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(Not) playing it day-by-day

With covid numbers rising, decisions to play to be made on a week-by-week basis





A Thanksgiving wish / November 24, 2020
Let’s keep this simple, and let’s keep people safe: Thanksgiving is upon us, and painful as the thought may be, it can’t be a holiday the same as any other.

Please, please, please: Listen to the warnings about the coronavirus, that strange, terrifying spectre that has given us this grueling and too-often miserable year. We all miss things from our previous lives — one item on the top of my list was going to the movies, and this is supposed to be the start of the Christmas blockbuster season — but as the good book counsels, there comes a time to set aside childish things, and this is one of those times.

So once again, with feeling: wear those face masks this holiday season, and in all seasons until a vaccine becomes widely available. (Which will be soon, with luck.) Keep your physical distance from one another — and scale back those big family gatherings. They’ll be back some day, but your family members may not unless we all take a cautious approach in the here and now. The virus is raging like wildfire now that the weather has turned cold, just as public health authorities warned. We can avoid the worst of the pandemic with a modicum of caution and a healthy dose of good sense, but the track record of the United States in this regard hasn’t been good, so pardon those who shout from the rooftoops, who don’t want to see more people die from this hundred-year plague that already has claimed more than 250,000 lives.

When will it end? Once another 50,000 people are dead? After 500,000 souls are lost across America? A million people? Harsh experience advises against leisurely attitudes or a laissez-faire approach. If you’re tired of this entire business, and who isn’t, just remember that escapism is the opposite of reality, and like the movies, is a luxury for another time.

Last week, the News & Record published an article on the strains placed on local health care providers at Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital. We spoke to nurses and other medical staff for the report, by staff writer Liza Fulton. After the piece was posted to our website,, a member of the local health care profession sent an anonymous message attesting to the facts reported in the piece. The writer did not give us a name, but nothing in the account suggests even a hint of falsehood or exaggeration. Here’s what the anonymous provider had to say:

To the community,

I don’t usually speak on a lot of topics ... to each his own. However, I feel led in a way to voice this. Some people don’t think Covid is real, or serious, or any different from the flu or other viruses lurking around. I can tell you firsthand that it is beyond devastating in so many ways and until you’ve lived through it, taken care of someone with it, or lost someone to it, you won’t fully understand the impact. I didn’t, until I started taking care of the patients that have this. I foolishly thought it was just a virus, and yes it is, but in many ways it is dramatically different. I can’t even compare it to the flu or anything else for that matter. It is a very scary, sad, and quite frankly, still unknown virus.

It is here, in little Halifax County, Virginia. It affects all ages, genders, and ethnicities, and yes, even if you don’t have pre-existing conditions.

You see, what makes this virus different from anything I’ve ever seen while working in healthcare for almost 10 years is there is no rhyme or reason with this virus ... there’s no algorithm. Everyone is affected differently and there is no way to predict the outcome once someone has it, as hard as we try to stay one step ahead.

Each person has different symptoms, or no symptoms. Some are better within a few days and others will never see their loved ones again. And yet others will be completely fine one day and on the vent by the end of a shift. It’s a fast virus, it is unpredictable, even the treatments are changing day-to-day and are a constant puzzle. I see my fellow co-workers, the doctors and nurses and aides trying to care for these patients, tirelessly and endlessly going to war with this monster. And too many times to count, we’ve lost the battle, we’ve lost another patient. It is an exhausting task filled with a lot of love, empathy, and compassion … but also filled with rage, and frustration, and tears from fighting a seemingly losing battle at times.

Yes, I know all of this is in God’s hands and I do believe that if it is God’s will that you no longer be on this Earth then there is nothing to stop that. But don’t downplay what is going on right now. I have held too many hands of patients who are scared and gasping for air, confused about what is happening to their bodies, experiencing an illness like they’ve never experienced before.

They don’t know if they’re going to make it, looking to us for some sort of reassurance, when we can only really try to be positive and give them a gloved hand to hold. I’ve seen fear and sadness in the eyes of those that know they are not going to make it. They are alone and unable to see family, unable to be comforted by a warm smile, or a hug. We are goggled, masked, and gowned up from head to toe, drenched in sweat. This virus is very cruel and I’ve seen so many families ripped at the seams in literally a matter of days.

It’s not fair. You can spout off statistics, political stuff, what the numbers say, etc., but if that’s all you’re going on, you will not truly and fully understand the impact. People are getting this, they are not getting over it, they are dying. Please think twice before scoffing at masks or making comments that this is a made-up virus, because you may be standing next to someone who didn’t get to say goodbye, or who spent the last moments of their loved ones life holding their hand in full safety gear as they took their last breath. That is nothing to make light of. Pray for our nurses and aides who are putting our lives on the line at every shift and are terrified that we will bring it home to our own families and children.

Pray for the doctors who are working to save lives and get these patients back home to their families. Pray for our community and these patients because they need it now more than ever. Pray over your family and friends that they don’t get this.

Take the precautions, if not for yourself then at least do it for those you care about.

Yes, I know masks are uncomfortable and inconvenient. I wear one for 12 hours so I get it. But I also know that I don’t want to be the reason for someone else’s illness and hardships, or possible death. I don’t want to be the reason someone loses their mother, father, brother, or sister. We should want to do everything in our power to save the people in this community, to prevent anyone else from losing someone. You may get this virus and have mild symptoms, make a full recovery, but others will not be so lucky. Those are the ones we should all be thinking about. Stay safe and God bless.


A provider in the trenches


Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Hold tight the ones dear to your heart, but don’t be too quick to hold them physically in your arms. There will be other moments for that, hopefully in the not-so-distant future.

Till next time ....

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