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Self-Care in Healthcare: Year in Review 2020

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Every year I do a year in review to reflect on the past year, which I believe is a form of self-care. This year’s Self-Care in Healthcare 2020 Year in Review is my best attempt to listen, learn, share, and practice vulnerability – which are definitely a part of self-care.

I also believe reflection is a tenet of being an effective learner, leader, and life manager – especially as a parent and entrepreneur.

I also believe reflection is a tenet of being an effective learner, leader, and life manager – especially as a parent and entrepreneur.

I have had the good fortune of guiding hundreds of healthcare providers toward better patient care and self-care and the privilege of ushering thousands of patients toward better health. My ability to continue doing that requires regular, radical, consistent self-reflection (self-care). So here we go!

*I encourage you to pen a reflection on 2020, whether it is creating a digital album of photos, journalling, or making a list of good things that happened, despite 2020 being a tragic year.*

Self-Care in Healthcare starts with reviewing my 2020 Word of the Year: Listen. 

  1. Was it applicable? Heck yes. I had no idea just how much! 2020 was a huge teacher through delivering a lot of pain and sorrow, and failure!

  2. Did I follow through and actually listen? Well, considering 2020’s continuous earthquake of events, I think I tried my best to do that. The thing is, 2019 brought seismic events that changed my life and family forever. My parents almost died in a car accident, I discovered a major betrayal in business, and I uprooted my entire family after decades to move back to my hometown region. I listened to my family’s needs, my work needs, and my own personal needs to the best of my ability. I spent a great deal of time not working in 2019 in order to caregive. I served my family, what matters most. So in that way, I did listen to and make good on my core value – to caretake my family. My business suffered, but my family’s needs were met.

  3. As always, my prayer and meditation is that trials and tribulations make us stronger. 2020 has tested that value for me. And should they take our life, as COVID took the life of one of my family members in 2020; then my prayers is that we will have left a positive lasting, loving, caring legacy, as my grandmother who passed did. To listen, it turns out, was a perfect word for 2020.

January Self-Care in Healthcare 

The year started out with my oldest son (and myself) being seriously ill. Pneumonia and the worst, most scary breathing issues I’ve ever experienced, I have no idea if it was COVID; but I wouldn’t be surprised. Nonetheless, work and family obligations didn’t stop. Somehow I persisted. 

My husband also had surgery this month, and I had a grand reopening with a free day of classes at my new clinical practice in my new hometown, Greensboro, NC.

I also finished writing a new 24 hour Lifestyle Medicine Certificate continuing education course for PT, OT, and ATC’s. I dove deep into the scientific literature for months to create this course. I loved every second!

I accepted an invitation from the APTA North Carolina Chapter to serve as their new Legislative Chair and liaison to the American Physical Therapy Association. 

The month started out shaky, but finished up with a feeling of fulfillment and purpose! 

February 

I attended the International Civil Rights Museum’s Gala to mark the milestone 60th Anniversary of America’s most recognized lunch-counter sit-in, which happened at Woolworth’s in my hometown of Greensboro, NC. The surviving students from the original four, now in advanced ages, were in attendance, along with our Governor and other national and local dignitaries and leaders that support civil rights. It was an honor to attend. 

I filmed the new Integrative Lifestyle Medicine Certificate as a self-paced, entirely online CE course. I had no idea JUST how necessary this would be – with COVID on its way – but this program would go on to serve many, many therapists and doctors well during the pandemic. With its trauma-informed, COVID sensitive practices, I got it up online in the knick of time. 

I gave back to the community this month by teaching my Introduction to Medical Therapeutic Yoga course at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in order to raise money for the Foundation for PT Marquette Challenge, which was a delight. 

I also began to see my first few new patients in my new location, which included a home visit for equestrian PT! I loved meeting Flash and his owner, to help her get back to riding after a hip injury.  

March

I had no idea our world was about to drastically change forever when I boarded the airplane for what would be a last cross country flight for a long while. I taught my final in-person course before the world went on lock down – I consider being able to spend that final weekend doing what I loved, a gift.

The Medical Therapeutic Yoga Level I Certification was held in Aptos, CA with a full class, and every single student felt it was a transformative experience (myself included), a last hurrah spent together, insulated in a private clinic nurturing our mental and physical health, and learning how to better serve our patients. It was the ultimate act of self-care before the whole world came to a halt. 

I spent a long red-eye flight navigating near empty airports (what a creepy experience!) and obsessively washing my hands (this was before the CDC recommended mask wearing, wow if we knew then what we know now!); wishing I had a mask and wiping down every surface before I touched it. But I didn’t spend the time idle. I knew that in order to survive and provide for my family, I would have to completely reinvent my company and its services and move everything online. 

So by the time the wheels of the airplane touched down back home, I had hatched a new structural plan for my company to adapt to the new COVID world.

What happened? The Professional Yoga Therapist Institute® was retired and Living Well Institute took its place. With the new name came a new brand, website, and vision. Our mission remains the same, but our offerings are now greatly expanded! EudeMOMia® was also born, my new practice in its new location in my new hometown, focusing on women’s health PT and lifestyle medicine.

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My grand re-opening still had the smell of newness about it when I made the difficult decision to close for 3 months, the entire phase 1 lockdown. That was devastating to close my doors but still have the bills coming in. But, like flexible yogi I try to be, I adapted. 

I launched a new website with new telehealth offerings, and things began to slowly look a bit better. 

This month I donated my time back to my colleagues and community at Living Well Institute, where I taught free webinars on reinventing clinical practice and making the move to telehealth! 

Before lockdown my youngest son also debuted on violin in a duet with the organist at West Market Church, and my husband and I accompanied our oldest son for his high school orientation (what, high school already!?). The Indigo Girls also gave their first free virtual concert via Facebook, and my girl Scout and I thoroughly enjoyed our favorite artists. Finally, I ended up on PBS News Hour in an unexpected, but helpful way….yikes!

April 

With no spring break and my children still being homeschooled (at that time we had zero idea just how long homeschool would last!), I was working full blast at finishing up filming the new Integrative Lifestyle Medicine Certificate, looking at how to move our longstanding flagship Professional Yoga Therapist Certification online, and juggling telehealth appointments

Homeschooling was proving near impossible to get right, so we just all held on as best we could, and were just glad to have toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and Lysol spray handy. 

This month I gave back to my community by teaching 2 FREE COVID Medical Therapeutic Yoga classes, to help build resilience, strength, manage stress, and improve on lung power. The response was enormous, with over 250 people signing up within a few days of launch! 

I also taught a free webinar with Dr. Sara Reardon, the Vagina Whisperer, and Dr. Jessica Reale of Southern Pelvic Health on postpartum vaginal recovery. We had a blast, and several hundred attendees! 

Meanwhile, life was getting real as we realized we WERE NOT going to come out of quarantine anytime soon. All my slated 2020 in-person classes were slowly getting pushed back or cancelled. That was tough, but my faith told me we would get through it. 

May

May was our second planned Level I MTY Certification course – slated to be held at, and sponsored by, The University of Virginia at Charlottesville. 

However, COVID had different plans. We had to make a quick decision – which turned out to be for the best – to postpone. Ultimately, I had no idea then, we’d have to cancel it altogether. 

So instead of despairing, I set to work on getting patient models lined up to record the entire 27 hour course and put it online. That was daunting, but we did it. 

I cleared out a room in my house, recruited help from my kids and husband, and transformed it into a full blown film studio for PT and Yoga in 1 day. We kept a grueling film schedule in addition to doing telehealth and homeschooling, but I kept my self-care time slated each day, and it worked! 

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June – Self-Care in Healthcare 2020: Year in Review Midpoint!

Launch day! I launched the first ever virtual Level I Medical Therapeutic Yoga Certification course this month. It went incredibly well, with participants saying they were nervous about how yoga could possibly be taught well online – but realizing that they ended up learning more than in-person, because they could rewatch the content again and again. I also added a live component to it, where we met and troubleshooted and answered questions! It was a total success! 

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Ah and I forgot to mention the Italian translation of my book *finally* arrived! Thanks COVID for delaying the delivery from Italy since December!

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In June & July I gave back to the community by showing up for, reading books, and supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. The violence in our country shows us, clearly, how much work we still have to do to end racism, as well as sexism.

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July

Late June and early July saw a return to the clinic. I was relieved! 

I reopened my practice (which I could have kept open as an essential worker, but felt it safest to close) using CDC recommendations for screening. 

It felt so good to see patients in-person again! 

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I gave back to the community this month by doing a free mini-jazz concert for the local Jazz Meditation series at West Market Church!

I also launched the Pose of the Week series, as a spinoff off help from my book, Medical Therapeutic Yoga, which seeks to put yoga postures and breathwork in a safe, user-friendly, accessible format.

August

The Level I Certification went so well we decided to film and launch Level II for 2020! 

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At the same time we ALSO got the unfortunate news that our Level III facility was going to be closed for the remainder of 2020 due to the pandemic. 

But, yoga is all about mental flexibility. So we adapted and added another Level I for folks waiting to get started in the program. 

Over the summer my volunteer efforts went toward nurturing my family and local community and neighbors. I actually took a week off in July and August, which was so needed. And, I celebrated my 46th trip around the sun! 47 is feeling pretty good so far!

September 

In September I had a breast cancer scare, because 2020. That led to a month full of doctors appointments and testing. 

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In the meantime I did teach another Level I online and continued to see patients. My two great loves: teaching and helping people! 

This month I mourned the loss of icon and human rights activist, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

October

In October I had a lumpectomy. My mass was benign, but large. In the end I developed a large seroma, which took nearly a month to resolve. I couldn’t really work due to the severe movement limitations that having a seroma exacted. What resulted was a mass of adhesions and scar tissue, and a left arm that I didn’t recognize. 

Nonetheless, I still had Level II to film and patients to see. I did my best, and everyone was very compassionate and accommodating! Thank you community!  

My volunteer project for this month was to make videos and posts about my surgical experience and recovery. I did this as my contribution to help women going through this who may not be a PT and who may be scared and uncertain about what types of therapy to seek out. 

November

It was a true delight to teach a Level I and launch the first ever virtual Level II MTY Certification this month! 

I started oncological PT in earnest this month, since I had to wait to start therapy until after the seroma (finally) closed. Read my two posts on it (more to come!). 

I also celebrated along with many others who are happy to (finally) see the first female and first woman of color win the office of the Vice President!

This month my volunteer effort was to contribute a chapter to an upcoming book on Lifestyle Medicine In Women’s Health. I am proud to be co-writing this chapter with colleagues across the US who are experts in women’s health. 

Also, this month brought incredibly sad news. 

I had to cancel Thanksgiving with my family due to surging COVID rates; and, my grandmother, who was very much a mother to me, was diagnosed with COVID. From no fault of her own, she was exposed by a staff member in a facility which was not providing the safe environment it should have had for residents. 22 of 30 residents ended up testing positive, and my grandmother was one of them. What’s worse is they didn’t tell our family for nearly 12 days that she had it. 

December

My family was told my grandmother was fine, but then somehow, suddenly, she needed Hospice care. We weren’t allowed to see or talk to her for a long time, but once they told us she needed Hospice, they let us see her. And it was horrifying. 

She passed just a few days after Hospice being brought in, and without the true care that Hospice would typically provide so well. 

Our family is heartbroken and now a statistic. Please, wear a mask. You do not want COVID to kill you or a family member. It is a horrific death. 

But, my granny, as she loved hearing us call her, was a tough-as-nails lady. A real pioneer woman. She could wring a chicken’s neck and prep it for dinner in between hanging out the laundry. She would cook food straight out of her garden for all 12 of us on a Sunday after church after working 3rd shift all week, and had no problem turning a squirrel or a dove into dinner. She would want us to buck up, stay strong, and to live life fully. 

So for the remainder of whatever 2020 is going to deliver, that’s what I am going to do. 

So far as my recovery – I have moved from oncology-based PT to orthopedic PT now, and that is a very good sign of progress. Though I was one of the fortunate ones to not be diagnosed with the big “C,” I have the utmost empathy and compassion, and a deep understanding of what it takes to recover after a lumpectomy. 

I am going to remain positive and hopeful for 2021. Here’s to a Happy New Year!

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I would encourage you to pen your own Self-Care 2020 Year in Review.

Each year I make a Year in Review for my family. This year’s 2020 Year in Review will come in the form of a 2021 picture calendar and a 2020 photography book. In it, I share the quips and little funny or meaningful things that happened during the year. Whatever way you decide to reflect on 2020, I hope it helps you feel a sense of gratitude for the trials and the triumphs.

Coming up next! My word for the year for 2021!

PS Here are 3 more ways I can help you! 

1. Sign up for 1 or both of my free e-booklets! Need some stress relief & solid ideas for self-care? Get my new e-book Confidence Coach: Self-Care Snacks for Busy Moms OR Read about the THREE CORE INGREDIENTS of developing grit and grace in my free e-book The Power of Resilience.

2. Purchase a yoga series, which will help you work with me at a reduced cost. You get Lifetime Access to the classes! 

3. Practice yoga with me every day! Take advantage of the Free Medical Therapeutic Yoga Basic Video Library. Bonus! You get Lifetime Access to this Video Library! 

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