May 24, 2023

I just finished writing the last major piece of text required for the third and last volume of The Accidental Plague Diaries. The book isn’t done. It still needs one more round of edits, a bit of reordering, a major proofread, and layout before it can be considered finished. We should be able to accomplish all of that by mid July and have the book out in August. At least that’s the current plan. There are always unforeseen issues and delays.

I’m trying to decide how I feel about completing what amounts to nearly a thousand pages of book over the last three years, especially as I never had any intention of writing any of it. Life and COVID had other plans. I guess the next step, after the last volume is released, is to get on the stick and try to sell some more copies and increase my readership. My immediate circle of acquaintance seems to have read and enjoyed it so far but if it’s going to have any staying power, it needs to reach beyond those who have actually met me.

I was a guest on a podcast this past weekend. One of the hosts is an old friend and the other is a man I have never met. He read the first volume prior to the recording and I found his response to the book fascinating. He told me that reading it brought back all of the emotions he felt in the first few months of the lockdown. Even though the particulars of my experience were very different from his, my reactions to the changes in society and health care felt very similar to what he was feeling in his world. Those feelings may still be too fresh and raw in many of us to want to revisit them but in a year or two, we may all want to have a better understanding of what happened to us and then the books may really speak in ways that they have not yet had a chance to do. I’ll post a link to the finished podcast when it’s up.

Somebody tell me I’m crazy, but I have agreed to direct a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream this summer for Belltower players. Rehearsals begin June 26th and the performances are the second and third weekends in August. Now that I’ve said yes, I’m sitting here with the script trying to decide on cuts, concepts, staging ideas, and how to make the show work on a limited budget. Any Birmingham performers who are free July/August and have always wanted to do Shakespeare with me at the helm, drop me a line. I have tickets to Midsummer at the Globe in London in a couple of weeks. I hope I pick up some good ideas and don’t leave wanting to slit my wrists because I can’t possibly equal what they do. I just wanted to play Bottom. (No bad innuendo jokes please…)

I trudge through my work life. The NP I have relied on the last few years leaves at the end of the month. I’m sorry to see her go as she has done a phenomenal job holding the UAB ambulatory clinic together. We have new people coming in to replace her who promise to be equally as good once they have a bit of seasoning. It’s not the first time I’ve lost my right arm for my clinical care. It’s happened over and over again in my career. A social worker, an NP, a trusted colleague has moved on to something new or better and I remain, day after day, year after year, older and older trying to do the best I can by my patients. I’ll keep doing it a while longer. I want to make sure the clinic can survive my retirement and we’ve got new staff and a physical relocation coming up so things won’t be stable for a while and I’ll keep on keeping on. After 25 years, there’s little that can be thrown at me that will topple me off my balance point. I don’t know what that says about me. Am I a chump for having stayed this long or am I some sort of folk hero? Almost no one else has been able to make it past 7-10 years.


On the VA front, the rural house calls program continues to work well. There’s definite changes brewing though. The World War II vets are essentially gone and the Korean War vets are going. Most of our new admits are Vietnam War vets and even some Gulf War vets. They tend to be sicker than their elders, more difficult to care for, and less able to change ingrained habits for better health. I don’t force anyone to do anything. I simply provide expert advice based on my training and knowledge base. What people do with that advice is up to them. The newer admits want miracle cures and quick fixes as they believe that’s how health care is supposed to work. The idea that when you have chronic disease, you need a long term partnership to work to stabilize you at the best you can be, rather than restoring you to age 25 in a week seems alien to them. I have my work cut out for me. Fortunately, I can keep my cool in most situations.

I’ve been tired this week. I think I’m going to put on some bad TV and go to bed early. I’m trying to finish up the last season of You on Netflix, but I keep losing interest. I think it’s gone on a season too long.

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