I miss my parents.
November 19, 2020
I miss my parents. It’s been almost 9 months of quarantine due to COVID-19. My parents live just about 2 miles from us, and I’ve stopped by to exchange food and drop off things. But it’s a hurried exchange and I’m always masked. My mother remembers to put her mask on now because I’ve scolded her enough. My father stays up on the 2nd floor and doesn’t come down. Life is just different. I’ve been strong this entire time and refused to see them, or come in to eat with them. It’s because I love them and I’m the most likely person to infect them given that our kids are back at school and I’ve worked every day of this pandemic seeing patients.
I’ve had the same two N95 masks reused the entire 9 months. I am careful with things and abhor waste. When other workers were complaining of not having enough masks, I’ve been saving my same two masks in a paper bag and careful to use it always with a faceshield. For most patients I wear the paper surgical masks and an overlying homemade cloth masks, and a faceshield. Even the surfical masks were purchased from another colleague with my own funds and I have only gone through 1 box as I’ve been very careful to store them and not waste them. Yet when I walk around the world also picking up litter, I see single-use PPE including N95s all over the neighborhood. It’s wasteful and the world is wasteful.
Sometimes I wonder if it’s worth it. Is it worth it, this Don Quixote like task I’ve set out for myself? Am I really just charging at windmills? I miss my parents and acutely my father a lot right now. I’m crying again because this nature-filled journey of environmentalism has left me so emotionally raw. I just live my truth, and the truth is that I get sad sometimes.
I knew this would happen and I was ready for it. Yesterday was an epic climate work day. So much was accomplished yesterday. I had a debrief meeting with our Co-Chair of the AAP Climate Change and Health Committee, about tasks and our interns and the direction of our group. Then we had an epic Plant-Based Diet in Pediatrics Journal Club that I helped just put the players together, and it came together beautifully. For all that I say how much work was done, these individuals donated their time and expertise to this thoughtful discussion. But I did play a part in the advertisement and organization, and it had been a long-held goal of mine to begin this series. Per Project Drawdown, reducing meat and dairy consumption and averted food waste is one of the most powerful ways to reduce carbon emissions. I’m a numbers oriented person, and yesterday by addressing 20 pediatricians who on average take care of 2000 patients, 40,000 children were positively affected. As I wrote on a physician facebook group on sustainability, “It means 20 pediatricians feel more comfortable prescribing more plants and counseling regarding plant-based food choices. We talked about cooking, recipes and true pediatric wellness. Heal the child and save the world, because each of those doctors cares for 2000 children and they are all going to tell their patients to eat less meat. Train the trainer. I just sat back and listened and I truly felt the earth move, because we just nudged some more people onto our side.” I was not being dramatic.
And then last night, as part of the Public Health Advisory Committee for Climate Actions Campaign – our coordinated health care group gave public testimony to the City of Encinitas. Their updated Climate Action Plan which includes electrification of new buildings (therefore no natural gas lines) and more bike lanes and side walks, will effectively reduce their GHG emissions by 44% by 2030. Encinitas is now one of the first cities in the country to electrify their new builds, this is a HUGE WIN and will likely have a domino effect in the region and hopefully the country. I was honored to play a small part and speak from the perspective of a pediatrician. One of our environmental mentors let us know, “Thanks to all of you — inspiring and badass, as Bruce and I predicted. (oh, and we won!)Hope it feels good to make a difference. 🙂” And it did feel good and I did help make a big difference yestserday, but as it always happens when you go really high – you tend to crash emotionally.
So I’m crashing this morning but I was ready for it. I purposefully am going to put some of the environmental work to rest for this next week. The kids have next week off for vacation anyway, and there is the surging COVID-19 pandemic as well. I feel better now after telling you how sad I am. I just miss my parents. I’m sure you miss yours too.
Since I knew this would happen and I’ve shed a few good tears now, I started tending my new batches of vinegar. Vinegar happens slowly and takes a good 6 weeks at least. In order from left to right, it’s Modelo beer vinegar, Korean pear scrap vinegar, and two persimmon vinegar projects. They are all reused glass Nestle instant coffee containers. These are the best to make vinegar because the mouths are wide. I just saw a new container of the instant coffee that I thought was glass, but it’s plastic. You can’t use plastic to make vinegar because the acid will react to the plastic. And I’m Dr. Plastic Picker anyway and I’m trying to avoid plastic.
I’ll call my mom today and tell her I miss them. I think I’ll try the apple scrap vinegar hair rinse this morning. I have a lot of work messages and projects to catch up on. It’s mundane scheduling things which I actually like doing since it’s like playing Tetris for me. I’m tired and I did enough yesterday for the earth. Today, I will focus on the house and maybe play with our puppy. I may even eat some fish.