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Seeing Coronavirus Through 79 Year Old Eyes

Ray Blain is a retired pediatrician and medical consultant, and author of a forthcoming autobiography Becoming A Doctor; My Dreams and Nightmares.

I received my medical diploma from Georgetown University in 1966, my National Board of Pediatrics certification in 1970—and I retired in 2004. During that time I have had the honor of serving many people—some who appreciated it and a few who did not.

During those 34 years, I learned that people and diseases don't always behave the way you expect. Getting good results often generated words of appreciation. Getting poor results sometimes did also because people occasionally recognize that no matter how hard you try, nature didn't read the textbook or attend the medical class.

Health care personnel put their lives at risk because they have a calling… a mission… a compulsion to help others. We expose ourselves to potentially lethal situations like the time as a pediatric resident my intern and I were required to give CPR and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation because the usual equipment was being sterilized after our first resuscitation efforts. We knew the child had bacterial meningitis and had suffered cardiac and respiratory arrest three times that night in the hospital.

We were successful in our efforts twice, but the third time the inevitable happened—he died. What was our reward?—A congressional request to review the medical records because of an accusation of racial bias. God forbid that I ever succumb to prejudice.

On another occasion, in 1972, when I opened the door into the Roseville Community Hospital Emergency Department, I was confronted by a knife-wielding man. He was refusing treatment for a significant arm laceration received in a bar fight I later was told. My mother didn't raise any fool, so I held the door open and let him pass.

I have only had a retired physician's license since 2005, so I am no longer allowed to actively practice. Once in a while I am asked to give some advice or render first-aid; these I can still do.

Now we are in a pandemic, not unlike the influenza eEpidemic of 1918, and the epidemics of HIV, Ebola, and the SARS-coronavirus. This pandemic resembles 1918 more than any of the more recent episodes because mankind was able to somewhat modify the mortality of the later diseases with modern medical treatments that were not available in1918.









But this one is worse than it should have been because of a lack of respect for expert warnings, poor preparation, lack of self-restricting social practices, widespread international travel, virulence of the virus, and the increased population of people of older age with underlying diseases that increase morbidity and mortality.

It emerged in China, and if we can believe the Chinese data, severe, and strict social restrictions by that government have significantly slowed if not stopped the disease in this country of about 1.5 billion people.

In the United States, our national government has been slow to respond to the threat, but many of our state and local governments have stepped in to pick up the slack. Now even private businesses, sports and political organizations are adopting necessary preventive measures even though they will pay a severe economic penalty for doing what is right. That is called good citizenship, good morality, and good long term thinking.

In the last week, I have seen many friends, neighbors, relatives and even strangers step up to help those of us who are in the higher risk categories. People have called and stopped by our home to volunteer to run errands or do shopping for us so that we can minimize our exposure and risk. It is a reminder that most people are good, kind, thoughtful and caring .

We are blessed to live in such a town, state, country and world.

We will survive. We will triumph .

What a wonderful reminder that people are good. We should never lose hope, trust and faith.

~ Raymond Leo Blain, M.D., Retired
































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