A highlight from Stories from a Pandemic: Part II - Ep.7: Remembering a Pandemic

The Nocturnists


The beginning of pen democ. I felt it. I felt it in my soul. I felt it in my bones. It was as feeling of impending doom. This is the same feeling. When hiv aids hit administered a lot and lost a lot of people then and when these cases were just a footnote it was like no. They're connected as all connected. I watch the seams of increasing panic about this respect infection that was spreading and wuhan china. And i remember thinking a new year's eve like holy shit. This is bad in february. I took a what tricks. Yana and on the way back sitting in the waiting room taras just to go level watching the tv monitors there were these video clips of our of how they were building a massive hospital and a parking law outside of wuhan because they keep out was the increasing number of cases that they were seeing and again. I remember thinking. Holy shit this. I remember one of my patients who was an immigrant from china whose daughter had started stockpiling equipment like rubber gloves and hand sanitizer because she was watching the chinese news and so she was much better informed early on than most other patients and i remember about a month later when we were calling all of our patients to make sure that they had everything they needed being really impressed that they've been paying attention and preparing appropriately. I remember myself reading about what was happening in italy and being terrified especially one i saw some data shortly thereafter about how much deadlier was an older patients than it wasn't younger patients thinking. Is everyone just going to be wiped out what i recall from. The beginning of the pandemic is the twitter feed out of italy. I recall watching my husband. Who's an intensive history those posts and looking at them myself and realizing that this wasn't going to be contained and it was coming and it was going to be devastating. I think i was in denial. My older son who is living in new york at the time was saying this. This is something to watch out for. This is this could be a real problem and he sent us hand sanitizer and i did not I i'm a person of great Denial capabilities when it comes to catastrophe and So i did not think much of it Until it's really arrived here in san francisco. I remember the date vividly. Actually my family and my husband's family had all gotten together at true foods. Kitchen in bethesda maryland. There were twelve of us total and it was just a wonderful gathering. Being in a crowded restaurant didn't feel weird or abnormal at all like it was completely still normal to be in that kind of environment and of course at the end of the time together. We all hugged and said see you soon. And i think we knew on some level that we might not be able to get together in that way for a little while but i don't think any of us knew what was coming in the beginning. I didn't take the pandemic that seriously. I heard it was a crow virus at was coming out of china. And i thought we see all kinds of current oh viruses show up in our unit all the time. They don't really do that much damage. But then i remember getting the notice that my children school was going to be closing down for at least a couple of weeks and even though i had no idea at the time that it was gonna turn into over a year of the campus being shut down. I remember being at the gates. Picking up my kids and thinking. Oh my gosh. We don't just shut down schools. If they're shutting this down someone is calling this a real threat. This thing is really really serious. I remember in the beginning of the pandemic there was discussion. Sort of just a footnote news story about the pandemic in emerging and luhan but relatively recently the pandemic had emerged. Our hospital had major preparations including These space suits that we had to train on and it was just a really comprehensive and full tilt preparation for ebola. That really never arrive viruses. These illnesses crop up from time to time. In other countries we don't really ever see them in the united states. And so you know. I definitely didn't pay that much attention to it. In the beginning in cases started heading. I think seattle was one of the first cities that was affected. I started getting nervous. What do i recall from the beginning of the worst pandemic of the century or call being very complacent and very comfortable thinking that this was not a problem that would concern us. Meaning americans meaning the united states that this was a problem abroad hearing about it reading about it in the news and i was one of those people who said. It's just another flu but that was the environment in those in those very early days i it started with not even thinking. It's then it's this period of just just dreadful anticipation and fear and then it came and it was this this chaos and we. I mean we weren't ready for this. I don't know if we could have done more at the time. We didn't have the knowledge. But we certainly certainly weren't. I remember specifically on march twelfth in the noon hour. I really had been anticipating an inaugural meeting for this women in medicine task force that i'd been selected to participate in and i was really excited about and instead there was a call to action duty To attend a briefing for our incident command center as a member of our emergency preparedness committee and recall hearing the briefing that day and standing in a large room watching our cmo and our head of infectious disease give a full presentation slide by slide with updates straight from han about what to expect on c. T. scans on labs and trying to commit to memory quickly. Like i was in med school all over again and understanding that we were talking about one of our entire hospitals to just coverted cases that this was going to be radical. I remember feeling at that point like that first surge might be it. Though so naive. I totally should have known better. The next thing that i remember it was going into this kind of extreme preparation mode with a whole hospital. Suddenly kind of got on board and said we're we're anticipating a surge of patience. And i remember walking through the icu on one of my early shifts as we were preparing and it was it was surreal because we had kind of emptied it out and we were just waiting

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