Social Distancing Could Be Good for More than Only Physical Health

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by Charlton Harris |

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Social distancing is the new norm.

It reminds me of the two months I spent in the hospital after my first spontaneous pneumothorax. While hooked up to chest tubes and oxygen, I was pretty much sheltered in place. In the beginning that wasn’t too bad. I had my television, several good-looking nurses taking care of me, and my tablet.

A good friend of mine is a respiratory nurse at the hospital, so she frequently looked in on me after her shift. Most of the nurses in that ward know her, so that made me feel like I was getting a little extra treatment. She put an app on my tablet that allowed me to get free movies. That was a big win.

An even bigger win was when one of the transport guys told me about a free app with access to all of the movie, sports, and news channels — yuge win for me! So, I was equipped with most of the creature comforts of life I’m used to. At least, other than full internet, my own cooking, and an occasional adult beverage. I believed I was ready for the long haul.

Hours become days, then weeks.

Each day became a new adventure. My day would start with blood draws at 5 a.m., then the nurse would have me sit up in a chair. They do this for lung patients so fluid doesn’t settle in the lungs. Then the doctors would visit and update me on my progress, if any. Each day I became increasingly sheltered in place to what would soon be my new normal

Each hospital hour seemed more like days. Since I was attached to the wall by oxygen and suction lines, there was very little I could do on my own. I managed to do some bedside exercises and I think I’d watched every episode of “Law & Order: SVU” and “Bar Rescue.” My kids turned me on to “Impractical Jokers” as well. As the days passed by with no promising news from the doctors, I became very concerned and often questioned if I would ever recover or be able to return home.

I tried to remain positive. The medical staff were really cool in making sure I didn’t become so despondent that I would give up. My family would visit in the afternoon after finishing work and some friends stopped by during the day if they had time. By all accounts, I’m sure they realized being cooped up in one place for so long can have negative effects on one’s thinking.

Social distancing isn’t that bad.

After 53 days doctors released me from the hospital with no more air leaking in my lung. 

During that time of “social distancing,” I learned a lot about people, but I mainly learned about myself. I read a lot of books on my tablet about self-improvement and remaining encouraged. I spent those 53 days pretty much alone but realized my need to rely on others to care for me. This experience taught me about triggers, humility, gratitude, and life priorities. I must continue to focus on those things.

This COVID-19 situation can serve a positive purpose. I encourage people to use this time of social distancing and self-quarantine to their advantage. This is very serious. Use this time for personal growth and introspection. Many of us can come out of this as better people — maybe even healthier, physically and emotionally.

During this quarantine, I’m building my skills and knowledge. As a video editor, I’m brushing up on my editing skills since I haven’t used them regularly since 2017. Maybe when all of this is over, employers will consider talented people who have the right skills but need to work from home. Last summer and fall I enrolled in two nutrition courses and one master herbalist course. I haven’t been following along these past few months, but now is the perfect time for me to get back into learning. I’ve always believed that nutrition plays a huge role in helping people live better with sarcoidosis. It has for me!

Staying mentally strong and humbled during this time is key to survival. Usually, sarcoidosis life is like being in a bubble no one understands, but now more folks are understanding a little of what we go through. Maybe now people will be more empathetic of the situations we can’t control but have to live with. Wishful thinking.


Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.


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