Blog

Multigenerational Concerns

Today finds me thinking about multigenerational health concerns within my family.

This morning, I drove my daughter to an outpatient orthopedic clinic, for her foot to be recasted. Nearly three weeks ago, she broke her foot. It’s upsetting and frustrating to see her experience so much discomfort.

My ninety-year-old mother was recently discharged from the hospital. She needed to receive blood, due to experiencing internal bleeding. She also received IV diuretics. Excessive fluid buildup had temporarily caused shortness of breath. I have been very worried about her well-being.

I’m sandwiched in between my mother and my daughter, facing my own chronic health issues. Nevertheless, I’m very thankful to have been able to help my mother and my daughter during this especially stressful time.

I soon need to find alternate funding for disease-modifying medication for my relapsing-remitting MS. This is especially important because I have recently been informed that I now have lesions within my thoracic spine, as well as my brain.

While juggling all of these concerns, I’m trying to remotely teach a college course, plus transition to teletherapy sessions with my nursing home residents.

I feel especially stressed right now, but I know that these feelings will eventually pass. I’m simply trying to do my best with my current set of challenges.

Providing Teletherapy Sessions

This morning, I conducted several brief teletherapy sessions with my nursing home residents. While I sincerely appreciate the assistance of staff members for doing so, attempting to provide therapy this way was extremely awkward.

I don’t believe that residents are free to express what is happening to them in the presence of a third person. I also felt somewhat inhibited with trying to provide therapy via this modality.

My employer has recently informed me that, according to the CDC, psychologists are deemed to be essential providers. I relayed this information to the director of nursing at the nursing home where I provide psychological services.

The director of nursing agreed that I will be allowed to see residents. Of course, I’ll need to be screened each time that I go to the nursing home, as well as wear a mask the entire time that I am there.

Social Distancing

Like others who are acting responsibly during the COVID-19 pandemic, I’m practicing social distancing, whenever possible.

Yesterday, it was unavoidable to be out and about. I needed to pick up my 90-year-old mother who was discharged from the hospital. I also needed to take my daughter grocery shopping. She’s currently unable to drive, since she’s in a cast. I also needed to get gas.

Other than performing essential tasks, I’m staying home. I know that the consequences of contracting COVID-19 would be very serious for me, since I have underlying health issues, including a rare airway disorder. In addition, I’m currently taking an immunosuppressant for my relapsing-remitting MS.

Stressed in Every Way

Today, I find myself stressed in almost every possible way! I woke up to find very distressing test results. I found out my spinal cord MRI results: I now have multiple lesions in my thoracic spinal cord, plus osteophytes.

I’m concerned about my daughter, too. A couple of days ago, I took her to be fitted for a cast, since she broke her foot. She is on long-term prednisone, so she is more susceptible to sustaining a fracture.

This afternoon, my 90-year-old mother developed shortness of breath. She’s at the hospital right now, receiving IV diuretics. Her hemoglobin is also low. Most upsetting, I wasn’t allowed to see her when I drove to the hospital.

Then, there’s the added stress of trying to perform all of my jobs amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

Did I mention that my grant is running out for Vumerity, the immunosuppressant that I have been taking to manage my relapsing-remitting MS? Also, I just received my very last social security disability benefit.

Battling Burnout

Quite honestly, I feel tremendously burned out this morning. Like everyone else, I find myself reeling from the non-stop updates regarding the coronavirus pandemic. Unlike so many others, I am also immunosuppressed, which makes me even more vulnerable to contracting COVID-19.

I now need to transition all of my employment responsibilities. I don’t feel terribly comfortable with the utilization of technology, so I’m extra stressed by having to do this, too. I need to transfer in-class assignments to online ones. I need to schedule my nursing home residents for teletherapy sessions.

Earlier today, I found out that I have now developed multiple lesions on my thoracic spine, as well as several osteophytes (bone spurs).

This all feels like way to much to be managing simultaneously. Nevertheless, I have found myself at just such a juncture many times before, too.

This too shall pass.

Updated MRI Results

I recently completed brain and thoracic spine MRI’S, to obtain a baseline of my disease status prior to initiating Vumerity for my relapsing-remitting MS. I just received the results of my scans.

Most thankfully, I have no enhanced effect in my brain lesions. In large part, I believe that this is due to having taken disease-modifying medication for an extended period of time. Knowing that I no longer have funding to continue to take my MS-modifying medication is deeply disturbing.

Nevertheless, my thoracic spine MRI results are much more disturbing. I have developed several areas of lesioning within this area. Thankfully, they were not enhanced with gadolinium contrast.

In addition, I now have several osteophytes, or bone spurs, along my spinal column. These new results are sobering, to say the least.

I need to discuss the implications of these test results with my neurologist. Given the coronavirus pandemic, I’m not sure how soon I’ll be able to schedule an appointment with her.

COVID-19 and Anxiety

Individuals who have pre-existing anxiety disorders are especially prone to seeing a spike in their symptoms at this most unprecedented time in our nation. This is true for those who have been diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

There’s a palpable sense of heightened anxiety that permeates the atmosphere these days. We’re repeatedly exposed to alarming updates regarding the coronavirus pandemic.

There are multiple reasons why we may find ourselves struggling with increased anxiety. Individuals with pre-existing health challenges are especially prone to feeling increased anxiety about the possibility of contracting COVID-19.

Each new day brings distressing updates about new cases of COVID-19, as well as updated information about those who have died as a result of contracting this virus. When we happen to hear about a newly-diagnosed case in our immediate area, the abstract and theoretical instantly becomes up close and very personal.

I personally happen to fall into the high risk category category for contracting COVID-19, given that I am taking an immunosuppressant medication for the management of my relapsing-remitting MS. As a result, I am carefully heeding instruction about the critical need for social distancing and more frequent handwashing.

Thankfully, there are steps that we can take to manage our anxiety. It’s absolutely necessary to remind ourselves of those areas of our lives where we can still exert control. Doing so mitigates the overall severity of our anxiety symptoms.