Mary Beth Writes

I know several of you have loved ones who work with people who have Covid. I have heard from you the cynicism of your loved ones who scramble for protective gear, who scramble for equipment, who slog through long, wrenching, and exhausting days. So when those loved ones hear from the media that they are heroes, it does not, in general, seem to impress them.  They shrug their shoulders and go home to sleep.

 Especially right now since most hospitals are “for profit” and Covid has wiped out the regular day-in and day-out work of medical care sites. So, in the middle of all this – CAREGIVERS ARE BEING LAID OFF, FURLOUGHED, AND REASSIGNED.

I thought I would bring up this up. It is patronizing to call someone else a hero if you have no skin in their game. To lump tens and hundreds of thousands of nurses, various kinds of therapists and techs, doctors, janitors, receptionists, EMTS, and interns all together and call them all heroes and clap and hoot .. and then walk away – that strikes me as a glibness that doesn’t bring light or help.

I wrote about my distrust of heroes last fall. (Read it here.)  I’m not going to rewrite that article.

But I am going to ask this question. If we want to understand and support our medical caregivers – what CAN we do that is possible, real, helpful, and respectful? 

I’m not against clapping for worn out people as they come off shift. That must be something to witness.

But what would mean more and go further?

This is an interview with an ER nurse in NYC.  (Thanks, Gary, for the URL.)  

Watch it here. 

 

I’ve written about this before, but not in this way. My grandfather was 38 when he died, unexpectedly, during an April snowstorm in 1929. The snowstorm was relevant because it meant the doctor could not get to the farmhouse where they lived. My grandfather had mumps that had spiraled into pneumonia.  It is now 91 years later and I still know when it happened - which is the point I am going to make.

Paul Danielson left behind a 28-year old widow and two little boys who were 10 and 2. His mortgaged farm reverted to the bank and my grandmother moved into town with her boys. I can still hear my dad describing how they survived the Depression. “We lived pillar to post.”

There was no Social Security, no safety net; they were the poster family for “food insecure.”  My grandmother and dad (a 4th grader) scrambled for work and my uncle, still a toddler (I have a 3 and 1-year old grandchild, this breaks my heart), was farmed out to relatives during the week because my grandmother couldn’t take care of him while she worked. By his early 20’s my dad’s teeth were so bad a dentist pulled them and gave him false teeth. That kind of pillar to post.

WWII brought a good job for grandma; my dad and uncle went into the military. They did okay after that.  They were amazing people although I think my dad and uncle invented Type A behavior. My dad died of his heart attack at 48 and my uncle died at 58. 

This is what I think of when a person with a young family dies unexpectedly. The loss of love and the loss of a partner to help keep a family going – that will ricochet through that family for generations. I know the parts of my own character that exist as antidote to the loss of the grandfather I never met. Loss does incredible things to a family’s story.

This nation never really figured out how to take care of Vietnam vets with PTSD. Maybe we are figuring out some of it with some of the vets from the Iraq/Afghanistan war.

We are looking right now at a new generation of children and parents who will have to figure out how to put themselves together after devastating loss.

 …

I walked 80 minutes this morning. This is not routine, but it’s no longer unusual. Len just now came back from his bike ride – he rode 40 miles!  This is crazy quarantine stuff, too. 

Are you exercising, especially outside, more than you used to? 

Are we claiming the athletic youth we never had?  Or is this just a continuation of the same old nutty?

 Len took more photos of the ospreys and this is one of them.

 

Comments

MB, I'm not, as you noted, planning to drive 1000 miles to see the ospreys, especially when I can see them here in such good photos. I asked where they were because I'm hoping they're close enough for you guys to see them easily. :) Sedgwick
Mary Beth's picture

Hah! Len rides the Drumlin Trail almost every time he goes out. You can't see them directly from the trail unless you know they are there. Then you can stop and walk over and watch them. So yes, Len has somewhat adopted them and I have shown you maybe 5 or 6 of his photos. At this point (he's not sure if there are eggs or when they will hatch) he has maybe 50-60 good photos!

Thank you

My sister was telling me about a young guy she was going to x-ray and his girlfriend, she recognized the girlfriends T-Shirt as being from Aldi's and said "I love that store, I sulute you... The girlfriend said ¿Why? "You are the Hero dealing with the covid -19 virus? My sister said this is the job I signed up for, I'm just doing what I'm supposed to do.... My job is to help people... But you didn't sign up for this, you don't get paid much and you deal with more people in a day than I do... You're The Hero... Smart Woman my Sister...
Mary Beth's picture

And no one lines up to clap for grocery store workers as they leave their shifts ...

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Quarantine Diary #150 8/11/2020 Taking a Break

I’m depressed. How about you?  I’m not the kind of depressed where I should call a doctor. I’m more “Michelle Obama depressed.”  Things feel stuck, wrong, and getting worse. There’s the pandemic and the feeble, chaotic response to it. There’s racial strife. When, if ever, will the police police themselves? Teachers and kids are being thrown back into schools like spaghetti thrown against a wall - to see who will stick? There’s the angry self-entitled idiocy of too many people.

Quarantine Diary #142 Swimming Lessons

“It's a good idea to begin at the bottom in everything except in learning to swim.” Unknown author

I was well into my 40’s when I realized that one doesn’t have to wait for perfect weather if one wants to go into the water. 

Quarantine Diary #141 8/5/2020 "Red Dust"

I just finished reading “Red Dust – A Path Through China” by Ma Jain.  It is a remarkable book that asks more questions than it answers.

Ma Jain was born in the 50’s and grew up grew up very poor in a small Chinese city. He remembers when his mother would simmer stones for dinner so that the neighbors would see her cooking and not realize how poor they were.  (A whole different take on the children’s tale “Stone Soup.") The violent and terrifying Cultural Revolution that Chinese citizens lived through is over but memories of it are in everyone’s minds.

Quarantine Diary #140 7/31/2020 Wishing you a Merry Quarantine Weekend

When I’m in a certain mood I love how-to articles – and I’m in that mood right now. I think it happens at the intersection of reasonable weather and Friday ... when happiness still seems possible.

I googled “How to have a nice weekend in the time of Covid” and guess what? There are no Wiki-How articles on how to be happy in a pandemic.

Let’s invent this right here, right now.

Quarantine Diary #134 Written while sweating …

My best coping skill for appalling weather is to show it who is boss. 30 below?  Cool. Let me put on all my clothes plus a hat down to my eyebrows and another one up to my glasses, and I’ll go out there.

Quarantine Diary #131 7/23/2020 "Becoming Labrador"

Yesterday I forgot to write about a movie we watched which I think many of you might like to watch, also.  We’ve been talking here about what one can stand to read and watch these days when our spirits are stressed and anxious.

I thought I wanted to reprise some of our Canada travels.  FYI, if you’ve traveled in a place you loved, put that place into your streaming service Search window, find some great or mediocre documentaries about that place, and revisit your memories.  It’s fun.

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