The above is my post from December 2019 on my Instagram. We had just come back about three weeks before this from a fantastic vacation in New Orleans and were itching to buy tickets for our spring getaway to Hawaii as 2020 marks a big birthday for both myself and my husband. We had planned to then take a Thanksgiving trip to Alaska. We had already planned our Labor Day weekend around my husband’s family in Toronto for a wedding. We had also made a grand plan to shoot for Hajj or Umrah this year with a couples only trip to Turkey.
The best laid plans!
As I’m still collecting reimbursements from airlines on all the cancelled trips, I can’t help but feel a little sour at how this year turned out for the human race in general and for physicians in particular.
Every few days I get an email from this airline or that about how they’re graciously returning our money to us and hoping we will fly with them again in the future. Every few days a low-budget hotel sends me back a few couple dollars after clearing it with their finance department and urging us to book cheap stays now in anticipation of a travel-heavy 2021. But will 2021 be any different? I’ve seriously had my doubts about us having any normalcy again.
This is, in an almost cliched expression of this whole chaos, our new normal.
It hurts me to not be able to go to one of the Delaware beaches for fear of not COVID-19 but unmasked people who don’t listen. But that’s a topic for another time.
Ah! 2020 is more than half done and let’s all heave a collective sigh. This year has been so unexpected that I just want to learn whatever art or science there is to predict tomorrow and never be surprised again.
Some unfortunate things that happened were not preventable.
Like my maskne! Who’d have thunk that a melanized person would escape acne in her teens? No one! But I did. Only to get mask-related acne now. Well, I know I’m being facetious. Who’d have thunk that I’d see three pandemics in my lifetime but here we are!
I mean racism was preventable and avoidable. Just takes being a person. Yes, I mean really it’s as simple as that to not be a racist. But no! Apparently the human kind that was dropped on the planet Earth with the sole purpose of being one thing, I.E. a person, is incapable of being that. So here we are! Many lives and many black screens later some people are still saying, all lives matter. Clearly, they’re incapable of the very personhood that humanity is asking for!
I don’t think my weight gain is related to quarantine. My hair loss is but my weight gain isn’t. Last year, I remember the same internal dialogue that I have had this year too. “Don’t be scared! Get on the weighing machine and make sure to take an aspirin and a nitro pill before you do! Go on, be a darling now”.
Homeschooling was totally preventable. Kids could’ve spent a year learning about how to not screw up. I mean this type of education is being distributed for free these days. But the authoritarian parent in us had to distract the kids from COVID-19 and its mismanagement on a global level by roping our kids into mundane things like math and English. Some parents are still doing crafting. Bless their hearts! They’ll be on Noah’s Arc as the first settlers of the free world. This hippie parenting speaks to me on a personal level because I’m a proponent of it.
Hoarding was preventable. And I want us to really document the amount of toilet paper we bought and the amount we used from March to June 2020. After documenting it, put it in a time capsule and bury it. No tampering allowed with THAT data. Let the next pandemicians open it and be better hoarders. I’m a product of the Prepper Culture but this level of prep had my pants in a tizzy, I won’t lie.
And just when I had thought that all had happened for this to not end any less gloriously, I get an email from all the travel companies that I had booked flights with. They are asking me to graciously accept eighty-five percent of what I paid. The rest are service charges. I know what you’re thinking. What service? Apparently, just the fact that they allowed me to book with them is a service that they’ll keep fifteen percent for. I’m not complaining! Business isn’t exactly booming. A salaried worker like me isn’t really privy to the workings of big corporations during a pandemic.
Then the Journal of Vascular Surgery broke out their article on professionalism and social media depiction of it. Some say it was a conspiracy to see bikini photos of women physicians. I say it was a way for women to subconsciously accept that it’s okay for people to judge them for what they wear at work. It’s disturbing how a millennial Leo’s mind goes to places that other people dismiss but when you’ve been policed most your life, you find at least something to be suspicious of in almost everything that comes off as moralistic.
Then an Indian woman is murdered while running. In a world where pretty little is allowed to us, running became risky also. Research shows that 60 percent of women runners are harassed while running at some point in their lives compared to four percent of men. Again, one gender is safer and the other loses by so much that it can’t be fixed by the apocalypse.
A woman committed suicide because of postpartum depression while another woman called autism a symptom of schizophrenia. Can you see why A is related to B? Can you see how education will help us? Can you see how depression can change a family and take a life?
So overall, 2020 has come with a side of the unexpected. It really has put a wrench in my otherwise idyllic life. I’ve had more goals of care discussions with my patients this year than ever before. I’ve had more patients look scared and uncertain. I’ve had more people ask me “Is this Covid-19?”
So I blame a lot of it on Covid-19. But not all of it. Some of it was our festering problems that headlined 2020. We called it a hallmark year, turn of the decade, an unusual year in how it’s 2-0-2-0. We did think it was unusual. And it lived to its name. Unfortunately!