Humans are creatures of habit, touch and interaction. This pandemic pulled the rug out from us in all of those areas. We are on the other hand a resilient species. That trait will allow us to overcome this pandemic.
Running an orthopaedic surgery practice amidst COVID-19 became a whole new world. Having essentially a similar routine for the last 23 years builds habits. Knowing that during the week I am starting my day with a workout at a gym, getting Adam ready, dropping him off at school, then off to the office to see patients and ending my workday day in the operating room, was set in stone. All that changed over night.
Touch was no longer allowed except with a gloved covered hand.
This touch needed to be restricted to very brief periods in order to stay six feet away from my patients. A lot of what I learn about someone’s injury or diagnosis comes from the physical exam which requires touch. The simple act of shaking a persons hand when greeting them in the exam room was stopped. I learn a lot from that initial skin to skin contact with a person. A sweaty hand means they are super nervous, a strong muscular hand with calluses lets me know their occupation vs a fragile hand with a slight grip. All of this insight, gone. The touch to their shoulder after telling them the treatment plan or a high five to a kid that just got their cast off was no longer proper either.
Every interaction was so different.
I read my patients faces as I discuss treatment plans and get their medical histories. With a mask on its hard to read expressions. Clues that maybe they didn’t understand what I just said or seeing what treatment plan they liked best, were no longer there. You can see some expression in peoples eyes and their foreheads but most of their facial expression is lost with a mask over their face. This made it challenging to “read” people.
Our patients craved in person interaction, especially the ones living alone. They just wanted to talk. I got to hear life stories, viewed pictures of pets and heard about grandchildren more than I had ever before in my career.
However, there were so many patients I saw at the height of the pandemic that were terrified and looked to me as a doctor, for answers regarding the coronavirus. I make decisions in my practice of orthopaedic surgery based on medical literature, 2 years of data, metrics and years of experience. Regarding covid-19, I had none of these resources and could not give science based answers. I had no data, no metrics, no science, no past experience to rely on for answers. The information was rapidly changing daily. My resources became physician lead Facebook pages, Medscape, the data being collected from John Hopkins website, the New York Times and the Wallstreet Journal. Not my typical go to sources for medical information.
As restrictions are easing and life is starting to have a hint of returning to a more normal routine, small things like touch and interaction become even sweeter.
The Orthopaedic Specialists are still open and here for you! We are safely administering injections and seeing to all of our patients needs. Dr. Stacie Grossfeld is also providing virtual orthopedic and sports medicine consults to patients who don’t wish to make the trip into the office. Most types of insurance are accepted. Set up is easy with the use of Zoom Video Conferencing and a smart device. To schedule an appointment, call our office at 502-212-2663!