Forks & Spoonies: Running out of Spoons, Pandemic Fatigue

This pandemic is hard on everyone, it’s no different for us Spoonie’s. I have a serious, degenerative spinal condition that leaves me in a state of constant pain and in need of a Rollator or wheelchair. 

From my point of view, the pandemic has made things far worse. Let’s start with the day I got my vaccine. I had foolishly assumed that because I had an appointment, I would go straight in.  

Nope!  

I had to stand for a total of an hour on the sidewalk and on the cement floor of the arena where they were giving the shots. I almost didn’t make it and I was in pain for days afterwards! Top that off with spending over an hour in one room with 100+ people. Yeah! 

If you also suffer from constant pain, please consider other available options for your vaccine. If you can bring someone with you, maybe they can wait in line for you until you get near the front. You can also book online at places like a pharmacy, or some clinics where there are more comforts available to you. The link to Ontario pharmacies offering the vaccine is here https://covid-19.ontario.ca/vaccine-locations 

Shopping is harder too, stores either don’t have the motorized carts available, or only allow one person per household. My husband generally has to argue to come in with me, or I have to sit and wait in the car. If a friend is willing to get my groceries, they don’t always know what I want or mean, or they don’t pick out what I would have.  For example: nectarines were on sale and I asked for a couple pounds. I got a bag of clementine at full price. 

If you have someone who can do the shopping- BE SPECIFIC with your list. Don’t assume they know! You can also consider utilizing online options like Amazon grocery, Costco Instacart or see if your local grocer does home delivery. Again, do yourself the courtesy of being specific in your needs.  

 Doctor appointments are sadly, currently, no more. My doctor is currently telephone only.  

I’m fairly certain my blood pressure has passed that line into ‘high’ My doctor has been monitoring it for several years, but legally, she is unable to prescribe new meds on my say-so. Because she has changed her operations to telephone only with no in house visits, there will be no blood pressure meds for me in the foreseeable future. 

Package delivery is completely borked! I used to get my meds from Costco online. They were mailed to me which was very convenient, Pre-Covid.   

Now, delivery takes so long that I often run out before the new bottle arrives. I can’t take the 3-week delivery into account and order early, because I’m only allowed to refill a prescription one week before I run out. This has forced me to go pick up my prescription in person in the midst a grey zone labelled community. Grey zone is one level higher than red, I guess they just couldn’t think of a prettier colour. Or maybe they were thinking of zombies. 

Isolation, THIS is the big one. Everyone is stressed, money is tight, and patience is something a lot of Spoonies don’t receive from family and friends. All the help and support they need in the best of times, isn’t happening right now because family members are giving all they can give while also struggling. 

Family and friends aren’t allowed to visit, nor can you visit them. Talking on the phone or video or whatever other means is a limited ability to dispel the isolation. If you live alone weeks may go by without it face-to-face. Many Spoonie’s suffer from clinical depression as a result of their condition, the constant pain they are in and the limitations it can cause. In the anxiety and depression currently sweeping civilization, isolation is very, very real.  

There are ways to lessen the loneliness of isolation. 

Books, television, streaming, gaming… they are all small ways you can take your mind off of things for a while! 

Books are a gateway to another world! Getting lost within a fantasy novel or even learning a new skill with a how-to book.  

Television can have much of the same affect and change your mood. Watching a comedy or sitcom to lighten your mood or a documentary to make you think. Don’t have Netflix or cable? There’s online streaming. Music, movies, and shows galore! The world is at your fingertips! 

Gaming is a solid way to escape for a while. It is also a way to interact with people if you do online gaming. Perhaps you can get together with some of your friends for an online game night- a raid in WOW? Or Jack box who offers their games on all platforms like Xbox, PlayStation, Switch and PC. 

All of these examples offer some reprise from the pandemic when done in moderation. Too much of any of these can have you feeling more distant and removed, which is the opposite of where you want to be when battling isolation. Watching the news 24/7 or gaming for 12 hours straight… neither of those are healthy choices nor beneficial to you in any way. 

I’ve touched on depression but according to my doctor, Spoonies often contend with a number of mental illnesses in addition to their physical illnesses. After a year plus on house arrest; many otherwise normal, stable people are now developing mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety, sleep disorders, even claustrophobia and its opposite, agoraphobia. I personally think I’m developing people phobia because groups of more than 3 or 4 people are very unsettling. Even masked and even if they are outside and I’m not. 

For those of us already dealing with depression and anxiety, how much have our symptoms worsened? 

I’d imagine significantly, but you are NOT alone in this! I urge you to seek help if you are open to it, and the help is out there! 

Perhaps try asking yourself how long you’ve been feeling this way? If there are supports that have helped others, would you also benefit from the same? What helped you in the past? Would it be helpful to reach out to a friend, family, a neighbour, coworker, community centre or church? 

Here in Ontario, we have services like 211  

211 Ontario 

  • Information and referral for community, government, social and health services, including mental health resources across Ontario.
  • Call 2-1-1 
  • Toll-free: 1-877-330-3213 

The Canadian Government compiled a list of resources for people living with pain during Covid-19, you can see the list here: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/corporate/about-health-canada/public-engagement/external-advisory-bodies/resources.html 

This pandemic battle has been long, it’s been tiring, and yes, the pandemic has definitely added an extra layer of pain and frustration to us Spoonies. Keep fighting the good fight my friends! There are ways to get through the days without falling prey to our disabilities. Asking for help, advocating for ourselves and using the tools that are available to us. We either let the disability define us, or we define it.  

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