COVID-19: Exhausted from trying to #flattenthecurve. Now I am grateful for the rain and planted 620 trees.
March 13, 2020
I had purchased these rain barrels about 3 years ago. There was a major discount or rebate when I got them for almost 50% off. I forget the actual numbers. They are also made from 100% recycled plastic. They have served us well and with every downpour they catch gallons of rain that we later use to water the garden. Lettuce, tomatoes, lemons and many other organic delicious vegetables are the result. What I love about these rain barrels is that they were an investment that keeps on generating food and money savings. I just bought the rainbarrels, and my mother-in-law has taken them over and is so eager to use the water she catches as she says it’s better for her garden. I get to benefit from her garden’s bounty.
Yesterday was an exhausting day. We are officially on vacation, but given the COVID-19 pandemic unfolding we stayed at home. We are not panic buying, but we have enough toilet paper (again not sure why this is even a thing), rice, flour, sugar, frozen chicken and basic food stuffs. For some reason I was panicked about not having enough dark brown hair dye and eyebrow pencil. I hardly wear makeup, but I do wear foundation and have to draw in my eyebrows. We stopped by Target for the first time in months. We had been avoiding Target because we usually end up buying unnecessary things there and everything has a lot of packaging. But we went to Target yesterday and there was still food, and we got what we needed. I talked to my sister who lives in another state, and her panic buying was stopping to buy more crafting supplies! She knew it was an irrational impulse but I told her about my eyebrow pencils and we had a good laugh. During these times some of what we do makes no sense, and some makes sense. I don’t get everyone buying bottled water because we have a safe tap water supply. We have bottled waters for earthquakes or wildfires, and they are in our garage but they are for natural disaster emergencies where the water lines might be disrupted.
But what does make sense is my exhaustion and my panic on social media yesterday. If you asked me two weeks ago, I would have told you that COVID19 was a cold. I did not fully understand and was not looking at any of the data. But through the physician facebook groups and as the data was coming out of Italy and China and the World Health Organization, it became starkly obvious to me. I think I was only about 3 days ahead of most people. Some of my other physician friends were also on social media trying to spread awareness. I had been posting things about #flatteningthecurve and social distancing already a week ago. We had already cancelled our vacations and flights. But yesterday, I felt it was time to really exert my energies so we could buy some time for the ICU doctors and anesthesiologist who will be intubating all these mostly older citizens for ARDS in a few weeks and months.
So this is what I did the last week to try to buy us more time to #flattenthecurve. I wanted to cry tears of joy when Barack Obama shared the same article that I shared yesterday. He obviously has a bigger platform and his post received 186,000 Likes and 61,214 shares. Thank you President Barrack Obama. I don’t have as many followers as he does, but I tried to do my part in my small corner of the world.
- March 3, 2020 (DR. PLASTIC PICKER BLOG & FACEBOOK & INSTAGRAM): Started posting about COVID-19. Not yet worried yet but we cancelled my parent-in-law vacations to Taegue, South Korea and New York City. In hindsight I am so grateful, as both are COVID-19 hotspots.
- March 8, 2020 (DR. PLASTIC PICKER BLOG & FACEBOOK) : Cancelled our own road trip to Grand Canyon and posted a blogpost about social distancing. 20 Facebook Views, 2 Facebook Likes
- March 9, 2020 (DR. PLASTIC PICKER BLOG & FACEBOOK & INSTAGRAM) : On Instagram I wrote “From your hypothetical pediatrician to my hypothetical patients” and sent a message about Five Things My Patients Should Do which included having access to your patient portal, having a 60 day supply of asthma medications, updating vaccines, do not hoard masks, and asked grandparents and immunocompromised patients to social distance. I got Instagram 37 LIKES. 29 Facebook Views, 2 Facebook Likes.
- March 10, 2020 (PERSONAL FACEBOOK): Reposted the great VOX.Com about #flatteningthecurve from a fellow MD friend. (8 Facebook Likes)
- March 11, 2020 (DR. PLASTIC PICKER INSTAGRAM) : That is when the news in the physician social media groups became more alarming. That day is when I fully understood why #flatteniningthecurve is so vital. I wrote on Instagram “This is my public service announcement. Social distancing right now is very important. Please heed CDC and public health directives. This is a group effect to slow the spread of coronovirus to help our older citizens.” That post got 62 likes. I tagged 10 healthcare social media friends, who have small to large followings. And I wrote “tagging all my health care friends to help. You have patients and followings! Please please. The next two weeks is vital.” One of the dentists made an announcement about washing hands but not social distancing. That is okay, washing hands is important too and ultimately it will be doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists not dentists dealing with the fallout of the COVID19 pandemic. So it makes sense that the doctors stepped up. Our friend the vegan anesthesiologist and a pediatric ENT surgeon posted on their Instagram stories about social distancing. @drdarewreck has 2,085 followers and @atxlinz.ent.md has 255 followers. @drdarewreck’s social media post received 230 likes and 61 comments. @atxlinz.ent.md ‘s COVID-19 post regarding social distancing got 29 likes and 6 comments. I’m not sure is the combined 321 likes translated into action, but I do hope so.
- March 12, 2020 (DR. PLASTIC PICKER INSTAGRAM): Then yesterday I shared two posts on Instagram a picture of blue painter tape dividing our granite kitchen island in half, “This s half joking half serious. Mr. Plastic Picker and I will return to work and I’ve divided the large kitchen island for his parents food and our food. Different bathrooms already since we are going back into the trenches.” and finally last night the morbid graphic of the skyrocketing rates of COVID19 by country shared to Atul Gawande on Twitter, “Last post for a while. I do want people to panic by social distancing and pressuring those in your social groups to cancel events. We know it’s both respiratory droplets and contact spread but more droplets. It’s going to save lives down the line the more we social distance. Wash hands certainly but that won’t be enough. I’ve been posting and calling under my real name and exhausted. There are burial pits in Iran reported by the Washington Post.” That received 21 Instagram Likes. Thanks to MD friends Jill Gustafson who shared all this information https://drplasticpicker.com/dr-jill-gustafson-environmentally-minded-pediatrician-4/. By then the world had begun to shut down.
- March 12, 2020 (PERSONAL FACEBOOK POSTS ON CRIMSON COLLEGE ALUMNI SITE): I posted on our 20th reunion Crimson College Reunion site (the reunion passed but it’s still an active group) the following message. “I know we have tons of MDs here. The federal government is not doing enough re COVID19. I’ve been at large HMO meetings getting ready and pediatric leadership meetings in San Diego. I fully expect in a few months to be pulled to help care for adult patients when the tsunami of patients hit. I’m a pediatrician. This is my last private effort to spread the word before getting sucked in at work planning. Each of us are part of multiple social groups. We need to act now. Please please social distance yourselves. You’ve all seen it. You don’t have to be a doctor this time to save lives. I have personally cancelled 6 flights for my family, cancelled our Girl Scout meetings for the next 6 weeks, publicized in social media accounts, and planning at work to mobilize all our part time/retired doctors. This is Protect our older citizens. The young and healthy will spread it. I agree that Harvard should have special consideration of those on financial aid. Just public service announcement #flattenthecurve www.flattenthecurve.com.” This I felt was the most impactful because in our reunion class I know there are a lot of people with real power to cancel meetings and encourage social distancing who live all over the world. 18 Facebook Likes
- March 12, 2020 (PERSONAL FACEBOOK COMMENT ON METROPOLITAN WATER DISTRICT OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA): I forgot when I started following this page. But they had posted something about not worrying about wasting water and to wash hands. I replied back “Please also social distance #flattenthecurve .” This got 13 reactions, 12 LIKES and 1 LAUGH. But more importantly two individuals responded, one a teacher and another a manager at some company asking me questions. And I was able to share “Yes thank you. I’m in healthcare and we’re planning already, I’m trying to do my due dilligence and spread message knowing now convincing one middle manager, school admin, scout leader, pastor means more lives at the end of this. I’m peds and the kids will be ok but they’ll pass to vulnerable older adults. www.flattenthecurve.com has good info got it from friends up at UCSF/Stanford. Good luck!” I am hoping those two people have some kind of power to make right decisions for our community.
- March 12, 2020 (PERSONAL FACEBOOK SAN DIEGO PADRES SITE): This was the most interesting interaction of yesterday. I also follow the San Diego Padres as they are our home team. They announced closure of the stadium and suspension of games. I replied back on the Facebook announcement, “Thank you Padres for helping our community and protecting our most vulnerable. From a pediatrician. #flattenthecurve ” I know that there are more Republicans and those who follow Fox news on this site. That comement received 22 reactions, 13 FACEBOOK LIKES and 9 LAUGH EMOJIS. There were some very emotional reactions, likely because people love baseball which I totally get. In reply to a vehement negative reaction, it helps that I am the big hearted Dr. Plastic Picker now because I just replied with a link to the website and a measured kind response, “www.flattenthecurve.com kids will be ok we think. Public service comment from a concerned citizen. But what happens will happen as it will be a group actions will dictate the outcome.” Mr. Plastic Picker was upset that I posted this and is always worried that I am going to get on-line attacked. But I have ultimate belief in the goodness of people and I am mostly non-partisan and just want people to live and not have to die, and also to live in a world where sea turtles don’t have plastic straws up their noses. There are real heros out there and I don’t mind taking the risk of some on-line vitriole. But the commenter was actually completely appropriate, just angry that opening day was postponed. I love baseball too and we are rooting for the same team.
So today is the last day of vacation, and I am emotionally exhausted by all that virtual work yesterday through Facebook, Instagram via my own personal accounts and Dr. Plastic Picker. The word is out now, and I hope even 3-4 days headstart may have helped save some lives. I was talking to my own sister this morning and as I explained to her as I will explain here, I knew that getting the message out and slowing down COVID19 spread even by a few people will buy the world some time. It’s my friend @drdarewreck our vegan anesthesiologist and specialist like him who will be intubating everyone. We are trying to buy them and us time, and a day spent on social media angering and provoking some panic this last week probably did more than I will do in the next month.
But today I will enjoy the last day of vacation. My chief asked for volunteers to do some virtual shifts over the weekend to help with the load, and I signed up for a weekend extra shift. I posted on Dr. Plastic Picker Instagram what I hoped was an inspirational message. In the end, we as a world will need to pull together and help each other. I needed hope for myself because I can’t pick up plastic due to COVID-19. I’ll try to jog a bit today and finish our taxes. But I did something I have been wanting to do for a long time. I donated $62 to Eden Reforestration Projects and planted 620 trees for each of my Instagram followers to be directed to Nepal. 620 Trees will be planted and as we descend into the chaos that is sure to come. I will think of those trees that cost me just $0.10 a piece and at a 80% sapling survival rate – they are my act of hope that we will all emerge from this pandemic still together and in step as a common people. It rained this morning and our rain barrels are full, and the sun is coming out a bit.
Here is my next post on COVID-19. Mr. Plastic Picker thought it was well written and he, in his youth, was an award-winning short story writer! I am so proud that he thought it was good. https://drplasticpicker.com/covid-19-social-distancing-is-like-bedrest-dr-plastic-picker-understands-but-this-time-you-stay-home-and-i-get-to-do-something/