Hitting a Nerve

Changing habits, sleep patterns, and home duties during the pandemic


Like you, I’m not sure when this weird Twilight Zone world of coronavirus will end. Even when it does, its effects will be with us for a long time to come.

Dr. Allan M. Block, a neurologist is Scottsdale, Ariz.

Dr. Allan M. Block

But in some ways, they may be for the better. Hopefully some of these changes will stick. Like every new situation, I try to take away something of value from it.

As pithy as it sounds, I used to obsess (sort of) over the daily mail delivery. My secretary would check it mid-afternoon, and if it wasn’t there either she or I would run down again before we left. If it still wasn’t there I’d swing by the box when I came in early the next morning. On Saturdays, I’d sometimes drive in just to get the mail.

There certainly are things that come in that are important: payments, bills, medical records, legal cases to review ... but realistically a lot of mail is junk. Office-supply catalogs, CME or pharmaceutical ads, credit card promotions, and so on.

Now? I just don’t care. If I go several days without seeing patients at the office, the mail is at the back of my mind. It’s in a locked box and isn’t going anywhere. Why worry about it? Next time I’m there I can deal with it. It’s not worth thinking about, it’s just the mail. It’s not worth a special trip.

Sleep is another thing. For years my internal alarm has had me up around 4:00 a.m. (I don’t even bother to set one on my phone), and I get up and go in to get started on the day.

Now? I don’t think I’ve ever slept this much. If I have to go to my office, I’m much less rushed. Many days I don’t even have to do that. I walk down to my home office, call up my charts and the day’s video appointment schedule, and we’re off. Granted, once things return to speed, this will probably be back to normal.

My kids are all home from college, so I have the extra time at home to enjoy them and our dogs. My wife, an oncology infusion nurse, doesn’t get home until 6:00 each night, so for now I’ve become a stay-at-home dad. This is actually something I’ve always liked (in high school, I was voted “most likely to to be a house husband”). So I do the laundry and am in charge of dinner each night. I’m enjoying the last, as I get to pick things out, go through recipes, and cook. I won’t say I’m a great cook, but I’m learning and having fun. As strange as it sounds, being a house husband has always been something I wanted to do, so I’m appreciating the opportunity while it lasts.

I think all of us have come to accept this strange pause button that’s been pushed, and I’ll try to learn what I can from it and take that with me as I move forward.

Dr. Block has a solo neurology practice in Scottsdale, Ariz. He has no relevant disclosures.

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