I have taken this time of self-isolation to work on a lot of things in my life – whether it’s learning a new skill like coding or taking time to reflect on the past. I find myself doing much of the latter on my daily walks.
Let me back up, for a moment. Long hikes or walks have become a new hobby of mine. With gyms and ice rinks closed, I can’t get my exercise fill like I normally would have before the pandemic. Frankly, losing access to my beloved Orange Theory and weekly power skates has been tough. I lean heavily on exercise to effectively treat cystic fibrosis. It’s akin to losing a proven treatment option in my toolkit.
I have found fulfillment in long walks and hikes because it’s some alone time. It’s a time to enjoy the beauty of the world around me – I feel so very grateful that I get to live in Hanover, New Hampshire. I have also taken those walks to fall deep into new podcasts or audio books. I had always been the type of person who listens to music on runs or with any sort of outdoor exercise, but stimulating my curiosity has proven to be enormously rewarding.
That’s not to say that sometimes these hikes or walks don’t go as planned.
Over the weekend I walked through town and was hit with a sudden wave of nostalgia for the way life had been a few months ago. Social fulfillment was at an all-time high for me – walking the halls of school, happy hours at Murphy’s On the Green and hours and hours at the local hockey rink. It was then when I noticed the town was bustling. Outdoor seating was full. Town was unlike anything I had seen in months. On one had I was thrilled to see small businesses come alive, but on the other it was hard not to feel ostracized from communal and social in-person gatherings. The recommendations remain the same, “People with CF and their families will likely be on a different timeline than the rest of the country and may need to practice physical distancing for longer than the general population.”
The only time I think I felt more aware of my cystic fibrosis than now was when I was dependent on an oxygen tank 7 or 8 years ago.
It’s like we’re living in this weird in between time when social distancing is coming to an end for large parts of the population, but those of us with potentially high-risk health conditions are left on the sidelines. How (really… when?) can we get back to life?
The most exposure I’ve had to the outside world since March has been outdoor seating at a local restaurant during an off peak hour. Our reintroduction into society largely hinges on trusting the people around us… to protect us. I am left to wonder how we see that trust through.
I tweeted the above thoughts over the weekend. After, a friend of mine with CF reached out to me and said she felt the same. She went further to say that it’s been hard to see her friends getting together for socially distant gatherings (or maybe even some not so socially distant gatherings). She then said it has been even more challenging for her to realize that her friends have assumed that she won’t be able to join get togethers any time soon and thus haven’t mentioned including her.
It’s a weird dynamic. I looked inward to my own life, and wondered the same. My friends have been incredibly supportive of me during this time, and for that I am grateful, but my friend with CF is right. It has been hard to watch friends get together on Instagram or join public advocacy movements all across the country. In some ways it’s a very similar feeling to when I was sick. The worst days of all were when I was glued to my phone watch friends enjoy time together all the while I was stuck at home on an IV drip.
Another CF friend of mine put it best on Twitter…
It is odd to have to be so careful all the while many of us are feeling the best we have ever felt in our lives.
A couple weeks ago I wrote about risk tolerance and how that applies to everything that is going on in our world. My tolerance remains unchanged, but with each day we are left behind in our world’s reopening, it leads me to feel very aware of my own limitations – limitations I haven’t felt in a very long time.
With that said, I think today’s walk will be better. I am looking forward to getting outside, breathing in some fresh air, and focusing on how to adapt my risk tolerance to our rapidly evolving world.
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The above blog post was inspired by this Twitter thread: