I’m trapped between two worlds, and I don’t know what more I can do to get out.

I asked my rheumatologist, who had taken me off work due to my autoimmune condition and COVID, if I could go back once the Stay At Home order was lifted. I called and left a message two weeks ago. I left a message the next day. And the next. And the next. Then it was the weekend, then that Monday through Friday I called again. No response, and no answer.

I tried again every day the next week. One of the days I got a person, who claimed they would message the doctor with my request and get back to me. No response.

Last Friday, I couldn’t even leave a voicemail because their box was full. I drove over an hour and a half to their office, went in, and asked if I could get an answer. I was told they’d put it on the doctor’s desk. I said I’d wait, and then I was told the doctor “didn’t have time to talk to me.” I said I’d still wait. I talked to the office manager. I was told I’d get a response maybe by the end of the day, maybe yesterday afternoon. (Monday was a holiday.)

Yesterday, my office still hadn’t gotten a response in the morning. I called their office right away, because it was early and I hoped to reach a person instead of a voicemail. I did get a person, and was told that it would be by the end of the day.

Around 3pm, I actually received a phone call from my doctor’s office! It was them calling to let me know that, before the doctor signs a release for me to go back to work, I must sign a waiver clearing her of liability should I contract COVID while at work. I had them fax it to my office, I went to work, and I signed and returned the fax.

Today, at about 9:20, my boss texted me to notify me that they still had NOT received the release that I can go back to work. An hour and a half (and nine unsuccessful phone calls) later, and no response, no answer.

Now, with the countdown to the cutoff for me to be able to work this afternoon ticking away, my inexplicable anxiety from early this morning now has an explanation. I should’ve known it was too simple. Just fax a waiver, and I’ll be able to work? Yeah, right.

I want to go back to work, but I can’t without that release. I want to talk to the doctor’s office to get them to fax it, but I can’t get an answer. I want to be able to stop panicking about money, because I also cannot get hold of a person–or even a voicemail–at the unemployment office.

Stuck in limbo, with no way out and no way back. I can’t undo the past five weeks of being off work, can’t go back to work, can’t do anything until I get a person on the phone.

I’m terrified of what might happen if I can’t go back to work. I’m terrified of what will happen if I can’t get through to unemployment to find out why I’m not getting paid. I’m terrified of what I might do if this madness continues.

Maybe, if I’m lucky, I’ll get through before lunch time and be able to go in this afternoon. Maybe, if I’m less lucky, they’ll fax my release before the end of business today and I can go back tomorrow.

Maybe I’ll be stuck in limbo forever.