Hello and welcome back to week THIRTEEN of The Weekly Balance! As we enter into the fourth month of my writing these posts, it strikes me just how much life has changed us for all around the world in such a short space of time. I don’t any of us envisioned life changing as much as it has when we wished each other a Happy New Year for 2020 back in January. With that said, we are where we are, and I know many of us are just focusing on putting one foot in front of the other and taking life day by day. So let’s take a look back at my past 7 days and what I’ve learnt from them.
What went on in my doctor life…
Work for me as a public health doctor is pretty busy right now, and I have to say, I’m so so proud to be part of the team on the public health frontline of this pandemic. As a doctor in her first year of training in public health medicine, I’m learning an enormous amount and gaining a lot of experience by working with my team on the COVID-19 situation. Across our healthcare system in Ireland we have seen unprecedented changes and re-organisation as we try to rapidly increase the capacity of the system, to give it the best change possible of coping with the ever-increasing numbers of cases of COVID-19 here. It can be very hard to wrap our heads around the changes that come almost daily at this stage, but I’m just trying to take it day by day. As I said, I am really proud to be part of a local and national team working every single day on the response to this pandemic.
Please stay up to date on the COVID-19 situation via your local health authority. I’ll direct you to the following websites below – which is for you will depend on your nationality and place of residence, but I’ve included those for Irish, UK and USA folks, plus the World Health Organisation which applies to us all:
- The Irish Health Service Executive (https://www2.hse.ie/coronavirus/)
- The Health Protection Surveillance Centre (https://www.hpsc.ie/)
- The World Health Organisation (https://www.who.int/)
- The European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/home)
- Public Health England (https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/public-health-england)
- NHS (https://www.nhs.uk/)
- The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (https://www.cdc.gov/)
What I’m thinking about…
Below I’ve shared a post I put on my Instagram this week, inspired by the quote – ‘There is no right way to feel right now.’ I think many of us are experiencing a whole spectrum of emotions and thoughts in relation to the impact COVID-19 is having on our lives, and all of those feelings are valid. I hope these few words below resonate with you.
I’m definitely experiencing a while rainbow of thoughts, feelings and emotions these days. And I had to remind myself today that that is A-okay. These are NOT normal times. We are living a new abnormal ‘normal’ now. It’s not forever, the future is not cancelled, & neither is hope. But we do have to try to make peace with our current day to day, even amidst the sometimes chaotic nature of it.
This pandemic is a marathon, not a sprint, and I need reminding of that just as much as you guys. Over the past few weeks, I’ve experienced:
- Stress in my day job as a frontline public health doctor.
Worry as a daughter, sister, niece, cousin and granddaughter for family & what might happen if they became unwell.
- Concern and fear as a healthcare worker with many close friends on the frontline.
- Anger and frustration when it felt some of the public weren’t following public health advice given.
- Guilt for being annoyed over what are little things in the grand scheme (cancelled holidays, postponed exams, etc).
But I’ve also felt:
- Gratitude for the little joys in life like movement, sleep, video calls, laughter, food, shelter, books, writing, sunshine – and for my family, my pals and you guys supporting me here!
Hope for a future filled with more light than darkness.
- Pride in the incredible teamwork I have been part of and witness across our healthcare system.
- Wonder & awe at the ability of humans to find kindness and spread light to each other in times as challenging as this.
- Appreciation for technology to keep us connected while so far apart.
You see? A whole rainbow. And all of those feelings are valid. There is no right way to feel in these current times. But it is right to accept every single feeling that passes through you. Talk about it. Share with your family and friends. Ask them how THEY are. We are all in this together – that, we can be certain of, even in such uncertain times.
What I’m reading…
This week I finished an EXCELLENT book called Silent Patient, by Alex Michaelides. It’s a psychological thriller, a fiction novel about two key characters – psychotherapist Theo Faber and artist Alicia Berenson. Alicia, a former famous artist, is a patient in The Grove, a secure forensic unit, sent there after murdering her husband Gabriel. She is the silent patient, having not spoken a word since the murder of her husband. Theo takes up a new post at The Grove with a mission – to get Alicia to talk, crossing all sorts of patient-therapist boundaries along the way. This book is a MAJOR page-turner. I could not put it down – even when it creeped me out a little!!! There are several plot twists and turns, some of which I saw coming and some I really didn’t, but either way, wow. Get this book on your reading list gang – it’s one to curl up with for the afternoon, and good luck trying to put it away for the night, my bedtime got later and later the more I read it!
I’ve started a new Audible book – Critical, by intensive care consultant Matt Morgan. I’m only a few pages in but so far, I’m really enjoying it. I love reading books written by other doctors, especially those in specialties that aren’t my own, and hopefully I’ll enjoy this one just as much as those I’ve read previously!
As always, let me know what you’re reading – leave a comment below if you want to share!
What I’m listening to…
My Podcast of the week for you guys is Episode 4 of the Unlocking Us Podcast by Brene Brown. I’m sure many of you, like myself, are fans of Brene Brown – if you haven’t heard of her, watch her Ted Talk and thank me later! Episode 4 touches on several key points, but the one that stood out to me most was about comparative suffering, and the idea that empathy is not finite – we do not need to ration love (for ourselves or for others), especially in the current situation we find ourselves in. I’d really recommend plugging into this episode, it’s a lovely listen. Brene’s perspective on life always opens my mind and I’m very grateful she has her own podcast now!
Recipe of the week
My recipe of the week for you guys is a brand new one to the blog – a delicious Lentil Pasta Bake! I have to say I am delighted with how this creation turned out – it’s a pasta bake twist on my Simple Lentil Ragu recipe, with some delicious melted cheese on top! It’s a great dish to make on your day off – you can save a few portions in your freezer, or use it as a recipe to feed a few hungry mouths!
If you’re looking for a new snack recipe, I’ve shared a new one this weekend on the blog – Peanut Butter Cookies! A nice and easy baking recipe which you could get the little ones involved with too perhaps.
P.S. The Podcast Is BACK!
I am so, so glad to be bringing the Podcast back to you guys. I’ve really missed recording episodes and as I’ve had my exam postponed to later this year, I figured it was a good time to get back recording! You can find the first new episode on the Podcast here – but you can also listen on Spotify and Apple Podcasts. I’ll be sharing both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 related episodes so do subscribe and keep an eye out for new releases!
And that’s a wrap folks! I hope you enjoyed this week’s article. If you want to get in touch, you can leave a comment here, send me a message on Instagram or drop me a line via email. I’m @theirishbalance on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook! I hope you all have a good week ahead – mind yourselves, and keep up to date on COVID-19 with the advice of your own health authority.
Ciara 🙂 x