Greetings followers…if you are still out there. It’s been a while and I’ve had an exciting career as a PA. The excitement continues as I’m a PA working for the ER group at the Hospital where all this COVID19 outbreak happened here in Seattle, well in Kirkland actually. I wasn’t the only one who had been noticing some respiratory illness that wasn’t Flu but wasn’t just allergies, and then it hit, our hospital. I’m proud to be a part of this hospital at a time like this. They identified something different with a cluster of flu like illnesses coming from a nursing home. They pushed the CDC for the ability to test two of them and they caught the COVID19 outbreak and acted fast. On a larger scale, I’m also proud to be a part of the general scientific community. Thanks to scientists quickly identifying the genome sequencing of this virus in China and sharing it openly with the rest of the Scientific community, we might have a change to find a treatment, a vaccination and a cure. If only everyone on this planet was able to cooperate that way we would be living in a much different world.
All this sharing of scientific information reminded me of the Antarctic Treaty and the feeling of community and family I was able to experience down there and the fantastic other opportunities I’ve had including working on a remote island in the Pacific and running a 6 person trauma MCI (mass casualty incident) in a National Park with the support of amazing other first responders.
But back to this outbreak and working at this hospital and living in this city during this current situation. I don’t know how I’m gonna put this into words to share, but I’m gonna try. First of all I’ve appreciated all the acknowledgement and praise from everyone. I think as Physician Assistant that has, for the most part, has been in an Emergency setting for most of my career its second nature. To go to work no matter what… that’s why I got a Subaru (for all of you who make fun of me). But to hear it from coworkers, friends, neighbors, family old camp friends, and even ex-boyfriends…its really appreciated.
For some reference, I little history as to how my first week of PA school went. I woke on the second week of PA school to hear about an attack on my city and watched as the Twin Towers fell. I was just starting school and not heading into the ER, but it didn’t matter. Really there were not many patients, not many survivors in that tragedy that was happening in my backyard. But it was still my city and from time to time that sense of panic and sadness sets in. Then I would walk through grand central to the subway passing the billboards posted of people looking for their loved ones. An image that still haunts me as no one was found.
This is different, this is the calm before the storm. I’m impressed actually with the government and my city for actually flattening the curve. I can see it and we need to keep doing this. The more people stay in the less we are passing this virus to each other. This is a smart virus…though it’s mostly killing the elderly, and immunocompromised and generally un healthy people with high blood pressure and diabetes, it it finding its way to them through the young and healthy who barely have detectible symptoms. So that’s where we are…the calm before the storm as we await a solution, a treatment, a vaccine and a cure. And yes, I go to work and see person after person with “possible COVID19 symptoms” and follow guidelines of who gets tested and who doesn’t and hope I give good instructions as to when to return as some will get really sick but hopefully most don’t.
I’m not going to say everything is going to be ok. It’s not. There is going to be a tremendous loss of life from this, there already has. It’s going to affect people we know and there’s no way around it. Sadly, I once worked with one of the nursing home patients that fell victim to this. With him being one of the first deaths I had a fast and rude awakening. It’s also been in the news about a coworker who is currently fighting this and I think about it all the time, and all my friends who are ER docs and first responders. We are at risk, we can’t just stay home and what scares me more is if I do get it with mild symptoms, will I give it to someone else.
It’s been a rough week for sure. At work I feel good, I’m doing what I can and what I’m supposed to as a provider. There’s a laundry list of names and faces and people I care about that run through my head and I just hope it doesn’t take them. I reach out to them. I do my part in the community too. When I’m not working I stay home in my PJs and I clean out my closet, shred the pile of papers I need to shred, make giant batches of Penang Curry and broccoli soup, wash my hands often and stay in close contact with my loved ones who hold me up as much as I try to do for them. As much as this is physically pulling us away from each other it is also bringing us closer together. The same feeling I had in NY after 9/11.
So friend’s and followers I just ask that you do the same to #flattenthecurve.
Below is pic from the newspaper reporting on a biological warfare drill I took part in during an Emergency Medicine rotation in PA School. I’m the one in green. and what you can’t see is that I got to sponge down these firefighter rookies before I hosed them down! #foundmycalling