Let’s Get Serious

A long-distance friend of mine reached out today. We don’t always see eye to eye, but we’ve developed a mutual respect over the years. She shared a story with me that I think you need to hear. She asked me to protect her anonymity, so I’m not going to get too specific. I was surprised and touched by her faith in me. I can be irreverent and snarky at times, but when the cards are on the table, I call them as I see them. I don’t pull my punches. Here is her story.

Long story short, her son is a Medical Doctor. He’s around forty years old, married with children and in good physical condition. He worked out every day, ate a low fat diet and did not smoke. He was a social drinker. About ten days ago he started feeling ill, but felt he had a responsibility to keep working. By the end of the week he went home early and headed straight to bed. He was feeling so bad he had to write himself a prescription for the current recommended medication. (I’ll get back to this later) Over the weekend his condition worsened. His family forced him to go to the hospital. He is now on a ventilator and fighting for his life.

Like a lot of people in my generation, my friend didn’t take this virus seriously. This is not an indictment of her. It’s more an allegory on the echo chamber that we’ve become. My friend is no fan of Trump, but she does tend to lean to the Right. I don’t think she would ever take Trump at his word on anything. In fact, I suspect she is leery of everything that comes out of his mouth. But the POTUS has been bloviating for almost three months about the virus being benign, inconsequential. He is a very convincing liar, especially when his sycophants back him up. So now, when the chips are down, we are wholly unprepared to limit COVID-19’s footprint.

Getting back to the son. I mentioned that our young doctor wrote himself a prescription on his way home from the office. When his wife, who is a registered nurse, took him to the ER, they turned her away at the door, told her to go self-quarantine with her children. But first, they wanted her to run home and grab her husband’s meds, because the hospital was critically low. This is totally against any hospital’s procedure. They want to know the source and efficacy of everything they put into someone. Let me repeat:

THEY TOLD HIS WIFE, WHO IS AN REGISTERED NURSE, TO RUN HOME AND GRAB HIS MEDS BECAUSE THE HOSPITAL WAS CRITICALLY LOW. Let that sink in.

My friend lives near a large and fairly well-to-do city. From the outside looking in, I wouldn’t think they would lack for facilities and services. Her son is a doctor, so I’m guessing he didn’t have to worry about delays of treatment or a lack of insurance coverage. And yet the hospital was out of the anti-viral medications and supplies they need to treat his case. This is not an isolated incident. All across the country, hospitals are running out of beds, ventilators, masks, gowns, protective gear, medications. EMT, doctors, nurses, admissions people, police officers and transit workers are being knocked down by the virus. Facilities are being overrun. And still we talk about it being “no worse that the flu.”

So who is to blame for all of this? Nobody is to blame for a pandemic. Once the virus escapes into the wild, the only thing to do is try to contain it. Limit the damage. We have failed in that. The days have passed when we could look to our leaders with confidence in a time of crisis. These days, everyone has an agenda. The media tells us what the corporate overlords want us to hear. The President has proven that he values his feelings over the best interests of the country. He is a small and petty man. He is not responsible. He has never been “responsible.”

The moral of this story: Don’t be a tough guy. This is a cautionary tale. Despite all of his training to the contrary, my friend’s son tried to tough it out. I can only pray that he pulls through. My friend told me this story in hopes that others would not try to “tough it out.” My friend was lulled into a false sense of security. No one is secure. Everyone is at risk. Be smart. Protect yourself. If you start to feel sick, use the online resources. If your condition worsens, go get a test. Do not let yourself die thinking that this is “just the flu.”

America has always had a tough guy mentality. We tell ourselves that we are the strongest and hardest working. The internet and the 24-hour news cycle have amplified this flaw in our national consciousness. There comes a time to say “Enough.” Protect yourself. I pray this young doctor makes it. And I pray the rest of us do as well.

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