It’s late at night and I, like most of the rest of the world, am sitting up late wondering just what’s to become of us all over the next few weeks. I’m not worried about physical health per se. The virus, if and when I catch it, isn’t likely to do much more than put me in bed for a week (I have a couple of risk factors for complication,but in general my health is pretty good so the odds are definitely in my favor). I’m worried about other things. I’m worried about becoming a vector for all of my frail elder patients and transmitting virus to them in a subclinical phase. I’m worried about getting sick and being put on quarantine at the time when doctors are going to be most needed. (My ICU skills are rusty and several decades out of date but I remember the basics). Therefore, I’ve decided to do the most responsible thing I can think of and pretty much either go to work or stay home. No eating out. No going out other than for walks or into someone’s house where no one is sick (I have to do that anyway as the housecalls part of my job). It’s going to be quiet and a bit lonely in my off hours but it’s the one thing I can do when not at work that can help my older friends and my friends with chronic health issues. It will likely also help me in the coming weeks if we succeed in flattening the curve by making it less likely that I will be exposed in my profession and less likely that I will be called upon to do things way out of my usual scope of practice.
As I’ve got more time on my hands than I had anticipated and as I am as full of angst about all of this as the next person, I’ll probably write a lot more of these meditative posts in the coming weeks than I had been. People tell me they help them process and understand various complex issues but they’re really about me trying to make sense of things myself and I’m happy for anyone who wants to to come along for the ride. This whole Corona Virus Crisis has been fascinating for the intellectual part of my brain and it makes me head down weird rabbit holes via Google and Twitter as I try to learn more about what’s really happening in Italy or in Seattle. The emotional part of my brain, however, is having the heebeejeebies as my overactive imagination, Taurus stubbornness, and library full of books keeps creating various apocalyptic scenarios. It probably doesn’t help that I’ve been binge watching The Walking Dead. No, Corona Virus isn’t going to create any mutated zombies nor is it going to off most of the population but I’m over identifying with our heroes as they try to make sense of a world turned upside down. Think about it. Would you have believed this past holiday season we’d be where we are prior to Easter?
The family in Seattle are all fine, I’m checking in fairly frequently. Like here, much of the usual life of the city is shut down. My sister’s tattoo business is booming as college kids on unexpected break come in for more ink. My brother is learning the quirks of on line instruction for high schoolers. My father, whose building is on lockdown, is getting a bit bored. We haven’t made the final decision to postpone my mother’s memorial, currently scheduled for April 26th, but my guess is that will have to happen. My sources in the medical world of Seattle say things are holding up so far. The biggest issue is lack of personal protective equipment like gowns and gloves for health care workers. Some hospitals are down to less than a week’s supply and with all of the problems in the world, the usual supply chains are disrupted. I’m continuing to keep my ear to the ground so I can pass things along to both UAB and the VA which might be helpful as we continue to prepare around here.
I have this high minded ideal that I’m going to spend my extra alone time doing constructive things like working on my Rosetta Stone German, reading improving literature, and cleaning out all the drawers and closets in preparation for moving. What did I actually do today? Spent way too much time on line reading up on the latest CV news. Answered emails, texts, DMs and the like from various friends – my general advice for everyone is pretty much the same. Wash your hands, stay out of crowds, don’t go out if you don’t have to, don’t get on an airplane unless absolutely necessary. Caught up on my progress notes from last week, answered a bunch of calls from the hospice I medical direct for, took a constitutional for exercise, watched three episodes of the Walking Dead, and downloaded the most recent version of Civilization for Xbox and started to learn its ins and outs. (This one is VI – II remains my favorite). The big adventure for tomorrow is the laundry.
Of course I remain in escrow for the condominium purchase and have to get moved at some point. It’s a little tough to plan all of that when you’re not sure if the country is going to go into lockdown for a few weeks. I was going to hire a professional pack/move company for the move but I’m thinking I’ll take that money and hire my actor friends whose income is disappearing as the gig economy shuts down and who will need the dollars for rent next month. It strikes me that will be worth a few broken dishes and some scratches in my not very expensive furniture. The one exception would be the piano. I’ll have the piano movers do that. My futurizing brain is creating all of these scenarios where I won’t be able to sell my house or where changes in the health care system lead to me losing my job and the whole thing becomes a financial bloodbath but, compared to the other issues we’re all facing, that’s minor.
The day I’m most reminded of at the moment is late October of 1999. Steve and I were on St Martin at a resort with several hundred other gay men when hurricane Jose came barreling down on us. The day the hurricane struck there was an incredible sense of anticipation in the air. Everything had been canceled (which didn’t stop a couple of hundred queens drinking every drop of liquor in the resort) and after noon the wind started to pick up getting stronger and stronger. The deep sea birds, albatrosses and the like appeared out of nowhere, hovering over the beach and looking out to sea in the direction of the storm. The land birds fell quiet. It was an eerie calm. Steve and I went back to our room as darkness fell, the electricity went out and the rains began to pour around 10 PM. As we were in a cheap room, not ocean view, we were spared most of the weather and did not have to spend the night hung over in a bathtub like a couple of guys of our acquaintance. This weekend has that same anticipatory feel – I just hope that everything’s lashed down tight when the storm hits.