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Letter to the Editor

 

Kathy Olund, Durand

12:34 pm

Independent Editor,

   Yesterday I made a quick foray into a local store for some necessities. While most customers were wearing masks, I saw a woman, possibly 30 to 35 years old, with a young child in tow. Neither wore a mask.

   Now, I admit I’m suffering from some “Covid fatigue.” I’m tired of staying home and avoiding close contact with friends and family for fear of catching the virus or unknowingly passing it on to them. I’m tired of masks and warnings and social distancing. And I’m especially tired of the numbers… 187,000 new US cases in one recent day, and on average 1,000 deaths daily. And the numbers are rapidly growing in my own community.

   So when I see apparently healthy persons disregarding the simple precautions shown to reduce Covid infections and deaths, here’s what I would like to do: I want to take them by the hand and lead them into a hospital emergency room, a busy one like Beaumont, where nurses and doctors and ancillary staff are squeezing between beds and ventilators and IV poles and monitors to get to their Covid patients. I want them to hear the machines and alarms, the moans and rhythmic sounds of mechanical breathing.

   While we’re there we’ll sit a while at the bedside of an elderly man. We can’t discern his features because of the ventilator and tubing and bedding, but we can see details: a wedding ring tells us he has a wife. A Marine Corps tattoo on his arm says he’s a veteran and a colorful hand-drawn get well card on his pillow says he probably has grandchildren.

   We can’t ask him about any of this because he can’t speak, nor can his family be there to tell us about him and who he is.

   A little farther down we see a small patient whose chart says he’s nine years old. Oh, did you think kids didn’t get Covid? That it doesn’t make them sick?

   By the time we leave it’s shift change. We walk out with a nurse who’s just finished her 12-plus hour shift. Her face shows exhaustion and the ubiquitous “medical tattoo,” the inflamed imprint left by long days and prolonged mask wear.

   We ask her how she feels. She is exhausted. She feels remorseful that with so many very sick patients she couldn’t provide the level of care she expects of herself. She is afraid of taking the illness home to her family. She is sad: the elderly veteran we visited has just died. Alone. She stayed at his side and held his hand as long as she could before she had to move on to her other patients.

   She is angry because she knows it doesn’t have to be this bad. Think of her, the elderly veteran and the nine-year-old boy next time you think masks are not important. And wear the damn mask!

Kathy Olund, Durand

Kathy Olund, Durand was last modified: November 23rd, 2020 by Karen Elford