Traveling During a Pandemic
As I take out the antiseptic cloth and wipe down my phone, then take another and wipe my hands, I reflect on the last two weeks and how the world has changed. Today is the first morning of our trip to Las Vegas for my daughter’s senior trip, and I’m in my usual spot. As a not-so-closeted workaholic who loves her job and hates falling behind, family vacations usually find me working in the morning while my family sleeps. I wake and dress to the light of my phone, grab a room key, then head downstairs and try to get a few hours of work in before the sleepers awake.
Somehow, sipping Starbucks and grading papers in Caesars Palace loses its magic when I am reminded daily that there is an airborne pathogen determined to storm the gates of my mucus membranes and wreak havoc on my immune system. Such is the nature of Spring Break 2020.
You wouldn’t know there’s a pandemic in Las Vegas. Whether it’s via dice, cards, cash, or genitalia, bodily fluids are being exchanged just like they always have. In fact, except for the occasional mask-wearer or four-wheeled cart bearing industrial strength hand sanitizer refills, everything looks pretty normal. In my mom heart though, I know it’s not. In my business owner’s mind, I know it’s not.
Sick Leave Plan
What can a counselor entrepreneur do to practice prudent preparedness during a health crisis? I’m a very optimistic person, but even so, I just put an out-of-office greeting on my phone that included ‘if you are concerned about the corona virus I am equipped to conduct our sessions via webcam.’ If you are like many of us and you don’t think of preparing for the worst until it starts showing up in your news feed, I’ve Googled a few things for you that might help:
- It may be too late for this suggestion, but keep a savings account topped off with about 2 weeks’ pay. This is WELL under Dave Ramsey’s recommended three-month emergency fund, but it will do in a pinch and it’s easy for most counselors to build and maintain.
- Include an ‘if I get sick or have an emergency’ clause in your intake paperwork. You require 24 hours-cancellation-notice from your clients, what is your policy for YOU? If you have to suddenly call in sick will you comp their next session? Is there another therapist you can use for a week or two? Will you switch to telehealth if you are well enough?
- This current situation with COVID 19 may bring up legal issues regarding confidentiality and HIPAA. In a pandemic you may have a legal obligation to cooperate with the CDC if you are aware of someone who is contagious. I am not a lawyer and I don’t play one on TV. Consult your trusted attorney to be sure.
- Take care of you. If it’s too late for steps 1 and 2 and you are lying in bed reading this with the flu, don’t beat yourself up. Drink fluids, get plenty of rest, and call your doctor. When you feel stronger, then start working on your sick leave plan.
It’s Not the Zombie Apocalypse
I read a lot of dystopian science fiction and I feel like I am that character in chapter one the day before the zombies attack. It is eerie. At the end of the day, we’ll see loved ones, celebrities, and strangers get sick. We’ll see places that used to be crowded become not-so-crowded. There are deals to be had and travel to be booked, even as the supply of hand sanitizer dwindles and the news turns grim.
But for now, I will greet my kiddo and her boyfriend when they arrive from Dallas in an hour, I will join the couples that are here with us for dinner tonight, and I will probably put a few pennies in a slot machine or two (buttons thoroughly sanitized of course). I’ve made up my mind I’m going to stick to what I do best – put my head down and enjoy the shit out of everything I do. One day at a time.