RETURNING to the office during covid19

This week I’ve had to commute into the city a couple of days to prepare our office and laboratory space for the return of staff and students. As I waited for the train at 9:45am, deliberately avoiding the usual pre-covid peak hours, I couldn’t help but feel a little nervous. As the train pulled up and the whoosh of cold air crossed my face I was glad it was winter as the face mask I was wearing was keeping my face warm. I took note of the number of people recommended for my carriage, checked for the area with the least people, found the recommended green stickered spot to sit and began the trip…

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an INVISIBLE disease

When you look at me, you wouldn’t think I have a life-changing disease like multiple sclerosis. When you look at me I imagine you see a smart and capable woman. You see a mother who is also a successful scientist. You see a generous friend who is also an athlete. You see someone who is fulfilled by life and wanting to give back. That’s all me. What you don’t see is someone who has limited feeling in her right arm and tingling and numbness extending all the way down to the toes on her right leg. You don’t see the loss of hearing in her right ear and the constant ringing from the damage to her auditory nerve. You don’t see the fatigue as she continues to achieve as much as she can each day. That’s all me too.

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WORKING from home during covid-19

My research group was proactive in their approach to the evolving Covid-19 pandemic. As of the 16th of March, we decided to stop all fieldwork and move into working from home for all staff and students, which was quickly followed by our University following suit. We have coordinated with the students to adjust their projects as necessary, essentially shutting down our lab and moving online to protect everyone as the pandemic worsens in Australia. Whilst I am seeing that many people are unsure how to handle such a situation, I am really enjoying being able to work from home. This looks like it will be the norm for the next 6 to 12 months and whilst I am unsure that David and I will stay employed in this time, creating a new and what feels to be a more wholesome routine for our lives is a very welcome change. If you’ve moved to working from home, are practising social distancing, or are in isolation, there are a few things I think are really important to do.

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EXERCISE and multiple sclerosis

A relapse is a scary experience. For me, I lost my ability to walk properly without falling over, hearing in my right ear, and strength in my right arm. I thought it was permanent. After about a month those symptoms abated and I could hear, lift and carry my son, open things, and walk again. Not simply walk, but I could run again. It took time to feel confident in the movement, just as it took time with bouldering to feel that my arm would support my weight as it once did. That relapse was a reminder to me that the strength, flexibility and overall fitness of our bodies should be something we strive for, not only for the obvious physical benefits but for the deeper biological benefits as well. For people with MS, it can reduce the severity of relapses, improve quality of life, and help regain control and movement and thereby maintain independence for the rest of your life.

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SHOULDER your suffering

There are some hard truths in life, the biggest, and simplest, is that life is hard. This should not come as a shocking revelation. I would go so far as to say that at times you have protested as to how hard life is, either to you, or to what it is “doing” to your loved ones, your family, your friends. I’ve seen people take this realisation and let it suffocate them, let it stop them in their tracks, have them wallow in self-pity for how hard their lives have become. At one stage in my life that was me too. We’ve probably all been there, and sadly there are some people who never leave that state and the potential of their lives pass them by.

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