Pandemic PSA no. 6: Let's Talk About Risk

 Winter is coming, the holidays are fast approaching, and we're all exhausted.  People I love and respect think I'm being "too serious" about this.  I've been told having a tiny baby at home "isn't enough... babies do fiiiiiine."  And look, I get it.  I really really do.   The fact that this Thanksgiving is going to look different sucks.  I cried over Thanksgiving the other day, actual tears poured down my face.  I love Thanksgiving.  It's the coziest of the holidays.  There's no pressure and everyone is just happy to see each other.   My whole extended family should have gotten to meet Squeaks at Thanksgiving.  My family loves babies, loves them.   They would have descended on us with love and joy and grabbed her and passed her around and hugged and kissed her and squeezed her and exclaimed on her big cheeks and up-to-something grin. But that can't happen. Because Thanksgiving is canceled. As it damn well should be.   Because even thoug

Health Class with CBASS PSA no. 5: Yes, this all sort of sucks

 We all keep talking about "new normals."   I find myself encouraging people to adapt and find ways to figure out how we're going to live with this pandemic we're now stuck in. And I think, collectively, we're all trying our damnedest to figure out how to move forward- zoom meetings and virtual school and masks everywhere and lots of takeaway meals. The thing is though, zoom meetings and virtual school and masks and takeaway meals, well, they all sorta suck... They were not our previous way of doing things because they are not a great way of doing things. We are making it work, but it's like we're holding it all together with chewing gum and Elmer's glue and duct tape and prayers. Us "making it work" and "figuring it out" and "developing new normals" is exhausting us.  It's draining us.  It's like some constant buzzing in the background that you can mostly ignore, but never goes away and constantly irritates you. W

Health Class with CBASS: Pandemic PSA no. 4- You may not die.

Lately, I keep hearing this COVID-19 statistic getting thrown around of "well, I'll probably be okay because the mortality rate is only 1%." I dunno where people are getting that statistic. I looked for it. The CDC is saying the mortality rate is actually about 5.6% for this week . But, I am guessing the "1% people" are using the current COVID-19 numbers to say deaths/cases = mortality rate.   So the problem is, deaths/cases = case-fatality rate , not mortality rate, but that's a deeper dive into epidemiology than we have time for today.  Mortality rate is population based, not case based.  If you want to learn more about these statistics and how to interpret them, click  here . So, I totally get where healthy young people have given up.  This never-ending pandemic thing is exhausting.  I want to hug people too!  I want to hang out with my friends and eat in restaurants and go to the movies and do all the things! But the thing is, while the "

You were never just your diagnosis.

July 3rd, 2020 To My Dearest Clinic Patients, I am so sorry I abandoned you.   I'm sure my departure seemed abrupt- that's because it was.  I know we talked about our last visit being in June and then just I didn't show.   You deserve an explanation.  And it's a doozy, I promise: I'm pregnant!  Which is super-exciting, but me being at clinic didn't feel safe with a global pandemic ravaging our community.  It's officially July now, which means your care has been handed off to someone who is a stranger to both of us.  I don't like that and I don't expect you to like it either.   I keep thinking about you. I hope the physician taking over your care is warm and kind and compassionate and patient and whip-smart. I hope you like them I know they're going to learn to love you just like I did.   I want you to know you were never an ICD-10 code to me.   You were more than your diagnoses.   I saw you. You were a survivor.

It's me

Today I graduate from my internal medicine residency program. It's been 3 years of hard work and learning and growth and I have poured my blood, sweat, and tears to get to where I am today. Today should be celebratory. But I don't feel like celebrating. I don't feel like celebrating because I keep looking at the COVID-19 data for Florida and I see the cases increase and I hear people I love say "we have to get back to normal" and I see elderly people out and about not wearing masks and I keep having to ask people to not touch me and my pregnant belly again and again and a healthcare professional I work with just asked me if I was "afraid of that Corona virus?" You know what? I am afraid. And I don't think we're ever going back to "normal" and I think we're going to have to learn to deal with that. We are going to have to make a new-normal. And in that new normal, we need to be able to trust each other to make good

Trust saves lives

Nigh on the end of June 2020 Dear Soon-to-be-Interns, You're giving me a lot of feelings- I can't decide if I love you or hate you and I don't even known you. At the very least, you make me nervous.  You're making me nervous because you are the one who is going to take over care of my patients.  And those patients, those patients aren't just patients , they're my patients, mine.  They are mine and I am theirs.  Our relationship took years to build. Most of them went for decades without medical care.  They didn't trust the healthcare system, oftentimes for good reasons.  They've had bad experiences and been treated like crap. Convincing most of them to keep coming to clinic probably took me the better part of my first year.  Convincing them to trust me enough to actually follow my advice?  That's an ongoing process. The trust between us has been hard won.  I built bridges.  I begged.  I pleaded.  I cajoled. I called more grown m

My Love

A couple of days ago a friend of mine who works in the ICU reached out to me and told me the nurses were having a hard time.*  That they needed some love.  And that I should send them some love.  Why me?  I dunno, but I liked it so I wrote them a letter.  And the longer the letter sat on the kitchen table, the more I felt like it needed to be sent to all of you too, because it isn't just the ICU staff that is struggling with this, it's all of us.  And since I don't have a way to mail/fax/email all of you a letter, I figured I would post it here. April 16th 2020 Shelter-in-place-Day #13 To My Dearest ICU peeps, Does it make you mad when people keep calling you the "front lines"?  It makes me mad for you.  It's like calling the Navy Seals the front line.  Y'all are the rear-guard, the last resort, the Hodors of medicine.   You are doing an amazing job.  Let me say it again: YOU ARE DOING AN AMAZING JOB. And you're doing it in conditions NON