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#87 A Negative is a Positive

Updated: 6 days ago

#87 Family Matters

In These Times by Dr. Jody Kussin, October 6, 2020


Fall is officially here, as we can tell, because it is over 100 degrees, fires are burning, Santa Anas are blowing, and Costco sent out a flyer with Christmas merch.

I’m noticing our language patterns in these times. Perhaps it’s from just a tad too much ‘alone time’ or perhaps just that I spend most of my day in 1:1 zoom calls, often with kids and teens. I am conscious of what we are saying. For instance, in nice alliteration, one of my littler patients, a nine-year-old, told me, “I know the key to managing in COVID…. it’s puppies, ponies, and Peloton.”


Only in L.A., by the way.


I used to think a lot of things differentiated our lives in L.A. with others’. But those distinctions are fading, along with our hair roots. We still live in the land where image is important, but perhaps it’s decreasing in significance during these times…. fewer eyebrow and eye lash appointments, despite being on zoom. Plus, I’m sure that given I have figured it out, you also realized that…zoom has a ‘virtual filter’ that removes years’ of wrinkles from your face staring back at you in the little box on the computer screen. Just sayin….


Who else is saying what?


Lots of teens (and parents too) are talking about ‘what to do in order to feel normal, even for only a little bit.’ One told me ‘I feel normal when I ‘change classes’ at home, like I did in Middle School, so I rotate from my bedroom to the kitchen to the den to the patio and back.’ (I love that idea and have proposed it to others as well.) One said, “I basically do not even remember normal, which scares me. What did it look like? What did it feel like? Did I used to have more than one to two friends, or did I only THINK I had more than one to two friends?” Funny thing is, many of us did not like or appreciate ‘normal’ when we had it, only to nostalgically wish for it back now.


Trying to find normal is like trying to dunk the ball when you are under 5 feet. It’s not 100% impossible, but it requires dedication and practice and commitment. To find normal we need to make at least one-two ‘playdates’ per week, whatever those may look like. (And if you are arranging these on zoom for younger children, limit them to half hour….more than that, and the “I WILL SO MUTE YOU WHENVER I WANNA” wars will become impressive.) Finding normal means indulging in fun treats now and then – drive through shakes instead of drive through flu shots, decorating inside and outside for Autumn instead of going into a ‘house of horror’, and instead of a ‘pajama day’ a ‘dress up in a suit and play go to a meeting in person day.’ It includes spur of the moment moments as well as joyful planning for a week or so ahead. Rescue a dog. Foster a kitten. Take a painting or cooking class. Start a longer-term project….build a car or computer with your teen, learn to code, or simply just be.


It’s not like you used to be busy every moment, is it? And, while at it and seeking the new normal, DO NOT feel you have to cook and then sit down to eat as a family seven of seven nights. (I will write you a note.) Shake off the ‘I feel guilty for ……………….’ and rinse in ‘It will be okay if I just ………………’


Last weekend I wondered if I had COVID. There was virtually no way I could have contacted it, given how small my world is, but…I ran a low grade temp (under 101.4 but off and on for three days) and I felt achy and I had a headache and upset stomach. B.C. (Before COVID) I would have worked my regular day and ignored it. However, in these times, I was busy trying to figure out just when I would lose my sense of smell and taste and thinking that IF I could have a mild case (please please please) could I then return to normal life? To seeing people in person? To traveling? To visiting with my young adult children and not so young parents? So, off we went, husband and I, for drive by COVID testing (thank you Kaiser.) Swab throat, swab nostril high enough up to touch parts of brain, drive on through. 15 minutes. Results less than 24 hours later. NEGATIVE. How nice is it to get a negative test result?


Turns out I had a light case of the flu, despite having had the flu shot, because, there is no shot that is 100% preventative for the flu. I’m climbing out of it today. Less achy. Less likely to continue to have no appetite (sigh) and more likely to want to have some pumpkin spice something delivered to me (because, I deserve it, right!?)


A patient in her late teens told me, ‘I did not like before, and I do not like now so I am holding out for what’s next, because, there will be something next, right?!’ While sad about her statements about her past and present, I was happy to hear optimism for the future.


There will be something next. We have to hold onto this ride and ride it out, while also remembering, there will be something next.

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