Day 216: So I’m “essential” now…
Fun fact, I love pandemic movies. Movies, not so much living through one. As humans we are selfish, greedy, prone to panic, and for being “evolved” we are so very, very stupid. Basically every dumb choice you see the characters in those movies make while screaming, “you idiot, that would never happen in real life!” Well, it’s happening and wow does it do a number on a persons mental health. But hey guess what? I’m essential, so let’s figure out what that means in a time where the world is practically on fire.
The hospital where I have my fellowship is on a hard lockdown. Okay, maybe not a lockdown, but the proper precautions for sure. No visitors, everyone is screened, entrances and exits are closely watched, extra cleaning, hand sanitizers everywhere (mostly empty), this is the new normal for awhile.
In response to the coronavirus the school I attend has also shuttered. Classes will be held online, all experiments involving face-to-face interaction with humans has been suspended, there has been a hiring freeze, and best of all for those working from home we need to give very detailed weekly written updates if we expect to get paid by the school for our work. Not a good look school, not a good look at all. Basically the school doesn’t think we are capable of working from home without strict monitoring of our activities.
Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on how you view it, that fill out a weekly form doesn’t apply to me (at least according to my main PI). That is because the hospital has declared that I am essential! Please hold your applause, I would like to thank everyone who helped me get here… but wait, why am I essential?
The short answer is I shouldn’t be. If we pause the research I am doing, no one will suffer from it. We are not treating anyone. We are doing research on spinal cord injury; certainly not treating it. It’s a subtle difference for sure, but treatment would be improving the quality of life or reducing the suffering brought on by the condition. We do neither of those things at the moment. Yet, my work continues if only in a somewhat limited capability.
Yes, it means I will not be treated like a child by the school, but it also means that I have a higher chance of coming into contact with someone who has the coronavirus. Particularly since the lab I work in is not too far from the emergency room. Tomorrow we can dive into why exactly I am worried about this. Spoiler alert, it involves the fact that I get my health care exclusively through the VA system.
Until next time, don’t stop learning!