COVID-19 thoughts

My posts generally come in two forms — something that’s cohesive, and well thought through and something that resembles verbal diarrhea. This will be more of the latter. The area where I live is so quiet now. The streets are dramatically more empty than I’ve ever seen them. We are on a very bravely enacted shelter-in-place order — meant as a way to contain this virus.

China has reported no new virus infections after swift and clear measures to contain the COVID-19. Our president called it a hoax up until recently.

I work in a hospital as an internal medicine resident. Everything we see tells us that we are going to look like Italy. That we are going to have a wide spread of cases that come in and we will have to take care of. We are learning how to wear personal protective equipment (PPE), but it’s increasingly clear we do not have enough. Why have we not dramatically increased manufacturing yet? Why haven’t we learned lessons from China, Singapore, Taiwan — the last two places seem to be keeping this virus under control?

Why did Stanford have to create its own test when the WHO offered our country one already? Why are some places still restricting testing? I have so many questions.

But for now, I’ll show up to work every day. I took an oath, and it’s calling. Being a doctor feels a little like marriage to me — the oath is really to help people in sickness and in (relative) health. Frankly the scary part is helping them in sickness when that sickness can affect you, can hurt you. That time is now, it’s coming. Someone described it as standing on the shore, watching a wave come and not being sure how big it is or how hard it will hit, but just digging your feet in and standing there as a line of protection.

That’s what I’ll do. I’ll protect myself to the best of my ability, to help care for as many people as possible. I know my fellow colleagues will do the same. It’s a sense of principle and why we went into medicine in the first place.

I’m scared for my patients who I’ve known throughout my residency on my primary care panel, my fellow healthcare workers who have health conditions, I’m scared for the attendings I see that are older and practicing. I’m scared for my friends, my parents, my in-laws. I’m scared for my husband who looks at me and says, “I’ll take care of you.”  I’m scared for my daughter — I want her to have a healthy mom and a dad to care for her smiley personality. I want her to go to the park again, I’m not sure when she will–weeks? months? a year? If we don’t flatten the curve, I’m not sure. Frankly I’m scared for myself, for the life I want to live.

Funny story though — I have this oat beverage, Oatly that I love. It’s a little pricy, and I’d been thinking about buying it online for awhile just to have around the house because I love it in my coffee, and I held off because it was a little expensive. When these thoughts started rattling in my head a few weeks ago, I thought — if I’m going to need to go into the hospital a lot more, I’m damn well going to do with an oat beverage that I love, so I bought some containers a few weeks ago.

The Oatly box showed up at my door yesterday and it made me smile. I’m scared, and that’s okay. I’ll keep going into work, oat beverage coffee in hand, and I’ll keep caring for people because that’s what we do.

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