Hey, it’s Monday… page 165

Day 274 – 12/14/2020

It was 16º out when Kim got up so he postponed his walk and turned the heat on for the first time – the fireplace has been handling it okay ’til now but the cold made it all the way inside overnight. It’s the height of privilege to sit here in my little world with a silent space heater keeping my toes warm while I commune with friends online, read the latest news long enough to raise my heart rate, sip my coffee, and stay outta everybody’s face while Kim fills the spa tub. My self-orbit affirms that we humans really aren’t worth all the effort.

Sweet surprise this morning – Katie (cousin) called to wish me a Merry Christmas, catch up a little, and ask for directions. Emily & Savannah (daughter & granddaughter) are in Dodge City, America, of all places, on their way west and want to find the farm where Katie’s and my grandparents homesteaded and where I grew up, along with the family cemetery. Confusion and hilarity ensued for 15 minutes as Katie, in Florida, typed directions into her phone while I reconstructed the miles in my head. I think we ended up with a usable map but I’m also pretty sure Savannah will Google Earth it and they’ll be golden. Can’t wait to hear the………. rest of the story. And hopefully see some pics – I don’t know when I last saw the old neighborhood.

A cool find this morning – we had relatives in Sheboygan, and after visiting there when I was 3 or 4 years old the name became a treasured part of my vocabulary. Sheboygan… so delicious to say.

Strong waves at the lakefront, Saturday, December 12, 2020, in Sheboygan, Wis.

Routine used to be a four-letter word to me but with only upheaval everywhere I’m seeing its better side, which is comfort. Today’s Monday so I know what we’re having for lunch and that The Voice 2020 wraps up tonight and tomorrow, which is Tuesday so I know what we’re having for lunch then, too. The Amazing Race finale happens Wednesday night, and I’m not bothered by the fact that I have no idea what food I’ll be stuffing into my face that day. Space… options… comfort.

Comfort… that would be this man right here. I posted his picture the other day holding an elderly patient who was crying for his wife. Everyday heroes taking it to the stratosphere.

This is my 274th day isolating, starting in mid-March. For every one of those days I’ve spent in my perfectly great space whining and fretting, with tiny forays to see Rita or keep a doctor’s appointment, this human being has been at the hospital. His license plate reads CVD HNTR. Dr. Joseph Varon, a 58-year-old physician and chief of staff at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, has been hunting covid-19 for 270 days straight. He has not had a single day off since March. “I was meant to do this,” he says.

From The Washington Post: “Born and raised in Mexico City, and with specialties in pneumonology, intensive care, internal medicine and geriatrics, Varon was particularly well-equipped to wage war against a virus that has killed more than 290,000 Americans.” [Now over 300,000, post-WP publication.] His personal experiences, he said, prepared him for this moment.

In 1985, he was working as an intern in one of Mexico City’s largest hospitals when an 8.1-magnitude earthquake leveled the building. He watched many of his colleagues die that day. “I have seen disaster up front all of my life,” he said. “The only thing that scares me is corona” — a disease he calls “short-term AIDS” — and its unpredictability.

Mid-interview, Varon had to duck out. He followed up with a text: “I just admitted 6 covid patients in the past 60 minutes,” he wrote. “It is absolute madness.”

As the medical staff at UMCC witnessed the psychological effects of isolation in patients, Varon instructed staff to wear large photographs of their faces hung around their necks, so that patients could recognize the person who was caring for them behind those “space suits.” One day, he went in to see patients with a picture of Brad Pitt attached to his personal protective equipment suit, eliciting laughter from even those who were the sickest.

“Other doctors stay behind the lines, they do not get their hands dirty,” said Tanna Ingraham, an ICU nurse at UMCC hospital, who was also hospitalized with covid-19 for 12 days. “He is totally hands-on and treats every single one of his patients as if they were his family members.”

Everyday heroes… 💙

Today, December 14, 2020, clusters of everyday heroes are gathering in State Houses across the country to do the right thing on behalf of democracy, speaking in the prevailing voice of the American people. We will owe them our future and our lives.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. thelastnightowl
    Dec 14, 2020 @ 14:16:33

    Sometimes when we lose the smallest bits of comfort and, dare I say it, freedom, privilege no longer feels like privilege. We would do well to remind ourselves from time to time how lucky we actually are.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

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