Pandemic has panic right in the title

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Hi everybody! I get, more than anybody, how scary the world seems right now. We hear crazy reports on the news everyday, which are then contrasted with reports that we hear from doctors so then we are not sure what to believe. We have politicians trying to float conspiracy theories. Is it just a conspiracy? No! This is serious business. Let’s be honest. There really isn’t anything worthwhile for anyone to gain by making this up! We are on the brink of a national shutdown because of how quickly and efficiently this latest Corona Virus can spread and mutate and we are scratching our heads trying to think of whatever we can do to help stop it in it’s tracks. We have gone from a free and independent lifestyle of choice to being confined to our homes for work and homeschooling. We can’t dine in at a restaurant anymore. All “non-essential events” have been cancelled like band festivals, concerts, sporting events, etc. I would have to argue that the definition of a non-essential event is definitely in the eye of the beholder. I think that the government is defining them as events that do not affect a life or death outcome. Ok I get that. However, cancelling graduation or the last season of sports for a high school senior is potentially devastating. Those kids have worked hard for 12 years to get to that point, only to have their finale taken away. I am not suggesting that these guidelines are not necessary, I just think that we all have to have a little patience and realize just how different the impact is from person to person. Most teenagers are just reaching the point of beginning to think outside of themselves and are not really ready to handle that kind of setback…at least not easily and not without some adult guidance regarding ” the big picture” of it all. It is our job to help them through this as well and explain why it is not a good idea to use this time to head out and party.

People are panicking in all different ways. Some are buying up all the toilet paper in the free world, even though gastrointestinal symptoms are not traditionally associated with this virus. ( I would love to know how that rumor got started. ) People are hoarding. People are picking fights and defying the government’s current recommendations for home confinement. People are becoming belligerent and focusing too much on the ” no one can tell me what to do” aspect of all these latest guidelines. People that is not the point. No one is trying to focus on controlling you or crushing your business. We are trying to prevent as many controllable methods of spread of the virus as possible and it makes the most sense to start with keeping people from interacting in large crowds or confined spaces if possible. You have to stop thinking of yourself as a single, untouchable entity. It is just not the case in this situation. Every action by every person has consequences and it won’t take much to tip this situation quickly out of control. If we can find it in ourselves to try our best to go along with these recommendations, maybe we don’t have to get to the point of a national shutdown like other parts of the world. Maybe if we pay attention, hunker down a bit, use our common sense, stay educated, try to focus on accurate information, we can shorten the course of this virus’ impact and get back to our lives sooner.

I don’t have the luxury of staying at home because I am a health care worker. Those babies are not going to deliver themselves and last time I checked, my patients can’t perform their own c sections. Alas, I am stuck going to work. Really, I am kidding. I don’t feel like I am stuck. Yes the hours have gotten longer and the restrictions more inhibiting. We cannot do elective surgeries any more. I have had to disappoint patients and reschedule things. But, it is part of my job. I love caring for people. I consider it my duty to stay calm and focus on disseminating accurate information and getting patients the help that they need in the safest manner. I have a goal to be the calm in the storm if at all possible.

It is hard sometimes not to fall into the panicky mindset. I find myself laying awake at night wondering about every little symptom I might have or overthinking the decisions I made that day. God forbid I cough like one time. Even though I know better, I start pondering all the possibilities all over again. People are so freaked out by a single cough nowadays that I found myself prophylactically throwing a throat lozenge in my mouth before going to the grocery store today because I don’t want to start a panic in the produce aisle. I did let out a single sneeze today when a man with a ton of cologne walked past me. I got death stares as if I just stabbed somebody.

I have heard a lot of criticism of the medical community lately for making jokes during this time. Lighten up everybody. We are dealing with this everyday with countless people. We are still going to work and trying to figure out how to manage the new normal in our homes. Do you really think that we think this whole Corona Virus situation is funny? Hell no! It’s called a coping mechanism! Would you rather that we panicked and freaked out and acted like morons? I think not. Humor is one of many ways of dealing with a tough situation. Sometimes it is the only thing that gets us through what have been some of the toughest days of some of our careers lately. It’s definitely not keeping us from doing our jobs I promise you. Please. Let us have our humor and try not to be offended. When Meredith Grey makes a joke, does it stop you from watching Grey’s Anatomy because it seems too inappropriate?

The more I think about this, the more I think that we got this people. We are capable of buckling down, adjusting to our new normal, putting our routines on hold so we can get through this. It will be economically challenging. It will be frustrating, sure. But, I know we can do it. Panic and belligerence are not the answer. Let’s try something different. Use this crazy twist of fate and epidemiology as an opportunity to bond with your family! Dig out those board games that have an inch of dust on them. Play cards. TALK. Make some tik toks together. Sit down to family dinner together. Have a music jam. Play the Wii. ( Does anyone still have one of those? Pay more attention to the family pets. Rediscover a hobby that you put by the wayside long ago. For me personally, it has been an opportunity to clean the shit out of my house, which was crazy overdue by the way. It may seem insignificant, but there are gains to be had with this forced closeness. You just have to switch your perspective a bit. I know we got this. Good luck and stay strong everybody!

Dr. Katz

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