What is there say about the 2020? In my opinion probably one of the most transitional years we’ve ever experienced. At this point in time we as a medical community are like a punch-drunk fighter who is completely desensitized to the imminent pain that he is currently or about to suffer. A reasonable metaphor would be Novocain being injected after the tooth has been pulled. In this case however, the tooth extraction has a pretty silly and no-strings-attached relationship with pain when considering the fact that we are losing almost 4,000 people a day, and somehow not noticing it.
What does that say about us? Have we really become this?
Every day in this particular operating room as well as operating rooms throughout the country, we all do the same dance over and over, trying to keep people alive while we’re at the same time putting our heads in the sand like ostriches. To that point I mean that we realize what we are seeing, but we don’t really see what we are realizing. 4,000 deaths IMO- is incomprehensible at any level. Combatant or non-combatant. We are shell shocked, and the lack of clinical mobility or “Plan B” options is incredibly deflating.
I listen to ambient conversations as I type away here in the pump room, and it is business as usual for my boy Pedro- our chief surgical scrub tech. He reminds me that there is nothing to overthink here, there is still another case to consider in front of us, so yeah the best therapy for healthcare workers is probably to maintain their prime directive: preserve life 🙂
There’s no quit in these people, there’s no quit in us, it’s what we as perfusionists are trained to do. We don’t tolerate failure at all and consider “marginal success” an unacceptable endpoint when engaging cardiopulmonary bypass.
So without belaboring the point of what is clearly obvious, 2020 totally sucked. Let’s see what 2021 has offer us and maybe we can get a handle on this pandemic as well as the relative indifference that we now surround ourselves in. That head/sand/burying thing is a natural reaction whether reflexive or not- for us to try to to make some sense and rationalize these countless deaths in some fashion and hope they disappear or vanish from our immediate surroundings because the sheer magnitude of it is not only damning- but too horrible of a picture to contemplate.
It turns us into indifferent sheep. Less emphasis on the “indifferent” label, more emphasis on defense mechanisms associated with fear of familiarity. Watching death, and explaining it away by not acknowledging it personally is a horrible line to cross, but certainly it has been crossed before. How can any of us absorb that sort of grief?
If you ever stare into total darkness you realize that this concept is inconceivable to us, because it implies an end and since our field is all about continuation any premature ending is antithetical to our principals, and spurs us onward to make the best lives that we can possibly make for our patients moving forward.
It’s a funny thing how your life’s journey has a mind of its own so to speak. It seems as if 2020 for me partitioned into three separate phases:
Emergence and awakening was the first three months in southern Indiana, once COVID reared its ugly head and we recognized this virus to be something more perilous than we had originally thought.
Furlough: Then came three months of furlough, a time to reflect upon the challenges that lay ahead, gathering your resources for the fight that you know is about to come, and recognizing that as long as you remain at home on your couch, not fighting in the trenches, the enemy always seems so much more dangerous and fearsome than when faced in reality.
Engagement: For me, that meant traveling South about 1000 miles to find myself on the other side of the Savannah River in a Southern style town called Augusta. This is a Level I Trauma Center. so yeah- if you like adrenaline rushes this is where you want to be for sure.
I met a very good group of people down here, and was privileged to help put many minorities on bypass and had a personal epiphany as I was shocked to realize how underserved a huge sector of our Non-White fellow Americans were. It is this awakening in tandem with the clear obstacles and risks that COVID provided us, that makes this one of most genuine places I’ve had the privilege to work for.
Not because it was/is a perfect place, rather because the people and the institution itself were somewhat imperfect, yet the common goal remained pure. This is something that should be relished if you want to spend any time in advanced cardiac medicine. This place is a work in progress, but here we fight common enemies: lack of effort & complacence are not part of the equation.
To this end I am certain we are on par with academic cohorts and institutions similar to us. I have great faith that the people of this fine institution will rally to the cause and do great things for the local community as well as medicine in general. It has been a privilege to be here.
So without further ado, I present here the year in pictures as I’ve seen it, traveling down south of the Savannah River after having been furloughed for three months as well.
2020: The Year in Review
Best of the Best…
Super Mario meets OCHO!
The “Hurricane” (Ruben)
The Struggle Bus
A Rural Michigan Community Fights Back…
Our Italian Brothers & Sisters 🙂
Various Images- No Theme…
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