During the first part of our spring shutdown, I took the opportunity to remodel one of our bathrooms.

It was a project I had been putting off for quite some time. My wife and I had been wanting to get it done for the past few years, but I always hesitated.

I never wanted to use a vacation day to tackle it, and I wasn’t confident I could finish everything between a Friday and Sunday evening.

When I finally dove in, the project ended up taking about 4-5 days. I was definitely glad I didn’t have the pressure of a running clock, because it was easily my most ambitious project to date. I was pretty proud I only had to Facetime my dad twice for a little troubleshooting.

Since we again find ourselves facing some uncertainty over the next few months, you may have an opportunity to spend some time on a different type of remodeling project.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve evaluated a physical therapy patient for an ache, pain, or mobility issue and I hear some version of “this has been nagging at me for the past 6-12 months, but I never had time to deal with it. It finally got bad enough that I had to go see my doctor about it, so here I am.”

Over the past few months, I’ve heard from quite a few patients that they’re afraid of going to their doctor’s office for appointments or to get a referral to physical therapy.

Avoiding necessary medical care can be very problematic, to say the least.

To learn how local medical offices are handling this, I spoke to Dr. Todd Sheperd. Dr. Sheperd has a family and sports medicine practice in Petoskey.

“Many offices are keeping sick patients out of the office, including ours. That being said, with community transmission being high there will certainly be patients that make it into offices that are positive (either pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic). We are being very strict about masks in the office, and we have also increased cleaning protocols. Many other offices are doing this as well.

“Additionally, as the cold and flu season likely begins picking up, we have revised our clinic schedule to make sure that early appointments will be only for patients with conditions that are not associated with respiratory symptoms (such as physical exams and acute issues like back pain etc.). The end of the day is reserved for those patients who may need strep, flu, or COVID-19 testing.

“The simplest recommendation that I have for my patients is that if it can be done remotely, it should be done remotely. This works great for many chronic issues including depression, high blood pressure, and diabetes, to name a few.

Routine screening tests that are needed shouldn’t be delayed, but if there is some room, then doing them later is reasonable. For example, I have some routine colonoscopies that are due right now that my patients and I have agreed could wait until next spring when the world will be more normal.”

Our physical therapy clinics have also enhanced our safety and cleaning protocols in step with other medical offices, making us just about the safest place you can visit outside of your home.

Every person who enters our facilities is screened for symptoms and COVID exposure, and all patients and staff are masked at all times. You can be assured that we’re as low-risk as it gets outside of your home. We also offer telehealth to patients who would prefer to stay at home.

If you’ve been dealing with an ache, pain, or other mobility issue, now might be the perfect time to address it so you can be functioning better when things start to return to normal.

Carpe diem.