Remember when …

Learning to howl

In April 2020, I published the following:

Last night for the first time I remembered to turn off the tv at 8 pm and listen. Sure enough, I thought I heard a distant howl. But not certain, I got up and opened the back door. Yep, there were definitely a few distant howls out there. Not dogs or sirens but people. People Howling for Healthcare Workers or Clapping Because We Care or just making some noise.

I listened for a few seconds and then, feeling really silly but emboldened by the darkness, I howled. No laughs or snickers came back at me. Just more distant howls. So I howled again, louder and longer. Standing on a covered deck, I thought it sounded pretty good. And I was pleasantly surprised when a howl came out of the darkness just half a block away.

It was fun. It was cathartic. And it felt good to be connecting with others in the neighborhood. So I’m going to try to remember to do it every night. Besides, it has special meaning for me. My daughter-in-law is an EMT, doing ambulance runs all over the Denver metro. I worry every day that she’s going to get the virus, and then inevitably my son and grandkids will get it.

I apologize for not knowing how to rotate this one:

Out here in a distant bedroom community, without a bunch of high-rise buildings, we aren’t making nearly this much noise. But maybe it will get better as more people learn about it.

Are you howling in your hometown?

Rant alert!!

What on earth has happened to us since then? Any howling we do now is at each other, and it’s not friendly. The health care workers we once cheered and supported are now despised by many, jeered, cursed, physically attacked. Some carry guns for protection. Many have quit. Those still on the job are exhausted, burned out, frustrated, and fed up.

How did it come to this? Why?

For the most part, I blame Donald Trump and his four years spent determinedly driving a wedge into our society, dividing us into science believers and disbelievers, Trumpers and anti-Trumpers, authoritarians and liberals. In itself destructive to our democratic society. But then came Covid and the often confusing messages from government health agencies. Of course they were confusing. Those agencies could only work with the information they had on hand at any given time — and it kept changing. Fear, confusion, rumors, misinformation. And people dying. By the thousands.

Meanwhile, Trump was — and still is — a lying, rabble-rousing, narcissistic provocateur who whipped his followers into the frenzy that became the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol. To this day he insists the election was stolen and he is the rightful president.

Galvanized and enabled by him were those individuals who believe vaccinations and masks somehow violate their constitutional rights and are some kind of evil conspiracy concocted by liberals and, subsequently, the Biden administration. And apparently they are determined to re-elect Trump in 2024.

The truly tragic and deeply disturbing result of all this is a nation so deeply divided as to be dangerously vulnerable to the civil disturbances we’ve been seeing and possibly to foreign operations.

If that weren’t enough, our health care system has been strained to the breaking point. This week Colorado, one of the most vaccinated states, has only 6% of its ICU beds available in the entire state. Eighty percent of the current occupants of ICU beds are unvaccinated Covid patients.

Our hospitals have moved to an emergency state that authorizes them to move less severely ill patients to other hospitals — anywhere in the state — regardless of the patient’s wishes, to make more room for the Covid patients. (Supposedly the government will pay the additional costs.)

How would you like to be told that due to all the incoming unvaccinated Covid patients, you were being moved from your hospital bed near your home and family to a bed 200 miles away — and you had no say in the matter?

The problem, of course, is not only a shortage of beds but a shortage of qualified, trained hospital staff. (Insanely, some of them remain unvaccinated.) And all this comes before the usual winter influx of illnesses. I am fed up with the one-third of US adults who remain unvaccinated. They are endangering their own children, their children’s classmates, their other family members, their friends and coworkers, the population at large … and me!

A few days ago I went to pick up a prescription, with no concerns about once again going through the pharmacy’s drive-thru. But they were short staffed and the drive-thru was closed. That forced me to park and go into the large grocery store and walk the length of the store to get to the pharmacy. (I haven’t been in that store for 18 months due to the pandemic.) It was crowded, as usual, and although all the employees were masked, most of the shoppers were not. I had a strong desire to grab those people by their lapels, get right in their faces, and demand they put on masks. But grocery store workers have been doing that for months and accomplishing nothing pleasant.

I’m sorry, but this has been building for months. I don’t understand the anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers. Except for the very few who have serious allergies or other relevant medical problems, they are ignorant, dangerous, selfish, and stupid. And we all know you can’t cure stupid.

(By now you must have heard about the unmasked, unvaccinated man who went to a large public gathering, deliberately exposing himself to Covid so that he could get infected and develop the antibodies that would protect him from Covid.)

So there. I’ve joined the tribalism. “They,” not “we,” are the problem. If only “they” would be more reasonable, less extreme, the nation could pull back from the brink, back from the extremism that “we” fear will destroy us.

Speaking more rationally, I agree with what Andrew Sullivan said tonight on 60 Minutes. There is a difference between hope and optimism. I still hope the nation I’ve known most of my life will survive all this, but I am not optimistic.

Maybe, subconsciously, both Sullivan and I are channeling Cornel West:

“I cannot be an optimist but I am a prisoner of hope.”

13 thoughts on “Remember when …

  1. I is so different looking back just one year ago, the energy given toward supporting each other has moved to fighting with each other. I agree with your reasons why this may have happened

  2. Frustration is an understatement
    But at this points it might be better to go back to “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” philosophy. Some actually do have medical reasons why they cannot take the vaccine- my mom if she were alive would be allergic to components. There vaccines are death to some with certain medical conditions.
    Best to take care of yourself the best you can – and let the other deal with their choices
    Trump is much less influential now than many think. Many are looking at the world’s experiences and world research and reevaluating before making decisions for themselves..
    What is influencing people a great deal now is the distrust of the CDC, Fauci (who has admitting multiple times he made stuff up or hide information that should have been shared) WHO, FDA (one member said she was basing her vote yes on the children’s vaccine because she thought schools should be open, not on the safety or scientific evidence about the vaccine itself????) that “official” medical authorities. – So much misinformation and lying by omission. People have just had enough
    Now the experts are wondering if it might be better if teenagers – especially boys who are haven far to much of heart inflammation and damage. Now they can’t decide children should wait 3 weeks or 6 weeks between shots with the 2 dose vaccines. Talk about confusing!
    One local / TX Children’s hospital pediatrician/researcher said we’ll know more about the vaccine booster effectiveness after Thanksgiving and before Christmas and we can see if any of those first in line individuals get sick….
    The dosage is experimental still…the FDA said that “experimental” status will be held until the end of Dec 2023, the actual “trial” data is scheduled to be complete and analyzed
    I do not understand why an individual’s age, weight, and height are not factored into how much the dosage is – some children are taller and heavier than some small frame adults. One size generally doesn’t fit all with medicine dosage. And why won’t they check to see there’s any level of natural immunity? That only makes sense….but then again, I think it would be better to have all shots given in a doctor’s office….last week one mom got a call saying “Gee, we are sorry. We gave your 2 kids adult vaccine doses. You might want to check with your doctor…” No “sorry” offered by CVS. The 10 year old had been complaining of pain, but mom just thought he was faking it…he’s not in hospital with heart issues…
    Here (Delta virus has come and almost burned out …but another is gearing up no doubt.) our med center data is showing 2/3 of all the children in COVID hospital care/ICU first had preexisting conditions (cancer, sickle cell, asthma, obesity, diabetes transplant…then they got covid – great risk which must terrify their parents).
    Not good is the revelation that over 10% of adult cases hospitalized here are individuals who were already in the hospital for treatment for other reasons (heart, lungs, cancer – you know the list) and they came down with COVID in the hospital after being exposed there. Also weird is mostly break through cases in adults hospitalized – but then again the experts are finally saying these are not very good vaccines (don’t stop you from spreading it to others) – yet they do keep you from getting really really sick and needing the ICU. (Good enough for me)
    Work needs to be done improving treatments/. new meds to fight off this virus and not count on these first generation vaccines.
    Why your state is suddenly jammed with new cases is confusing – the weather has not been that bad yet. But there are lots of tourists still I suppose. And the immigrants from the border who are being moved through airports everywhere…the ones who can and do legally refuse offers of free vaccines when the first arrive across the border. That could be another source. What a mess. Either vaccines are good and mandated for all or for none? (Congressional clerks/employees do not have to follow the mandate…neither do some unions…what’s with that?)
    I try to be respectful of other’s choices, but darn, you can do what you want, but I will take steps to take care of me and mine. All I can do.
    But yes, it’s frustrating and things are not back to normal – just people pointing at each other and getting more and more hostile. Not a good thing.
    Oh, for the days of when politics, heath/ illness’s and salaries were not considered appropriate topics of conversation among intelligent people. Miss Manners would have fainted away months ago HAHA!
    Take care (and howl on!!!)

    1. Officials here haven’t figured out why our infection and transmission rate is so high, but it’s wreaking havoc with the hospitals. Elective surgeries are being postponed — and even some cancer surgeries. Our cases have been rising steadily for several months and are now about as high as they’ve ever been. And my county is one of the worst. Hospitals have always been a dangerous place to be if you don’t want to catch something.

      As for titrating doses based on height and weight, that’s done with some drugs, but not with any other vaccines I can think of. Age is being considered in that boosters were promoted early to the elderly. Consideration also given to high risk groups. But still, same dose for all adults.

      As I noted, there are valid health reasons for some people to not get vaccinated … but they aren’t nearly as numerous as the “just because” stubborn anti-vaxxers who continue to endanger all of us.

      I’ve always believed in live and let live, mind your own business, etc. But those refusing vaccination are endangering me and mine and everyone else who is trying so hard to get this thing under control. The objectors are now a minority. Maybe it’s time we put them in lockdown instead of the vaccinated majority. After all, they’re the ones jamming up our hospitals. (Yeah, yeah, I know there’s no way to enforce that. But I can dream … )

      Miss Manners (my mother in disguise) would not have approved of all this. Not at all.

      1. It is a puzzlement.
        It is so weird about your area’s cases.
        Also weird is that now 85% of new covid cases in Houston / hospitals are now breakthrough cases – some with 2 shots and a booster – but at least not in ICUs so that’s a something of a help. Getting on ventilator is almost pure death apparently, We’ll see if the “new” covid treatment drugs make any impact.
        If the vaccines do not prevent spread (and they don’t), then it really doesn’t seem to matter who is vaccinated – all about protecting yourself and limiting the damage COVID can do to you. It’s free – they are handing out $100.00 per shot – plenty of reasons to get the shot here.
        Always though it was weird parents would risk their child and not get the basic vaccines, too. Basic truth is people are just weird.
        Fingers crossed fly shots are not also avoided.
        We’d like to visit family but your state is really mysteriously sickie-poo. Not much fun at all.

      2. Oh here’s a new statistic just in 5 min ago on news. In Harris County,, 51.9% of the the total number of patients who died of COVID had diabetes. 13.5% of people in this area have diabetes ( higher % than average) Docs are getting very serious with their diabetic patients. (We have far too much access to city/county/regional data here – but you keep trying to get a handle on it?)
        At least you live in an area with healthier lifestyle!

        1. Yep, they can’t figure out what’s going on here, aside from 85% or so in ICUs are unvaccinated covid patients. They’re even asking for some kind of federal personnel just to help staff the hospitals. We had big “field hospitals” set up at the beginning of the pandemic, but they were all dismantled. Never really used. And now that we need those beds … ugh. Haven’t heard much talk about ventilator supply, just ICU bed availability.

          Meanwhile, I’ll just continue to stay home, order everything delivered, and wear a mask if I happen to be indoors or in crowds with anyone other than family.

          If the pills work as well as they say, we need to get those distributed ASAP.

          Dunno about that healthier lifestyle. Some of our earliest outbreaks started at our ski areas.

  3. I think you make a lot of good points and ones with which I agree wholeheartedly. If attitudes that exist today had been present in 1941 after Pearl Harbor this nation would never have been unified to accept all the rules, regulations we citizens followed, though I was only a child then. There would have been people running around complaining about their rights and all the other we hear from that minority today. We would never have won WWII and our country might well have been overrun by our enemies. United we stand; divided we fall! Hope springs eternal and I cling to a thread of optimism.

    1. “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” — Abraham Lincoln. I’m a war baby myself and agree with you. Hang onto that thread of yours; we’re going to need it. I just hope it doesn’t take another war to reunite the country.

... and that's my two cents