February 27, 2023

And just like that, Dearly Departed has departed; whether dearly or not can be debated. On the whole, I was very pleased with the run. The cast really found their footing and timing in the second weekend and the audience responded with hoots and hollers to all sorts of highly inappropriate material such as family fistfights, adulterous affairs, funeral price gouging and diarrheal vicars. I’m not really sure that the play is a comedy, even though it is sold as such. I see it as much more of a dramedy with a slightly heightened reality and I kept telling my cast that for the humor to work, it had to be grounded and centered in real lived experiences. If you’ve ever spent any time in the small town South, you will have met people just like them and the play works because it balances the ridiculous situations with moments of heart where we realize that these are not caricatures, but characters just trying to live their best lives through the crap life flings at them. Will I direct again? Who knows. I seem to remember what I’m doing and I’ve been doing it for 43 years so maybe someone will ask again.

I have nothing else specific on my theatrical calendar moving forward but I’m not worried about it. Something will turn up. It usually does. There aren’t that many actors of my age and type in town and there’s lots of character parts written for aging men. I have the advantage of easily aging up on stage due to the white hair and that has opened up even more opportunities to sink my teeth into some interesting roles the last few years. I’ve been asked to reprise my performance as Mr. Pendleton in Choir Boy for a production in Utah this next season. It’s unlikely to work with my medical professional schedule but it’s highly flattering to be asked. When I do retire, I’ve thought about exploring film/TV work in Atlanta some. Screen acting requires a very different set of skills than stage acting and I’m not sure I have them though.

Our old friend Covid is not gone. Other viruses are making their usual seasonal rounds as well. Norovirus, which pops up every February and March, has been making local inroads the last few weeks. It causes a rather nasty watery diarrhea which is uncomfortable and inconvenient in most adults but which can cause grave issues in my patient population with their reduced physiologic reserve. It doesn’t take much to tip them over into dehydration which can then start a cascade of events that you really don’t want. I was on call this past weekend and I got an emergency call yesterday evening from a patient family. Patient and adult children all came down with Covid. Paxlovid now! I got everybody’s prescriptions called in to profuse thanks. More messages first thing this morning. The patient’s Paxlovid was somehow left in the middle of the front lawn overnight and rained on. Can a new prescription be sent now? I’ve learned never to ask, just accept and move on to the next semi-urgent message in the queue.

Katelyn Jetelina, whose substack is incredibly helpful for understanding the public health science around Covid and other disease processes, put together a very good summary of what we know about vaccines based on reports that came out of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices meetings that recently happened at the CDC. Takeaways included that the bivalent booster vaccine, offered since September, has been very effective at preventing hospitalization from Covid. This is particularly true for the over 65 population. (I’ve been reading, writing and thinking about the over 65 population for decades and it’s finally dawning on me that I will be one of them in just over four years). It looks like the data is supporting the idea of an annual booster moving forward but time will tell and I still think there are a few surprises in store for us from Covid before it’s done with us.

There is still some unease in the use of the boosters in adolescents due to the chance of myocarditis, especially in young men. Fortunately, the bivalent booster has had no reported cases of myocarditis and the calculated risk of the vaccine is below the risk of hospitalization and death from no vaccine. The chance of myocarditis is no higher than 1/10,000 and probably closer to 1/100,000, well below my threshold of the 1/8,000 chance all Americans have of dying in a traffic accident in any given year.

I thought about taking every evening this week off to veg after the business of the last few weeks but, alas, I still have to finish the taxes and have talks to write and a book to edit so, as we say to the god of death, ‘Not today’. But I will allow bad TV and musical cast albums in the background as I go through these chores.

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