December 30, 2020

The light at the end of the tunnel

Who knew that we, our community, our country, our world would be facing such a significant health, economic and emotional challenge come 2021. As we prepare for the New Year, we will not be able to turn over a new leaf, new page without a vaccine to protect us all.

These moments take me back to my childhood, with my parents lining their 5 children up to walk the short distance to our elementary school. There we were given the polio vaccine that looked like a piece of candy. It was a pink liquid dropped on a sugar cube. It took over 20 years to develop the Salk Vaccine. In 1952, over 3,000 deaths were attributed to polio and over 58,000 new cases that left many with varying degrees of paralysis. As you may recall, Franklin D Roosevelt, at age 39, contracted polio and was left permanently paralyzed in both legs.

We have come a long way since the 1950’s in our many advancements of medical science. I remember as a young nurse working at Methodist Hospital in Houston, Tx, sandbagging patient’s head and keeping them flat for 10 days post-op for cataract removal. Now the entire surgery takes all of 45 minutes at most to remove cataracts. When WE put all of our hearts, minds, resources, attention, and understanding towards this thief of a virus, we came up with an effective vaccine for Covid-19 in less than 10 months. However you might look at it, the vaccine is a gift like the polio vaccine was so many years ago, and a significant tool in the toolbox of this pandemic.

In 10 short months, Covid-19 has taken over 335,000 American lives and affected more than 19 million Americans, leaving some with ongoing health issues. 335,000 is almost twice the population of Vancouver, Washington and 75% of the population of Clark County.  I have learned 2 important things in 10 months. The first is Covid-19 is random. It feels like a game of chance, roulette, hedging bets. If I get it, if I don’t, if I have a mild case, if I have a severe case, if there is medical care, if medical care is available. So many ifs. My chances of getting Covid-19 are much better than winning the lottery. I rarely play the lottery. I will not play with Covid-19. The second thing I’ve learned, is that we are all in this together.

My chances of having a reaction to the vaccine are so much less than my chances of getting the virus and becoming quite ill, perhaps even dying. I will take that chance. And I will continue to wear my mask, stay home and if out for essentials, six feet apart or more, outside rather than in.

We do not everything about this virus, but we know a lot. We must trust in ourselves and each other. We must have faith in this journey and approach 2021 knowing, that together, we have been given the ability to overcome this pandemic.