On Saturday, March 14, after consulting with the World Health Organization, the CDC, and the Ohio Medical Board, I made the decision to temporarily close the office in response to the COVID-19 emergency. Even though I took every precaution previously, the more I researched this virus, the more concerned I grew. This is not a normal flu. Humans have no immunity to this. For some the symptoms are similar to a flu; for others it can be deadly. I researched first-hand accounts and learned that this is one sneaky virus. Folks think they have a cold or flu, think they’re getting better, only to end up with pneumonia the next day and ventilated a couple days later fighting for their lives. Those who are at high risk are those with compromised immune systems, but also able-bodied men have become seriously ill. Others who test positive have no symptoms at all. It’s baffling. Because it’s a new disease, data is still being collected and is awaiting full analysis. We just don’t know yet exactly what we’re up against, especially because symptoms are so varied.
In response to this pandemic, our country has called on us to do what doctors have been begging for worldwide—practice social distancing, as well as being vigilant about washing our hands like surgeons and not touching our face. Because this virus is spread through respiratory droplets, that means that just talking to one another in close proximity is risky. When we cough or sneeze, which is common now with seasonal allergies kicking in, respiratory droplets can spread up to 6 feet. This is why we’ve been asked to stay 6’ away from one another if we can’t just stay at home for the next two weeks.
You may ask why, if we’re pretty much all of us going to end up with this sooner or later why shouldn’t we just go ahead and get it and get it over with? Doctors are asking us to slow this epidemic down by practicing social distancing now so that we don’t overwhelm limited health resources. In northern Italy right now, hospitals are stressed to the max. There are only so many ventilators, and if too many need them, choices have to be made as to who will live and who’s on their own. For a great visual on how much of a difference we can make by limiting our contact with one another, check this out. This is why our President has urged us to avoid travel and gatherings of over 10 or more, and to stay at home as much as possible for the next two weeks. This is why our restaurants and bars have closed, sporting and artistic events have been cancelled, and why most religious institutions have suspended worship service, something that hasn't happened since the Spanish flu pandemic in 1919.
For all of these reasons, it is the only responsible thing to do to close the office. As someone who lives with chronic pain, I understand that massage really helps. Not getting a massage in a timely manner can mean more pain. I get that, but I cannot in good conscience risk the health of my clients. Like it or not, we’re all in this thing together, so out of consideration for those who might be more at risk, we’ve all got to sacrifice some.
In the meantime, I went into the office to completely disinfect everything. And I mean everything. I'm going to be spending more time with each of my clients' files in order to update individual treatment plans. I'll be doing some online continuing education to become certified in pregnancy massage. I'll also be adding information that may be helpful to you on the Facebook page and here on this blog.
So until I see you in person, know you're being held in prayer. Be well and take care.
Teresa Eisenlohr is a Christian theologian, Presbyterian pastor, and licensed massage therapist. And, no, that's not the start of a joke.