I’m in an MRI tube and don’t know when I’m getting out!

claustrophobia-2If you’ve ever had an MRI, you have your own story to tell, but I’m guessing most of our stories include some coping strategies. I don’t think of myself as claustrophobic, but being cranked into one of those tubes can turn it on for me like a finger in an electrical socket.  Little panic thoughts start racing through my brain — they are creative and crazy.

What if the tech forgets about me? What if the thingy that moves the tray in and out of the tube (with me on it!) gets stuck? What if there’s an earthquake, or a power outage and I’m stuck here? What’s my exit plan – could I wiggle my way out if I lose my cool?

“Breath” … “You can do this” … “Say your mantra”

So far that’s always worked to keep me fixed in place as I watch the minutes faithfully march towards the end of the test. I know it will be over; I know when it will be over; I can manage this.

This “Stay At Home” order is starting to feel a little like that MRI tube. I didn’t think this was going to be so hard for me. Stick with your schedule, keep meditating, exercising, etc. You’ve got this. It will be over soon enough. I can manage this. 

However, I’m starting to experience fleeting panic thoughts creeping around in my head and causing some havoc. The cool veneer is cracking a little. I’m getting a little testy. Just ask around.

When is it going to be over? What if we get stuck in here for a really long time? Will things ever be the same? What if I freak out? What if I dissolve into a heap of misery? Mantras and deep breathing can only take me so far. What kind of escape strategy can I fantasize about? 

I can’t bail out of this one. It won’t be a matter of rescheduling another appointment or appealing to my doctor for some relaxation meds to smooth the way. Alcohol, sugar and carbs appear to be the best anesthetics we have right now, but they will leave us crying over the “COVID 19 pounds”. Also not ideal.

After all the spiritual, metaphysical, exercise, etc. tips and techniques are exhausted, at the end of the day I just need to put on my big girl pants and get on with it. That’s what I know my mom would have done, and my Depression era grandmother, and my pioneering great-grandmother.

That’s my pep talk to get me through another day. Hope you’re hanging in there too.

Waiting for the Storm Surge

Hurrican harveyWe know about waiting around for a storm surge on the Texas Gulf Coast. When a named storm comes into the Gulf of Mexico, the media goes into hyper-overdrive. The weather becomes the headline news, the mid-point news and the wrap-up news – and then the special edition extension to the news. Public Service Announcements drop into our conscientiousness like pollen off the oak trees in March. We add water, batteries, extra canned soup, alcohol, chips and salsa to our grocery lists — never toilet paper before, but this could be a new thing after COVID-19.

Then we sit and wait … and watch the news. As the colored storm trajectories and probabilities snake their way across the map, we make second level decisions about boarding up windows, tying down flying objects, and moving cars to higher ground. Some people gather for storm parties – admit it, you know you do! Life is up-ended. It feels exciting, a bit dangerous and there’s a thrill of a disruption to the daily grind.

Today we’re sitting around watching for another potential surge to hit our city. Houston is awaiting a surge in Coronavirus cases. We are warned to “expect lots of deaths” on the news. Is that for us too, or just New York? We’re not familiar with these new “flatten the curve” charts being flashed up on the screen. We don’t know how to assess the likelihood of damage.

We’ve done lots of the basic supplies prep, and are now making additional decisions around masks, gloves, and ordering groceries online. Our natural inclination to have a storm party is thwarted by the “Stay At Home” orders. What’s the point of all the chips and beer if you can’t share it with anyone?

When storms hit the coast, reporters stand ridiculously close to the waves on various piers and hotels near the ocean front. We watch and analyze and pour another drink. We post more on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and try to eventually get to sleep, but with one ear open for rising wind and flying objects. It’s a short-lived happening. Within a day, or two your fate is sealed and the storm has fizzled out, and the reporters can get some sleep. And us too.

This Corona surge however, is stretching beyond our attention span on the Gulf Coast. We’ve been switching on the evening news for the latest “Breaking News” for over three weeks now. The front-line reporters are in hospitals, deserted streets, and interviewing distressed medical personnel via Facetime across the country. I notice that they don’t get as close to the COVID patients as they do to those storm waves. 

Our social media feeds are getting clogged up with all manner of sharing challenges and chains on alternative topics. We’re not sleeping as well and starting to get cranky about people getting too close to us on walks.

How long is this going to take? First it was early April, then mid-April, now it’s April 30th. How will we know when it’s over and safe to step outside again? Is this “peak” they speak of rather like being in the eye of the storm? We keep tuning in to hopefully get answers.

I’m worried about our stamina for this. This is not your average storm surge. We can’t see the dropping pressure isobars over the Gulf. Do we have the endurance needed for such a long, drawn-out watch event? Especially each household going it alone. We’re not in training for this. We don’t have a frame of reference for this pending disaster.

There’s an expectation that the storm needs to either hit, or move on elsewhere. How long can we keep everyone penned in when they become immune to the media warnings? Something needs to happen soon, or I fear people are going to bust out. 

Waiting and patience are not our strong suits. Do we have what it takes to ride out this storm?

There is a mounting restlessness “to saddle up and move ’em on out.”