The first in-person meeting
Well today we met as a lab for the first time since the pandemic hit in person. I wasn’t a fan, still am not a fan, but didn’t get a choice in the matter so I went. Thankfully everyone was masked and agreed that it was probably for the best since in my case specifically, I work with a very vulnerable population. It was nice to see everyone, but it was mostly a waste of time, mostly.
Next week I have a conference. It’s for the group that funded the project I’m currently wrapping up and it’s been a lot of work, but I’m excited to finally be finishing this and moving on to the next thing. Today we were meeting, as mentioned in person, to go over the stuff for the conference and what we plan on presenting. Basically it was a dry run to make certain that everyone knew what they were doing. Overall it went well and as long as there are no technical issues (the conference is virtual) things should go smooth. We also got some nice photos of projects, us in general, things like that.
When everything concluded, my main-PI announced that he wanted to meet with us individually. This wasn’t a huge shock since I knew from our previous conversation that he wanted to discuss a few things. Well one of the post-docs in the lab went first and it took quite a while. So long in fact that I had to leave pretty much right as it was my turn to meet with him.
Except it wasn’t my turn, as it turns out he had some other meeting or something that ran into what should’ve been our meeting so I had to leave. Basically I didn’t get the chance to discuss the stuff I needed to talk with him about, so now all of that is up in the air at the moment. Who knows what will happen next. I mean things happen so we couldn’t meet, I just wish we could’ve done all this virtually, there was no reason for us to meet in person and absolutely no need for it.
I think my biggest issue in general is that things seem to be shifting to a return to normal. While I’m okay with that, there was a lot of things about the pandemic and virtual life that made things more accessible for someone like me. I no longer had to worry about the commute, I no longer had to worry about parking, I no longer had to worry about a lot of things that made life difficult. Maybe I’m just not ready to go back to normal, especially since things are certainly not normal yet. The pandemic is still raging in the background. We’re somehow calling it over even though the numbers are still far higher than they should be and almost an order of magnitude larger than when we shut everything down just last year.
I guess there’s a lot of anxiety on my end regarding all of that. I just don’t know what’s next, how to keep myself safe, and how to keep the people I work with safe. Working with people who have spinal cord injury is a responsibility that I don’t take lightly. I have a responsibility to do what I can to keep from getting sick and potentially passing it on to them. Just because I am vaccinated does not mean that I can no longer catch COVID, that’s not how it works. The vaccine just means I will (almost certainly) have no serious complications from the infection should I get sick.
There still, at least in my opinion, not enough data showing that if someone vaccinated is infected they cannot pass the infection on to others. There has been and continues to be far too much senseless death. It didn’t have to be this way, but here we are. I refuse to be a link in that chain, I would not be able to handle the weight I would feel if I caught COVID and passed it on to one of the participants in our studies. I do not want to be responsible for someone’s death through my own negligence. So for the time being and probably long after everyone else, I will continue to wear the mask and I will sleep better at night knowing that I’m keeping the people I work with as safe as I possibly can.
Maybe it’s my PTSD. Maybe it’s the fact that as a veteran I’ve been surrounded by way too much death for one lifetime. Whatever the reason, people trying to force things back to “normal” when all this is still ongoing makes me incredibly uncomfortable.