When the world seems to be in utter chaos, how do we get the care that we need? Well, our planet has never been perfect and our lives have never been “normal”. We have always been outside the model of average and strapped in for a turbulent ride. Now that lights shinning on general themes of inequality and vulnerability are burning brighter, those of us with chronic medical ailments have to balance empathy and anger with self-preservation and global caretaking.
It is a lot to ask. Simply trying to survive a worldwide pandemic was a heavy enough weight to bring some of us to our breaking points. Adding the outrage of systemic injustices and decimated global economies to that… life feels more unstable than ever before. Currently, there is no clear end in site. Everything won’t magically correct itself. When we wake up tomorrow, everyone won’t be happy and on a path to a harmonious and prosperous life. Reality is really really shitty sometimes. We know that. We experience the pain of existence every single day. But that doesn’t mean it’s hopeless. Everything could actually be moving in a more positive direction. We just have to hold on and help steer the ship.
Taking control when and where you can is the best way to keep yourself from spinning out. This can be not only hard but also confusing when it comes to both self-care and whole-care. When medical resources are stretched thin and needing help feels like more of a burden than usual, reaching out is a challenge. It’s a challenge we have to overcome.
I’ve written previously about all the preparation chronically ill folks do. How we are very well suited to hunker down and stretch our resources even when that means we will be in pain or have dangerous symptoms. However, we can’t step back forever. Our needs and survival are just as important as everyone else’s. An even wilder thought… your comfort and happiness are just as important as everyone else’s. Right now, it feels like a a micro-break from the world turning upside down. It’s time to breathe and take a personal inventory of all the things you’ve let slip and simmer in the background.
Medical professionals are seeing non-critical patients. Telehealth appointments are easier to schedule. Grocery stores have figured out inventory and more are offering delivery or pick-up services. Emergency departments are no longer overwhelmed. Virtual mental health and alternative therapy services are often low cost and flexible. Medications and important health products are readily available. We have the chance to bring parts of ourselves back to a functional status.
Of course, things are still different and that can shake up important routines and trigger flare-ups. Some of us have to find second or third tier options for care. We have to create backups for our backups. Most importantly, we need to reach out and be vocal about what is NOT working. As we have discovered, everything can shut down or change in a split second. Taking the opportunity to readjust and find new methods for making it through tough times is incredibly important.
In order to take advantage of this clear window in the global sharknado that is 2020, it’s important to keep timing in mind. Protests can dramatically affect your ability to get to a hospital or doctor’s appointment. An avalanche of newly sick people can strip pharmacies and stores of your daily medical necessities. Economic turmoil and countrywide shutdowns can leave you without human contact and help. We don’t need to be scared of this reality. We’ve been given a chance to see where our individual and societal weaknesses are and now we can shore up everything that has been crumbling these last few months.
The chronically ill and chronic pain communities are incredibly strong. People are generally good and kind. It’s time to be loud about our needs. We can do this without stepping on the stories or progress of our peers. It takes awareness and conscientious actions, but it isn’t impossible. Taking care of what you need now will allow you to be a better neighbor and ally to those who need your help in the future.