My mother-in-law, Sandy, tells a lot of stories (like, a lot, a lot). She’s had an interesting life and she loves to share stories about her childhood adventures at the lake, her charismatic father, and her nutty college roommate, Penny.
I’ve heard most of the stories before, but I never mind hearing them again. I know her stories are her way of keeping the memories of her loved ones alive.
One of my favorite stories is the one about how she re-learned to walk after having polio. Sandy contracted polio at the age of two, just a few years before the vaccine came out in 1955. (Side note: thanks to the widespread use of the polio vaccine, the United States has been polio-free since 1979).
Sandy says that, during those days, many people were extremely fearful of polio because of how little was known about the disease. Many would shy away from taking care of polio patients because of fear of contracting it or passing it on to their loved ones.
However, Sandy remembers one hospital where she was taken during her quarantine. She distinctly recalls turning into the driveway with her parents and seeing nuns run out to their car as they pulled up, shouting, “Give her to me! Give her to me. I will take care of her!”
And they did. They scooped Sandy up, nursed her back to health, taught her to walk again and, helped her make a full recovery.
Sandy told me this story again over the Thanksgiving holiday and, this time, I thought of all of you.
This has been a brutal two years for therapists.
Although I recognize that doctors, nurses, and hospital staff have been on the front lines of caring for those suffering from COVID, I also want to acknowledge that the impact of the pandemic extended far beyond emergency rooms and doctor’s offices.
Therapists have been on the front lines of a different sort of health crisis – the collateral damage of the pandemic on people’s relationships, jobs, children, finances, and overall mental health.
Many of you have told me about your full caseloads and waitlists filled with those who are grieving the loss of a loved one, couples who are navigating the adjustment, small business owners who have lost their livelihood, and children who are struggling academically and socially.
You’ve been there for so many people.
Metaphorically, you’ve been the nuns running out saying, “Give them to me! I will care for them!”
During this season of gratitude and reflection, I want to extend a warm thank you for all the work you have done to transfer your practice online, to lovingly walk through this experience with your clients, and for moving toward, instead of away, from those who are suffering.
You are absolute heroes.