In Kelly’s Words – Adjusting to a COVID-19 world
What a few weeks it has been! I looked back on my last blog from March 10. That feels like a million years ago! At that moment we were still planning on holding Inspire!Boston on March 26. Within 24 hours it was obvious we could not, and we had publicly cancelled within 48 hours. In retrospect that blog was a bookmark in our pre-COVID innocence!
I know I’m not alone in feeling like things have changed more quickly and dramatically than any other time in my life (with the exception maybe of my accident that caused my spinal cord injury). But I want to use this blog to talk about the effect on my life and some of the positives that I think will come out of this crazy situation.
We discussed much of this on a Facebook Live Stream on March 18, but I work 3 days a week as a pediatric nurse practitioner in a primary care office in Burlington, VT. Before COVID hit we were incredibly busy seeing physicals and sick visits newborns though early 20s. We were swamped with the flu, strep throat, colds, and every other common childhood illness. When COVID hit we cancelled all physicals except for kids 12 months and younger that need important vaccines. We also slowly made the transition to seeing sick visits only via telehealth (video calls). A HUGE shift for a small private practice.
This didn’t happen overnight (as none of the changes with COVID have happened) but this has been a major shift in my workflow. Social distancing has reduced the spread of COVID but also other illness. There are no sports so kids have fewer injuries. And people aren’t coming in for that random thing that has been bothering them for a few months. I’ve had to adjust to seeing sick kids only over the computer and figure out how I’m going to make decisions when I can’t rely on a physical exam in the same way. However, the change to telehealth has been something the healthcare field has talked about for years but has not been able to implement. I’m hopeful that COVID has forced us to do this and when life begins to return to normal, we will continue to use telehealth for certain useful situations.
As you might remember, my last blog was all about my kids. How I wish for the days where a cute update about my kids was blog-worthy! Their lives have also been turned upside down as we are on week 5 of no daycare. I feel lucky that we live in Vermont and in a place where we can safely still be outside. One of our favorite activities is biking to the farm that is a mile down the road from us and saying hello to the cows and horses. Thankfully spring has come early this year because being outside is good for all of our mental health!
The last big part of my life that has been affected by COVID is the KBF. We have had to cancel two large fundraisers (Inspire!Boston in late March and Inspire!Vermont in May). This is obviously a huge hit to fundraising. No one can predict the future, but we are still looking forward to the Kelly Brush Ride on Sept. 12 and Inspire!SanFrancisco in October. Because of a really incredible team of staff, Board, and supporters, we’re in a good place to come out of this in a strong position. We’re delaying some things we were excited for (travel, events, etc.) and being deliberate about everything we spend. But I’m impressed every day at our community, the support they have for the KBF and what they are willing to do for us. I couldn’t be more grateful.
I truly believe this will force some major changes in how we operate for the better: a newly fostered sense of genuine, local community, a resetting of priorities, and a deepening of connections with those we’re passing this time with and those we’re connecting with virtually. As a mom and healthcare provider I mourn the level of illness and death that have prompted these changes, but if we can focus on the positives in our life right now and the positives that can come when this is over, hopefully we can ease the burden of these weeks and be stronger on the other side.
In a graduation speech I gave to the Champlain Valley Union High School here in Vermont in 2019 (I guess I’ll still be the reigning graduation speaker into 2021), I encouraged the graduates—who had experienced a particularly difficult school year filled with loss—that if you’re walking through fire, focus on the foot that is off the ground. Focus on the positive. I have tried harder than ever to take my own advice: grow my relationship with my daughters, become a better healthcare provider, and maybe even cut Zeke some slack every once-in-awhile.
I look forward to seeing you all in person soon! And until then please find the positive, it’s there!