Remember This Year, For Real
Our town has its own COVID-19 documentary, thanks to resident and intrepid cinematographer Tom Fahey, who also happens to work for CBS’ 60 Minutes, so this is the real deal. This beautifully filmed video covers our own local experience of Spring 2020, and I was honored to be included among some of our town’s healthcare workers:
Of course, we are still in this year, and the numbers keep ticking up. Today Massachusetts saw over 4500 new cases, a simmering pot of ever-increasing COVID-19. I experienced this as incredibly high call volumes during my Thanksgiving call week: People were exposed and needed a test, they had symptoms and needed an evaluation and a test, or they already had a positive test and were getting sicker. I’m hearing from colleagues that the calls just keep coming:
Then this morning, we joined the sea of citizens seeking COVID swabs. Our ten-year-old woke up congested. Sneezing in fits, even. Of course today was supposed to be an in-person school day. These precious three-hour “days” are such an important reset for the kids, where they connect with their teachers and their classmates in a setting at least approaching normal, stable, and grounding. These “real” school days are so few and so short…
So while the poor kid sneezed and blew his nose, Hubby and I stood staring at him as if we were in A Quiet Place, realizing that we were doomed. I was teaching Zoom medical school all morning and booked with patients (virtual visits) all afternoon. Hubby had to tape a podcast interview and then drive to the studio to film a show. Neither of us had an ounce of bandwidth. But protocol rules, and you can’t send a congested kid to school during a respiratory virus pandemic. I made the call, literally, telling the school that neither of our children would be there (while said children jumped up and down cheering in the background). Then I called the pediatrician, and after some back and forth, got them both scheduled for COVID swabs for tomorrow.
And then we tried, we really tried, to just go about our workday, hoping the kids would be so busy with the day’s assignments that it would be fine. But they became literal banshees, with bouts of fighting/ screaming/ beating/ screaming/ crashing/ did I say screaming? That made it near impossible to work. At lunchtime we called my mom in, despite the kids’ pending COVID tests. After all, it’s probably allergies, considering that the cat slept on our son’s pillow, and this happens sometimes: A dander attack. There’s been no play dates, no sports gatherings, no restaurants, no parties, no indoors or unmasked contact with anyone outside of our quarantine bubble. Still, it’s poor form to stick the sniffly kid with their grandmother, and I take responsibility for the slim chance that this is really The Virus. Kid got better with Flonase and Allegra, so I doubt it.
Regardless, I’m taking them to a drive-through testing clinic tomorrow morning, and then praying.
I’ll also be assembling our own family COVID kit, just in case. After all, if we don’t have it now, we are still surrounded by the surge. I highly recommend this Medium article by physician colleague Robin Schoenthaler MD, titled Creating a COVID Kit: Back to Basics as the Numbers Rise. In this essay, she writes an introduction that resonates with me:
“With the kinds of Covid numbers we are seeing this month, soon all of us are going to know someone who is sick, and it’s going to feel as though the noose is tightening. Those days can feel really dark. Fact-based knowledge is my light in the darkness. So let’s review the basics.”
Yes! Fact-based knowledge. That’s the light in the darkness for me as well, as U.S. hospitals are increasingly stretched to their limits, and we’re only at the beginning of the winter and its many infectious holiday gatherings. Science and data and facts, these are normal, stable, and grounding for me. I need to remember that… and always remember this year.