It’s Been a Crappy Couple of Weeks
A crappy couple of weeks, As John Oliver would say. Scary, sad, and frustrating things have happened. Craig Spencer, Tom Magliozzi, and getting back into the “long run.” As with all things in life, with the crap come some silver linings, humor, and perspective.
Scary: The Day Ebola Hit Home
Like many EM physicians in the US, I’ve been involved with getting up to speed on Ebola preparedness, educating myself as much as possible on the disease, and trying to share information with colleagues and any interested parties. I’ve practiced donning and doffing PPE, sat with colleagues as they did the same, and written some updates for Wilderness Medicine along the way. As a result, when people want to “chat Ebola”, friends or colleagues, they seek me out.
On Thursday October 23rd, I was working a shift in the ED when a colleague approached me asking if I had heard confirmation of an Ebola case in NYC. I hadn’t heard anything all day because I was neck deep in sick patients. When the ED is busy, which is most days, there isn’t time to pee let alone check email or look at the interwebs; it’s as close to “unplugged” as I get next to backpacking or going to the opera. Ebola in NYC? We were all curious. I wrapped up what I was working on, and my colleague pulled up CNN. There was the headline – MSF physician back from West Africa, confirmed diagnosis of Ebola at Bellevue Hospital in NYC. The next line made my heart drop into my stomach. The Physician was Dr. Craig Spencer – a friend and Wilderness Medicine colleague.
The next week brought a fury of debate in the press about Craig, MSF, fighting Ebola at the source, and quarantine of asymptomatic returned Healthcare Workers (HCWs). Aside from the heartbreaking thought that Craig was diagnosed with a life-threatening virus, his friends and colleagues saw undeserving, negative, and frankly false media reports about Dr. Spencer. We felt…helpless. At Wilderness Medicine magazine, we regularly run member profiles. This seemed like a prime time to run one on an inspirational, heroic, and all around great guy who happens to be a WMS Member, Dr. Craig Spencer. It’s always an honor to honor a colleague, and this time, it also felt like we “were doing something” at a time when it felt like there was nothing anybody could do. We were joined by some others in highlighting the truth about Craig and the truth about Ebola:
Abraham Verghese, one of my favorite writers and ID doc, chimed in with thoughts on going to West Africa to treat Ebola patients
Best of all, word on the street – Craig’s status is improving.
Sad: Car Talk Loss
Just as I started breathing a sigh of relief, I heard the news yesterday about Tom Magliozzi (Click and Clack from the beloved NPR show Car Talk). Tom died of complications related to Alzheimer’s. His brother and sidekick Ray said, “Turns out he wasn’t kidding. He really couldn’t remember last week’s puzzler.” I don’t know if I’m alone in this, but I only listen to ‘radio’ when I’m in the car. Since I love that show, I often make it a point to be in the car on Saturday mornings, even though it’s in syndication now. Click and Clack always makes me smile and usually succeeds in making me laugh out loud, alone or not, in the car. Car Talk quotes (and words to live by) from Tom Magliozzi.
Frustrating: Bring Me My Natural Prozac
It’s been over a year since I went on a long run. I’m still running weekly, but no farther than 4 miles. Part of that is life, part of that is a new job, but at the end of the day, it’s because I’m choosing not to prioritize it. Last week, my dad – who is the reason I ever put on running shoes in the first place – visited, and he and I went for a couple of runs. Dad is 69, and it’s been a few years since he was faster than me, but we were out there two Sunday mornings in a row, just like old times, and it felt amazing, better than running has felt in about a year! This past Sunday was the NYC Marathon, marking one year since I ran 26.2 miles through those five boroughs.
I loved reading about the winners this year, especially the women’s race where second place was only THREE seconds behind first place, hearing about friends’ PRs, and seeing that Caroline Wozniacki finished her very first marathon, probably qualifying for Boston! Watching the scene live online Sunday morning after my Saturday overnight shift in the ED, I decided it’s time to lace up and hit the trails for that long run. But low and behold, after the night shift and my 2 hour nap, I didn’t quite have it in me. Then there was my 10-hour turned 12-hour-shift yesterday, and the inability to wake up early this morning recovering from all that. So I actually went back and read my own blog post meant to inspire others, literally giving myself a dose of my own medicine that I call Natural Prozac. It’s about resolve. Like the resolve of one who has quit smoking. Tomorrow is the day.