It’s been at least a week since #stayhome started trending everywhere in the U.S. I was actually a little ahead of the curve because I started self isolating the moment I heard about the nursing home patients in Washington. I knew, instinctively, that was just the beginning.
Am I psychic?
Not even a little. Just infection wise.
I became a registered nurse during the infant age of AIDS. Back when pneumocystis carini pneumonia( PCP) was rapidly making its way through the gay male population of New York – where I worked and lived – I was a nursing student in Bellevue Hospital in NYC. During my intensive care rotation, I was assigned to, and took care of, a young, comatose, black man. The nurse in charge told me that the health department was seeing an uptick in this new strange pneumonia infecting and killing young, gay men. The patient wasn’t in isolation at the time because the medical establishment thought the disease wasn’t transmissible. No one knew what AIDS was yet. Conventional wisdom dictated that you couldn’t catch pneumonia from another person. You can catch the bacteria or virus organism that may affect your respiratory system, but just being in contact with someone who has pneumonia doesn’t mean you will get it. Even still, precautions were taken when caring for the young man and we wore gloves while touching him.
Not gowns. Not masks. Not respirators.
I remember so vividly thinking at the time the we should have–if not for our own safety, but for that young man’s– been better protected. He was already immunocompromised. What if the staff carried something to him? We could have been making his condition even worse. ICU’s are a hotbed of germs and invisible pathogens. When you are caring for someone in a coma you come in very close contact. Even a common cold could have killed him if one of us breathed over him and sneezed, or coughed.
Flash forward 40 years ( and doesn’t that blow my mind!!! 40 years since I was in nursing school) to this moment in time. As with PCP, Covid 19 came out of no where and is now decimating people all over the world. And this time we know for a fact that if we are carriers of the virus we can infect and potentially kill people.
Read that again. If we have the virus, even if we are not symptomatic, we can potentially kill people we come in contact with.
Why, then, are there still individuals walking around without a care in the world? Why, then, are the Gen X’s still on spring break, crowding into bars? Traveling in packs? Why are people in retirement communities still going to bingo and rumba lessons? And for God’s sake, why aren’t all schools – all levels, including college – still not closed?
Have we truly become a nation of people who don’t care about others? Care about how our actions affect other people, those who are already compromised due to chronic health issues, or homeless, or have no access to adequate health care?
I don’t think we have – at least I hope we haven’t. All indications to the contrary aside, I truly believe we are a nation who cares.
So if you fall in the category of people who I think care about others, first, bless you. Then, if you are not an essential member of the work force – nurse, doctor, EMT, fireman, grocery story worker, pharmacist – then stay the hell home. If you don’t care about infecting others, then care about being infected yourself. This is the one time in your life it will be okay to be a hermit.
This is a practice the medical experts tell us will surely flatten the curve of new cases developing, which will in turn get us out of the situation faster and hopefully with less people afflicted and/or dead.
Listen to the experts. Not your next door neighbor or your son’s girlfriend’s mother who owns a nail salon and says that the virus won’t get to them. Hey, they wash their hands, they tell you. Often. Don’t listen to political pundits who tell you everything is fine and we have nothing to worry about. They just want your vote so they can stay in their cushy jobs.
Ignore these people.
LISTEN TO THE EXPERTS. The Public Health doctors and scientists and researchers who have as their purpose in life the health and well being of the population.
Take this time to take a beat and do what is recommended by the people in the know. This will pass. If we take precautions and listen and do as we are told, it will pass quicker and with less loss of life, erosion of our economy, and destruction of our lifestyle.
Life as we’ve known it will return to normal if we listen to the people who know best. Don’t be a self righteous, ignorant dick and think you are the one person in the world this will not touch. Because it will.