Just a few weeks ago, none of us could have imagined how rapidly all the certainties of life could be completely tipped upside-down. When I wrote my last blog post, just nine days ago, I was confidently expecting to be able to keep practising my acupuncture and Zero Balancing for as long as possible, while knowing that such an expectation was likely to be time-limited.
Two days after writing the post, I received a phone call from someone I had seen a week earlier, telling me that she had developed a fever and a cough. I knew what I had to do – inevitably and obviously – which was immediately to cancel the seven patients I had in my diary for the next day. I couldn’t take the risk of carrying the virus and passing it on to people I care deeply about, with various versions of vulnerability (either in themselves, or in their loved-ones). And quickly on from that realisation came the next one – that I had my own loved-one at home, officially in the ‘vulnerable’ age group despite being hale, hearty, strong of body and stout of mind. How could I keep going back and forth freely in the world, only to come back home to someone wisely exercising the physical distancing being recommended? So, although I have fortunately not gone on to develop any viral symptoms, my clinic days had to stop.
Now, my work is my vocation – I live to work in the way I do, offering help and support to people in various states of physical, mental and emotional distress, pain and chaos. To pull the plug on being able to offer that to these good people, at exactly the time when all of us are quite simply tipped-up and powerfully disorientated, has been really hard and felt really wrong. My patients and clients aren’t just people who attend a clinic, clinically – they are human beings with whom I have developed genuine relationships of respect, of affection and of being allowed into their inner realms of hopes, desires, stresses, anxieties, losses and fears. Spending time with them – with you – is one of the ways I know who I am, as well as getting to find out a lot about who you are.
So, I put out some emails explaining that there are things I can offer, therapeutically, at distance via several of the wonderful internet platforms that are currently booming as they allow family, friends and colleagues to connect, face-to-face, virtually. (That offering includes the usual opportunity to talk in depth, then tailor-made guidance on acupressure locations and techniques, guided meditation on the action of the points, and a guided Zero Balancing meditation while lying down at home – click here for details). And I have done my first ‘connected remotely’ consultation, which left us both in tears because my patient had been “blown away” by the guided virtual Zero Balancing session she had just received; three more appointments are booked so far for this week, with phone calls planned with others to talk through how it might work; and another raft of patients have expressed the wish to take me up on this venture once a routine has settled down at home now that children aren’t at school and everyone is working from home. Financially it will be a drop in the ocean – but personally and professionally, it has already felt like a two-way lifeline. I get to reach out towards the people I support, just at the time they need it more than ever – and at the other end of the string, they – you – support me in being, with good luck and a fair wind, able to pick up the pieces of my 30-year practice when we are allowed to start working face-to-face again.
And who knows, it might prove so valuable, and so productive, that I may choose to keep online consultations as one of the things I offer to people even in ordinary times. My husband and I are already dreaming of going off to the Isle of Iona for our annual retreat as soon as we are able to – even if that’s in mid-winter … and sometimes people get stuck on that tiny island off the Isle of Mull because weather conditions make it impossible for the ferry to operate. So, as long as the internet connection holds out, if I’m stranded for a while, I might not even have to rearrange my patients. Every cloud surely has a silver lining.