A Little Progress
First I want to say that I am very bad with technology. I just spent an hour changing the color of my font and the background of the website, which should have taken about a minute. I hated the pink font, didn't you? It was jarring against the black, at a time when we all need some serenity. The good part is that I was successful in the end, so I guess that's progress!
Here's some more progress: covid infections are way down. Each day I work, there are less and less positive rapid Covid tests, and less patients with symptoms. It's far from gone. We all need to wear our masks and physically distance, and GET VACCINATED!
The vaccine has given me a great sense of relief. For the price of a sore arm and a 6-hour headache after my second shot, I now feel safe at work, despite the continued exposure to sick patients and the suboptimal situation with PPE. We have PPE, but like just about everyone I know in healthcare, we continue to re-use N-95 masks for up to a week, and to re-use our plastic gowns by sanitizing them and hanging them up to dry between patients. I was very wary of that situation, and to the fact that there is not a dedicated place to put on and take off our equipment between patients, before I was vaccinated.
I'm not acting 'normal' because I'm vaccinated, though. It's very hard to know what is 'safe' or 'unsafe' to do. I feel 'safe' indoors with other people who are vaccinated, but most people I know are not, or live with someone who is not yet vaccinated, and that puts uncertainty into the equation. So no, I'm not socializing in person very much at all. I haven't eaten inside at a restaurant, either. I suppose I could, in theory, but it seems like a bad precedent, since the majority of other people are not yet immune. I don't want to be part of an unequal situation in which many people shouldn't yet be taking this step. I feel like I should also, as a physician, set a good example. I am not without conflict about this, though.
I've decided to go back to the gym, because it's something I need for my well-being. I went today, and found the place pretty empty, and everyone wearing masks. I stayed very far from others.
Of course, I want to travel to see my children. Right now, I have plans in April. They may not be vaccinated at that point--but they live in warm climates, so the plan is for me to stay in an Air bnb and to see them outdoors. I am trying to be rational and relatively conservative without being an alarmist. It's hard when we know so little about immunity to this disease.
I keep thinking that it is going to feel very abnormal to do things that were, a year ago, completely normal. Nothing, in terms of human contact, feels quite right at the present moment. I saw a friend who has also had the vaccine, and we instinctively moved to hug each other, then we decided it felt to scary, then we laughed at ourselves, but still didn't hug.
This is all positive. It indicates progress. It means we are moving in the right direction, and that we continue to be thoughtful about best practices. Hopefully, this will be the way we all conduct ourselves as we move towards a life that is not Covid-focused!
Once we move out of the Covid-focus in the world of medical care, we have a lot of work to do. All the cracks in our very inadequate healthcare system have become huge chasms in the pandemic. This is our chance, our opportunity, to try to find some solutions, but to do that we have to keep looking at all the things that have gone wrong--the health disparities, the disaster of the commercial insurance-driven system that is not about health, but about monetizing misfortune. It's a system that allowed uninsured Covid patients to get inferior care or go without, and that caused health systems to get into financial trouble in the midst of a pandemic, a system that sent doctors and nurses out on furlough while there was also a shortage of doctors and nurses! Talk about a SNAFU. And it's a system that took physicians who were already burnt out and sent them into battle with the Coronavirus without adequate backup and without adequate protective equipment--exhausting them and making them feel like they were seen as expendable. Let's just hope that we still have doctors when we need them once this disaster is over.