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I have been so busy responding to the Coronavirus crisis and the effect on my practice – the changeover to Telehealth and all the ramifications of such tumultuous times- that I completely have had no time to write a blog for weeks now.  I love writing blogs and sometimes will shirk my pressing ‘to-do’ list in favour of writing a blog. Complete weariness and exhaustion has meant that I just couldn’t do it.

But this time- this new Coronaviruslife is so significant, so monumental, so extraordinary and dare I say it, so unprecedented – that it definitely must continue to be recorded for posterity in my blog. When I read my blogs in the future, and look back on this history in the making, I want to remember some of the incredible moments that were defining in the COVID19 story.

I think it has been a PR disaster from the beginning. If it were a brand, the mixed messaging about it would mean the brand would have probably taken a dive and failed from the beginning. The understatement about it being like a mild flu which still perpetuates in some groups to this day; the belief that it only caused problems for ‘the elderly’. Apparently ‘the elderly’ is the group over 60 yrs – BC (Before Corona) I was thinking that me being 60 was the new 40; the constant changing of the rules about social distancing, what you can shop for (if only I loved doing jigsaws). But here we are nearly at Easter, looking at our curve taking a dive for the better and our population is mostly sucking it up and changing their behaviours. And most importantly there have been gigantic lifelines sent out to business, the newly unemployeed, the parents needing childcare (yes it’s free for the moment) and many other groups by the government, which have allowed many to breathe a little easier about the future.

Is it hard? You betcha it is. Australia has the best beaches in the world and you can’t so much as pause on them to ponder the view. We are renowned for our gatherings around the barbie, but they are banned. It appears that our internet is groaning under the weight of activity – which is weird when you think about it to be honest. We all have computers chugging away whether we are at work or at home working so I don’t quite understand why it is SO bad (it is BAD but I’m refusing to whinge).

But there are some amazing things happening.

The memes, for example, keep us chuckling when we might feel like crying; my staff send me a joint email which lifted me back up, when I felt the weight of the problem causing my knees to buckle; out of the blue, a gesture of such kindness to me from a leader in our field, in response to my Facebook comment about a glitch in the ATO system, potentially causing us a cash flow problem; and finally an intervention from our Federal member Graham Perrett (clever Bob thought to send him an email about the problem) solving the said glitch the very next day – we had the sort of phone call from the ATO we’d all like to get saying: “You’ll get your money”.

All of those things I wanted to record for posterity because I don’t want to forget how in times of adversity, kindness rises to the top.

I also wanted to report about Telehealth.

It is going well in the sense we are still helping people solve their problems.

Is it perfect? Well if we’d love to do an internal examination to check for levator avulsion, or test pelvic floor muscle strength, or teach about bracing so the woman could feel the descent when she coughed followed by the stability when she performed the knack, or do a bladder ultrasound to check for any residual urine on emptying the bladder………well we can’t.

But we have become innovative and we have designed even better ways to teach, which we may continue to use when we can see patients face-to-face. I know we will be able to offer more regional appointments via Telehealth AC (After Corona) because we will be excellent at it. We are streaming classes – lots of classes- pain/anxiety management and relaxation classes; strength and balance classes; movement classes, a dance class and soon a men’s health pain management class.

Jane doing her PhysioFitness class

The attendees are mostly overjoyed and grateful that we are trying hard to produce these classes. If they knew just how many hours Bob is putting into the structures and implemetation of the IT to make this happen they would be staggered. I thank all my staff for being so flexible and embracing of the situation. And the secretaries! They have been tireless in converting patients to Telehealth appointments. It is quite a spiel they have to do ……. every single time!

Some other moments to remember:

  • Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson aquired Coronavirus in Australia while filming a-yet-to-be-titled film by Baz Luhrmann about Elvis Presley
  • Peter Dutton, our Minister for Home Affairs got it and in his absence the biggest boat we ever had to our shores released 2700 passengers unchecked at our border and released COVID19 widely into our community. As of 4th April, 11 people had died and 620 poeple had aquired coronavirus from the Ruby Princess.
  • Pink, Prince Charles and Boris Johnson have or have had corona. Today 7th April, Boris was admitted to hospital and then very quickly Intensive Care. I hope when I read back on this blog, Boris survived this disease. He was very cavalier in the early days and has sadly paid a very high price.
  • COVID19 has corona-ed our economy. It is probable that we will enter into a recession. Economists have dire predictions of a depression worse than The Great Depression of 1929. I hope that this is not true and that the measures that our leaders are taking will save the country from that consequence.

And finally in this blog I want to quote Professor Hugh Montgomery, an English professor of medicine and the director of the UCL Institute for Human Health and Performance at University College London.

On the 7.30 Report tonight he said:

‘COVID19 has been presented as a very bad flu. It really isnt- it’s as different from the flu, as Ebola is from an ingrown toe nail.’

‘It’s a very different disease. It might present with flu-like symptoms -achy, breathless, temperatures. But around day 10-12, the patients get an increased drive for oxygen. This air hunger and breathlessness – sometimes they are aware of it, sometimes they are not. We see them blue and panting and they do not realise how sick they are or how high their CO2 is or how low their oxygen saturations are. Sometimes they need supplemental oxygen, sometimes CPAP, sometimes they need ventilating. It is a serious disease.’

Remember what he said: ‘Its as different from the flu, as Ebola is from an ingrown toe nail.’

#staysafe #washyourhands