Are you finding it a challenge to rejoin the outside world? I am. After all, the pandemic is not over, not really, though we act like it is. Even while variants crop up that can circumvent vaccines, mask mandates disappear. I don’t know about your gym, but at mine, I’m the only one in a mask. So instead of thinking of others on the weight machines as potential friends, I see them as disease vectors. I keep my distance from those hard-breathing naked faces.
Then I go to the drug store, where four self-checkout counters are lined up next to one counter designed for a real clerk, but with no clerk in sight. Automation cuts us off from one another just like our lingering fears of COVID. What a bizarre three years it has been.
None of this is good; on top of which, writing is solitary work. As it should be: When I was a tech writer I hated going to meetings that interrupted the flow. But even a confirmed introvert has her limits. After too long, lockdown just feels like being locked up.
You know you’re too isolated when a medical appointment feels like a party. I’ve written about my journey back from AFIB, thanks to going back on systemic estrogen. At a follow-up visit this month I had an echocardiogram, which uses sound waves to monitor the beating heart. I closed my eyes and listened to the amplified sound of blood whooshing through my heart. There were different sounds depending on the placement of the wand on my ribs, as blood surged through various valves and blood vessels. Impossible to take that for granted after the odd few months I’ve had. I enjoyed chatting with the echo technician about this amazing living pump, our steady companion, beating, decade after decade.
Then I got to talk with a doctor about what happened when I resumed HRT: the disappearance of both AFIB and the late onset eczema that began at the same time. It’s clear from medical literature that there is an association between these conditions and low estrogen, but why? She and I pondered how estrogen mediates the signal from the atrium that tells the ventricle to contract. No one knows. We agreed that if men had AFIB as a result of low testosterone, research dollars would pour into figuring out exactly how that worked.
Those conversations reminded me of the one thing (other than the money) that I miss about my biotech career: random lunchroom chats about the human body, about animals and fungi and the foibles of research. I miss talking about biology, but I don’t miss my actual career. Better to gather with other nerds at our local Maker Space, as I did one day this month, to play with DNA in a funky, do-it-yourself lab. We should follow all the flavors of our bliss, and I’m resolved to bring more sociable nerdiness into my life.
Writing is marvelous but there has to be a balance with more interactive passions. That’s one reason I enjoy teaching for Secure Senior Connections. I’ll lead a series of workshops for them on Publishing and Marketing in February, and hope to bring this and other material to you later this year.
Please take seriously the full range of your interests and continue to explore them all. They say that life is short and art is long, yet surely, life is long enough to do all kinds of living. Enjoy, say hello, and in between, keep the pen moving (or the keys clicking).
All best wishes,