Balance

I slept an extra half hour this morning. I was tired from my 12 hours in the city, and trying to get closer to the recommended eight hours of sleep, instead of the five or six I normally operate on. I joked with my wife that most of the signs and symptoms of COVID–headache, malaise, sore joints, body aches, shortness of breath — are the same as symptoms of being a 61 year old.

At work at the hospital, I reviewed the previous evening’s admissions and checked for the corona lab results for patients who’d come in by EMS, and then I made the notifications to the EMS services. Some cases were obvious coronas and the crews documented full body precautions, but there have been others when the call came in not at all like a corona call — a fall from a wheelchair or a psychiatric patient refusing to eat in a nursing home. I imagine an EMS worker getting a call from their supervisor. What’s this about? Am I in trouble? The conversation starts with “Remember that call you did a few days ago…Well, the patient is positive for COVID. You may have been exposed.“ They may remember and think “Oh shit! I reached under the man’s arms, his back against my chest as I lifted him up.” Or the woman coughed on me and said she was a smoker and I didn’t think anything of it.

In the early days of this, they told us to mask up if the patient has a fever AND was short of breath AND had visited a foreign country where COVID was known to be in the community. That keeps changing.

Now I think we should be wearing a mask for every patient as well as putting one on every patient.

Provided we have enough surgical masks to go around. That is the hard balance.

On one side is our safety, on the other is the supply of EMS available to respond and the supply of PPE.

You have to protect us, but we can’t be protected to the extent that we run out of responders or PPE.  

The hard truth is that’s what’s happening.

***

At noon, I went home –I live just a couple miles from the hospital — to fix my daughters lunch. They are both doing on-line school work. They convinced me to take them over to the schoolyard across the way and for an hour we hit softballs, playing home run derby. I felt like a young man again when I crushed three of my daughter’s soft lobs in a row over the little league fence. And I was even more proud when my daughters launched their blasts high and far into the early afternoon.  We could have played all day, but I had to get back to work. For all the bad that has come with this pandemic, getting to spend time with my daughters (20 and 12) and them getting to spend time with each other is treasured.

***

When I got back to the hospital, they were intubating a man not much older than me in the decon room right next to my broom closet sized office. He’d come in hypoxic, febrile and hypotensive. He’s up in the ICU in isolation while they await the COVID test. I added his name to the watch list.

***

Cases in Connecticut rose by 578 yesterday, but there were only two more deaths.

 

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