I was at a conference in Vegas last week when local manifestations of the global crisis occurred in rapid succession.
The day after I departed, our district announced that local schools would close for at least the next two weeks.
A day later, an older immunocompromised loved one was hospitalized with a viral pneumonia (thankfully not COVID). My loved one is back home recuperating as I write this.
Once home, the general theme of our world exploding has continued, with news outlets announcing that two emergency physicians were in critical condition for doing their job in fighting the pandemic.
My wife has a shift this week, and I have several this weekend. I lose sleep every night as I try to mentally rehearse the precise order of donning and doffing as if my life depended on it.
Details change daily: What is our testing capacity? Who gets tested? How long should worried patients self-quarantine as they await the results of tests that will take days to result? How do we balance the need for caution with the impact such time away from work will have on those at the economic margins of society?
Like most physician readers, the speed with which I receive emails (often containing contradictory guidance), updates, supply shortage alerts and further ominous news of the chaos ahead have rendered linear thought impossible.
We are cut off from our social support systems at precisely the moment we most need them.
My kids have handled it better than their parents. They have taken to knocking out their day's online assignments without prompting.
External and internal landscapes have converged, with dark clouds and rain in southern California mirroring the collective gloom as a beautiful place enters an ugly period.
So what can you do when the spring break family road trip you'd planned to canyon country in the southwest has to be scrapped, your son can't let energy out with his friends, and you have exactly an hour break between rainstorms?
Yesterday, my son and I walked down the road to an open field near our home and flew a kite for an hour. The occasional car driving past us honked in approval.
It was the best I've felt all week.
Sometimes frivolous distraction is what gets us through.
Is it insensitive to keep up a blog about something as superficially inconsequential as physician finance (and also, I hope, about living according to your values)?
My working assumption is you'll have options for pandemic overload from every other information outlet in your life.
If I can bake a few warm and crusty loaves for you to eat when you need bread and circus, I'll happily fill that role (and give you a pass on the carbs).
At some point this week, you will need nothing more desperately than to fly a figurative kite and trade reality on the ground for a brief escape.
To all docs, nurses, respiratory therapists, EMTs, healthcare personnel and others who risk your well-being to care for our communities, a sincere thank you.
When you need a break, I hope tiny blogs like this one can offer mental sanctuary.