COVID-19 is surging in the great United States of America. Between seeing patients and talking on the phone with families and catching up with them, I realized the common thread to all of yesterday’s conservations is that we are all living in this grim historic moment of COVID-19 infections and deaths. In pediatrics, we expect to see the wave of MIS-C (Mulitsystem Inflammatory System in Children) soon that occurs in about 1 out of 6,000 pediatric COVID infections and earily presents like Kawasaki’s disease. Our other Assistant Boss whose name rhymes with bong sent out a reminder to update our order panels with the labs that we have to order. I will do it today after the Pediatric Infectious Disease lecture at 8am. I didn’t give away some of my evening after hour clinic shifts for the next two months, because I know I need to be in the trenches with everyone else. So I’ll have my order panel ready as well.
The news just keeps on getting better and better. The COVID-19 UK strain is in our area and was identified in a young 30 year old who did not travel. Maybe that is why it’s so bad in Southern California right now? The side effects of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine are wearing off. I’m a pretty tough cookie and this is the first time in my life that I’ve had side effects. I take it to mean that the vaccine is working. My deltoid is still sore, still fatigied and a bit of a headache. I avoided the tylenol and motrin, and just drinking coffee at 530pm because I just woke up from a late afternoon nap and coffee cures everything right?
There is certainly hope now that the vaccine is being deployed to front-line workers, and plans to roll out more. But if this pandemic has taught me anything, is that no one knows nothing. We are in for a bumpy ride. A lot of people are sick, are stressed, are worried. They are sick and stressed about having COVID, about having had COVID, about where they are in line for the vaccine. Everyone is still worried, and it’s been 10 months of this worry and it is wearing on people. I just texted some friends just to check up on how they are doing. Everyone has a different dramatic tale unfolding in their lives.
I have to confess something. After I got my Moderna COVID-19 vaccine but while still wearing facemask and faceshield, I had to hold a baby in clinic to help the mother. The baby already had covid. I had to hold the baby because I was doing a procedure. But I can tell you, I held onto that baby for a few more seconds than I should have. That baby felt so good in my arms.
The light seems so far away right now. The darkness comes quickly now by 5pm. It’s cold even in Southern California. Although we need the rain, it’s damp and it’s seeping into our souls. There is hope as people on the front-lines are mentally preparing for their turn to get to the vaccine, but I can tell you as someone who got in 24hours before most people in our department – it is emotional. The months of suppressed emotion kind of bubbles up. Be ready for it. And be ready for the waning of the side effects and waning of the euphoria, and we are still in the middle of the pandemic facing the world that we share.
Just some thoughts at the end of the day that has been off for me due to being fatigued from the vaccine. Just some thoughts as I’m virtually sending hugs to some friends who are going through their tough times. At the least the HMO parking lot will be cleaner when this is all done.
I got my COVID-19 Moderna vaccine yesterday on the 30th of December in the year of our lord 2020. My mantra in life is to be honest and I was honestly happy and I posted on my facebook page just personal one about my happiness and the requisite picture. It was a happy day because the four people I had worried about the most got it in the first group about probably a week before the rest of the department.
It was interesting that some people said congratulations. I’m not sure what they meant but it was in a positive way. But why do we congratulate those who have received the COVID-19 vaccine in the first wave? Is it for some reason they are more deserving? Or did they do something special to get the vaccine first? Someone posted outside of our department that they are grateful to be one of the first 2 million to get the vaccine? I absolutely did nothing to deserve to get the vaccine yesterday. I texted and sent messages to advocate for four MDs and their corresponding nurses to get the vaccine in a timely manner as befitted their risky work situations. I made no mention of myself. I heard nothing from upper management after my messages as Assistant Boss on behalf of those four people, but I know that my messages were part of a cacophany of messages they were receiving. This drama is playing out all over the country. The roll out has been interesting, but really we are just part of a large system and all of us are trying to make sure we are recognized and acknowledged as part of the system. But the slow wheels of the big machine are moving and everyone will get vaccinated lickety-split.
I honestly thought I was the only one who was a bit off these days. I chalked it up to post-election euphoria dysphoria. You know the feeling after being so happy, and then you crash emotionally. I was it a semi-catatonic state and only able to blog and tend to my vinegar and plants (which since I’m planting radishes – doesn’t require much of anything). I was able to finish clinical care, but my imagination and motivation for bigger projects both at work and with the climate began to ellude me. I became incapacitated with worry two nights ago because I worried about my right 2nd toe. The medial side of my toe had a paronychia and it had became inflamed. I was worried it was becoming infected and upset at my feet for once again giving up on me (I have had plantar fasciitis and achilles tendon issues and chronic ankle instability). Why was middle-age doing a number on my poor toe? I have been trying to treat my feet well with good shoes including two sturdy pairs from Goodwill and a new Nike Air-Pegasus sneakers? Was it the litter-picking? Was trying to get an extra bag that morning while street picking too much for my toe? I was mad at Mr. Plastic Picker for not caring about my toe, and glared at the puppy for loving Mr. Plastic Picker more than me. That night, I just scrolled through Instagram and worried about my toe. I could do nothing more for the earth nor for work, because of my right 2nd toe paronychia. I ended up applying some peroxide to the area and trimming the nail, and went to bed.
Kristin Urquiza gave one of speeches at the Democratic National Convention. Her speech spoke her reality and her truth, that her father died from COVID-19 partially due to the national mismanagement of the COVID-19 response. Her words were powerful and simple. Her words gave me hope because I already knew Kristin Urquiza’s story before it made the stage of the Democratic National Convention.
I was talking to Mr. Plastic Picker last night and we both marvelled that it has been almost six months of quarantine. That is indeed remarkable. For Mr. Plastic Picker and I, we have had to go to work most days, shop for food and continue with life. But the two grandparents and our two tween/teen children have been at home mostly. We went to Michael’s once to buy supplies with my daughter. I walked to Sprouts with my son on Saturday to buy pasta sauce. We have taken the odd drive here and there to try to find a bit of green space to sit, or walk along the coast, or play basketball at a tucked away park where there has been some emptiness. The trips have been infrequent. We are always masked and mostly triple the social distance requirements. We still go on our exercise walks and runs, but we are lucky in that our neighborhood has spacious streets. We are able to avoid most people by playing a kind of pedestrian pac-mac. We did go to the dentist to get the kids teeth cleaned. I had never been so grateful that there were no cavities.
I may or may not have been exposed to COVID-19. I may or may not have COVID-19. I’m in the same boat as many through the world. I’ve been wearing double mask, faceshield, and washing hands at every patient encounter. We haven’t really gone much of anywhere other than work and grocery store. I have been careful.
But life happens and the COVID-19 pandemic is slowly making it’s way through our population. I’m isolated in our bedroom waiting with only the puppy visiting, and waiting for my Health Care Worker expediated test results which should be tonight. I’m taking this opportunity to review the recent Pediatric COVID-19 lectures. It doesn’t really help to worry, so I’ll just study.
It was a nice weekend. I was on-call for Chief Boss of Pediatrics, as our real Chief Boss is on vacation. No one called me. Actually I did receive one call, and I answered it relatively quickly and emailed the new pediatrician the link to the workflow. I had emailed everyone prior to the weekend, “Hello Everyone! We are a well oiled peds admin team, and we play an excellent passing game and try not to drop the ball. We are each covering our areas while XXX is on vacation. This weekend if you need Peds Admin help I am on for all of us from 7/31 at 5pm to 8/3 8am. My strengths are staffing, HR issues, clinical questions for outpatient level care and keeping us in budget. I will try to be as helpful as I can regarding COVID workflows. As many of you know I’m not the best at looking to see if membership services approves certain things, but I can certainly try! So thank you for all you do and I hope people who are not working can try to rest this weekend.” Signed my real first name. I thought it was a nicely worded email, and not as sarcastic as they used to be. No one emailed. I also did not send any work emails this weekend, which I think is a good thing. As I was telling my high school friends when we met for a Zoom reunion, I am trying to set a good example.
My name is Dr. Plastic Picker and I am so mad at the world right now. I am mad at anti-maskers. I am mad at our national leadership. I am mad at every adult on Facebook that shared COVID-19 conspiracy theories. Yes, this is America and you have free speech. But you are also an adult, and as an adult you have to watch what you say as your words have consequences. All those words and Facebook memes have sowed doubt into our country and has fueled the spread of COVID-19. We are entering another wave of this pandemic.
It was a heavier mood in clinic today. Mostly babies and a smattering of tweens-teens in for the well child checks and vaccines. I asked everyone through double masks and faceshield how they were doing. Most of our clinic families were staying home and avoiding the demonstrations. Since our clinic serves the diverse community of the South Bay, there was a sense of darkness that hung over us. We talked in quiet and sad voices about the state of racial politics in the United States, and one father who is black said these demonstrations are making his life more difficult. Another excuse he said for police to pull him over and harass him. But I was able to welcome a beautiful newborn baby boy to our practice, who is a beautiful amalgamation of many races including Apache. And in that beautiful baby boy I see hope. Like the half-Vulcan half-Human child of T’Pol and Trip in Star Trek Enterprise, we must celebrate IDIC – Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations. T’Pol in one of the final episodes was confronted by Terra Prime, the xenophobic human terrorist movement. It’s leader asked T’Pol whether she was worried that interspecies breeding would destroy the Vulcan race. T’Pol with her elegant Vulcan poise replied fiercely that Vulcans were not what they were 1 million years ago, and the only constant in change. In her words, I find hope. The same hope I see in the face of the beautiful baby today that represents IDIC (infinite diversity in infinite combinations) in my clinic.