The straight and narrow – reflecting on the latest lockdown

straight and narrow COVID-19Emma Laing reflects on how this lockdown is impacting her flow of patients into the practice and the effect it is having on everybody’s mental health.

Reflecting on lockdown

The French novelist Jean-Baptiste Karr wrote in 1849 the epigram: ‘Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose’. This translates as: ‘The more it changes, the more it’s the same thing.’

Over 150 years later, this resonates all the more with our current lockdown life.

In dentistry I am so grateful we have been able to continue some form of routine to break up the winter days. It allows us to see our patients, and provide some sense of normality in such uncertain times.

But it is not an easy time. For many, home confinement in late January brings a sense of boredom. Particularly when the winter seems prolonged and our new year motivation has waned. The current restrictions make all this seem worse.

Today we also have the most beautiful dusting of snow, which has certainly lifted my spirits.

Scheduling patients

For some patients it is a delight to come in, given that you cannot go to many other places in the lockdown. They tell me they’ve looked forward to the conversations with myself and the team. It’s something different in their week.

Others have decided not to come in, or have a risk factor when completing the COVID form within 72 hours of their appointment so have to cancel.

It is challenging to keep consistency of the diary. We are spending more time on arranging and rearranging appointments than previously.

Some people still seem to not completely appreciate the regulations. Twice last week I had to reiterate how long the self-isolation period is before coming in, and cancel these patients.

Patients often express they are finding this time really hard. It is months of the same thing. The risk on our mental health is at its greatest. We have to find some positives, keep exercising, keep being thankful, not watching the news continually and having a good sleep routine.

The Zoom effect

Now patients know they won’t go back to the office until at least the summer. The change in mindset has certainly been an acceptance towards having orthodontic treatment, as they will be at home.

The number of enquiries I receive has not reduced. The ‘Zoom effect’ is causing people to be more conscious of their smile on camera, plus want aesthetic-only appliances.

They are less concerned about the aesthetics of appliances whilst out and about because masks need wearing. But the appliances need to be acceptable when seen on Zoom.

NHS experience and the COVID vaccine

It has been a difficult month personally with both my parents blue-lighted to hospital on different occasions since the Christmas period.

We are expecting them both to be okay now, they had non-COVID issues. But being in hospital during the COVID period is a huge worry.

My experience of their NHS care is of complete professionalism, keeping me informed at all stages. And each person doing their very best, from the paramedics to the doctors and follow-ups thereafter.

I have immense gratitude for the care they received at such a critical time.

It is sad to hear that it is anticipated that staff will leave the NHS due to the pressures upon them in this period.

I am pleased to have received my first COVID vaccine this month, as a small part played to help reduce the pressure on the NHS.

I feel it is important as dentists that we counsel patients who are reticent to have the vaccine. We should educate them in the vital need for us to protect each other and help the NHS.

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