A personal note from UCI MIND neurologist, Dr. Ahmad Sajjadi

Contributed by Ahmad Sajjadi, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Neurology

The ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives are so profound that I fully expect us to, at least in our own heads, divide our life events to pre- and post-pandemic. I cannot think of a similar example in my life that affected every single aspect of my daily living. Of course, like others, I have developed strict rituals for disinfecting myself and everything I touch, and it takes me about 10 minutes to enter my house from a shopping trip! Negatives aside, it has also been an eye-opening experience that has made me eternally grateful for the things we take for granted in our busy and hectic lives.  

At a professional level, I continue seeing my clinic patients except that I see them from my laptop. I cannot shake their hands, but I take comfort in seeing most are coping well with this “new normal.” My younger patients, whose partners still work, are happy to see their loved ones are with them more; however, I also see a lot of caregiver burden! 

What I learnt from those who are coping well is that keeping and maintaining a routine is the key. It is important to wake up at a certain time, and more importantly, be strict about going to bed and not staying up late. Not doing so will interrupt the sleep-wake cycle, which can be very disturbing and difficult to re-adjust, especially for those with cognitive impairment. I also see a lot of creative ideas on how to stay healthy by exercising at and around home. I bet pets are the happiest members of many households, as they are taken for extended walks on most days. 

Although we are not seeing patients for research, we are busy working with the data accumulated in the past. Our research group Zoom meetings are fun, especially when we have uninvited attendees, such as my 6 year old daughter who joined me in one of the morning virtual meetings in her pajamas! 

Stay safe and let’s hope we don’t forget the valuable lessons learnt during this pandemic as soon as the restrictions are lifted.