A Day in Respiratory Clinic: Omicron Version

We start with only two pre-booked patients, a mom and her six-month-old baby, but by forty-five minutes into the morning, the schedule is full. I take my own COVID test (negative) and joke with the medical assistants about how they resemble pregnancy tests. Already wearing scrubs and N95 mask, I suit up with face shield, disposable gown, stethoscope and gloves. I breathe.  

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Ten Little Soldier Boys

“Seven little soldier boys chopping up sticks; one chopped himself in halves and then there were six.

“Six little soldier boys playing with a hive; a bumblebee stung one and then there were five.

“Five little soldier boys going in for law; one got in chancery and then there were four.

“Four little soldier boys going out to sea; a red herring swallowed one and then there were three.”

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Adapting to Uncertainty

I retired at age 89 from a primary-care internal medicine practice of nearly six decades. Medicine as service has permeated my bones, my mind, my spirit. How can I still contribute, without a medical license, without a prescription pad? Especially in the age of omicron, with uncertainty abounding everywhere?

Perhaps examining the reality of uncertainty, and how my fellow clinicians and I learned to adapt to it, will be of some value.

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Dodging the Virus

Although I wasn’t the last kid picked for teams in gym class, captains never clamored for me, either. That was sensible, given my nominal athletic skills. In softball or kickball, my defensive strategy consisted of trying to psychically deflect incoming balls from my sector of the outfield, desperate to avoid letting down my team with an embarrassing miss or fumble.

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Déjà vu all over again

The news is full of reports about the havoc omicron is wreaking on our health-care system. But last week I was on vacation, and as I sipped my daily latte and strolled on the beach, COVID-19 seemed like a distant memory. As soon as I checked my work email after getting back, however, my vacation bliss shattered—boom!

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What’s Really a Bummer

I canceled going to Canada to ski this month. Yes, I’m worried about the infectiousness of omicron and the need for constant risk-assessment once again. But what’s worse are the emotions swirling in my head as I think about certain friends and family members.

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Children at Risk in Brazil

My country—Brazil—leads the world in the worst COVID consequences. That fact is so outrageous I feel uncomfortable using the verb “lead,” as it’s usually associated with positivity. But Brazil holds global records in infection and death from SARS-CoV-2, including maternal deaths and child and adolescent deaths. “COVID killed a child aged 5 to 11 every two days in Brazil” stated a recent news article based on epidemiological data. A parliamentary investigation found evidence that hundreds of thousands of deaths could have been avoided if not for decisions by politicians.

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Christmas Eve

As a physician and a musician, the past twenty-two months have been filled with personal suffering and sacrifice. My pediatric practice has been severely affected, as I practice in New Rochelle, the former epicenter of the pandemic back in March, 2020. As a horn player, my musical practice has also suffered, as most concerts have been on hiatus during the pandemic.
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An Unwelcome Word

As an avid reader and retired teacher of literature and writing, I have always loved words. For example, “humdrum,” despite its mundane meaning, delights me with its rhyming syllables; “plethora” tastes like cotton candy whenever I say it. Yet, some words fill me with dismay or angst. I have always disliked the noun “pandemic” because my paternal grandfather died in the 1918 flu pandemic, leaving my beloved grandmother and not yet three-year-old father alone in a family no longer whole.

When the world changed in March 2020, the word “COVID” joined my lexicon of unfavorable words.

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January More Voices: Omicron

Dear Pulse readers,

This New Year welcomes us with COVID’s latest incarnation, the Omicron variant. As Yogi Berra said, “It’s like déjà vu all over again.” Once again each of us must assess risk and make decisions about our daily lives based on data that is incomplete and sometimes alarming.

Here’s what my past ten days have been like:

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