It’s Been a Long Time

It’s definitely been some time since I’ve written a blog. I’ve been very busy with providing online psychotherapy sessions.

I’ve recently been diagnosed with polycythemia. This means that I have excess production of red blood cells. I don’t yet know if this condition is primary or secondary. If primary, I’m dealing with a bone marrow cancer. If secondary, my condition may be treated via blood letting.

I have an appointment with a cancer care center,to determine the etiology of my polycythemia. Honestly, I feel bone weary. I’m already trying to manage multiple chronic conditions.

Stable Subglottic Stenosis

I just finished a follow-up appointment with my ENT. I completed a bronchosopy. My subglottic stenosis is currently stable, at 20% occlusion.

This morning, I started to take Premarin, a low dose of estrogen replacement therapy. My ENT is concerned that this new medication could worsen my subglottic stenosis.

I’ll see my ENT in three months, for the same procedure. Should my stenosis worsen, I’ll again receive in-office steroid injections.

It’s now been close to two years since my last dilitation surgery. Previously, I had been having throat surgery every six months. I’m deeply thankful for this improvement.

Even though my blurred vision has now resolved, my eyes remain extremely sensitive to light. It does take up to three full months to fully recover from an episode of optic neuritis.

Optic Neuritis, Again

Over the decades of living with relapsing-remitting MS, I’ve encountered multiple episodes of optic neuritis, inflammation of my optic nerve. It’s always painful, with varying degrees of vision loss.

I’ve contacted my neurologist this morning, to ask if she’d be willing to prescribe a course of steroids for this recent episode of optic neuritis. I really don’t want to take steroids again, given their adverse side effects. Nevertheless, I really crave relief from this intense discomfort.

I needed to cancel all of my online counseling sessions for today. Thankfully, my clients were very understanding and willing to reschedule.

I take comfort in knowing that so many people are praying for me at this time. I’m going to just take today very easy.

Initiating Outpatient Practice

I’ve been a clinical psychologist with CHE Behavioral Health Services for close to 3 years, as well as a psychologist for nearly 20 years. During my time with CHE, I’ve provided therapy sessions for residents of two nursing homes.

CHE has recently expanded its range of services to include outpatients. In part, this is due to the unprecedented demand for mental health services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Today was my first day of seeing outpatients for CHE. I felt challenged by seeing clients who are significantly younger than the typical nursing home residents.

I’m still getting comfortable with all of the technical aspects of navigating this new online platform for providing services. Nevertheless, I was deeply satisfied that all of the diverse clients whom I saw today said that they felt very comfortable with me as a therapist.

I look forward to the challenges of working with a more diverse range of clients through CHE’S outpatient teletherapy services. It’s always good to need to use a variety of skills as a clinical psychologist.

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Longing for Connection

In a world where we can all connect virtually, 24 hours per day, many of us still find ourselves longing for meaningful connections. Of course, the year-long COVID-19 pandemic’s imposed isolation has only heightened our desire for interaction with others.

After all, we’re social by our very nature. It’s unnatural to have so much of our social interactions occur virtually (the irony is not lost on me, i.e., that I’m writing these very words to be shared online, rather than in person).

One year into this pandemic, many of us are struggling with extreme loneliness. We might have a day packed with Zoom calls, since so many of us continue to work virtually. Nevertheless, we remain lonely.

Gone is the water cooler banter that we previously took for granted as we went about our workday. I conduct many online counseling sessions per week, and I’ll soon be expanding my clinical practice. I see so many clients who are experiencing depression, in part due to feeling cut off from others.

Nearly everyone hopes for a return to normal, of course. Widespread vaccination will greatly accelerate this transition. Until that time, we can demonstrate our concern for others by continuing to wear masks, socially distancing, and washing our hands frequently.

As a clinical psychologist, I regularly meet with men and women who feel distressed about their lack of in-person interaction. I try to validate their reactions as a normal response to an unprecedented situation, a global pandemic.

When a semblance of normality is finally achieved, let’s hope that we no longer take face-to-face interactions for granted, nor the healing powers of a long hug. We truly need each other to thrive.