Who to Trust

The man sits comfortably on three liters of nasal canula as I peer into his ED room.

He laughs as I enter with a mask, a face shield, a gown and gloves: all standard protocol for “PUIs,” patients under investigation for COVID. He has good reason to laugh. I look ridiculous.

“You scared of me ol’ boy?” he states in the familiar rural twang of our region.

“Shoot, I ain’t scared. I believe I could whoop you without wrinkling my dress here!”

We both laugh. He can hear I grew up close by.

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The Tempest

“Saturation” is a word used to describe an overcrowded hospital, where every bed is full, as is every gurney in the emergency department and every waiting room—and there’s a line of ambulances waiting outside to offload still more patients.

“Saturation” also refers to a swelling riverbed, to color devoid of light, and to the cotton-rag–like lungs of someone with COVID pneumonia.

It’s been almost nineteen months since the first case of COVID was declared in the United States. Since then, health-care workers have endured surging cases, periods of eerie calm, more surges, and, now, a hurricane.

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Struggling to Understand

As a person, a student, and a teacher, I have always played by the rules (or even the suggestions) set by authority figures. Even if a rule irks me—I do not like being confined by a seatbelt, for example—I follow it. The Surgeon General’s advice that cigarettes can be lethal made even the thought of lighting up seem like a sin, and I have never smoked. So when scientists stated that vaccines would help in the fight against COVID-19, I got my two doses of Moderna.

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An Editor’s Invitation: Unvaccinated

Dear Pulse readers,
Over the last few days, I’ve had two conversations with individuals who have decided not to get vaccinated against the COVID virus. In both of those conversations, I struggled.
The first was with a patient whose wife is battling cancer, is receiving chemotherapy and is also unvaccinated.
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