Reflections on a crisis
So, our lives will be a little bit different in the new virus-alert world as we find new ways to communicate, share, learn and socialise.
Our circumstances are now to be adapted to, rather than overcome. As for so many people, it’s been a challenging time for me to say the least.
As a healthcare practitioner, in a health crisis, my first instinct is to run toward the front-line, not away from it. Shutting the clinic was a difficult choice. Osteopaths as a group were permitted to stay open during the crisis, but by managing almost all patients remotely via telephone and video.
I chose osteopathy precisely because of its hands-on approach: the applied knowledge of anatomy and physiology and how this translates into what I can feel with my hands. Just being in a room with a patient talking about their symptoms takes physical, psychological and emotional intelligence to interpret each situation, and to place this at the centre of a patient’s care and treatment. It dictates how I adapt my approach between patients and between and within appointments.
For me, I felt that my identity as an osteopath, and what that means to me, was called into question: we were being told we could still help patients by being at the end of a video-call, but this wasn’t how I felt. I felt helpless and frightened that my ‘job’ as I knew it was effectively redundant in this new world.
I know I’m not alone in this identity crisis: judging from all the social media posts and webinar discussions, I believe a large part of the osteopathic community has struggled much as I have, though we are not always good at putting it into words. It is only as I look at re-opening the clinic that I can reflect and interpret how I’ve been feeling.
I’ve been told by patients I am underestimating the value of what I do and how much of the patient consultation is about a problem shared and feeling supported. However, being ‘told’ something and actually ‘feeling’ that way are two very different things, and internal conflict does not benefit us as human beings: it’s a block to mental and physical well-being and, frankly, is pretty unpleasant.
I’m relieved to be able to think about re-opening the clinic (albeit under the weight of PPE) and look forward to seeing my patients again; I am also continuing to consider how life will evolve from here.
Whilst in lock-down, I’ve been doing lots of online learning: taking part in webinars and discussions, up-skilling in new areas and talking to the healthcare community about what changes to make so that we can continue to help our patients. I’ve also been making plans to adapt my personal skill set in the coming years, so it’s been a useful time to reflect the next stage of my career. I look forward seeing what my life will look like in 10 years’ time …it might not be what I expected when I first became as osteopath, but hopeful it will at least be a life full of new skills.
Body for Life Osteopathy