bags all around my living room. Every time that part of my brain notices those bags sitting there it screams, Traitor!!

That would be the part of the brain that spent the last 50 years of existence, especially the last 35, touching people for a living. The part I'm moving toward and want to fully occupy one of these days is the part that knows all about that but needs to learn how to get along in life without it. This is the no man's land I am currently crossing. I keep reminding both these brain parts that we're all old now. We had all been thinking about this for a long time. And I'm sorry that COVID times have precipitated the event a bit earlier than we had planned and all agreed to. But I'm just not up for continuing our familiar existence of running a practice for just another few months when it would have to change so radically into something different, with screen consults and bank e-transfer or in-person with credit card tap technology and shields and PPE and no touching. You wouldn't like that very much either, would you, brain?
C'mon brain, we can do this. Together we can neuroplasticize, find any creativity that may exist within all this new sensory deprivation.

Tuesday, May 05, 2020

Boundaries in the age of Covid - Part 8

The biggest boundary of all I feel right now is the one that still exists between my old self and my newly retired self.

It's like I'm moving carefully through a bleak no-man's-land between two opposing armies at the moment, full of craters from explosions going off, still riddled with land mines, nothing to see but burnt and broken trees, no end in sight, mud and blood, lots of mud and blood.
And corpses: although I've not seen any of those yet, I expect I might yet, and all I can do is keep going and hope I don't become one of them.

OK, it's not nearly that bad, objectively speaking. I'm only trying to describe how it feels.

Moving out
This is the week that our provincial government said it was time to try to open up.
I've been getting emails from my professional association and college with new advice on how to conduct a private practice in phase one.
Basically, it boils down to, don't touch people unless you really have to, wear gloves and mask, leave lots of time between patients so you can clean and disinfect between them, only one person at a time in the reception area, have a shield up, no cash, only credit card tapping.
That's phase 1.
Phase two in another two weeks, people can start doing acupuncture again if they wish.

Anyway, I finally had enough energy plus motivation this week to go in and pack up my stuff, move it out. Anything that fits into my rather small quite old Saturn three-door, that is.
I felt spurred on by flashes of guilt feelings over the fact I'm not paying rent there anymore. Even though the clinic owner has not returned to work, I felt guilty leaving my stuff in there, occupying the room I enjoyed for the past three, almost four years.

Two carloads.
Very stuffed carloads.
It was tiring. I haven't done any physical exertion much at all in three months.
I felt old.
And tired.

I use a bunch of sturdy plaid plastic bags I bought in Vancouver at the dollar store, the kind you see everyone in third-world countries using to move their things around, strapped to bicycles or donkeys or whatever.

They come with a zipper that breaks after a single use usually. The bags tend to split easily too.
Oh well.
They weigh nothing and fold flat.
They're great.
Mine have hung in there with and without zippers and with taped-over splits through a complete house move, three office moves, and now this final move into retirement. I have brought home all my files, office stuff, laundry, pillows, bolster, cooling fan, equipment, small things like tape supplies, etc. Bulky things like body wedges. Heavy things like charts and file folders.
All kinds of things that multiply in drawers.

There are still a few things I have to go back for - a floor lamp I really like, and a bunch of large rectangular things - a mirror, artwork, framed and unframed, a whiteboard.
One more trip at least. If the lamp doesn't fit into my car, I'll walk it home.
Weyburn is small.
I'm only about a kilometer away.
What's left will be the treatment table, a large three-drawer file cabinet, and a wardrobe sort of thing that held my clean laundry, one side shelves and the other side drawers, with a sliding door.
I'm hoping Susan will take the treatment table. It's a nice one. It has a heater in it and everything.
I don't know if she will want the file cabinet. Probably not. She does everything in the cloud.
It can go to the secondhand store. Maybe they'll give me a bit of money for it. Depends when they open up again, and when Susan will need the room.
I want to keep the wardrobe myself.
No idea how to get it home.

My current fantasy
Susan keeps the treatment table.
I keep up my license, inactive status. I think I can still treat the odd patient with an inactive status. I become a consultant that Susan can call in if she gets a tough case she can't handle.
I do not maintain a practice. These will be her patients, treated by me but no responsibility, and she pays me a percentage of their fee.
It's just a fantasy - we have yet to talk, really, about anything to do with our work relationship.
It's just a thing that crosses my mind as I cross that no man's land that helps me keep going.
With all these old high thread-count sheets and pillowcases, I have a lot of material I could use to make face masks.
If I had any energy to make any.
Lots more crossing to do first.