Let me just say this: If I thought dealing with the first round of COVID was challenging, boy was I wrong.
You can probably guess which part of the story we’ve arrived at now: Vaccination efforts.
But this isn’t going to be a conversation about the benefits or drawbacks of the vaccine. I’m merely recounting these events from my own view as they happened to me.
So sit back, relax, and enjoy the read…
Casting doubts aside
When the vaccines first debuted, my patients ran the gamut: I was handling those who wanted it, those who wanted it but didn’t know how to receive one, and those who wanted my opinion as to whether they really needed it or not.
As you may recall, I was extremely skeptical of the vaccine being a magic bullet when it was first announced. (Chalk it up to my inherent distrust of Big Pharma, among other practical considerations.)
But after seeing and feeling what I did up to this point in the pandemic—fatigue, fear, panic, anger, frustration, happiness, joy, relief (it wasn’t all bad)—I made a decision that was right for me. I set my doubts aside and received the Moderna vaccine.
I did what I usually do when faced with uncertainty: I looked at the facts. I researched what data was readily available. I stayed away from the 24/7 news cycle that focuses on hype over reality. And I listened to what actual, credible scientists had to say.
Of course, I realize many people have different opinions over what makes someone credible. And you know what? That’s fine.
As I’ve said here before, this isn’t about judgment, or pushing my opinion over yours. I’m simply sharing my own personal COVID experience thus far. And I encourage you to do the same. Talk to your friends and family… your therapist… anyone who will listen without judgment. The idea is to try to hear each other.
For me, personally… after becoming fully vaccinated, I felt a HUGE sense of relief. And that should be all that matters. (Many of my vaccinated patients reported feeling the same way.)
In fact, I felt ready to rejoin society. I took a couple of trips outside of the U.S. I went out to dinner and I saw more friends. But rest assured, I did not let my guard down. I remained vigilant, took precautions, and continued following public health safety measures.
Fast forward to the summer of 2021…
The tide keeps turning
Infection rates and deaths were as low as they have ever been, as if COVID didn’t exist. Mask mandates were lifted and people rejoiced in the streets.
But—healthcare workers were not so quick to celebrate. And that burst of euphoria lasted all but a month, when the Delta variant took over. My emotions ranged from disgust to outrage at peoples’ indifference with the virus’ rebound.
Because truthfully, I see this second surge as totally preventable. And I can’t help but to often feel as if no one cared enough about those of us still manning the frontlines of this crisis to accept personal responsibility for containing it.
Why is my life—and my staff’s lives and the lives of ALL healthcare workers out there—on the line AGAIN? Did we learn nothing from COVID’s first wave in 2020?
Now, perhaps, you can understand why so many have or are considering leaving the profession. Fool me once, shame on you—fool me twice, shame on me. Some days, I’m not sure I can take another round, either. It’s our mental health on the line, after all.
I wish I could say this summer marked the end of my personal COVID story—the end of all our stories. But this virus is likely to be with us for the rest of time. The good news is, eventually, we’ll learn how to live with it—and well.
Until that time comes, all I can do is beg: Be kind to each other. Think about your fellow Americans, your fellow humans, your healthcare workers. And consider that what you do affects so many other lives than simply your own.
If we can all do that, there will always be hope.