October 6, 2020

Donald Trump removing his mask before entering the White House

Like everyone else I know with formal medical training, I have been watching the events unfolding in Washington DC over the last few days with increasing puzzlement. Absolutely nothing that’s happening makes any sense from either a personal or a public health perspective. There are those that claim that the president’s recent diagnosis with Covid-19 was some sort of elaborate ruse but that seems exceedingly unlikely with the thick and fast news of multiple collateral diagnoses within the executive orbit. Then there was the very real evidence from yesterday. I have more than thirty years experience at sizing up aging adults and determining whether they are sick or not in the first thirty seconds of walking into the room and beginning to converse with them. It’s dozens of little cues from behavior to body posture to the look in their eyes that allow you to either tense up and prepare to send them immediately to the emergency department or relax and let them tell their story while you leisurely ponder differential diagnoses in your head. The man I saw walk up the stairs to the South Portico of the White House yesterday evening was sick.

His walking into the White House, a crowded workplace, with full blown Covid-19 while blithely removing his mask told me everything I need to know about the situation. I don’t think this there’s any sort of sinister cabal going on. I think we’re in full blown the inmates are running the asylum mode as anyone with either the knowledge or ability to deal appropriately with highly communicable infectious disease has either been purged or silenced. The virus will therefore continue to keep leaping around the executive branch and I expect the vast majority of those with easy access to the White House will likely be positive by the end of the week. Will any of them die? That remains to be seen. Likely not many but some are likely to become incredibly ill and others are likely to have permanent health complications.

There’s been a lot of posting about karma and schadenfreude (a word most American’s had to look up) over the last couple of days. As much as I detest the politics and policies coming out of this administration, it is made up of human beings and one thing that my religious tradition of Unitarian Universalism teaching me is that every human life has dignity and worth so I cannot wish ill on any of them. I can only say that when you go swimming in a lagoon posted ‘Danger: No swimming. Alligators’ don’t be surprised if you come back to shore missing a limb. Actions have consequences and people who take certain imbecilic actions better be prepared to live with the consequences of those actions.

The White House Medical Team obviously obfuscating

Will the president recover uneventfully? Will he get worse? Will he be well enough for his next scheduled debate appearance? I can’t answer these questions. All I can say is that by all objective evidence available to me he’s sick, possibly seriously ill, and the puffery coming out of his medical team makes no sense from either a diagnostic or a treatment perspective so there’s really no way for me to have any sort of informed opinion. Things will happen as they will; hang on – the wild rollercoaster of the last few days isn’t likely to slow down for a while. In the meantime, there will be more and more blather of the uninformed, opining on the unintended consequences of the actions of the uncaring. It’s all making me a bit tired so I have gone to bed relatively early.

All I can say is that at this juncture in history, I’m glad I live in a smaller city with a relatively informed population with a high percentage of folk employed in health services. In Birmingham proper, most people are pretty good at social distancing, wearing their masks and not doing anything too crazy. This has kept our caseload relatively constant and allowed the local hospitals not to get too overloaded. I do my part and have given up much that I love for the greater good. Watching those to whom much has been given in terms of money and power blithely wander through life as if those were any sort of protections against the way the world actually works makes me a bit sick. As I have said, actions have consequences. I just hope that my positive actions in favor of protecting people I don’t know lead ultimately to positive consequences in my life. I’m a past master at delayed gratification. I can wait a while longer to find out.

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