coronavirus chronicles #8

It’s been a while since I’ve written a post like thisClasses picked up speed, and I’ve been thinking more about peptic ulcer disease, thyroids, and the wax and waning of insulinI’m grateful for the privilege of having things to do, sleeping on savings, and dwelling in a home. 

I. My weeks ebb and flow from productivity to non-productivity, redefining my expectations of what I can or ought to do within the day, within the hour. I breathe deeply and stretch, taking a moment to look out the window, into the field, and think that: I can be quiet, exhausted, restless for a momentfor however long I need—what a wild time.

II. You know, it’s just as easy to pick up the phone and call my college friend as it was to walk around the block to my friend’s house in DC. We had a three-way FaceTime call from our bedrooms. I loved how easy it was to slip into our usual antics from when we were in our college dorms, writing sequels to for a series of conversations I thought completed.

III. The day the CDC announced that all Americans should wear cloth face masks, my “On Doctoring” course preceptor, a retired pediatrician from Colorado and so kind, so generous, emailed me to ask if she could stitch me cloth face masks. And only a couple days later, I received a couple of masks in the mail: stitched sea-green fabric that somehow fit my face perfectly and so carefully sewn with her protective love.

IV. At the DartZoom Online School of Medicine, our team-based learning group meets in Breakout Room 5 instead of Table 5. Our 10-minute breaks between classes — usually filled with happenstance small-talk and intentional hellos — no longer occur. Every conversation is deliberate and structured and scheduled, perhaps predicted. The loss of spontaneous social interactions appeals to my introverted side. Still, I miss the joy of small conversations, the sudden crossing of paths, the new friendships that quietly bloom in a challenge to often proximately-grown ones. I miss that kind of stimulation, which surreptitiously adds wonder to my day.

V. On a Tuesday afternoon, I did the grocery shopping for our house, with a list organized to minimize time and maximize efficiency. After disinfecting the items and shelving them away. I logged onto Zoom to observe Passover Seder with my Jewish classmates. Next Year In Person, Tanya offered.

VI. My trail runs are getting longer and ever so unplanned. (Fear not, I give my housemates a general picture and timeline of where they’ll be (and a definitive time to find me)). And every time my feet hit the pavement, I feel free. Each time, the trails, though I run them frequently, feel lighted differently, perhaps by the angle of the sun, the growth of new green. I yearn for animating stimulation and am finding it in the banality of rocks, detritus, duff, trees, and grounded earth.

VII. I had a dream the other night that I was laughing with my friends, post-final, a reliving of a March memory. And then I realized I was too close; the bliss of the moment left for anxiety to seep in. The virus had arrived. The dream dissipated, and my reprieve left me with hunger.

VIII. In our respiratory course earlier this year, we spent a brief moment on one PowerPoint slide. Dr. Munson asked us to remember that despite the unusuality/weirdness of it, prone positioning (having the patient lie down on their stomach) could help patients suffering from acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). I saw a headline this morning about how prone positioning may help COVID-19 patients in respiratory distress. I felt a jolt of urgency. I must learn as much medicine as I can so that if I have the privilege of taking care of patients, I’ll be prepared.

IX. Pre-exam weekend: I hardly left my room and somehow managed not to see some of my housemates for forty-eight hours. I also nearly (but erroneously) led myself to believe that I was afflicted with whatever I was studying—a coming-to-age moment of a medical student.

X. On a call for a meeting previously scheduled as an end-of-the-year celebration, a well-seasoned medical professional suggested that medicine was an apprenticeship, through which the desire to question everything is somehow and often pacified, placated, and purloined. And I thought about how the theme of my personal statement in my medical school applications was: I like to ask questions. How can I cultivate my critical consciousness in this process of socializing?

Thank you so much for reading!

A long of articles that testify to the thickness of the news cycle, but also the complexity of the crisis:

How COVID-19 is affecting medical school admissions | American Medical Association
Global trial uses AI to rapidly identify optimal Covid-19 treatments – STAT
Death Cuts the Degree of Separation Between You and Covid-19 | WIRED
In Scramble for Coronavirus Supplies, Rich Countries Push Poor Aside – The New York Times
Most New York Coronavirus Cases Came From Europe, Genomes Show – The New York Times
Stop the coronavirus stigma now
Protect health care workers speaking the truth on social media – STAT
‘We’ll be deported’: Immigrants fear seeking Covid-19 tests or care – STAT
Tedros says WHO regrets U.S. funding cut but is focused on ‘saving lives’
COVID-19: States call on early medical school grads to bolster workforce | American Medical Association
Our Pandemic Summer – The Atlantic
Projecting the transmission dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 through the postpandemic period | Science
Navajo Nation Reports More Coronavirus Cases Per Capita Than All But 2 U.S. States | HuffPost
The next coronavirus testing debacle – POLITICO
How COVID-19 is affecting physicians of color across the country | American Medical Association
Characteristics of Health Care Personnel with COVID-19 — United States, February 12–April 9, 2020 | MMWR
Health Concerns From COVID-19 Much Higher Among Hispanics and Blacks Than Whites | Pew Research Center
Our Pandemic Summer – The Atlantic
COVID-19 Offers Chance to Address Human Rights Concerns | Human Rights Watch
Pandemic serves up new questions of medical right and wrong | American Medical Association
Who gets the last ventilator? Pondering the unthinkable amid Covid-19
‘We need an army’: Hiring of coronavirus trackers is likely set to soar
Medical students: How to keep learning as COVID-19 volunteers | American Medical Association
UNU-WIDER : Working Paper : Estimates of the impact of COVID-19 on global poverty
Doctors in India and Pakistan wear bin bags and raincoats to protect against Covid-19
Coronavirus could double number of people going hungry | Coronavirus outbreak | The Guardian
Coronavirus fuels a surge in fake medicines – BBC News
Bird Flu: Nature’s Bioterrorist | The New Yorker
Coronavirus pandemic threatens to take crushing toll on rural areas, data show
‘It’s a Time Bomb:’ 23 die as Virus Hits Packed Homeless Shelters

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