COVID-19: Putting a face to the message we want to communicate. Stay home, stay safe.
The first picture is of John McDaniel, a 60 year old man who, like many others used social media to voice his concerns with the infringements on his freedoms-imposed by a leader who acted on the recommendations of experts to deprive the virus of the human lives it needed for survival. The second picture is John McDaniel’s father, who pleads for the life of his son, after the virus got what it wanted- a human body to ravage. It also contains another post made by John McDaniel’s son just after his father’s passing at the hands of Covid-19, along with the messages of condolence from those who cared.
My sincere hope is that if the family sees this post, they know that it was written by a nurse who has spent weeks begging and pleading with the American people to understand. That it was written by someone who has sat at the bedside fighting to save the lives of people like John, who just didn’t know what they were asking for. A man who was probably, rightfully so, genuinely concerned for his own financial security and that of those he employed or loved. That it was written by someone who has had to make that call to family, like themselves, to explain that their father, son, husband would be heading to the ICU and it “does not look good.” And while I cannot disclose the information of patients I have personally cared for, the fact that John’s death, his words, and his family’s sorrow were made public- has given the opportunity of putting a face to the heartfelt words I wish to express, and that in this expression these writings may save just one life.
This virus does not care if you think it is “bullshit.” This virus doesn’t respect your rights or your freedoms. It makes no side step for the brave, it devours the ignorant and it feasts on the bodies of those who stand to oppose it.
What’s worse, is that even those who choose to respect it’s authority, are still at the mercy of those who do not. Each individual who dared it to do its worst, has connection with those who had no such inclination…..and those people too will pay the price for their loved one’s defiance- perhaps not in personal illness or death, but in mourning and sorrow. One way or another, this virus will consume you.
This, is the information guiding the policies that leaders have reluctantly adopted. On the recommendations of those who deeply understand the consequence of non-compliance, the policies are set. Even the well educated leaders are not the ones in charge. It is the virus who has taken command- the medical experts are merely hostages forced to repeat the demands of their captor. This virus cannot be negotiated with. This super-villain does not respond to protests or demands, it’s mere survival is dependent upon a body by which to spread. Our only ace in the hole is depriving it of such and thus snuffing out its only means of living…… ourselves. Imposing restrictions is the only way. After all, had all of the doctors and nurses lined up and asked the public really really nicely, would you have listened? Would all of the country? No.
I am writing and sharing these photos with reluctance, with respect and reverence for the utter sadness that this family is facing. It is a public news story, but one that represents countless patient family conversations that have occurred across the globe. Each time, on the other end of the phone, is a father pleading for the life of his son- or a son grappling with the eventual death of his father…..often times the result of a person who proudly clung to the idealism of individual rights- not realizing that they had mistakenly fought the wrong foe. We too, in the medical field value these rights, but we have also come to understand that this virus does not, and will not cower to your demand for freedoms- in fact, it hopes you are successful, it hopes you maintain those rights. It needs free movement to live.
This virus is a terrorist. We cannot control it’s actions (yet). You can march and protest all you want but in doing such, you advocate for the rights of the virus to violate society. You certainly have the personal right to die trying to prove otherwise, but you are not the only one who will suffer for that mistake. It is terrifying to realize that you are not in charge, that none of us are…..but until we wake up and accept that railing against the establishment, is aiming our guns squarely in our own face….these stories will be the norm. The government is strangling the virus with the only weapon effective against this enemy, one that we do not have in medicine…..authority-separation. Medicine has no weapons, we cannot save you. Nothing is working. Every minute that this viral spread is slowed, is another minute that we have to research, study, and develop a plan so that we have weapons that work too, and when that happens, we will be in a position to have the government stand down and let medicine fight- but until then, we need the restrictions. Call them bullshit of you want, we hate them too, but they’re our only option at the moment.
(In an effort to not cause the family further distress, I have chosen not to share the many news articles available online that focus on the “irony” of his death and instead will just share the column that announced his passing)