Down the Rabbit Hole: A “busy” covid story.

I’ve been falling, falling, falling. Down, Down, Down. And I never realised how far I had fallen. Then everything was just feeling weird. I gradually realised that I had fallen so far down that I had lost myself.

For the past seven weeks, I have existed in a cognitive tunnel. Trying to come to grips with the reality of running a health business during an extended lockdown. This is a new take on “Busy”. Seven weeks ago, with four hours notice, our team left the building laptops in hand to start another lockdown chapter.

For the first little while, it felt like we were all running to stand still. Helping our team communicate with our valued clients about how we could safely continue to see them. Having “covid” conversations. Listening to the daily news cycle, working out what that meant and conveying information to our team. Working out how many hours we could financially support our staff, along with the uncertainty of how long this would go on. More conversations with landlords, referrers and patients, in rooms or telehealth etc. I am sure that many of you “get” this story. On the back of the lockdown last year, this one was much harder. For those of you that have done it several times or for very long periods, I can only imagine what it must feel like for you? My heart goes out to the practice owners in Victoria, especially having had to contend with the most extended lockdown in the world and rigid conditions of practice which means that many of you may have forgotten what life as an Allied Health Practice owner even felt like before all of this stress?

I reckon that this is as hard as it gets? Surely? We can use that age-old strategy of looking and can almost always find someone worse off than ourselves, but does that really help? Maybe a bit? However, this is our reality. It is like running our health businesses constantly on hyper-drive. It is exhausting. This is on the background of the grinding weariness all around us and the life we are all living. It seems that no one feels right. Some of us have lost our sense of self, and maybe it will be a while before we find ourselves again? Perhaps some of us are forever changed as a result of these past 18 months?

This past week, the cognitive fog started to clear a little, and it gave me pause to reflect on the past 7 weeks. I found the ability to really reflect on how grateful I am for our amazing team, who have been so adaptable, loyal and have been the bedrock of our business. They have stepped up and done a fabulous job of looking after our people. What more can we ask for as business leaders? In the midst of all of the chaos, I thanked them more as a motivational tool from time to time. “Let’s keep going”. I really should have said, but because I was so lost down my rabbit hole (In my tunnel), I had not said it. “We could not have done this without you. Thank you!”

It seems as I write this that we are nearing a new beginning. It does not look really bright and shiny but perhaps just a little brighter than what we have had? There will still be tough decisions and conversations. They are always part of being a leader of a health business. I doubt that we have ever experienced the same lack of control, choices, or as many hard conversations as we have had in the past 18 months? Hopefully, this is as hard as it gets?

I hope that you all come out of your rabbit hole, okay. And whilst you might feel a little dazed, I also hope that you remember why you do what you do and can lead your team with gratitude and purpose.

With kudos and respect to all of you.

Dianna Howell MAPA Cmgr MIML

September 2021

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