We are in the midst of a new reality called the COVID-19 era, and while it might be a stretch to imagine thriving in this environment that is precisely what the Review of Optometry invited readers to do in a piece it unfurled two weeks ago.
The 20th tip on the list was from Aaron Neufeld, O.D., who advised colleagues to minimize stress, and Samantha Hornberger, O.D., who cautioned against paralysis by analysis.
Dr. Elise Brisco, an optometrist and FCOVD with a certification in homeopathy, contributed tip #16 regarding Telemedicine, in which she was quoted as saying “I can get 90% of the way to the diagnosis from the history alone”. That is a timeless clinical pearl. A few days prior to the publication, Dr. Brisco had joined Dr. Art Epstein in a live webinar co-sponsored by the Review of Optometry
While readers and webinar participants were treated to a healthy dose of Dr. Brisco’s professional wisdom, her personal perspectives are equally valuable. I am excerpting them from her facebook page with permission. On an entry dated March 31, Dr. Brisco wrote:
“Come together while social distancing. We need each other more than ever now to stay at home for the good of all. Practice acts of random kindness to spread good energy. All of us could use a reason to smile. Share supplies with friends and family, and donate masks and gloves to help our doctors and nurses on the front line.” Brimming with positivity, she continued:
“My secret is faith, exercise, meditation and mindfulness, and taking a deep breath to enjoy the moment. We are OK, and we are going to all be OK if we follow the CDCs guidelines for the love of our community. So be safe, stay at home, we are all counting on each other to get through this.”
On April 4, Dr. Brisco acknowledged the sea of emotions on which all of us have been undulating. She pondered:
“How long will our practice be closed which means that myself and my staff are all unemployed? How long will it be before my son can go back to school and learn in a proper setting? How long before we regain our freedom to venture outside of our home, and socialize with people in our community …
For those of you whose businesses and jobs have been hurt because you are closed to help flatten the curve, I salute you. We have traded our ability to earn a living to do our part in keeping our human family well. Please hang in there. I feel your pain. We will come out of this victorious over this monster virus, and hopefully we will come out of this as better people because of this shared struggle.”
And on April 16, Dr. Brisco added: “COVID-19 is definitely making us all think about our past and our future … Will we go back to consuming as much as we did before? Or will we be content with just the necessities and the simple things in life? If we consume less, what will this mean to our economy that has depended on us buying things at a high pace which is good for business, but bad for the environment?
And how about what COVID-19 has done to human interactions? It still feels weird, but necessary, to stand back and walk away to increase distance when you see people, and even friends 👨👨👧👦. We have been forced into social isolation with a primarily online connection to the world 🌎. Will some of our world still be there once we come out of this, or will businesses either shut down, or radically change how they do business? I don’t have the answers, but I sure am thinking about how we will all need to change as we come out of the global pandemic.”
Pema Chödrön is a spiritual teacher with a Buddhist bent who authored a book last year that comes close to having anticipated the state we are in. She opines that when life changes in what feels like an instant, we have no context for understanding the experience. Emptiness that is thrust upon us by circumstances can be disorienting, if not painful. Most people who find themselves with their imputed reality stripped away initially have no idea what to do. The empty space is wide, and there is nothing familiar to hold on to.
At these moments, spiritual colleagues like Dr. Brisco shed considerable light, inviting us to come together while social distancing; being contemplative, yet springing to action through posing the right questions; and ducking the jabs of an insidious disease while throwing key punches of our own. Coming together right now enables us to imagine a better post-COVID professional world.