The New Normal
How many times have we had to explain to patients about their "new normal?" Things like:
● "You can still get out and about, but you'll use a cane to do it safely."
● "You'll use this sliding board to get in and out of your wheelchair."
● "You'll still be able to exercise, but your knee can't really tolerate a marathon anymore."
We have these conversations with our patients but do we really understand the emotional impact of a dramatically different life? We all go through major life changes. Some are horrible, some delightful, but they are still stressful. There are times such as when you realize you have to do your own laundry because you don't live with mom anymore. Or when your baby wakes up a million times a night and you know you will never sleep the pre-baby way again. The first time you sleep alone because your partner is no longer by your side; or the first time you have to share the bathroom with your new spouse, knowing it will never be the way "you want it" again.
I just received my permanent leave to remain in the UK today. It is the equivalent of getting a green card. Now I know that I will be driving on the other side of the road, saying "to-mah-toe," using "whilst" and spelling words like "colour" and "centre" differently for good. It is an odd feeling. I must release the familiar and embrace this new normal if I am going to lead a happy and successful life here.
The next time you need to have the "new normal" conversation with a patient, try to remember a time in your own life when you had to adapt to a whole new normal.