Dr. Plastic Picker is a little bit worried about COVID-19. Like everyone else I was touting hand-washing,which is the best way to contain the spread, and social distancing, which means stay home if you don’t absolutely need to go somewhere. I am worried not because I am worried about getting Coronavirus, which is a cold virus and given my age and no underlying comorbidities, I will likely have a mild illness. I am worried because I know human nature, and the health care system will only continue to run if health care workers think of ourselves as ESSENTIAL and quarantine ourselves if we need to and to show up to work when we are healthy.
I promise that I am usually very detailed oriented. If you ask me about how many appointments are needed on any particular day in our department, I can give that to you. If you ask me what my networth is, I can tell you that to the thousands place. I usually know the 30-year versus the 15-year-fixed-interest rate for mortgages on any given week, even if I am not actively looking to purchase or sell real estate. Don’t ask me the adjustable because that would just be silly. Or ask me the Na concentration of any common resuscitation fluid, I can tell the mg/L concentration and if there is Potassium in it. That is because Dr. Young-Ho Yoon used to drill that into me when I was his intern at Man’s Greatest Hospital https://drplasticpicker.com/dr-young-ho-yoon-pediatrian-and-environmentalist-1/. As you know, Dr. Plastic Picker is a fiscally responsible pediatrician and I advocate for everyone to be FISE: Financially Independent so they can Save the Earth https://drplasticpicker.com/fise-financial-indepedence-and-save-the-earth/.
COVID-19 is here. There is a cruiseship docked off the coast of Oakland with several infected persons and in our area there was 1 case at a local AT&T store. Dr. Plastic Picker worked at the CDC offices during the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the early 2000s, but the CDC today is not what it used to be. Messages are coming down from public health, but this lone pediatrician out on the blogsphere is skeptical of our public health leadership and I work as a front-line pediatrician at a large HMO now. I have some infectious disease chops as I did some heavy lifting to stop a Measles case last summer. During that case, I had to panic as Measles is highly infectious and unvaccinated infants were at risk. COVID-19 I am not as panicked since it is spread through contact, and I wash my hands. Also I am a pediatrician and my patients are not the ones at increased risk of death. But we have grandparents with underlying medical conditions so we do want to keep them safe.
Just like I think everyone should all pick up their own litter and maybe an extra 3-10 pieces on the beach, I can’t wait for the federal government or the CDC to mandate things. When I saw the plastic pollution along our beach, I went to the beach and I pick up trash and it makes me feel like I’m doing my part. Now that COVID-19 is here, I know that we all need to practice “social distancing” and I am not waiting until public health tells us to do so. We know how this will spread, by people fanning out to different locations from epicenters. Some travel is necessary. Most is not. The Spanish Flu moved slow throughout the world via train mostly. COVID-19 can spread fast. But our family will not contribute to this spread.
Mr. Plastic Picker, as I have mentioned before, is also an MD. He is a specialist specialist in a speciality department. But this is my blog and I am Dr. Plastic Picker in this virtual realm and he is Mr. Plastic Picker.
The current COVID-19 news has affected us both at work, since we work for the same large HMO. I have to worry about more pressing clinical concerns and workflows since I see patients, but Mr. Plastic Picker is not as affected since he can work without actually touching or being in physical contact with patients in his specialty department.
What a night! Last night was Super Tuesday and the Democratic primaries were super exciting. This is a nonpartisan blog, and trust me I have close family and friends all over the political spectrum and I heart them all. But I posted a picture of Mr. Plastic Picker and myself on Facebook from a recent wedding last night with the “I Voted” Facebook Frame. We looked like the well groomed law-abiding fiscally conservative but socially liberal couple with the caption, “We voted! Mailed in our ballot. Voted for the earth and against sprawl and for a Democratic party that has a big heart and a big tent (insert emoji picture of tent) that will embrace a common sense/common values and a return to decency.” Lots of likes. Mr. Plastic Picker eschews social media, but when I showed him the post he said, “I look really good.” And indeed Mr. Plastic Picker you do look really good and so does the world. Despite the panic regarding COVID-19, which had even me taking category of my pantry https://drplasticpicker.com/covid-19-do-we-have-enough-food-random-thoughts-on-food-supply-and-food-waste-as-the-world-panics/, there is a lot to be hopeful for.
People are really in a panic regarding Covid-19. There are at least twice daily email updates it seems from upper echelon management about the policies and procedures. The most relevant item is that if one physician is potentially exposed to Covid-19 than that person has to be isolated for 14 days. So it seems prudent not to have physicians meet in large groups as we have to mobilize in case there is a real outbreak. We want to keep our physicians out of isolation. The reality is that if I get isolated, I’d probably just be surfing the internet and blogging and eating oatmeal and having a great time and getting paid. But it’s not good for patient care, as I can see up to 30 patients in a normal workday. I am a cog in a large efficient health care organization.
This blog series is monthly, and again I think the least popular. I have mentioned this every month. But for me, it is the most important because it keeps me accountable for making real changes in our lives that are important for the environment. I am responsible for reporting out monthly 15 changes that I have made in my family’s daily life that help the environment.
Above is a picture I posted on Instagram #drplasticpicker. The Instagram, Facebook and blogsphere worlds don’t really intersect. Instagram is super fun but more for my own amusement. I think I have a decent number of patients following my Instagram account as I accumulate more and more ocean plastic bags . Otherwise it is other #litterpickers that are following each other. I’m almost at 550 followers. I think I’m pretty good at Instagram. For the series of pictures above the caption was “I tell everyone at work #litterpicking#trashart #plogging has helped me be a more creative problem solver. I literally look at this beautiful world differently. Picture from my seated perch done with my bag.” And what I posted in Instagram is true and certainly the most powerful Secondary Environmental Net Positive for me. My worldview has changed and it is at times a very dire and ominous one, but also hopeful and challenging. Dr. Plastic Picker has always been up for the challenge.
I am sitting here beginning this blog post, and I have closed my eyes and am typing at the same time. I am a very good typist because I used to work at my father’s accounting office when I was a child. Therefore I can type with my eyes closed and I can still be pretty accurate. I am typing with my eyes closed because I am trying to listen to the birds in my backyard. They are singing this morning and the sky is only just lighting up. It is a beautiful song.
It is almost 4AM and I was thinking of not drinking my coffee this early and thoughts of the new intermittent fasting fad flitted through my mind. I had dinner last night at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Local Committee Chair meeting. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but they had these really delicious vegan wraps and no single-use water bottles. The plates were styrofoam though. I am trying to listen to my body more, and I had one wrap which was enough and drank from my reusable water bottle. I did drink coffee at about 6pm last night which is unusual, and my last meal was 7pm. So it has been 8 hours since I had anything to eat, but even if intermittent fasting is really “in” now – my body is telling me it wants a little bit of coffee with a little bit of sugar and cream. So I am sipping my coffee and I am happy. I am trying to eat more fruit and vegetables and less meat so will concentrate on that.
It has almost been 6 months now since I started this journey when I wandered onto the beach, and saw all the plastic. I just started picking up the little pieces and getting some exercise, and I began to see more clearly myself and the earth. Almost 160 bags of ocean bound plastic and over 600 salvaged items later, what makes me hopeful are those around me. Six months ago I wanted to retreat from the world after having splitting tension headaches from work and my back pain and foot pain that kept me from running as much as I used to. As nature healed me, I then saw how damaged our natural environment has become.
But as I grew in awareness and began to really see the plastic and the earth, I have also now seen the beauty of our human community.
The little children who submitted pictures to our drawing contest. Daniela, aged 11, who drew the stunning turtle that adorns our Dr. Plastic Picker Reusable Grocery Totes. A high school friend who donated his graphic art skills to help with the Vector files I needed for the bag. My sister who designed our logo. Dr. Dear Friend who has been here since the beginning and encouraged us to pick the next big clean-up date, which will be April 25. RN Plastic Picker who is as dedicated to reducing ocean plastic pollution as I am, and cancelled the single-use plastic water bottles for our clinic meeting. Done! The growing community of >500 Instagram litterpickers, ploggers, plalkers, zero/low wasters, and cigarette butt-pickers who encourage each other to clean our environment. A vegan anesthesiologist, a pediatrician who is a lover of bunnies and whose daughter studies wetlands, another pediatrician who loves butterfly bushes, a pediatrican/photographer who will lend us his studio for a big project, mommy friends who lend recipes, and on and on.