The Helpers & The Pandemic and More Homework

I’m sure those of you with children have told them when they were small if they should get lost they should look for the helpers. In different situations these mean different people. If you’re lost in a store you look for an employee or a security guard. If you’re on the street look for police or firefighters. We all find that we need helpers at some point in our life.

In the 90’s my then primary care doctor found a lump on my thyroid. He sent me to an endocrinologist (the horrors I could tell you about him! He’s dead now so he’s not hurting anyone.) who suggested a surgeon. The surgeon removed half my thyroid. Then the craziness began: 4 pathologists could not agree on what they were seeing. No one would make the call. Through serendipity I found my thyroid specialist who in a moment after slipping the slide of my sample into his microscope said I had cancer. Then came more tests and surgery and follow ups. Because of him I am cancer free living my best thyroid-free life. You’d be stunned to know just how many things that tiny gland does and what not having one is like. Add in being dosed with what is now considered a very very large dose of radioactive iodine, half again what is recommended now. You never feel like yourself again. But beyond that there were so many lessons to learn.

It took me 11 doctors to get to where I am today. Those 11 doctors offered different opinions on the right way to do whatever should be done if anything should be done at all. This was when I learned that the field of medicine is not black and white. It is gray. It is a living thing that grows and changes based on current beliefs. Once upon a time people were bleed with leeches. Then we thought that was a bad idea so we stopped. And more recently we’ve rediscovered that leeches are beneficial so we’re using them again.

Not that long ago opioids were the rage. Every doctor was handing them out for any sort of injury. Then it was discovered that they’re highly addictive so the rules on prescribing them were tightened up. This left people with chronic pain unable to get the medication they need to make life livable. Either extreme turned out to be bad.

So now we’re living in a pandemic. How are you holding up? Do you feel that we are being served well by the helpers? The narrative (that word again from yesterday) has changed repeatedly since March. The loudest voices, those making the decisions to shut down states, businesses and schools aren’t always following the rules they make. We need to look to the helpers who are qualified to make the decisions.

This is a medical emergency. It should be the medical professionals making the recommendations. These recommendations should balance what is necessary for each individual based on their unique situation. Just as a primary care doctor would do for their patients. There is more to consider than just physical well-being. Doctors make these decisions every day for their patients.

Now the homework. Read this declaration. These are medical professionals from all over the world. They are making recommendations based on the whole person and the risks of the individuals. They are seriously concerned about the mental health of adults and children. They are concerned about the increase in suicide. The increase in childhood depression. The increase in the isolation of the elderly.

Finally what are you seeing in your community? Are people still limiting their time outside their home? Or is everyone just out and about? I personally limit my time out in public. I avoid crowds. I still do my grocery shopping in person. But when I’m out I see lots of people outside interacting with others. Are the schools in your area open? In my town the private schools are open, the special education students and preschool are attending school in person. All others are full remote. Does your community alert you to the current infection rate? I have received text messages from my state before the holidays saying to celebrate at home with just the people you live with. Our school sends a daily email informing us of the cases diagnosed that day and they keep a dashboard online with all the case information. Think about this: Why if cases are increasing and it is too dangerous to open businesses and eat in restaurants are the public schools open for preschool and special education students? Is their health not valued or are schools afraid of the lawsuits and the loss of funding they receive for these students? The mixed messages are a big problem with the narrative if you ask me.

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24 Responses to The Helpers & The Pandemic and More Homework

  1. salpal1 says:

    So many questions! Yes, we should be listening to the doctors. Politicians are juggling too many issues. Public health versus the economy versus who votes. What I have heard is that the schools are better able to operate safely than are, say, bars and restaurants. Our schools are operating on a hybrid model, half the kids there on any given day, which reduces the number of people in a class. They shut down now and then as needed, as cases happen sometimes it is a day to disinfect more thoroughly, and complete the contact tracing. Other times it is for two weeks. Depends who is sick and what their contact list looks like. It seems kids are less likely to spread this than adults. Most likely, I suspect because they don’t go anywhere or see anyone outside their bubble. We have seen many more issues with the high school than the elementary schools.

    We are fortunate to live in a rural area, we can see family outside, easily. But my brothers refusal to wear a mask around my mother has forced her to close her home to all of us, to protect herself, her husband, and allow her to visit her sister, who has some newly discovered health issues.

    Depression? You bet. I can’t even imagine how I would feel if I lived in a more urban setting. But I also can’t imagine how I would feel if I spread this virus to someone who did not survive it. Pretty sure it would be ugly.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My concern all along has been protecting others. I think that is my go to mindset even before a pandemic. But as time passes and the vaccines have rolled out and reliable treatments are available I am more concerned about the damage to people’s mental health. In India they have a treatment available over the counter for a very reasonable price. We’ve been offered all kinds of teleheath visits with doctors but there is no public message about available medication for Covid. Yes, they tell you to get tested but they neglect to tell you that treatment is available. If taken early hospitalization can be avoided.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. ReginaMary says:

    You make really good points and ask excellent questions. As a school employee, our district is doing an AMAZING job addressing the safety of students. The students are all abiding by our protocols. By law, students with IEPs have to have their accommodations fulfilled and they need to be in school for the majority of them. Often, these students are in a self-contained classroom with a small population of students and a teacher assistant. We had a small cluster of staff at one of our schools contract COVID and it was because they chose to eat lunch together even though it was not allowed. See? Adults are the ones not doing what is best! For the most part, our village and town has been very, very good and people respect medical guidance. At church, I find the same to be true. People want church to be open so we do what we need to do to make that happen. The gym has gotten a bit busier than I would like, and there are a few folks that don’t take the time to wipe things down. The staff is always staying on top of this and I personally take every measure to sanitize before and after.
    I firmly believe if everyone was mindful of the three pillars that we all can agree on (mask, social distance, hand hygiene) and avoid obvious problem areas (7,000 fan at football venues!), then the majority of our community can function at some capacity. I can’t see an entire industry like restaurants, suffer while a boatload of resources are directed to Upstate NY for a football game. It isn’t right.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I completely agree about the football game. I also believe if airplanes can be full, allowing people to remove masks to eat and drink, then restaurants should be open at a lower capacity to start but enough to support the owner and staff.
      My biggest concern as the days pass, besides the mental health issues, is the ramifications to all the small business owners. They’ve taken out loans to pay their staff and help keep their businesses on life support and when they do finally have to close they are left with no choice but to declare bankruptcy. This will increase all the negatives: mental health issues, domestic violence, homelessness… No one should have to face a grim future when vaccines and medical treatment is available.

      Liked by 2 people

      • ReginaMary says:

        The mental health component is a big deal. Our students want and need to be here and that is what I (and by extension our non-instructional unit) advocate for. I cannot say the same for all of our teachers. The majority want to close, but our kids are safe here. Our adults are safe here. People just need to be smart about things. And people need to be kind.

        Liked by 2 people

      • First my son is full remote by choice. He was enrolled by the school in the state online school because he is taking multiple AP classes and the local school did not feel that they could teach the AP material remotely. I find the constant unknown of will we by hybrid or remote stressful and I’m not directly involved. Our schools have been mostly remote since before Thanksgiving. Every week there is an email saying they’re sorry but we’ll be remote until X date. When I am out and about I see kids everywhere. They’re playing in groups or hanging around, some masked. I think they’d be better served (and more socially distanced) in school.

        Liked by 1 person

      • ReginaMary says:

        You are absolutely correct. They are safer and when schools resume fully as before, these students will be so unaccustomed to getting up and attending daily that the absentee rates will go through the roof. Students and staff need the accountability.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Laura Kate says:

    Knowing that you are a cancer survivor helps me understand a little bit more about you. Thank you for sharing that. I agree that mental illnesses are undertreated in this country, especially now during the pandemic.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have huge concerns about the mental health of children more than anything else. The youngest ones are being taught to be afraid to be near people. How will this play out when they are older? Will they have the skills they need to interact with peers and strangers? I’m afraid they’ll be fragile because of all this.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I forgot to mention, while I am a cancer survivor I don’t put myself in the same category as those who have truly faced a possible death sentence. I knew, once I finally got my diagnosis, I would not die from my type of cancer. It was caught in the earlier stage (about stage 2 as compared to 3 or 4). I do understand very well about the loss of time to treatment (which for me lasted 2 years. I was declared cancer free at 5 years but still at over 20 years are checked yearly just in case.) and the impact to family. My family still feels the ripples.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. kathyreeves says:

    First, I have to say, in full disclosure, I live in South Dakota, which has never closed down, and masks are not mandatory, but left up to businesses to decide. Our schools are open 4 days a week, and each public school operates individually, depending on cases, etc. My town has a population of about 65,000 and we are a regional hub for everything. We peaked in late October, with 700 cases/day at one point. They did go to online learning the week before Thanksgiving, but we have been open since and the cases continue to decrease, less than 100 yesterday, I believe. I think we have followed the Barrington document, which makes sense, and should be followed. I also find it troublesome that the very inexpensive treatment options that shown to be effective, are being removed and doctors ordered not to prescribe them! That, along with Congress giving cart Blanche protection to the pharmaceutical companies before appropriate scientific testing of the safety of the vaccines has been completed, is troubling. It smacks more of a power play than health.
    I have been doing my teaching in person since September. Parents were asked to be mindful of any illness symptoms in the family and opt for online lessons for that week as needed. Kids have the option of wearing masks or not in my house, and parents are free to ask me to wear a mask. Everyone uses the hand sanitizer when they walk in the door, and I wipe down the piano and seats after every family. In spite of kids from 15 different schools, and multiple cases of COVID in my families, no one has been exposed via the studio, except for me once last fall, when an adult tested positive the day after her lesson, and had no symptoms until 36 hours later.
    This is a long comment, but I think it shows that it is possible to live with COVID and by being smart, live fairly normal. I wear a mask when out and about, any place where it is requested or required. I do it to be gracious to others,and because I don’t want people to be afraid of my chronic allergy cough. Regina said it nicely, people need to be kind.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Excellent comment! I agree with your points, particularly about the medications. Your governor has made good choices with all available information. I saw that she was asked to run for the senate. Her balanced decision making would be of value there.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. nanacathy2 says:

    Some well reasoned arguements here following your excellent post. I believe in lots of bleach and handwashing, and being sensible. I wear a mask because I have too,not because I think they do any good, but I don’t go into restaurants much- twice since this all started, and am not a fan of crowds. But I have moved house, over 200 miles, using a removal firm, and my husband, just diagnosed with his third cancer has been having medical apointments and a hospital stay. I just carry on as best I can and worry for the economy. I don’t believe in conspiracy theories but I reckon that some people will find a way of enhancing their personal fortunes thanks to this situation. In the UK we are back to where we were in April 2020 with fears of hospitals being unable to look after one who needs care. It’s a mess and I don’t know the solution.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m sorry to hear about your husband. I will keep you both in my thoughts.
      I think as long as the politicians are the ones making the final decisions things will not improve for anyone. It’s time for medical professionals (not bureaucrats who make their money from big pharma) to step in and offer guidelines based on actual risk by age and comorbidities. The best we can do until then is to use masks, wash our hands and do our best to protect the vulnerable.

      Like

  6. FIrst, I’ve always been a bit of a rebel – I have a really hard time following rules on a good day, and if you can’t convince me those rules make sense, you can be pretty sure I’m going to break them. I started questioning this stuff back in April. When 15 days to flatten the curve turned into one more week, then one more month, I said no. I took off the mask, unless forced to wear it, and I went about my life. I go out every day, I do what I’ve always done – the only real change is that I teach completely online now. I teach college level, and I still see the damage being done to students by the lack of social interaction. I also worry about the little ones who are being taught, as you said, to fear people. When the masks finally come off, how will they react? I’ve been scanning twitter the last few days – the comments on posts are frightening. Would people say such things to your face, I wonder? And are the masks making it easier to say horrible things to each other? Is it worth it? I fear for us all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree. This whole social distancing thing is creating people who don’t care about others. I used to have strangers who said hello when they walked past. No more. I am now looked at sideways as they move away. I said hello to a woman walking by my driveway and she lowered her head and hurried along. I will admit I was mask-less but 10 feet away.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Alissa Head says:

    Well it’s tough make the calls. What I can tell you from experience is that mask wearing and social distancing works to stop the spread. This is experience from multiple cases in our stores in multiple locations. We maintain limited capacity and enforce mask wearing and social distancing and sanitizing throughout the day. And we’ve had positive cases from outside with zero spread among employees in stores.
    Some kids need to be in school, not only for learning because they need in person or don’t have a computer with internet access, but also because some kids rely on school for regular meals. School is a lifeline for some kids. So if they can go to school and wear a mask and socially distance, it’s better for them to be in school.
    Our cases are at record highs right now and hospitals are at capacity. If people had just stayed home during the holidays, we wouldn’t be in this position. Just my opinion based on experience with a kid in school and another kid who teaches in person preschool and running retail stores.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Alissa Head says:

    Also, we follow all the CDC guidelines.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. RebSef says:

    Around here, politicians make rules. Politicians and their advisers break rules and get away with it. News presenters break rules with justva ban from presenting for a few months – they should be sacked for not setting examples. Politicians in opposition parties break rules and either get sacked or resign. Schools are shut (good, because I am shielding and fear my sister catching it, especially with the new strain). However, social media is so toxic. Why can’t parents take a bit of responsibility of their kids? Why don’t teachers deserve a safe place to work? Parents and our government are treating our teachers like free child minding services. I cannot believe that this is a profession that I want to go into. Our hospitals are overwhelmed. I actually need medical attention but I cannot get the doctor to call me back so I will flag it with haematology in a couple of weeks. I feel frustrated by the rule breakers. Really, really frustrated. If they break rules after this long, the repurcussions should be heavier.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree with all you said except the repercussions being heavier. That won’t happen because those in charge are accountable to only themselves. They have chosen to no longer be accountable to the people who put them in their position. They have the luxury to do wrong, apologize when they’re caught and do it again over and over.
      I hope you can see your doctor. I’ve read your blog long enough to know that you require regular medical care and full into the most vulnerable Covid group.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. We have been alternating between pretty hard lock down and more modified ones. We have started getting the vaccine here and also the cases have been declining, so we are starting to open up a little. Masks are required in indoor settings (stores, malls, etc.) Our schools have been doing distance learning since last March. I think there are some discussions about opening back up, but not sure where they are with that at this point. I do agree there are some tough calls on the various aspects of being more or less open for schools and businesses.

    Liked by 1 person

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