• 37°

MJ Wixsom: Virus brings out the bad and good sides of people

The recent unpleasantness has brought out something in people.

In short, people have been people lately. Everyone seems to be under more stress than usual lately. Routines are disrupted. People are staying home more. Restaurants are only doing curbside. Housekeepers and hairdressers cannot work.

If you are working from home, your kids, spouse and pets interfere. If you are laid off, money is a problem and then there are still the kids, spouse and pets 24/7. If you are essential, work has changed. There are schedule changes, new protocols, masks, curbside, risks and more challenges.

Even if your life is not changed, there will be someone you know who is at risk.

Will they stay home? Will they wear a mask? Is it worth going to the store? Why don’t they have the kind of whatever that I like? Am I breathing the same? Is that cough from allergies? Do I have a fever? I feel hot, but it is warm out today? Will I survive if I catch it?

But I will probably catch it, it is just a matter of when. No matter what your situation, there is more stress right now.

Stress is not a good place to be existing and living. Typically, with the effect of stress hormones, you revert to seeing only two options. From the fight or flight response, you only can see a couple of options.

One of the ways to reduce stress is to help others. I think this is why food appears after deaths or sickness. People want to help and, sometimes, it is the only thing they know to do.

I think that might be why Carla brought donuts when she picked up Charlie and Teddy. Although it seems she is always nice with word or deed, she knew a break in our routine would help. Staying busy was definitely why Cathie made us chicken sandwiches. She needed to be busy and wanted to help. Short staffed and stressed, we appreciated both.

I reached out to a crafter and asked if she would make masks. She had never made any, but learned for us. Teresa made enough masks for all of us. Her girl scout daughter made a rappelling bear for the kid’s bear hunt. Katie’s mom was saving lives by staying home and loved the idea of making masks. Soon, we all had a double set of masks. This is important because, if the masks get moist, they do not protect anyone.

Likewise, when ears began to chafe from the masks, I reached out to Randy. By my count, he has 3-D printed and passed out, free of charge, over 700 mask extenders.

These little plastic ladders allow the elastic to fasten behind your head instead of your ears. Randy has sent these to KDMC, the post office, Ashland Fire Department, Ashland Police Department, nurses, first responders in neighbors and friends, cashiers and strangers. He has sent them to Puerto Rico, Tennessee, Cincinnati, Louisiana, Scotland, as well as to workers in Ironton, South Point and us.

Then someone showed up with a crocheted ear saver and some drape donations. The staff didn’t get her name and we don’t think she is a client, but I have a yarn and cat button ear saver.

People aren’t just doing or donating their time. They are stepping up with money.

A client called to schedule an exam and dental cleaning for her dog, Sadie. Annual tests, vaccines and cleaning can add up. When I went over the estimate, she said “We talked about it and we don’t really need our stimulus check and we want you to be here when it is all over.”

We planned ahead for business disruption and have a good plan in place, but business is slow when the governor says you must turn away business. I couldn’t speak and it brought tears to my eyes to hear her say that. Business picked up after the checks came out, so I suspect that she was not the only one thinking about their local small businesses. For our part, we used some of the extra to buy lunches from a local restaurant a couple of times this week.
When a health care worker’s dog had pneumonia and was hospitalized on oxygen for almost three weeks, we posted the case on Facebook and offered to match donations. People from Alaska to Grayson chipped in to pay part of Roxy’s bill. When Roxy went home, the couple had a few of those tears also.

For the most part, people have been kind and generous. People have even bought some of my books that I am sure they will not actually read.

But we have seen the other side also. People pushing their way past signs that say the lobby is closed and insisting that we could not have possibly meant them. Yes, ma’am, we did. As Andy says, “You can’t be doing that.”

Another (ex)client blamed us for his pup being too much. Daisy was getting into everything and jumping up on the dad. We have tried with suggestions and help, but nothing was possible, because he just couldn’t do that. Whatever we suggested was impossible.

In the end, the pup was rehomed and that was somehow our fault. It was also our fault that we did not hire him because he was a veteran. (Totally not true, I have hired almost all veterans that have applied, but you do have to not scream at me or my team to get hired.) Because of the veteran status, I will dip into the Guardian Angel fund and pay off the rest of Daisy’s bill, so it doesn’t stress the dad more. I won’t be telling him though, because he still should not scream at my staff.

I questioned my business coach about teachable strategies for stress. I asked if there were any things that we could do hourly to help.

He said he didn’t, but texted, “for me, when I come back to my purpose — even just one aspect of my why, and then get really micro-focused on that with intensity… for one solid minute… that helps me re-center and focus on that and not the other stressors.”
I think that is why I have done okay (not that I haven’t had a few moments), because Guardian Animal and the pets and their people need me. I am here for them. It is my why.

Since stress seems to bring out the worst in us, I have been amazed at the number of the people that have stepped up to help out.

People have been people lately and they have shown me some amazing things.

I am proud of you.

MJ Wixsom, DVM MS is a best-selling Amazon author who practices at Guardian Animal Medical Center in Flatwoods, Ky. GuardianAnimal.com 606-928-6566.