Be Calm. Be Human.
Together, we will get through this!
Today, is Sunday March 22, 2020
I was going to start with summarizing my day at the office with some clinical take-home lessons, but, then I thought I may want to share something more powerful that never fails to shine through during difficult times – the humanity in all of us!
Be Calm. Be Human.
As a volunteer physician for the Monmouth County Medical Reserve Corps, this would be my third encounter with looking down an abyss, facing loss of control to Mother Nature. First it was the H1N1 or “bird flu” in 2009, then hurricane “Sandy” in 2012, and, now COVID-19, the biggest storm of them all. Each time I have been humbled and energized by the humanity that shines through the clouds of despair.
I reminisce about the vigor of a frail looking 70-year old woman who did not let hurricane Sandy ruin her Christmas. She braved the cold on the very first day after the power was restored, precariously standing up on a ladder to put up Christmas decorations on her house. I happened to drive down her street, drove by her, then something tugged at me. I turned back and parked outside her house to see if she needed any help. She would have none of it. To humor me, she let me hold the roll of Christmas lights she was hanging up. But, she did not need my help and she was not going to let a mere hurricane keep her from the spirit of Christmas.
I reminisce about the makeshift shelter at Monmouth University and the nurses and doctors who left their own families to help our larger family. Politeness drowned out the pandemonium. I recall a young man who was wheezing from an asthma attack, yield the nebulizer for a baby. Or the young soldier who refused to let me send him to the hospital for an xray and care. A “march fracture” of his foot was not going to keep him from his human calling – trek on foot 12 miles to Lavalette because that’s where he was needed.
This brings me to my day at the office today and the humanity I encountered.
A patient who is a painter brought us extra masks he had to keep us safe or my assistant, who left behind her young children to be at work on short notice on a Sunday because she said our patients need us.
As a physician, I have never been so excited to inform a patient that they have Flu (and not COVID-19). And, never before have I seen a patient so happy and relieved to receive the diagnosis of Flu. That’s being human. This is a dear patient, who has bravely survived other weightier health scares (breast cancer). Last night before boarding a flight for home, she performed her human responsibility and informed the cabin crew that she was feverish. Paramedics were called. CDC got involved and she was cleared to fly home. This morning she was feverish again. When I saw her in the office today, she looked worried. That was until she was informed that she merely had the flu!
Or, that young girl with fever whose mother worried if her child had contracted COVID-19, while the young girl was proudly telling me about her new princess dress. It turns out she had a mere ear infection.
In this moment of despair, let’s all look for the good in all of us, the humanity in all of us!
Be calm. Be human. And Remember…
- While we are here for you 7 days if you need us
- Staying at home remains the safest thing to do
- Simple home remedies sometimes are sufficient
- Office visits only if necessary
- ER visits, hopefully, rarely needed