How Will We Treat Illness Post Pandemic?

As the CDC announced earlier this week, individuals that are fully vaccinated are able to go back and resume activity prior to the pandemic. As this feels like a turning point in the events from the last year and a half, it makes me question what others aspects of life are going to change as the country, and the rest of the world, navigate life as the pandemic eventually subsides. Life before had a constant pressure to be keeping busy to the point of burnout in order to "be" productive. Maybe that’s more of a standard in the United States, but I do hope it is something that changes in result of the pandemic. I cannot think of the number of times I forced myself to go to class, plans with friends, or even work when I was feeling under the weather. The line would be drawn at having a fever, but before that I would take little to no precautions toward others besides trying to wash my hands more and keep some distance, but was expected to continue my life as is if I could push through it.

woman sitting on chair upset and frustrated Photo by Liza Summer from Pexels

With life having slowed down a bit, and really seeing the potential of work that can be done from home, it seems like there should be more accessibility in letting people take time for themselves, and not push ourselves to the point of potentially getting others around us sick. Another thing that I had seen news about surfacing from the pandemic in relation to taking better care of ourselves when sick is acknowledging how illnesses affect each person differently. The idea of someone being immunocompromised was not something I did not have to think about before the pandemic. I am privileged and in healthy enough condition in my life that I do not need to really worry if I were to contract anything it most likely would not be a big deal. But there are millions of people who struggle from chronic illnesses and were already living with fear of contracting something, or having to take extra precautions because they could be more afflicted getting sick than others.

Woman with curly hair waving and saying hi to someone through her laptop. Photo by Yan from Pexels

This Washington Post article explains the author's ME/CFS (myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome) and how they are living essentially with an invisible disability. Contracting coronavirus is a huge risk and could leave her with residual symptoms even after the virus is no longer actively affecting her. But in the pandemic the virtual world exploded, and suddenly she was able to attend events, like for her synagogue and get to know the people who attended, when under normal circumstances she would not have been able to participate in person and did not have other options. The pandemic did cause a lot of shifts in the way we live our lives, but I think it is also important to examine all the ways lives were changed, and how going back to normal does not mean going back to the way things were. There should be more consideration in how we treat illness in the workplace, in school, and just emphasize taking care of ourselves as a way to be successful, not just through overworking ourselves. A new normal can seem like a great deal of change, but with everything undergone in the last year and a half, I would say we all know how to face change head on.