COVID19 life

Day 16: I woke up sad today

March 31, 2020

March 31. End of Quintile 1.

I was supposed to have woken up in a San Diego hotel room, looking forward to day 1 of an American Pediatric Program Director’s Conference.

Obviously not happening. Instead, I woke up after yet another terrible dream.

Thinking about what we are not doing is clearly not helpful or productive right now. At the same time, my mind drifts there anyway. Sometimes.

I’m working on it.

I think I need to find little bits of joy and peace in this time and cling to them. Newfound flexibility of working from home. The opportunity to learn new things in a crisis. The extra time spent together as a family of 5, with Josh’s hours reduced.

But today I woke up sad and I think I am just going to accept that.

I am calling tomorrow the official start of Quintile 2. Maybe it will be better.


  • Reply Elisabeth March 31, 2020 at 7:40 am

    I’m sad, too. It’s just all so overwhelming and frightening.
    I’m trying to find the silver-linings, but even that seems unfair when so many others are suffering so much more than I am (we’re healthy, we’re all together as a family, none of my loved ones are sick, our work continues on as per normal/no loss of paychecks).
    But it is still tough. Trips have been cancelled that we have been anticipating for months, my kids are fighting constantly and extra emotional and instead of feeling like I have more time, I feel like I have NO time – I am now with my kids all day, every day…and that is just tough. I want to be productive and tackle things I wouldn’t normally get to, but the rigors of homeschooling, all the extra cooking and cleaning and the fact that the weather in Eastern Canada is still cold and snowy…well, it just has me drained.
    Tomorrow is a new day, and I’m hoping you have rays of sunshine that brighten the mood as you move through this one, too.
    Your blog is the first thing I read each morning. Please keep posting!

  • Reply Anne March 31, 2020 at 8:12 am

    Thanks for continuing to post and keeping it real, Sarah. I woke up sad today, too, and tried to hide my tears as my kids ate breakfast. We have unofficial word that school is canceled for the rest of the academic year, which I knew was coming, but I struggle to envision how the next two months will play out. We are less than three weeks in and I already feel completely drained and out of creative ideas to keep my kids entertained. Of course I am grateful that we are healthy and have the option of just staying home indefinitely, and I hope that we will settle in to this new normal as time marches on. But it does really suck sometimes.

  • Reply A. March 31, 2020 at 8:13 am

    As long as we are healthy, almost any missed opportunities/events can be accomplished later. It is not life that is abolished, just a new space-time to welcome for a few months. And the aftermath will be different also, priorities will change, they have to change. To be honest, I think grieving a trip is… weird right now, sorry if I don’t understand your feelings.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger March 31, 2020 at 8:15 am

      Not grieving the trip specifically. I feel very anxious about my job and just a sense of existential dread. I get logically about what you are saying. And maybe “I signed up for this” but at the same time I don’t think anyone did.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger March 31, 2020 at 8:25 am

      PS I suspect I would not be as sad if I did not work in health care. There is an element of fear and loss of control at play here. It may be dishonorable to admit that but I am sure it is part of why I am having bad dreams and trouble sleeping.

      • Reply Michelle March 31, 2020 at 9:06 am

        My husband is a respiratory therapist in the ICU and is assigned to COVID patients. He is one of the most patient people I’ve ever met but his tolerance has been dwindling the past couple of days (toddler tantrums before bed or general tantrums). Caring for these patients and the ripple effect this pandemic has had on the medical community, like what Sarah is experiencing, is something I think we all need to keep in perspective. Thanks for sharing, Sarah.

      • Reply A. March 31, 2020 at 12:08 pm

        Okay now I understand better. But you should say it like this. Cause if you read this post again, it sounded way more different…I was in fact surprised after reading that you didn’t talk about the health care/system more, the little picture in the big picture, etc. as you two are both part of it and probably feel shaken by this crisis that you maybe see/hear from different perspective.

        • Reply A. March 31, 2020 at 12:27 pm

          Now I see the other comments who are critical of what I said, but I just commented on the content of the original post, who was about sadness on a missed trip and being home, maybe there was unspoken between the lines that I didn’t pick up, sorry. I am not at all insensitive of the situation, it is the biggest social/political/economical/personal crisis we face and I read all the papers everyday, it is terrible. So that is why, in fact, I was thinking that a missed trip is… well, vain when thousands of people are/will lose everything, life includes.

          • Sarah Hart-Unger March 31, 2020 at 12:40 pm

            It’s ok- I know that was my lead in. And maybe a dumb picture to show! But hopefully makes more sense now.

    • Reply Laura March 31, 2020 at 8:56 am

      This is a completely unprecedented experience we are all going through. Everyone is allowed to feel grateful they are healthy while at the same time still mourning all of the experiences they were supposed to be having now. People plan and save for those opportunities and are allowed to feel disappointed when they don’t happen.

      • Reply omdg March 31, 2020 at 12:44 pm

        A. I agree with you that the premise of being sad about missed vacation right now is kind of precious right now, but also a lot of the time we in healthcare can’t actually blog about what is really upsetting us, either because culturally it’s considered dishonorable to admit to being afraid or to question authority, or whatever else effed up thing about medical culture is happening that day. I woke up a giant bitch this morning and haven’t slept well in days, and it’s all due to my feelings about having to work in the operating room sticking breathing tubes into patients who may or may not be positive — WHO KNOWS???? — and the feeling that the hospital views me as disposable (whether or not that is true, that’s how I feel). No idea if that’s exactly the same thing Sarah feels, but she is far more diplomatic than I am, and I suspect it is related. Or maybe not. Cut her a break though? She kicks ass.

    • Reply Natalie March 31, 2020 at 10:26 am

      I find comments like these so unhelpful. Why do you need to understand someone’s sadness rather than just accept that everyone is entitled to their feelings? We’re not robots and on some level I think we all realize that time is fleeting, isolating ourselves from loved ones is difficult, and the loss of routine and normalcy is traumatic for everyone. My parents are elderly and I don’t know when, or even if, I will see them again. My husband is in the National Guard and will probably be activated in the next couple of weeks. I have a 15 month old and an 8 year old at home with limited childcare while I try to segue into telemedicine effectively. Sarah, I completely get what you are feeling and thank you for your honest posts.

  • Reply Emily March 31, 2020 at 8:56 am

    Sarah, I am annoyed at that previous commenter. My heart goes out to you and all health care workers right now. Nothing about this pandemic upsets me as much as what I’ve read about the difficult conditions and choices health care workers will be facing in the coming weeks and months (and I’m doing this as a non-health care worker from the comfort of my own home which, albeit crazy right now with two full-time WFH parents and two kids home with no child care, is very safe and I don’t ever have to leave much less work in health care). And I don’t think you or any of the others “signed up” for this like, say, going into the military would be. I’m so sorry this has happened and will fall disproportionally on health care workers. My thoughts are with you.

  • Reply L March 31, 2020 at 9:13 am

    Hugs Sarah! It’s ok to be sad. I was just reading that Miami is going to be the next hot spot. Of course this is scary and you’re an endocrinologist not an ICU doc. You didn’t sign up for this. Last night my husband asked me what our plan was if we both got sick and I was like huh? I hadn’t really thought about what to do if we both got sick at the same time. (We’re empty nesters and I work in healthcare). So now I’m pondering that issue. There’s lots to worry about. It’s ok to feel. And keep posting. I read every morning.

  • Reply Kayla Goodrich March 31, 2020 at 9:33 am

    I woke up sad today too. I was alternately sad and angry most of last week. but by the weekend my mood had improved. Then today, BAM! Super sad again. Last week I blamed PMS, but I don’t really have that excuse this week. I’m trying really hard to be grateful, because I know I have it way better than a lot of other people, but it’s hard. I totally understand about being sad about the trip. I’ve been so sad about a lot of silly stuff, like my daughter not able to go to preschool and having to miss an Easter egg hunt. My concerns are trivial compared to a LOT of people’s, but they are still valid to me. Your grief over missing your trip is valid to you, and that’s all that matters.
    Thank you for being so honest about your feelings. It’s easy to get stuck thinking that you are alone, so it’s nice to read some honest words that aren’t sugar coated. 🙂

  • Reply Kelsey March 31, 2020 at 10:31 am

    Your feelings are so valid, Sarah. Thank you for being willing to share honestly. I wanted to also gently suggest the possibility of seeing a counselor or therapist to help you navigate this time – ? I think you and others in healthcare have an especially heavy burden right now and deserve all the support you can get.

  • Reply Irene March 31, 2020 at 10:42 am

    I don’t blame you a bit for anything you feel. I think we all made different choices and plans for our life because they were partly things we wanted to do but also things we think are important and worth our time. And now many things that are*important* but not absolutely essential at this moment are not happening. We all get to be sad about that. And no one gets to add guilt on top of your already full emotional plate. I don’t do well with uncertainty and I just can’t imagine being a physician right now. Hugs to you and your family!

  • Reply Anonymous March 31, 2020 at 10:48 am

    I had a doozy of a day (emotionally) yesterday and called my institution’s support line. They offer free short-term counseling for employees and I’ve used them here and there in the past. Maybe something to consider? Honestly even just making the phone call to get an appointment helped me feel better!

    Separate question, perhaps for you and Laura to consider, or for other commenters to weigh in on. In this unprecedented time of not being recommended to throw money at a childcare problem and consequently not being able to rely on previously-used methods, I wonder at what point the mental/emotional/psychological toll or damage of doing the “right” thing (ie trying to work full-time from home with two small kids and likely feeling like a failure at both) becomes bigger than the risks associated with doing the “wrong” thing (ie using some form of non-family childcare in an area not (yet?) considered a hotspot for infection and otherwise adhering to social distancing)? I think this is an impossible question to answer but it’s where I find myself impossibly stuck. Specific example aside, I think I wonder if someone’s (or many someones’) mental health factors into the equation at all when it comes to risk assessment of daily activities?

    • Reply Marina March 31, 2020 at 11:02 am

      This is a great topic for a show, or even just discussion here. Honestly, I do have to consider my mental health when thinking about how to deal with all of this. Is having my parents come over for a few hours on the weekend when we’re all otherwise not going anywhere other than the grocery store really that bad when it gives me and my husband the mental and physical break that we need? I have to weigh the risks of both sides and yelling at my kids because I’m exhausted doesn’t seem like the “right” answer there.

  • Reply Sarah March 31, 2020 at 10:52 am

    I understand where you are coming from. I am a NP in outpatient IM (worked in the hospital as a RN) and I think even if you feel like you “signed up for this”… you can be scared and guilty and afraid for yourself and your family and the world. I LOVE my job and my patients but this has taken the joy out of my job. In order to keep my pay safe, I am required to sign up to “be redeployed” within our hospital system. Certainly I understand that everyone has to do their part and will do that… but it isn’t wrong to also be thinking.. I wish I had a job where I could just bunker down with my family at home.
    Take care of yourself and your family. I have been waffling between trying to “reschedule” things to give me something to look forward too vs just not plan anything for the summer/fall/winter. We had a major 40th birthday/10 year anniversary trip planned which we cancelled but now have a large amount of money “locked” in the airlines which needs to be used in the next year… but when will it be safe to fly/travel again.

  • Reply Marina March 31, 2020 at 10:57 am

    You have every right to feel sad. I hope we can all bit a little more compassionate these days. We’re all feeling a lot right now, and there’s no point in trying to compare who “has it worse” – we’re all entitled to our feelings. Yes, I’m grateful to be healthy and I also spend a lot of the day trying not to cry when watching my two small kids at how unfair all of this is.

  • Reply acdalal March 31, 2020 at 11:47 am

    Echoing what others have already said about your right to be sad and to grieve what was “supposed” to happen. I just realized this morning, while on a call with my therapist, that some of the anger and depression and anxiety I’m feeling right now is me, grieving for the spring term I was “supposed” to have. I spent most of the past few months with a heavier teaching and administrative load than I should have had, and many days the only thing getting me through was the thought that “at least spring term will be easier, with a lighter teaching load and less on my plate”. And now that’s not happening, and I’m trying to come to terms with that. Naming it as grief has REALLY helped. So feel your feels and get furious and anxious and sad — as I tell my kids, “feelings are not bad”. And thanks as always for keeping it real here. I so appreciate your candor these days as we’re all trying to figure out our new normal.

  • Reply Cindy March 31, 2020 at 11:52 am

    Sad as well. Staying away from the Grandkids,sad.. seeing our Cardiologist son in harms way ( and all of the Staff)….sad!
    Doing lots of knitting-cleaning—- u-tube video cardio workouts.
    All of us are in this…. compassion and kindness to you as we all come along side one another ( with distance), in support.

  • Reply A March 31, 2020 at 2:30 pm

    Hi Sarah! I’m a long time reader and I just want to chime in and thank you for being honest. Your post today and yesterday echo exactly what I am feeling. Sad, frustrated and angry. My kids are similar ages to yours, I live in your same city and my family situation is similar except my husband and I are not doctors. I am struggling, like the anonymous commenter said above, with childcare. I am still working out of the home as our management has classified our business as essential. However, only some of us have been afforded the ability to work at home. So those of us at the office are covering for the work at homers. My kids went back to school yesterday and are required to be online at certain times (of course while I’m working). My husband is working at home but is on conference calls and actually working in a technical field that requires concentration. I too think a great topic of discussion would be balance and childcare. I don’t understand how people are doing it! I am also frustrated with all the social media content telling us to “bake bread or learn a language” in this quarantine time and thank you for keeping it real and honest. Whew. Thanks for the opportunity to vent 🙂

    • Reply Anonymous March 31, 2020 at 3:47 pm

      I’m anonymous from above and am so glad I wasn’t flamed for posting, since others are also struggling! We are choosing to continue using our daycare (small, in home provider with a total of four families) because I don’t know how else to function. My husband is essential and working from home but cannot participate in much childcare during working hours due to the nature of what he has to do for his job (high level conference calls on a schedule he doesn’t control). I am expected to work from home at full capacity for a boss who – while generally great to work for – has clearly indicated that he thinks the reaction to the virus is overblown. So as long as we can legally send our kids to daycare, I think we will have to, despite being bombarded with information that clearly state this is the “wrong” choice. Also sorry for venting! Mostly this is just commiseration that everyone is struggling, either with their lack of choices in what to do OR feeling like the wrong one has been forced. Or many other things.

      • Reply Irene March 31, 2020 at 8:39 pm

        Just wanted to say this sounds really hard. I am sorry your boss is being so difficult. It’s hard for a lot of us who are in similar situations with 0 child care. I am taking turns with my husband and taking some leave but I know not everyone has the same opinions. Good luck.

  • Reply Kaye March 31, 2020 at 6:28 pm

    Grieving a trip is weird?? How so? Almost everyone I know is grieving a trip right now since it was supposed to be spring break time. Trips are long awaited, highlights of our years (for many families). Something that huge amounts of time, effort and money have gone into. (I know in your case this was a work trip, but you had other important, family trips planned during this time as well I believe). I personally had to cancel a 2 week trip that my entire family was ecstatically awaiting. We were devastated! My kids are also “grieving” the loss of their spring sports seasons they couldn’t wait to start. Now, they are just cancelled. Should I tell them this doesn’t matter either?? It IS a big deal to them. It’s not the “only” thing that matters right now, but it is something that matters to them.

    OF COURSE we are also still capable of stepping back and realizing and recognizing that in the grand scheme of life, a trip (or missing school, or sports) is not “that big of a deal”. No, it won’t matter in 5 years. But it still sucks right now!! OF COURSE I am blessed, glad and thankful that for now, I am only grieving the loss of a trip, and not a loved one that this awful virus took. But that doesn’t make it unworthy of mention, or any less of a real feeling. It doesn’t mean someone bummed about missing a trip isn’t also even more heartbroken by the loss of life and the huge multifaceted crisis the world is facing. A huge majority of things that ALL of us complain about on a daily basis in this country (referencing the United States), even when not in the midst of a pandemic, are certainly first- world problems and tiny compared to problems others face around the world every day. But our brains and bodies still assess these as “problems” and “stressors”. And they still matter!

    You go ahead and be sad if you want to be! Grieving your trip…or your patients…or even your loss of “normalcy” in life…whatever…that is all a-okay! Hugs.

  • Reply Heather March 31, 2020 at 7:23 pm

    I didn’t read all the comments, but my mantra right now is ‘it is okay to not be okay’. These are unprecedented times. Look after yourself.

  • Reply Heather March 31, 2020 at 8:16 pm

    See you, hear you and feel you. Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply Beth March 31, 2020 at 8:40 pm

    Thank you for your honesty, Sarah. I have read your blog for years, but have never commented. You are a bright spot of truth and vulnerability in a scary world right now. Reading your blog each day is a touchpoint for me during this difficult time. Thank you for writing, and for your professional service.

  • Reply Jara Crawford April 1, 2020 at 9:57 am

    I don’t think it’s weird to grieve a trip, or to grieve anything right now. I love reading your posts and appreciate your authenticity so much. I was supposed to be spending spring break in Hawaii this week, and so this week has been tough for me because of that. I know I can always go later, but with studying for boards and rotations coming up, I don’t know when I’ll have another chance. Obviously I am keeping things in perspective and am thankful that my loved ones have not been touched by COVID-19 (yet…), but it’s still okay to feel sad for what was supposed to be.

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