I just have, like…a whole bunch of rage right now.
You know when your kids are being epic A-holes and you just want to scream at them? Like drop some F bombs to really get their attention? But then you feel like you will be the worst parent ever? And they might tell their grandma that you said the F word? But then you reason with yourself that they deserve it. Because you’ve tried reasoning with them. And you’ve tried explaining the potential consequences of their actions. And you’ve gently detailed why they are being selfish idiots. But they still don’t get it and they keep doing the stupid thing that you’ve told them FIVE MILLION TIMES TO STOP DOING. And now they are on the verge of actually injuring someone or breaking something expensive….
That’s where I’m at right now. But my rage is focused more on society in general. Which is challenging because I really don’t know where to direct all of this rage, other than here…the cesspool of my soul.
My rage stems from the undisputable reality that we have this horrible virus that’s been around, disrupting our lives for about a year and a half. In that time, we’ve miraculously developed a safe and effective vaccine that is doing a kick ass job of keeping people alive. We also understand that wearing masks is an incredibly simple and effective way to minimize spread of this deadly virus. But for reasons that make me want to repeatedly slam my head into a 2×4, people have become OFFENDED at the notion of taking safe and simple steps to protect themselves and other people FROM DYING. Literally…people KEEP DYING because apparently that’s a better option than admitting that a vaccine actually works. And people KEEP DYING because hospitals are too full to take more sick patients. I’m freaking terrified that someone I love might have a heart attack or a stroke, or get into a car wreck and the very hospital I work at won’t be able to take them because WE ARE FREAKING FULL OF COVID. There are kids with cancer waiting in cars outside of emergency rooms because they are too full and their parents are wondering what the holy hell to do. There are people getting sick in Texas, being shipped to FREAKING OHIO because that’s the closest hospital that could take them…literally…as their aorta was on the brink of FREAKING RUPTURING. Our hospital has had TWO THOUSAND requests for transfers this month and we have had to turn away 70% of those requests. BECAUSE WE ARE FULL OF COVID…BECAUSE PEOPLE DIDN’T GET VACCINATED. My good friend (who I share my office with) has had the unfortunate task of being on call for our transfer center this past week. I have heard his voice break behind me as he explains why we can’t take this patient and that patient. Some we can’t take because we just don’t have beds. Other patients we can’t take because they are so critically ill that the mere act of loading them into an ambulance or a helicopter would cause them to decompensate and die.
The Palliative Care team is currently overflowing with Covid. We’ve traditionally had one team devoted to Covid patients during surges, but right now, Covid patients are spilling over into the other teams. And the work is soul-sucking and heart breaking in its redundancy. New consult, un-vaccinated, on the vent, getting steroids and tocilizumab, needing excessively high vent support, needing ungodly sedation to stop fighting the vent, kidneys failing, on dialysis, needing a tracheostomy but too unstable. We take the Ipad into the room for crying family to see and talk to their loved one. We make standard introductions and provide medical updates. We know that in a couple of days we will have to tell the family that their loved one is dying. We see it coming, but we hold out hope that THIS ONE might get better.
I watch my critical care colleagues and the ICU teams continue to provide exceptional care DAY AFTER GUT WRENCHING DAY. All the while knowing that it didn’t need to be this way. Knowing that the patient in the corner room wouldn’t be on a vent if she’d been vaccinated. Knowing that the young guy in the Cardiothoracic ICU wouldn’t be on ECMO if he’d been vaccinated. Knowing that the patient who died yesterday would probably be home with a stuffy nose had he been vaccinated. Knowing that the grandpa who died would probably be fine had his family been vaccinated and not infected him. I see the exhaustion in the resident’s eyes after pronouncing five patients in a matter of two days.
And then I watch my kids walking into school. And I feel utterly helpless to protect them other than to remind them: Keep your mask on! Wash your hands! Don’t touch your face! Don’t get too close to anyone! And I pray that they will be safe long enough to get their vaccines.
And then the impassioned social medial posts proclaiming misguided assumptions that “personal freedom” is more important than the kid with cancer waiting in a car outside of an emergency room. That someone’s death is a reasonable price to pay because you just didn’t want to get vaccinated. Are we really that society? Are we really a people who says “Screw you, kid with cancer, I don’t want to wear a mask!” Are you okay with someone dying because you are too proud to get a vaccine? Because that is literally what is happening.
PEOPLE ARE DYING.
PEOPLE ARE DYING.
PEOPLE ARE DYING.
And I don’t know how to make anyone care.