My brother and only sibling became diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in September 2017. Just like that, everything changed in his life and mine. During the year of his illness, we gathered and reviewed information from doctors and researched on our own. We followed doctor’s orders. And above all else we remained optimistic. We tried to become as knowledgeable as possible and follow medical advice based on the best possible medical protocols. Fast forward to 18 months following my brother’s passing and I am looking at the Coronavirus. And I am wondering what lessons to be learned from the one year of critical care for my brother.
First, l learned to leave most of the medical studying to doctors. I did not go to law school to become a doctor. I would never suggest that we accept everything a physician tells us. I would also find it extremely unwise to ignore everything a doctor advises.
When I see Donald Trump talking about his medical opinions and then having the public health doctors and epidemiologists dispute it, I know there’s a disconnect. I would rather follow doctors’ advice than someone who knows very little to nothing about medicine. When I see that 16 states representing 40% of the U.S. population have stay in place orders and 4 other states closed all non-essential businesses without a stay in place order, I know they are heeding to what the best medical information shows.
When I hear persons going about their business as usual, despite being advised to social distance for the protection of themselves and others and to stay home to prevent overburdening our healthcare system, I know the message failed. I hear folks say that going outside doesn’t look like a pandemic, as if that’s a good thing. Perhaps, we should have been told to stay inside to prevent the illnesses and deaths of ourselves, close family and friends. The message to stay inside to prevent the overflood of the hospitals and hospital workers is not resonating with many folks. Ditto to stay home to prevent some unknown older person from getting Coronavirus.
And now our inpatient and inept president wants to reopen the country for business as usual. By doing so, he completely ignores all medical advice both here and abroad. He ignores the gravity of the situation. Presently, there are 42,600 Coronavirus cases with at least almost 550 deaths associated with the illness. Tomorrow on Wednesday there will be more. The Surgeon General says it will get much worse. Public health physicians and epidemiologists agree that we need more testing to determine next steps. I don’t know what’s so difficult to understand. But then again, I had a year of constant tests on my brother to determine next steps.
Many folks are concerned about a bleak economy if we must endure many months with shutdown businesses, little or no income, depleted savings and retirement, to name a few. And the thought of staying at home for any duration is at best challenging. As an extrovert, I know the challenges of staying at home. However, the loss of life outweighs everything.
We should act as if we have the Coronavirus and that everyone around us has the virus too. We should act as if everyone we know has the Coronavirus. That should be the message.
I know that if I was told that to save my brother’s life that I would lose income, lose savings, lose clients, lose my business and need to stay at home for up to one year, I would have gladly done it. We need to get the dire message out that will affect our thinking and change our actions. We need to act as if our most beloved family member’s life depends on us.
Debbie Hines is a trial lawyer and former prosecutor.