Learnings from lockdown

By Vanessa Menendez-Covelo, CCA graduate 2019, vanessacovelo.com
I expected 2020 to be exciting, but maybe not so much! I hit the ground running after my graduation in September 2019 with everything in place to open an acupuncture clinic in Crouch End, North London. Little by little I started building up a patient list, and by February I was feeling very content about how it was all going.
Then COVID-19 hit and we received instructions from the British Acupuncture Council to close down our practices with immediate effect for the safety of the public and ourselves. Plus the government advised us all to quarantine at home.
The first few weeks were weird; on top of feeling scared about a virus for which there wasn’t that much information available yet about its transmission and infection mechanisms, I felt grief at closing my clinic, and while the rest of my family transitioned easily to a work from home model, I found myself sitting in my front room feeling slightly bereft.
But inaction is not me, so I soon embarked on a plan of long walks in the morning listening to TCM podcasts (my favourites are “The strength of TCM” and “Qiology”), cooking nutritious food for all the family, and I even started my own podcast called The Fresh Needle. My feelings of isolation also subsided as my whole street created a COVID-19 support group via WhatsApp, and there was a sense that we were all looking out for each other. I am a bit embarrassed to admit that it took a whole pandemic for me to learn everyone’s names and I have been living here for seven years!
As the restrictions started lifting, and we slowly edged back into practice in a staggered way (urgent care, high needs care and now careful care), my time was taking with sorting out the practicalities of life and practicing acupuncture in the “new normal”: source and buy PPE equipment, create risk assessments and screening forms, endless lists of boxes to tick every clinic day to ensure that everything is disinfected as much as necessary and that I minimize the risk to my patients and myself.
My life is now almost back to normal, except that it is a slower kind of normal as I spend more time with my family and I have more time to focus on each of my patients, and this is a good feeling. Of course, I am treating a lot of anxiety and sadly, a lot of grief as people lost loved ones, but I am honoured to be part of their recovery journey.
I certainly never expected my first year of practice to be so…interesting! Oh, and I learned to use Instagram stories 🙂