Blizzard days are like chronic illness days, so don’t panic

If you’ve looked at the news in the U.S. at all in the last day, you know that the northeast is getting hit with a big blizzard. Even though it’s not unheard of around here, this is of course causing the usual panic. For me, it’s just a Tuesday.


Snowstorm January 2005 – 10 years later and people are still panicking

I wanted to pick up a few groceries yesterday because it was time for my weekly shopping. Everyone else in the long lines was stocking up for The Storm. You see, the idea of being indoors for 2 days due to The Storm causes panic for most people. They suddenly need milk and bread with a kind of desperation that isn’t usually seen on a typical Tuesday. I just don’t get it.

Now, obviously for some people there’s good reason to worry. For example,

  1. If you just moved here and you’ve never been in a snowstorm before, you might be unsure of what to expect.
  2. If you’re physically disabled or otherwise in need of medical attention and rely on assistance from others, you might be worried about people not being able to reach you or vice versa.

That’s about it. I can’t come up with #3. Obviously storms like this can be dangerous. Your house could get flooded if you live near the shore, you might be worried about a flood-related fire, a tree could fall on your house or car. But if you live in an area where these things are likely, then you either know how to prepare, or you know you can’t prepare and you just have to wait it out. The other major danger, of course, is shoveling-related injuries, so I hope that anyone at risk for a heart attack, back strain, or other injury is getting help with their shoveling. And yes, you might lose power. But you should already have plenty of blankets, candles, matches, and bottled water in the house anyway, because that’s just good sense.

Look, we’ve had storms like this many times before. So we know that it will end on Wednesday and by Thursday people will be out and about again. By Friday we’ll have forgotten about The Storm as we prepare for the next one. So why buy a month’s worth of groceries when you’ll only be indoors for 2 days?

I suppose most people don’t like feeling stuck at home. I get that. I don’t like it either. But I know how it really works. You see, I get stuck at home for days at a time on a regular basis. It happened last week. And the week before. And the week before that. And it’s ok.

One big difference is that everyone else is stuck at home too, so you’re not the only one canceling plans. The other big difference is that when you’re stuck at home for a blizzard, you feel ok and can do things. When you’re stuck at home for chronic illness, often you feel like shit and can’t do much beyond stare at a tv screen. Thankfully, I feel ok today, so while I watch the snow outside, I’ll do the kinds of things I think everyone should be doing today. Here are a few ideas for you:

  • Clean up the clutter around the house.
  • Cook.
  • Bake.
  • Have some quiet time with your thoughts.
  • Call a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while. If they’re in the same city and they’re not an emergency worker, chances are good that they’re home too.
  • Read that book you’ve been wanting to read.
  • Work on your creative hobbies – knit, paint, write, etc.
  • Play with your kids and pets (I would if I had any.)
  • Watch a movie.
  • Daydream.
  • Exercise. I’ll do my physical therapy, but you can also do plenty of at-home exercises like lifting weights, sit-ups, push-ups, jumping rope.
  • Finally empty out that email inbox.
  • Take a hot relaxing bubble bath (it’s not my thing, but it might be yours.)
  • Do all of those other things around the house that you say you never have time for.
  • Be incredibly grateful that you’re indoors today and safe.

I do some of these things when my illnesses keep me at home, but many I can’t do. Today is sort of a treat – I’m home *and* I feel somewhat ok!

So the next time you hear someone panicking that The Storm is coming, remember that being stuck at home for a day or two is something many of us go through on a regular basis, and suggest that they relax and enjoy the time at home. And point out that they might want to keep a few bottles of water in a closet all the time, because standing in those long lines is just silly.

2 Responses to Blizzard days are like chronic illness days, so don’t panic

  1. Karen J says:

    I’m not only imagining that people “didn’t used to” get so freaked out about the weather, am I? Seems like the media-folk use such fear- and dread-inducing language these days that it’s hard to avoid the panicky feelings.

    • chronicrants says:

      No, you’re definitely not imagining it. I think you’re right about the media fear-mongering. Also, weather predictions are getting more accurate farther in advance. Before, we’d hear about a storm just a day or two before. Now, we have many days to panic and a 24-hour news cycle to encourage it. Politicians are also grandstanding more, at least around here. It used to be a sign of our hardiness and a source of pride that we didn’t let it bother us. Now, everyone acts like they’ve never seen snow/rain/wind before. And with another storm coming tomorrow, I bet tonight’s news will be full of scary language again.

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