25 June 2020

Tulsi Parekh: Life in lockdown

Research optometrist, Tulsi Parekh MCOptom, reflects on the ups and downs of lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Life since lockdown began has been overwhelming, to say the least.  

“Prior to the pandemic, I worked in the research department at Moorfields Eye Hospital, with mostly category three patients (non-urgent appointments). The final patient I tested was almost three months ago, and the majority of my work is now done remotely - which has been a challenging adjustment. As an optometrist, working from home was not something I had envisaged becoming part of my weekly routine, and I was left feeling slightly unprepared.  

“Given the lack of commuting and cancelled clinics, I found myself with a lot of time on my hands. The first few weeks of lockdown felt like a novelty, and I kept myself occupied by learning to cook new dishes, starting an online Yale University course on ‘The Science of Wellbeing by Laurie Santos’, and organising history lessons for my young cousin via Zoom. It is fair to say that I was busy with things that I may have otherwise never found the time for, which I chose to look at as the silver-lining to this pandemic.  
“Although there were many new opportunities which brought joy, I also sadly experienced the loss of close loved ones. Lockdown created a whole new way of grieving for my family. From socially distanced funerals, to ‘virtual hugs’, it all seemed so alien, and made our grieving process harder.  
“Later on as the weeks progressed, being physically away from parents, siblings, and friends created an unexpected feeling of loneliness. They say a problem shared is a problem halved, so be sure to pick up the phone and call people you miss and talk about how you feel. There are many resources available and if you need support don’t be afraid to reach out, as you’re not alone. 
“Throughout the last few months, I have felt a little lost and frustrated, due to the lack of routine and loss of regular daily work. I have genuinely missed seeing my patients and work colleagues, which I am sure others can relate to. But over time, I have been able to pick myself up and appreciate the support system around me. 

“To try and keep motivated and up-to-date, I’ve attended a number of webinars and used the helpful resources from the College to guide me through this time. It’s likely we will be returning to a very different profession than the one we left behind, so it’s good to keep updated where possible. 

“On reflection, as the face of healthcare constantly changes, we need to remember how important our job is as optometrists, and our duty of care to our patients and each other. There will be changes to come, but we will get through this new and uncertain time by learning and working together.” 

Tulsi Parekh MCOptom is a research optometrist at Moorfields Eye Hospital.

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