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E74: Reflections on COVID19 Version 2.0 in 2021

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E74: Reflections on COVID19 Version 2.0 in 2021

“IF YOU LOVE A HEALTHCARE WORKER, PRAY DAILY THAT GOD WILL RENEW THEIR PASSION, JOY, AND CONTENTMENT IN THEIR CALLING. BECAUSE WHILE THE WORLD FIGHTS OVER A SHOT, THE MEDICAL FIELD IS FIGHTING TO KEEP THEIR DESIRE TO SERVE” And here I include the 2 statements made on social media that I have found moving and very appropriate for our current situation: I’m vaccinated and, no, I don’t know what’s in it—neither this vaccine nor the ones I had as a child; or what’s in that Big Mac, that pumpkin-spice flavoring, or in hot dogs or chicken tenders; or what’s in other drugs used for other treatments … whether the treatment is for cancer, AIDS, or polyarthritis.   I don’t actually know what’s in Ibuprofen, Tylenol, or other pain meds that almost everyone takes; I know it cures my headaches and my pain. Or what’s in cough medicine, that allergy nasal spray, insulin, or high blood pressure meds.   I also don’t know what’s in ink for tattoos, vaping cigs, or every ingredient in my soap, shampoo, or deodorants. Likewise, I don’t know what’s in lipstick.   I don’t know the long-term effect of cell phone use or whether or not that restaurant I just ate at REALLY used clean utensils, fresh foods, and whether the employees there washed their hands. In short …   There’s a lot of things I don’t know and never will.   I know one thing: life is short, concise. And I still want to do something with my life other than just going to work every day or staying locked in my home. I still want to travel and hug people without fear and experience more of my life “before.”   As a child and as an adult, I’ve been vaccinated for mumps, measles, rubella, polio, chickenpox, smallpox, and quite a few others (as an adult, I’ve been vaccinated for tetanus and hepatitis, and each fall, I get a flu shot that is less effective at preventing flu than the Covid vaccine is at preventing Covid-19). Yet, my parents and I trusted science and never had to suffer through or transmit any childhood diseases that used to kill children and adults. I’m vaccinated, not to please the government but:   * to not die from Covid-19. * to NOT clutter a hospital bed if I get sick. * to hug my loved ones without fearing I may transmit a deadly virus to them. * to not have to do PCR or antigenic tests to go to a concert, go to a restaurant, go on holidays, and many more things to come. * to live my life. * to have my kids/grandkids go back to school and play sports—safely. * to make these days of Covid-19 become just an old memory. * to protect us—all of us.   Finally, Dr. Jeffrey Dietzenbach, an Iowa Clinic general surgeon, wrote the following post last week, and his message is too good not to share.   “COVID observations from a general surgeon… Full disclosure: this is my first Facebook post ever; I hope I’m doing this right! Also, I am not an expert on COVID-19 or infectious diseases.   This pandemic has been long, difficult, polarizing, historical, exasperating, and confusing. I can complain about it… but not that much. I have had no loved ones or close friends who have become extremely sick or died from this virus. I personally have not contracted this virus.   As a general surgeon, the only care I have had to administer to a COVID-positive patient is the occasional appendectomy or gallbladder removal. I’ve been lucky enough not to have to spend countless hours in the ICU managing ventilators and medical care. Those healthcare providers are the real heroes.   However, one thing that has really perplexed me throughout this whole pandemic is the lack of humility—namely, the lack of humility when it comes to expert opinion.   I like to travel. Do I get on the tarmac and inspect the plane’s mechanics or discuss the flight plan with the pilot or tower? Nope. I’m not an expert in that. But, I have the humility and faith that those people are experts and will get me where I need to be safe. I like a nice yard.   Do I tell my lawn care company how much nitrogen and weed control to use? Nope. I don’t have the time to devote to learn about that. I’ll leave it up to the lawn care expert. I hope I never get sued. Would I defend myself in court with a total lack of legal knowledge? Nope. I’ll leave that up to the legal experts.   When my car needs to be fixed, do I tell the mechanic how to repair it? Nope. I know nothing about auto repair.   Do I walk around talking about COVID-19 and vaccinations and constantly posting about it? Nope, I’m not an infectious disease doctor or a pulmonologist/critical care doctor.   I get it. Frustration about closing schools and businesses, social distancing, limiting travel, using masks, etc., is understandable.   However, the benefits and philosophy behind some of these things are not black and white. The thing I don’t understand is this distrust of expert healthcare providers and lack of humility. Biostatistics is not easy.   True research (not just looking through Google and social media) and reviewing data, studies, and articles is not easy.   Believe me, as a General Surgery Program Director; we hold six journal clubs a year reviewing the most recent surgical literature. I have the humility to know that I am not a statistician and by no means an expert in this field.   You can find an “expert” on COVID-19 anywhere. Online, at work, at the dinner table, on MSN or Fox News, especially social media. I find it interesting that there are many infectious disease specialists and pulmonologists across this planet. I don’t recall any of them suggesting anything counter to the most recent accepted best practices, based on the most updated information we had at that moment in time.   Yes, things change. The virus changes, data and statistics change, discoveries change, and new information emerges. One thing that doesn’t change is the expertise of scientists, infectious disease doctors, and pulmonologists. I’m a doctor, and I think I’m a pretty good one (one could even say an “expert” at surgery), but when it comes to my kids’ health, I will follow my pediatrician’s recommendations.   Likewise, when it comes to a vaccine, I will follow the generally accepted recommendations by the EXPERTS.   And…when I start to see a brown spot on my lawn, I’m calling my lawn care guy.   Ask yourself how many times you put your life at risk by humbly and faithfully putting your trust in a person. Eating at a restaurant, walking over a grate on the sidewalk, taking an Uber, or for God’s sake, going on a carnival ride at the Iowa State Fair! This doesn’t make you a “sheeple.” This happens all the time, every day.   All I’m asking for is a little humility and trust, not in me or this post, but experts.”   These are not my words, but I felt so identified by them that it was very hard not to share with you all!!!   Thanks for Listening,   Alonso Osorio, M.D. 

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Podcast Host

Chase is an MS, MBA-HA and MD/Ph.Dcandidate. He is the Founder and educator at MedEd University, which he began in 2014 to consolidate free educational resources for his classmates. He is the host of the Medical Mnemonist Podcast, creator of several medical education platforms, and is the CEO of FindARotation.

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