Another Saturday night and I ain’t got nobody. I think somebody else sang that first. And it’s not entirely true, Anastasia the cat is snuggled up to my feet on the bed as I write this, purring away while Oliver is yowling in the next room, hoping I’ll get up and give him more kitty treats as if I didn’t give him a few an hour ago. Tommy’s been gone nearly three years now and people are kindly sidling up to me asking me when I’m going to date seriously again. I don’t know. Next week? Next month? Next year? Next decade? I don’t feel any particular compulsion to pair up again, except when it’s Valentine’s Day Eve and your social media is full of pictures of the happy couples of your acquaintance.
Dating in the gay world is hard. There’s not a lot of social supports for gay male romance, especially in my age group.
The last time I went through all this, twenty years ago, the number of eligible men local to Birmingham was rather small. (Prior to meeting Tommy, I had been dating a man who lived in Michigan – we would meet for the weekend once a month or so somewhere in between). Tommy fell into my life in an odd way. We had been chatting online, he had called me up in my professional capacity to gather information on elder care for a grant proposal he was writing for his job at Birmingham Health Care, and he started turning up at church where he was good friends with some other congregants. When I figured out it was the same guy turning up in all these different areas of my life at the same time, I decided the universe was trying to tell me something so I asked him out and the rest, as they say, is history. It did lead to a very public courtship with the entire congregation of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Birmingham egging us on. If the right guy turns up again in a similar serendipitous manner, I’ll consider a third husband, but I’m not going to actively look.
Covid is, of course, making dating nigh on impossible. There’s no going out to dinner, or for drinks after work or to the movies. I suppose a day hike together through one of the local mountain parks is a possibility but its a bit chilly for that. Maybe later in the spring. In the meantime, I have all my various home projects plus a few extra work things that I’ve taken on to supplement my salary that has this mysterious way of going down rather than up these days due to the crazy impact of the current crisis on the fiscal underpinnings of medicine. I spent most of today wrestling with 2500 pages of medical records for a legal case in defense of a nursing home and next week I get to figure out how to collapse all I know about geriatric syndromes into a 75 minute lecture for a national board review course.
The news on Covid continues to improve. The numbers locally and nationally continue to fall from their peak five weeks ago but they’re hardly going away. We’re up to 27.5 million cases total and we will surpass 500,000 deaths by the end of the month. Our local system for vaccine distribution appears to be working well and I have heard nothing but rave reviews from my patients and their families for the efficiency with which the mass vaccination sites are operating at UAB and in Hoover at the Hoover Met stadium. The only limitation is flow of vaccine into the state but that appears to be happening in a much more predictable fashion than a month ago and most of my over 75 patients who want a vaccine have either had their first dose or are scheduled within the next couple of weeks. Every vaccine delivered is one more person that will not end up in the ICU in a month or two giving our frazzled health system and its providers a bit of breathing space.
As I read through the information on the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and how they are performing, it’s safe to say that they are doing a very good job at preventing illness and complication. It’s less clear if they are preventing transmission. Some data is coming in suggesting that they do indeed do this as well but we’ll have to wait for the data scientists to capture and crunch the numbers before any definitive statements can be made. If this is indeed true, we should be able to reduce our need for masking and social distancing some this summer. I just want to get back in rehearsal. So much of my social life and my equipoise is tied up in creating art with others in the rehearsal room and on stage that I just feel incomplete without it. I even miss tech.
The political world today progressed exactly as predicted with a pretty much party line impeachment acquital of the former president. For good or ill, I don’t think that particular story is over in the least. The fault lines remain. The former president, if true to character, will not remain quietly off the political stage but will continue to try and exert his will through his usual methods. What that will lead to, I haven’t the vaguest. At the moment, my part of the medical world is just happy that the CDC is authoring recommendations that make scientific sense, the FDA is offering well sourced information about treatment alternatives, and the powers of the executive are working together to get vaccine out in a streamlined fashion. I’ll take it.
I haven’t told a story for a while as corona virus kind of keeps me looking for metaphors and connections between pandemic and other areas of life rather than just thinking back on my past. Here’s one from my early house call days. I went out to take a look at a demented gentleman who kept getting burns on his toes. He and his family didn’t have much money and lived in a rental home that might best be described as a tar paper shack. Like a lot of older homes, it was heated in winter by gas heaters that were attached to the gas line with a rubber hose so that you could place the heater in various parts of the house. The joists and the floor boards were rotted and it was somewhat tricky to pick your way through the living room without putting your foot through to the crawl space. It didn’t take long to figure out the reason he was burning his toes was because when he complained of cold feet, the family wheeled him up to the heater and his diabetic neuropathy prevented him from noticing when they got him a little too close. He was eating badly and we needed to get a weight on him. He couldn’t stand on his own and they only had a bathroom scale so I weighed myself and then, he being a small and somewhat emaciated man, I picked him up and stood on the scale so we could get his weight by subtracting out mine. He peed all down my front as I had him in a honeymoon carry. Meanwhile, his wife (schizophrenic and refusing to take her meds) was frying something up in the kitchen for breakfast. She reached up and opened a cupboard and an enormous winged roach flew out and settled itself on the cooking. WIthout missing a beat, she picked up a can of Raid, sprayed the roach (which flew off elsewhere), the food, and the open flame of the gas stove with it. Fortunately, there was no explosion but she did turn around and asked me if I would like to stay for the meal. I politely declined, finished my visit and hightailed it back to the car for a clean T-shirt and the bottle of Febreze. Geriatrics – the glamour specialty.
Stay well, stay warm, stay distant, wear your mask, wash your hands, use your sanitizer – but keep it off your breakfast sausage.