With this surreal reality of life, it would very difficult to not talk about the elephant in the room. Although “this elephant” is invisible to the naked eye, it has made its presence known in all eight corners of the world.
A virus that has been mocked for being named after a beer, the Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19 has caused the very essence of human living to be turned into fear and panic.
But is there really a need to panic? No!
This is a pandemic, not an apocalypse!
There will be enough food. Miles of toilet paper will be at your disposal. We will be ok!
When I decided that I wanted to write on the Coronavirus, there was nothing more I could add that the CDC and leading health experts haven’t already taught us. Things are changing rapidly. From the time I finish writing this to the time the email goes out, this information will be obsolete. So rather than regurgitating more factual information, I would like to share my heartfelt views on COVID-19 and its effects on the human spirt.
The following editorial reflects my own personal views and biases.
In the almost 30 years I have been in the medical field, I have never seen nor experienced anything of this caliber. I think it is fair to say neither have any of my colleagues.
In early February before COVID-19 made its way to the US, I had been closely watching the unfolding crisis in China. At that time, my instincts were telling me that this would be us in a few short weeks. I began to express my “concerns” out loud to anyone who would listen. Many of family and friends would say to me, “you are in the medical profession and you know that this virus is mild to most of us with a very slim margin of mortality rate. And it is not even in the US, so why are you panicking and getting into a frenzy? Have faith. Stay positive. You are making too big of a deal of this.”
I have ultimate faith that everything happens for a reason and that all is going to be ok. Although the circumstances surrounding the situation have been less than optimal with the massive shortage and limited access to testing kits, often times the exaggerated media hype, and the chaos and confusion amongst the healthcare professionals of knowing what to do next while still trying to take care of our patients like they deserve, it has been two weeks of pushing us into unchartered and often times very uncomfortable territories. But, I truly do believe in some remote distant way, all of this has been a gift, a gift of time.
That precious commodity of time we so rarely get to experience these days. With more employees working from home, stores shutting down in an effort to contain and mitigate (my heart aches for small business owners and workers that are unable to work from home), college kids moving back home three months ahead of schedule, families are under one roof with nowhere to go. This is not the way we would have wanted to come together, but this has forced us to step outside of our hectic lives and isolate into self-reflection. It is minutes in the day we now have to look out the window and remember that tree that was planted years ago, but somehow didn’t realize its growth. It is moments inside the divine structure of our home that becomes our church/temple/mosque where we pray for our neighbors, those that live next door and those that live on the next continent. It is trying to take an impossible situation and look for that single ray of hope while waiting to return to some level of normalcy.
Ultimately this time has given us the space to come into the realization that we will win this, as a global unified team of humanity.
Trust me, there is NOTHING about this that any of us want to be going through. There have been more missteps than one cares to count. But, the reality is, we are here, in this dark tunnel of unknowns that has us hanging on for the next split second turn, not knowing if it is the way out or just another dead end in this maze of eluding mystery. All I do know is that the only way unto the other side is if each of shines brighter than we ever have.
Learning the facts helps turn panic into knowledge, desperation into reprieve, helplessness into service, and social distancing into remote kindling. It has given us the chance to pick up the phone and ask, “hey, you doing ok? Anything I can get for you?”
Don’t get me wrong. There is a lot yet to come that causes me to lie awake at night praying that I have done whatever I could for my family, friends, patients and anyone who I could be of service too.
I wanted to end with a post that I shared on my personal Facebook page that pretty much sums up my thoughts, feelings and prayers on this elephant known as COVID-19.
March 12, 2020
“Just to be clear, I’m not in a state of panic nor do I live in a state of fear. The reference to the 2% fatality rate includes family and friends I cherish more than my own life. It includes my patients whom I have come to think of as family. That 2% are the humans that deserve for people like you and I to do whatever impractical things that inconvenience us to help save their lives and be a part in helping slow down this life that appears more like a dream than it does a reality. I’m not saying we shut down life. I’m saying think about making different choices for a brief period of time: workout at home instead of the gym. Postpone parties for the time being. If going to the grocery store, wipe down the cart before and after, knowing COVID-19 is present on surfaces for days after. Shutting down my life to save a life is worth the sacrifice. I can’t imagine going to bed at night knowing I selfishly chose my convenience over the 2% of people, knowing that if they contracted a virus that for you and I would mean a 2 week hiatus of life would be a death sentence. I don’t know if the small things I’m doing help in anyway. And frankly, I don’t care to know. I see it as my duty and my humanitarian obligation to be a part of stopping this Tsunami of an unknown enemy that has not only invaded our country, but also our very earthly existence. Are we all going to be ok? Of course we are!!! But only if we do this together. Every time I question if I am doing enough, I keep coming back to the saying, “EVERY VOTE COUNTS.” So when everyone does a little something, it counts in ways we have yet to understand!”
Be safe everyone and rest easy knowing your healthcare team is on the frontlines fighting for you!!