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.
I did my first COVID-19 testing swabs yesterday. When the testing tent personnel see a small child and need help, the pediatrician on call comes out. That was me yesterday. It was the first time I’ve worn the precious N-95 mask and gowned in full PPE. These were just pre-admission COVID-19 swabs on kids with complex medical issues, so these children are a lower risk category. But I felt helpful. One toddler was my own patient, and it felt good to wave to the mother and to know that I was a familiar set of eyes behind the faceshield. The other patient belonged to another pediatrician and had many complex medical issues. It was a very large truck and the adult nurse wanted me to do the swab through the window. Please remember I’m not even 5’2″, this was a very large truck, and the child was a tiny little thing smaller than her age due to chronic medical issues. It helps that I have been in charge of things for a while, and I know what I know well and know what I don’t know. I suggested to the nurse, “There is no way I’m going to be able to get this swab into her nose. I need to open that door. I’m too short and my arms are not that long.” So I opened the door and asked mom to hold her, and positioned my body to prevent her from falling out of the truck. And then gently used the precious swab to touch the back of her pharnyx both sides, and then did a nasopharyngeal swab in the left nostril. Done. She cried just a little bit and was fine. Mother was filming on her iPhone. Everyone does that these days. I didn’t think it was the time to ask her to stop filming (I think its against official policy). But everyone films these days and I’m sure it is just to document the little girls journey. I waved into the iPhone camera. Then mom put the phone down to give her child a hug.
Dr. Plastic Picker in real life is an outpatient general pediatrician. Like many of my colleagues I am part of several COVID-19 MD Facebook groups, I think three now. Two months into this pandemic, I now try to review our weekly pediatric infectious disease lectures as a vetted source of information rather than these Facebook groups. They are actually really good. But early on the COVID-19 MD Facebook Groups had more trending information. I think we were all obsessively reading the posts as real time information was coming out to Italy, New York, Seattle and San Francisco. At this point, the activity on the Facebook groups has slowed down as there is more clinical understanding of this disease. Most people are asking for practical advice. I am visiting them more for camraderie. Above is my main contribution to the Facebook groups. It was amazing that it generated so many reactions and comments.
To say that this month has been a bit off is an understatement. We finished two months of COVID-19 quarantine. We are undergoing this collective experience. It has been documented on social media, including this blog. I made a comment on one of the COVID-19 MD Facebook Groups for Pediatricians under my real name. It was just a simple uplifting post about a patient encounter, and I kid you not – it generated already 373 likes and 32 comments of others sharing their stories. I was initially very excited but my wise high school son warned me that putting value in the number of likes one gets on social media is harmful. He is right. But I am still happy that the post resonated with my fellow pediatricians. It made them feel good. I think the story was straight forward, simply written and described a heartfelt encounter that many of us have as pediatricians. I was my gift to my colleagues as we are going through this collective angst.
What made me happiest about that post is that it was quickly written, well written and I think the by-product of now having written over 180 blog posts! I have now had 3 blog posts also accepted onto KevinMD. That my writing generates emotions is the greatest compliment I could receive. I’m still not quite comfortable with this new role I have taken (blogger/instagrammer/writer) but I love it. My old mentor in clinic years ago several times would send me grammatical corrections to my work emails, and I remember being unreasonably angry at him. I was so mad! Some of it was that I felt overworked as a younger mother and middle manager, but now I realize perhaps criticism of my writing hurt more than other criticisms because I valued writing as an artform.
We are almost 2 months into COVID-19 quarantine, and there is positive news for the environment. Flamingos blanket the mudflats of Mumbai and turtles are nesting freely on empty beaches. Initially I thought these reports were overblown, but I’ve seen the increasing number of backyard birds and my sister describes deer and racoons taking over her Virginia neighborhood. Dr. Plastic Picker has to be careful with these posts, because hope for the environment has to be balanced with compassion for the human lives loss due to COVID-19 and repercussions of the downspiraling economy. So rather than celebrating the financial losses of the cruise and airline industries, I focus on the secondary environmental benefits of all of us living through a time of scarcity.
It is May 1, 2020. Collectively we have completed almost 2 months of sheltering-in-place. California is at our first plateau but the curve has not been bent. There were too many people at the beaches on Monday especially in Orange County, and now stricter orders from Governor Newson are coming. I watched his entire news conference yesterday and he did very well. I feel confident in our state’s leadership and will heed his orders. I believe the dissenters are less than what CNN is portraying. I have become skeptical of a lot of media. Mr. Plastic Picker only trusts the New York Times now and I have agreed that the $15 we pay a month is worth it. Rather than reporting the news, some mainstream media is inflaming the population. One of my medical colleagues was asked to be interviewed on a local news show about how the healthcare industry was adjusting to the pandemic. This was supposed to be a standard “fluff” piece. He was essentially ambushed and the reporter began to try to rile him up and ask inflammatory questions. He stayed calm and answered her inflammatory questions with noninflammatory replies, and there was no news story. I will no longer patronize their network which is CBS.
Our crazy black puppy was barking at 3am and woke us up. She once woke us up to lead us to Mr. Plastic Picker’s mother who was febrile to 105, vomiting and looked really really bad. Grandfather was later diagnosed with urosepsis after a dramatic ambulance ride to our hospital. The crazy black puppy saved grandma’s life that day, so we take her barking seriously. But this morning’s 3am barking, I am not sure what that was about. She barks when there is going to be thunder, and when there are minor earthquakes we don’t notice. We discovered the backyard barking is due to the neighbors who regularly walk the back alley way. The frontyard barking is due to the racoon that lives in a neighbor’s palm tree. But at 3am, I am not sure. I think it may have been because Mr. Plastic Picker’s father was up early downstairs. I think she barks at any ghosts as well. Do you believe in ghosts? Nonetheless I am up, and it felt like the right time to blog.
Yesterday was an odd day for me. I started it off semi-euphoric. We had solved a complex scheduling conundrum and it will likely improve the lives of all our department Post-Covid19, and that made me euphoric. I composed a third of a Hopeful Wednesday post early morning in that euphoric mood, but did not finish. I have learned with this blog to let the rhythms of life and nature lead me what to write, what to publish and when to just leave things. Since there is no other motive to this blog other than documenting plastic-picking adventures and really giving me an outlet to journal, it is very freeing. So I will leave that post and see if by next Wednesday it can be completed, or needs to go to the half-written blog post graveyard.
I did write one non-Covid 19 post this weekend about parrots, which was very fun https://drplasticpicker.com/parrots-of-pacific-beach/. But even that post was tangentially related to Covid 19 because I only noticed the parrots because the single-use plastic gloves were around our neighborhood. That got me thinking about all the things that I have done only because of this quarantine. It’s almost the 6th week of our self quarantine, although Mr. Plastic Picker and I are still going to work.