Blog: Feeling Normal: Life's Medicine

I am beginning to feel free.  Medical research speaks to the importance of being social.  It is definitely a key ingredient for securing wellness of the mind and soul.  The experience of socializing is a distraction from the worries and responsibilities of everyday life.   I am writing this blog from my seat on an airplane coming home from a joyful family function in Miami.  Fully vaccinated, my wife and I felt it was time to take our first trip in 16 months.  During the past year we canceled a trip to New Orleans and two trips to Italy, all because of the pandemic. 

I can’t say that we were totally relaxed with our plan, but we refused to cancel this trip.  We left the house with masks, anti-viral wipes, goggles for the plane, etc.   Although more people are traveling, we still navigated our way through security in no more than a few minutes.  I was comforted by people wearing masks on the plane, but of course there were a few who refused to keep their masks appropriately worn which requires covering both the mouth and nose.  It was Interesting watching an “entitled few” who would adjust their masks to be compliant when the flight attendants came near but “dropped” the nose protection when they perceived they were not being watched.  I will not even begin to share what I think of that egotistical behavior.   Sans those few, the rest of the time I felt safe.  Once in Florida, our group social distanced and wore masks in public areas.  Most places we selected to frequent shared our “rules”.   Yes, even in Florida!  The point I am making is nothing is proven to be safe.  Before COVID there were lots of airborne viral and bacterial germs and this reality still exists.  Before COVID, a person might have sneezed on the plane and, with the sneeze, perhaps influenza A was launched into the air.  Unmasked, you might have caught the flu from that exposure and never knew it.  There has always been some risk when we leave our bubble.  My family and I wanted to feel better, and with discipline, we made it happen!  (Off topic for just a moment, I feel shaking hands, blowing out candles on a cake, or being embarrassed to wear a mask in crowded areas are just a few traditions or decisions I will be changing forever).

Now, back to sharing more about our decision to socialize and the positive impact it had on us.   I hope my experiences will motivate you to begin planning a safe encounter with the people in your life who are important to you and make you feel all the good feelings I did while being together.

For my wife and I, we bonded with numerous family members whom we hadn’t seen since the beginning of the pandemic.  My niece lives in a home near Coral Gables that allowed us outdoor space and when indoors, space to spread out.  Her daughter was becoming a Bat Mitzvah and she invited 30 of us to share in their happiness and for us all to mark one of life’s important milestones for their daughter.  We all stayed in a hotel not far from their home.  We hugged as each family member arrived.  The good feelings from the hugs were palpable. My son came with his 4-year-old daughter, who, although there were many cousins to play with, my wife and I still had time to interact with her and spoil her like grandparents should!!   What I can’t put into words is what I felt in my “belly” and in my heart.  The warmth of family, the sound of laughter from telling stories unique to “us”: a vodka with the “boys” and watching the “girls” reconnecting with smiles from ear-to-ear.  No one for a second forgot that COVID is still “in the air”, but we tried our best to still respect the presence of COVID, but for the first time in a long time, not allow it to totally isolate us.  We did not allow it to deprive us from interacting with family and friends who make us happy and allow us to feel free.  I must stress that none of this would have been a thought, let alone have occurred, if it were not for a commitment by everyone who met the age guidelines set by the CDC, to be vaccinated.  This was not only for our personal enhanced health safety, but also as a courtesy to others who might be more vulnerable to the debilitating consequences of COVID.   

Once again, to leave topic just one more time!  For me, COVID has had some positives.  I appreciate so many things I took for granted: the smell of fresh air, a sporting event with a full stadium, friends and family socializing without the fear of infection, the realization that a social function that normally was conducted with a huge number of people can meaningfully and enjoyably be celebrated with a small gathering of people important to the guest(s) of honor.  I yearn to see people smile and hear them easily without the encumbrance of a mask.  I want little children who have never met a family member or teacher without a mask, to witness the human face void of obstruction.

Okay, back to topic!!!   Of course, I hope that all attendees from this weekend will return to their respective homes free from COVID.  My personal take is that as a country, we have turned the corner.  COVID is still here, though!  With responsible decision-making and rules for everyone to follow, we moved forward with our plan.  We all needed to feel better.   Who doesn’t?  

Stay heathy, be smart, and feel better.     

By Paul Pessis, AuD

June 10, 2021   

The Forward Focus Wellness Center is a unique collaboration in medical care housed in the Forward Focus Concierge Medicine suite in Lake Forest, IL.  The Wellness Center offers highly trained health care professionals, like Paul Pessis,  from diverse disciplines.  These affiliated independent practices are here and ready to help you enhance your healthy lifestyle.