March 2, 2021

Anniversary musings

Last March 2, I wrote a relatively brief post on Facebook about being a doctor in Seattle, ground zero of the “novel coronavirus” outbreak in the US. The first COVID-19 patient had died two days earlier near here and the city was adjusting. I thought my friends around the country might be interested. Plus I have an interest in viruses and have a unique knowledge base from my years as a frontline HIV doc. I wrote again the next day and the next. Jamie suggested I start publishing it as a blog and before I knew it, I was writing every day, with a small but devoted following. I have written or posted a favorite poem, song, or video, almost every day for the past year. Astonishing myself in the process.

Who knew I would enjoy writing so much? I have also reveled in the science and discovery of the past year. I wanted to be able to share and explain the developments in the pandemic to others. And I definitely wanted to keep people safe.

In the beginning, I felt a lot of fear, especially of the unknown and with a worry of possible early exposure. At first, SARS-Cov-2 was an invisible force, possibly everywhere. We didn’t know much, but data came quickly, with astonishing results so that testing could be developed along with the start of vaccine design. The New Yorker has a good article this week about what it was like here in Seattle at the beginning. Being the first known place, probably saved us (Seattle) from the worse outbreaks seen later in New York and New Jersey and other areas.

My heart has been broken by patients affected by this. I will never forget when I called a patient to tell her that her COVID-19 test was positive, then she told me her sister and her mother had just died from COVID-19. As in many cases, the entire household was affected. Another heartbreak was a lovely elder, an immigrant who was the beloved matriarch of her family, her loss still grieves me.

The past year has not been an easy ride. Some have had it easier than others, most of us now know someone who has died from COVID-19, many of us have lost our livelihoods, challenges face families with school children, loved ones are mourned. And yet at the same time, growth has happened. Some of us have learned new skills or take up new hobbies. Sourdough has even entered our house as a project.

And now we have vaccines, the roll out has been slow but is speeding up. We are still battling the other pandemic of disinformation. Vaccine hesitancy is a barrier but should ease somewhat as the safety of the vaccines is shown.

So much more has happened to us all. Already a year.

So today and every day, I am indebted to my dear husband Jamie who has faithfully proof read for me nightly. If I don’t let him read it first, mistakes are so much more common. I also thank you all for accompanying me on this journey. When I write, I usually think of a friend and write to them. It helps me organize my thoughts.

This journey is ongoing and I will continue to write, but I will cut back from writing everyday. I have other interests I need to re-focus on. My fiddle has been sorely neglected the past year and the garden is warming up. I expect to write at least 3 times weekly. This will give me time to organize my thoughts, focus on my stories, and catch up on some sleep.

In the meantime, don’t do like Texas, or Governor Abbot at least, who is re-opening the state and removing the mask mandate. Remember the variants are out there. Protect yourself and your family.

Wash your hands, cover your nose, keep safe six, and think about where you were a year ago and honor that time.

And finally, my caveat is that this is my experience and my opinions, which are subject to change as more information is available, and not related to the organization I work for. Thanks for reading.

https://betsybrownmd.substack.com/p/march-2-2020

https://betsybrownmd.substack.com/p/march-3-2020

https://betsybrownmd.substack.com/p/march-4-2020

https://betsybrownmd.substack.com

https://www.newyorker.com/news/us-journal/a-year-in-americas-first-covid-epicenter

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/02/us/coronavirus-reopening-texas.html