'There's no end in sight to this'
Why do I have a headlamp on my head. And why are we sitting in the dark? Where we like blackouts, so you want to pretend that we had a blackout channel. Or you talking like that I like to. Really. Yeah, we're sitting in the dark, pretending that we've lost power and I've headlamp on sitting on the couch. Reading Harry Potter. I get interrupted every maybe fifteen to twenty seconds to explain or Questions do not poke your sister in the high. Okay. Come a little closer, so the question is for. Isla Who is my? Oldest. the question is What is? Corona, virus, It's. A lung virus. What does it do? Can Affect your lungs? And what? What do I do with my job that he's job is to make try to make vaccines to make them feel better. What do you think my job is? To make vaccines were saying what she said. You work in a very fancy office I've been there before we brought them. A lot of snacks can work really well because he eats a whole lot of snacks. Basically I go to work in a really fancy office and eat. Snacks all day. Talking. Yeah. That's his job. This is all told from the Washington Post. In this episode. We pure inside the life of Dr Timothy Sheehan. He's a forty three year old virologist who has been studying ways to stop krona viruses for eleven years. Now he's racing to develop drugs for this current version of the virus that we all know that swept across the world. I work too much. At work. I, think you I think. I'm not saying that it's bad you do I feel like you've worked too much. Because then you're you're there five hours a day and I'm feel so sad. Tim Lives with his two daughters and wife Anna and Hill North Carolina. He's recorded himself from May Twenty first the twenty eighth. Here's Tim in his own words. So. Tomorrow I have to. Talk to you. A GIRBAN business leaders. And The chancellor UNC is invited me to talk about. Our work. Cova dining team. Influential business people I think they're hoping to. Maybe. Partner with them somehow to kind of. Help! People get back to work. Expertise that UNC. Business and public health. Having to shave. And I don't see that often because. What do I have to shave for? Tomorrow actually to. Wear a tie. It is pouring out. And Eleven thirty eight. In time she go to bed. Out here. Lead Arno more disasters. Too. Normally. Used to like listen to. NPR listened to the news on the way to work and. Today, I'm obviously not doing that. But It got to be especially like in January. February, it got to be so depressing. It ended up basically like crying on the way to work every day. which is not really what you you know, the head space you wanted to be when you're. Trying to. Work with deadly viruses. We're trying to basically study. SARS coronavirus to which is the virus that causes covid nineteen. study. It's biology at the same time you know. The lab is Leading an effort to. evaluate the frontline vaccines, antibodies and antiviral drugs so. Just walking the lab the beautiful day the sky is. Kind of blue. Birds are out. Brooke. Thanks? They were. That was unexpected. So I stopped to put my mask on to. Get in the building and the woman that works on my floor that I haven't seen him four months. Because Universities been closed except for us. Stop to thank me hurt. My work. That, never happened. Before the pandemic. Area I am in terrible shape. Going up three flights of stairs with the mask on like, how do people even exercise with these things on? into the lab. Calling area who? Works with me alive. She can do something. Cell Culture so I can do work tomorrow. With the leftover sells them And I can even make the fifty plates if I have to on. Sunday. So they ready on Monday. But. Let's just get through the twenty four plates in the five ninety six or whatever? So, we just finished this call with The Chancellor and lots of business leaders from big companies, big international companies that have home bases here. In North Carolina I think it went pretty well I think people just want to know what to expect as. Things start to open up and how they should. Be Dealing with people returning to work in physical spaces, and it's just really hard to tell people what might be the right thing to do because even if everyone is. Really good about social distancing hand, washing and wearing masks. I think it's just inevitable. As people get together more, that will see new cases. More cases crop up. One. Other thing is that. One of the drugs that we had been working on for the past. Four years. is about to go into clinical trial. here UNC and I think maybe at Johns Hopkins as well. Tim's lab helped develop the drug rim. De Severe, it reduces recovery time for Covid nineteen patients, but it doesn't seem to help. Patients admitted with severe cases of Covid nineteen. is also developed another antiviral drug effective against the coronavirus. It's been fast tracked to clinical trials on his own campus and North Carolina. Normally the things that we do. Aren't. don't usually translate into some product or something that could save somebody's life in their lifetime. So. It's really an interesting thing that's happening now. Having these people getting treated across the street is just mind blowing. We're just turn on NPR and my friend Real Ferret. My mentor is on the radio rogues the hell if any of them could work against. A new emerging krona virus wonder if they're just replaying something that's been. Much either by companies or by the NIH or by reviewers who would review these pack these programs? So. It's almost bedtime, but my kids are outside talking to one of my wife's friends with my wife, so I've got a few minutes of translates with this looping pedal thing that I have. So it is Saturday morning from seven forty eight. A family has gone out to have fun morning from the farmers market. And then go strawberry picking. I am going to work. Go Work in a biosafety level three lab. Finish some experiments that. Didn't get to finish last week. and. To be going strawberry picking. But. Also Nice to finish these experiments that need to get rolled into a paper that we've been working on. Getting back to this journal. So just got to work. and. All the parking spots behind the building. We usually take. All of them are taken. Bub The fact that the parking lot is full means that. Lots of people are doing work. And they're all from the lab that I work in. I'm going in. So like we've known each other for three years now. Tim I think it's time to get serious. I'm going to be your parents. Full right now, maybe never. This whole pandemic thing. I don't WANNA I don't WanNA anybody. So anyway. Work where yeah, we work here. not right now, but right now we're talking about which is work. It is worth. I'm about who'd be, worth. One. Oh Hell Yeah. I had Indian. Indian from the dinner that I missed my family. SHRIMP SOG. Was Pretty Good. So do people like that you know? Are they like thanking you for your work and stuff like that score workers? Is telling me you and. Cheryl our. Say Thank you. Yeah, they see like they get them like honestly I've been trying stuff the like. We don't have a great yet. not to sound like. Not Hope Fold Boys. Getting there, it's getting there. It's slow, but steady progress. What do you WANNA do today? So I have a call at ten so if we want to Google, we have to go. Maybe would have to leave at eight to get for me to get home in time. came up I stayed up until I'm. I think nine thirty some. Were you up so late? Has You on your way into came home. From work. And we wanted to some of climbing time for book. Is Super Funny I live? Read it to me. When I was eating dinner, she read the beginning part, so I could hear it. Did you hear about the Kyla the hair in the bathroom? So, funny. Our GM poppy. Dinner! Where you said. You seem side when I got home. You will home show. It's no fun. Doing Stopping us. The work load is greater than it's ever been the stress of the work because of the nature of the work in the sense of urgency that we're all feeling doing the work is different in greater than it's ever been. so having to choose between. Doing these experiments and writing grants and getting my work done in spending time with my family, and it's not really a good i. don't like that math. There's no way out just got to keep on trying to do your best. It's funny. How like? Doing this kind of reflective. Reflective, talk on the way home I kinda sound like. Solid. Hearing my voice now. But you know back working in the lab. It was actually pretty fun working with Kenny and. Lily so. It's not sad all the time. Just doesn't come through talking like this. As you like this like. Like. Like sound wavy warning. Here's tim talking to his older brother Michael. Do you What have you been thinking of like the media coverage of your little brother? What is it like it's awesome? I think it's funny to read a boat. You know especially the article I thought was was funny and informative at the same time. So that was like a big turning point. A A strange turning point where like. a a bio pick on a virologists. Is like something that would interest the general public. which I never liked that doesn't that's not a thing? I think somebody I can't remember which friend of mine after they had read the G. Q. Story, said something to a effect of of you know finally, scientists are getting their. do or something like that. Yeah. Tim's wife and an epidemiologist which means that she studies how particular diseases specifically impact populations. Here's an reflecting on the attention that Tim's been getting recently. Like I often think about the way I would have handled this. I would have found the pressure so much harder, take. There are so many moving pieces. Nobody knows what's going on. You're learning piece by piece. People are asking you questions. If you have a crystal ball and you have to guess. Ever answer no, and but they want answers and understandable, and you have to give them your best information and say we don't know. The pressure was something that. Really no one In your line of work is sort of ready for it, right? That's the kind of thing you expect in more of a healthcare direct healthcare position, but it suddenly felt like that works. You were doing could. you know have a direct impact on. People around you and it was so overwhelming and. You know the acute sort of attention and stuff fade, but the pressure and your work, the funding of your work the importance of your work is now forever going to be seen in a different light than it was before two thousand twenty. You guess changed for you. I don't know I think. I'm like mediocre, but everything now. I was pretty mediocre using before, but let's. I think like it's hard to be home and be present and be a good dad. It's hard to try and help teach your kids when they're home from school and balanced with a mountain of work. Is never done. By your being way too hard on yourself I still think even in the midst of this crazy time where there's so much change in your work in so much importance. In the work you're doing. You're still super president with the kid who still our home most nights making dinner, and then you put help, because then you go back and you work till like one in the morning every night. It's not sustainable but. Also. Clear maximizing your time with and I. Don't think you're you're doing badly at. I think like one of the things that's been hard for me to deal with his like. There's no end in sight to this to what I'm doing now like. Yeah. thanks to him for sharing recordings that were condensed and produced by me bishops and This episode was edited by Lin. Cunningham and Neck. Isn't the final episode in our special series, of weekly audio diaries. But all told we'll continue to bring you stories in the months ahead both about the pandemic in about other news at shapes, your life. You can still get in touch with us about how the endemic has affected you. But we'd also like to know how these stories in the series of impacted you what you learn from them and what you'd like to know futures series, so let us know at Washingtonpost dot com slash podcasts.