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.
It’s 617AM and this morning I will pick up my 200th bag of ocean bound plastic. I started this journey 10 months ago and the world today is a stark place. I began gathering the 200th bag yesterday and filled it with some mostly paper litter, but will need to finish it this morning. Dr. Plastic Picker is ambitious. For my 200th bag I chose a large kitchen garbage bag. I think everyone on Instagram will really like a big bag for the 200th one.
As I’ve mentioned to you, my patients in clinic and my own children, I do a lot of thinking when I’m picking up plastic. I started litter picking and ocean beach cleaning after emotional exhaustion from my work which is doctoring children. But nature healed me and the simple act of cleaning up our neighborhood helped me. When I pick up trash, I let my mind wander and I often think of you – my patients and my own children. Dr. Plastic Picker has been a pediatrician and a mother for too long. I found that rather than trying to escape work worries, I was able to think more clearly about all the forces that hurt children. And as a doctor, I naturally want to fight against those forces. One of those forces is Big Oil and Big Plastic that is trying to flood the environment with plastic waste.
It is the last day of May and I think I’ve come to the natural conclusion of my time with Trip and T’pol in Star Trek Enterprise. I wrote a blogpost close to my heart regarding how being immersed in their romance helped me get through the last three months of COVID-19 quarantine https://drplasticpicker.com/the-star-trek-enterprise-romance-of-tpol-and-trip-im-going-to-give-them-the-ending-they-deserve/. I watched some of the fan montage videos and read more fanfiction that was on-line yesterday. I rewatched some of the key scenes from the first three seasons, and rewatched my favorite scene several times yesterday. The series helped me get through the last three months but at some point it is time to end this chapter. Sometimes the second or third time around you are experiencing just echos of the intense first moments, feelings.
Is this why people have extramarital affairs, sometimes without reasons continue to have many many children, or ask to change offices again? Are we always trying to recapture that intense first moment?
I am bag 196 today of ocean bound plastic gathered https://drplasticpicker.com/plastic-picking-round-up/. There is an entire litter picking/beach clean up Instagram world, about 800 that I am connected with, who “follow” each other. One of the beach cleaners just north of me found a set of dentures, and it was on her bucket list of things to find. Another person in LA mentioned that I was so close to 200. It’s an off-kilter group which I’ve come to enjoy being part of.
I’m not sure how you have been dealing with the COVID-19 quarantine, but I have been watching Star Trek. I mean A LOT of Star Trek. I grew up watching reruns of the original Star Trek. Spock, the Vulcan Science Officer, spoke to me. Even then, the action scenes were corny and the alien world settings unrealistic – but the storylines and the pseudophilosophical delvings into space and time and logic, touched something in my teenage heart. Then Star Trek the Next Generation ran 1987-1994, right during my middle school and high school years, I watched that too. I became a big fan of Captain Jean Luc Picard and his Shakepearan take on a Starship Captain. But there was not a great Vulcan on the show, so I have always been more of an Original Star Trek fan and of course Spock.
Nothing profound this morning. It’s 552AM on a Saturday, and I am grateful for my fresh cup of coffee. The Upcycled Presidential Bird House is still bringing us great joy and the birds are singing outside https://drplasticpicker.com/five-plastic-free-things-that-weve-accomplished-during-stayhome-covid-19-quarantine/. I’m beginning to identify the different species and their bird songs are distinct. I never realized hummingbirds have different songs. I thought they didn’t have a song since they always seen pre-COVID-19 busy franatically beating their wings. But during this quarantine I’ve seen a hummingbird rest on a tree and I have learned to identify their distinct singing.