APRIL 28, 2020
While the rest of us are belaboring the wearing of masks and social distancing and not being able to go bowling or get a tattoo, today we hear of an ER doctor in New York City, Dr. Lorna Breen, dying from suicide. Now.. there’s more to this story HERE
But to summarize… she was in the toughest of the toughest ER environments where health workers are in the deepest of virus trenches, trying to save lives, make terrible decisions on life and death, and engaging directly in the mass suffering of humanity looking to her for care and hope for survival. She ended up with Covid-19 herself and made it through.. then went right back into the line of fire, devoted to helping those who needed it. During what appears to have been a break in her duties and while at home with family.. apparently things caught up with her to the point where her only relief was killing herself. I am no health professional nor psych professional, although I am degreed in the behavioral sciences.. but you don’t need to be any of those things to readily see that she was suffering from some level of PTSD.
“I didn’t sign up to die.” Is a reflection of one nurse recently on a video. These are the new soldiers in our battle with this virus and we all know what happens to many soldiers returning from some far off battlefield… mental illness can creep in in the form of post-traumatic trauma. The difference with these “soldiers” is that they went to work one day not realizing they were going to fight a disease engulfing a mass of humanity showing up for care.. and the sheer numbers dying regardless of the care you can give.. and the personal emotions of empathy and sympathy for patients dying without comfort of family at their bedsides. These “soldiers” were not drafted to go out and intentionally kill other human beings in some politically-inspired shooting war to defend God and country. These were people who were in the right place at the right time if you needed their care.. but at the completely wrong place at the wrong time for their personal safety and in trying to keep their own emotional distance from the tragedies unfolding before their eyes. Our national disgrace is not being able to support these people with the protection and tools they need to save us… and save themselves.
Over the months, where and when I could (and in between venting about Trump’s incompetence), I have been trying to present the complete lack of a national mental health program as being an integral part of trying to remedy so many social issues.. that things like depression, PTSD, leading to behavioral dysfunctions that explode into extended tragedies like random killings, murders, suicides across the age spectrum. Well, we are back to that yet again. Mental health within the medical professionals who have been inside the hell of this disease.. and a soon to become prevalent mental health problem from many Americans as they try to deal with a despondency with longer upheaval in their daily lives.. and very likely a currently unheard of suicide… some people offing themselves who are high risk for dying and simply want some control in not suffering the further indignity of dying alone, sedated, with tubes down your throat.
I have to admit… while I have no propensity for suicide myself… I have to recognize that my age, my diabetes, my generally sedentary lifestyle, my overweight… pretty much suggests to me that if I get this thing the only thing I can hope for is some off chance I have the right Viking DNA to allow me to pull through. I mean, I generally feel good.. never smoked or drank.. and I do make an attempt to control the blood sugar. I take the required drugs for hypertension so it’s not like I’m totally a medical problem. I’m perfectly ambulatory without limps. My last physical stress test came out good and I apparently have no circulatory heart disease looming… and my lungs remain clear… for now. But we all have that propensity at times where we view the maladies of others in wheel chairs, bedridden, and/or in some mental fog, where we turn to a friend or spouse and say, “Please don’t let me get that far.” I’ve always been serious when saying that… not wishing to be a burden to others nor living the horror purgatory on being aware but paralyzed by some stroke and unable to communicate. Sadly… the people we say that to would in no way want anything to do with helping us die with dignity… even IF the law allowed for it. Love apparently has its limits. I think a number of folks with Covid-19 are choosing to remain home.. and just end up dying there.. hence one reason the reported deaths might be a bit skewed. This would likely be my preferred option, let myself drown in lung fluid, given I don’t have a handgun around to tempt me should that time ever arise.
Doom & gloom aside I do have some positive things in my favor that might inhibit my getting this thing in the first place, which is my best bet. I am in a rural area of 25,000… a valley surrounded by mountains. To date, we’ve had 11 cases so far.. and that number has held constant for nearly the last week or more. The number of deaths have been 2 , so statistically we are stable here. Also.. as luck (or the Almighty) would have it… my job as a security guard currently in this crisis, requires me to sit in my car for 8 to 12 hours a day.. and engaging the general public is rare and when I do it’s always outside at the correct distance if not greater. My car is a natural extension of being at home. I can stay employed.. and.. my job in security pretty much qualifies me as “essential”. All in all, my risk of catching Covid is minimal. When there is a need to go to the store I check the parking lot first to determine the anticipated number of people in the store.. and I will return another time if it looks too populated. When in the store.. I avoid going down aisles blocked by even one person. I tend to like to wear my security uniform when doing a store dash as it tends to keep behaviors more moderated given our facial communications are gone with wearing a mask and tensions are rising as this crisis goes on. I don’t carry a gun nor do I have any authority other than at the location to which I am assigned, but these days to the public it seems having a police-looking uniform suggests some level of visual identity and authority is present projecting beyond the mask. Before the crisis our job was pretty much seen as a laugh given how Hollywood treats “mall cops” and security guards… and the security industry paying minimum wage and indeed getting that quality of person.
As far as the nation goes.. this is going to get worse. Let’s also not forget that in the days before the virus.. we had our share of national regional crisis with natural and unnatural disasters.. from hurricanes, earthquakes, forest fires, oil spills (although given the current oil market likely this won’t happen)… these things will continue to be threats. Imagine a Katrina-like hurricane happening during this virus crisis and people need rescuing… and the risk of rescuers reaching into the water to pull out some gasping victim. We need to remember… our existence is not all about this virus alone. This is already a national nightmare. Add to that anything else and nightmare will turn to… social breakdown? That in itself has its own sad results.