COVID-19 – Dr. Plastic Picker

Category: COVID-19

May be an image of nature, grass and tree
Sunset at a wild place I never knew. Near Salt-Creek Community Center.

July 28, 2021

by drplasticpicker

I really really want a coffee right now. It’s been exactly 10 days since I stopped drinking coffee and I’ve finally weaned my body from the caffeine. But right now the COVID-19 delta variant really is making life difficult, and I want a coffee. I won’t drink a coffee but I really want it. What I really want is the sugar, cream and the caffeine to make me feel super-human and bring me joy. I want the aroma to mask the true stinkiness that is life right now.

But what one wants, one should not have. I really want to go to Montana to stay at a close friends lake cabin and go hiking at Glacier National Park. I really want to have the beach cleanup for my high school class. But I struggled last night and read up on the recommendations, and I have to make a decision. This decision does not come lightly. The delta variant is here. Kids are getting sick and in about 1-2 months, many are going to come in with Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children. We have to cancel. I need to tell people now. [PAUSE] It is done. That was very painful. So painful. But best to let people know asap, so that people can get flight refunds and change plans.

Now I have to talk to my sister about this amazing trip we had planned for Montana. I honestly think we have to cancel this as well. It’s just not worth the risk as we have two under 12 year old children who are unvaccinated. There is a risk to everything. But we can be together and not necessarily at a national park – albeit an amazing one. I need to talk to my sister today and talk to my good friend who has graciously offered us to stay at his place. We’ll probably just drive up to our farm in Oregon instead.

These decisions are hard. But just like giving up coffee and all that sugar, sometimes one is strong enought to make these decisions. Prevention is such a better strategy. I went in for hopefully was my last filling for a few decades. I’m determined to keep my teeth healthy and that is a large part of why I gave up coffee with all that cream and sugar I used to put. As my very young dentist was starting, I told her that I had given up coffee. It’s nothing she asked of me, but she said it was a good idea in general. Hey, the upside is that I can whiten my teeth with those rinses and they’ll stay pearly white since there is no more coffee to stain them!!! See, there is always an upside.

The upside of cancelling the flights to Montana, is that our son was resistent to doing a summer creative writing program Mr. Plastic Picker wanted him to do. But now since he’ll be home an extra week, I think we’ll be able to convince him to do it. It’s important for his career development and a great opportunity.

But it just really is painful today. Not drinking coffee this morning. Not be able to go on the vacations that we planned. But the reality of the delta variant is here, and I chose to reduce risks to loved ones rather than these other things that I really really really really really really want to do. So today for Dr. Plastic Picker, ten days ago was still the last coffee. And the reality is the delta variant is here – so please get vaccinated if you can and wear a mask.

Some land I’m thinking of buying. I’m going to buy and hold. But how can you own the earth? How can you own the birds and the trees? I’ll just drive out there and sit and watch nature. There are a lot of hiking trails on the land as well.

April 29, 2021

by drplasticpicker

It’s been a year and more. I think it will take a lifetime for all of us to process what we’ve all been through. And then our family, friends and colleagues – we’ve “seen” eachother but I don’t think each of us fully understands what each of us has been through. We all have our individual COVID stories. What a year. It’s still going on, and I just got into a heated argument with a young father who did not believe in the COVID vaccine. But the US is slowly opening up. COVID is still raging in India, and there will be ups and downs – but we are entering into the “new normal” and post-COVID world.


CDC said a hug is okay now.

March 11, 2021

by drplasticpicker

It’s been a hard year for the entire world. Initially at the beginning of the epidemic, I was giving mini-COVID updates and blogging more about COVID issues. But soon enough other MDs were writing about COVID. The number of voices in that sphere were more than adequate. So I stopped. I like to go where I am most helpful and needed, so I continued to keep up to date with what I needed to know as an outpatient pediatrician regarding COVID-19 issues and continue to work on environmental issues.

But it’s been a long long year. I don’t like to dwell on things that I can’t make a difference in. My heart goes out to everyone who has lost family, or sufferering any post-COVID sequelae. Mostly my heart is sad for all of the children who have suffered at home in isolation: anxiety, depression, eating disorders, anger, suicidal gestures. It has been all there and still is. I didn’t blog about this as much, because I’m living this with my patients in clinic most days. I sit there and listen to them, and refer to therapy and try to make helpful suggestions. Being quieter now, and really being able to listen to people really helps. Only if one is still, do the butterlies, birds and bees dare to come close. It took me a long time to learn that. Much of my nervous energy is gone.

After one year of lockdown, this is what happened to our country (from this morning’s New York Times).


US Cases 29.2 million TOTAL 58,530 TODAY down 16%

Deaths 528,82 down –30%

Hospitalized 43,151 down –30%

The death toll is staggering. The ripple effects we are all feeling, even if no one in our immediate families have died, we won’t fully realize for decades. There is still a long road. But after a year, in our own house the four adults are vaccinated. Mr. Plastic Picker and I are both physicians and vaccinated with the Moderna in January. His parents who live with us and near their 80s are vaccinated and past the 2-week post second vaccine dose and should have full immunity. Outside of our home, my parents are vaccinated with number 2 and making their own decisions about risks and I can’t control them. And someone else close in my family is at higher risk and has an appointment 2 hours away to get her first vaccine. I told her when it’s your turn, get your shot.


Social Media Poster for vaccine selfies.

January 27, 2021

by drplasticpicker

I am grateful to have received Moderna #2 yesterday. After Moderna #1 I had slight headache, fatigue and body aches. I was still able to go to work, and usually being ill (as long as I am not infectious) it is better to go to work because it distracts me. But last night Moderna #2 was a whole other experience. It just goes to show you can’t predict how one will react. I thought I would be fine. I received my vaccine at about 9am, and was doing fine most of the morning. I called into a middle managment meeting and conducting my irreverent Assistant Boss commentary from the parking structure – 4th floor. I was double masked and feeling good that Moderna #2 was done and I actually made it on time to the appointment. But by the evening I was getting irritable and more body aches. My temperature began to climb up, initially just low grade. I finished making a vegan dinner for the children (Beyond Beef and vegetables on corn torillas). The children immediately made it a vegetarian meal, because they added a little bit of cheese – but much less than they would have before.

I then headed up to bed and had to lay on my left side, because I receieved the intramuscular deltoid injection in my right arm. I decided on my right arm, because the first one I got on my left arm. The arm soreness for me was more than I ever imagined so I thought it was better to alternate. Then I settled in to bed, and it was one of the worse nights of my life (in terms of me just feeling ill). I had fever up to 103, headaches, chills, and arm pain. I just felt horrible. The entire time I was thinking , great the spike mRNA vaccine is working. I am still grateful for the vaccine but last night was not fun. I didn’t take tylenol the first moderna #1 because I wanted it to work. For moderna #2 I had resolved to try to do it without tyelnol, but by 2am – I was feeling so horrible I had Mr. Plastic Picker bring me 1000 mg tylenol and I took it with some water. The height of the fever had already passed but I honestly did not think I would make it through the night.

This morning I called in sick. I will still attend some meetings virtually regarding some middle management meetings and state programs that are important. I feel weak but still able to type and drink coffee. Wow. What a night. I was not sure if I should let everyone know the truth about last night. But I think it’s important to be honest. I’m 100% sure that receiving moderna #2 was the right decision. The pandemic has claimed over 400,000 American lives. I worry about my parents-in-law who still have to receive #2 to get full protection, and my own parents are due tomorrow for #1. It’s worth it to go through one bad night, to protect myself and my community and the ones I love. But wow, it was not easy. I will marvel at the miracle of the research that went into the Moderna vaccine later. But this morning, I’m just going to dwell on how residually crappy I feel. Even my coffee taste a bit off? I think maybe I had covid at some point and did not know it? I mean I’ve been working for 9 months in clinic. We haven’t done routine testing. I bet you I had asymptomatic or very mild COVID when Dr. Dear Friend had it. I tested negative but the test is not perfect. That would explain why I felt so bad with moderna #2.

Anyway, even with the tylenol 1000 mg – I know there are a lot of antibodies circulating in my blood stream right now. Something happened last night and something is still happening in my body. And that is the truth of Dr. Plastic Picker’s experience with Moderna #2 and using a rare sick day.

This dish was real. Easy and fast, and nutritious.

January 5, 2021

by drplasticpicker

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.


HMO Parking Lot Trash Bag #2. New Hobby. Cleaning Up the Parking Lot.

December 30, 2020

by drplasticpicker

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.

Picking up trash in the parking lot.
Drive Through Car-Wash. Drive Through COVID-19 vaccine? Why not???!!!

December 30, 2020

by drplasticpicker

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.


This was a gift Dr.Jill Gustafson left for me on my office desk, and it smells wonderful.

November 16, 2020

by drplasticpicker

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 may have changed the trajectory of the election by telling her truth. She is my sister’s friend.

August 19, 2020

by drplasticpicker

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 thought this one was really funny! My kids response was lukewarm.

August 17, 2020

by drplasticpicker

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.