Hitting a Nerve

It’s been surreal


Hopefully 2020 will be the strangest year in modern memory, but who knows?

Things continue to be surreal at my office. I haven’t seen my staff since mid-March, even though I’m in touch with them all day long. Fortunately we live in an age where many things can be handled from home.

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

Dr. Allan M. Block

At the office I’d started to see an increase in patients, but that has dropped off again as the infection rate in Arizona has soared out of control. I’m not complaining about patients staying home; many neurology patients are frail or on immune-suppressing agents, and should not be out and about.

Normally I’m a stickler for stable patients coming in once a year for refills, but in 2020 I’m letting that slide. Sumatriptan, levetiracetam, and nortriptyline are better filled for 90 days to minimize potential COVID-19 contacts on all parts – including mine.

Originally I thought that some degree of normalcy would be back by August, but clearly that won’t be the case. Arizona, and many other states, continue to get worse as political ambitions trounce sound science.

A year ago I routinely fielded calls asking whether various supplements would fend off Alzheimer’s disease as the manufacturers claimed (NO! THEY DON’T!). Today similar calls come in asking about stuff marketed to prevent and cure COVID-19 (same answer).

I have no idea when this will improve. My kids are scheduled to move back into their dorms in about a month, but realistically I don’t see that safely happening. Classrooms, with the reduced capacity needed and cost of frequent cleanings, seem impractical, compared with Zoom.

The college football season is almost certainly going to be canceled. The NFL maybe. Basketball and baseball are playing out reduced seasons in sterilized bubbles. Sports, next to holidays and school, are the cyclical touchstones our society is measured by. Their disruption reflects the strangeness of the year as a whole.

As always during the Phoenix summer, I’m hiding in an air-conditioned office, waiting for patients to come in. It’s quieter without my secretary and her energetic 4-year-old daughter. But I’m still here. It’s strange with the unfamiliar silence, but the routine of coming to work each day, even on a reduced schedule, brings a sense of normalcy. There may not be as many patients, but those who need me come in, and as long as I’m able to, I’ll be here to help them.

Dr. Block has a solo neurology practice in Scottsdale, Ariz.

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