Surviving a Pandemic

Monday, November 23, 2020


    After an utterly exhausting week that left my cortisol levels reaching new peaks in this interview season there was a long and hard crash. I felt exhausted and almost as if I would blackout from the sleepiness and nothingness filling my brain with black. So I let my body steer me in the direction it needed to go and succumbed to the fatigue. I slept for half a day and all night. But now, I am ready to take on what comes next. If I forced my body to continue in the condition it was, I would have crashed or remained in a state of perpetual exhaustion which would draw out my agony for a longer period of time and reduce my efficiency and motivation, anyway. I decided to take a break from everything to enable myself the chance to get back up on my feet and feel some semblance of rejuvenation or peace of mind. Alas, I feel that I will be unable to feel at peace until I hear some more news of any kind. But what can I say, I am going to accept that this is my life for now. During this time I pondered and mused over what I could possibly share with my readers in the midst of my mental crises. There is so much to say and so many more stories to tell but I want to wait it out a bit. Talking about the difficult periods in my life while undergoing a mental breakdown is probably not the healthiest of ways to cope at this time. So I started musing what could be motivating and inspiring to me in a time like this. Perhaps I need to branch out a little bit more in my desire to talk about everything. So much to think about indeed but let's start with a story from today.

    My mother and I were chatting away about her work when she came home since the senior care home she works at is dealing with a covid outbreak for the first time since the pandemic began. They have been quite careful but still, it was a struggle, and trying to ensure everyone remains on the same page lead to the managers dealing with their own meltdowns in its midst. One of the managers copes by ignoring any issues that anyone brings to her. For example, my mother went up to her to discuss about a resident who kept breaking into the room of the man who tested covid positive a few days ago. This particular resident is suffering from dementia and when she wakes up every morning, her mission of the day is to find her husband who lives on the same floor. Unfortunately, her husband resides in the opposite corridor and residents are not allowed to cross from one block to the other to reduce transmission of the virus from one half of the wing to the other. This agitates and confuses the lady who then attempts to open as many doors on her side of the wing in the quest to find her husband. This created an unusual situation where she would be found in the room of different residents if their rooms were left unlocked by accident or she would choose to stand directly behind the heavy fire doors that lead out to the center of the floor. These doors are heavy and require significant strength to push them open and so this creates a dangerous situation for the resident lady waiting on the other side. When my mother brought up this issue with manager one, she shrugged her shoulders, looked away, and exclaimed, "I don't know! Don't ask me again!" and sauntered off quickly so that she could disappear and end this conversation. 

    Having no choice but to approach another manager, my mother went up to manager two and reiterated her concern once more. He acknowledged her concern with a frown on his face but could not come up with a solution to the problem. Frustrated and defeated, my mother returned to finish her work because everything she did now took three times as long. The morning medication round for her floor which used to take half an hour extends to three hours because she needs to regown before entering a new room. There are twenty-four residents on her floor so you can imagine how exhausting this becomes especially since within her one shift, she is responsible for morning and afternoon medication administration. Residents suffering from dementia are set in their routines which help them feel comfortable with their surroundings and this current pandemic caused both internal and external chaos for them. They are unable to meet with their loved ones perform their daily set tasks of walking down to the dining hall for their three meals and tea time. They are also lost within different eras within their own minds to a time much different than the present. There is another resident on the same floor who is inconsolable because she believes her husband who passed away several years ago is still alive and she needs to go to him. The disruption in her routine further frustrated her because she is unable to reach the nursing station or occupy herself with her other activities. This resulted in her being stuck in a constant loop also fixating on finding her husband who is not there anymore. 

Photo by Georg Arthur Pflueger on Unsplash

    I try to imagine what it must feel like to be utterly and completely lost in the world and not understanding what is happening around me or why things are changing. For some, their agony is made worse if they are aware of their own helplessness from time to time because they still have some grasp on the present. Something as simple as helping a resident fix their TV because they accidentally switched it to a different channel or setting or helping them connect or reconnect with their family on their complicated technological device could ease some of their agitations. Unfortunately, the floor staff have their hands full and care members from different floors are unable to come and lend a hand. 

    We are living through unprecedented times and improvising situations as they come because we do not have a handbook to help us through this ordeal. If my mind can lean on the side of chaos, imagine the condition of those who cannot fully grasp the extent of what is happening around them. But I am glad that there are those among us who continue to look for ways to make things a little bit better. Especially those who find solutions among the resources allocated to them. At this moment, that is all we can ask for because we just don't know what will come next. The most important skill for survival right now is flexibility and quick adaptation to change. There is nothing wrong with accepting something is not working even if it did before or after trying something new, realizing further changes need to be made. Normally, we do not need to make these decisions on a day-to-day basis, but right now, this is the key to survival. Another lesson I learned from my mother's day was that sometimes we just need to focus on the parts of our routine that help maintain our sanity and of those around us. Watch those shows, read those books and first and foremost, focus on making it through today. 

    Maintaining a routine may be what helps you cope with the continuous onslaught of change around you that is beyond your control. Or, the opposite may just be the cup of chai that helps you survive your twenty-four hours. There is always tomorrow to fix or finish things that you were unable to get to. In order to keep going, your mental health is just as important as your physical. I am sure if you look around you will find that your loved ones are facing challenges too so checking up on them and maintaining regular contact could be what saves someone from drowning with the pressure of it all. So take a deep breath and drink that chai, coffee, tonic, whatever it is you need. And if you need someone to talk to, why not start here and I will listen. Let's start with you.

Until Next Time,


Intro Photo by Cristian Newman on Unsplash


  1. Such a beautiful article. Your writing always touches me. I often think of the same dilemma and how fortunate I’ve been.

  2. What a compassionate article. You are right we need to make it through everyday and reaching out and being kind or lending an ear really helps. Glad to know we can approach you dr. Wandering gypsy.


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