“But Doctor...I am Pagliacci"

Updated: Apr 15, 2020

by Ryder Blake

Social distancing. Apocalyptic shopping patterns. State-mandated curfews. Never in our lives have we seen such practices as we are currently engaging in. A pandemic is upon us for the first time in a century and no one quite knows how to deal with it or what we’re even dealing with. So little has been understood about COVID 19, but we do have some insight on how to avoid spreading the virus. It seems simple to distance ourselves from one another, avoid crowds and gatherings, and even just make sure we are practicing good hygiene i.e washing our hands multiple times a day in the proper fashion. But how do we combat the stubbornness and egotistical mindset that some individuals seem to harbor? How can we shift the "Me" mentality to the "Us" mentality? Who are those that must continue to put themselves at risk, what is really essential?

The idea of staying in our homes and only going out when absolutely necessary sounds like an easy one in theory. Most amongst us have gone out and purchased everything one could need in a state of emergency. But what is to be said about those individuals who can’t afford to prepare in ways some others can? What is to be said about the many who have been caught gouging and trying to profit off of others fear? We live in a capitalist society that very much supports this kind of behavior, so why then are we punishing some for this? Isn’t the entire American dream fashioned around the ideology that we can all be the 1%? Are we living in a broken system? One that promotes a personal success over the success of the system as a whole. This whole pandemic seems to have us questioning a lot of what we have so steadfastly held onto.

How then can we combat this behavior, how can we resist? COVID-19 may not be as serious or life threatening to each of us, but for many of us it is. Pre-existing conditions, those individuals who are immunosuppressed in one way or another, those are the ones we must think of. How about the essential employees who continuously have to sacrifice themselves and others by going into work each day? What is to be said about the medical employees who aren’t given the minimum personal protective equipment? Imagine being told you must continue to work in a system that isn’t only putting oneself at risk but due to misinformation and negligence you are now exposing patients to this virus. How is someone who started their career in the hopes of helping people supposed to know the morally right thing to do in this case? This is a problem that's much more widespread than in the medical field, but the medical field has rapidly become a battlefield with limited to no weapons left.

I know this first hand as an essential medical employee, or what is considered to be essential. I say this because the reality of my personal situation is that I work for a business that is continuously choosing to expose patients and employees to the potential of catching this life threatening virus. Although I understand the importance of medical attention I can’t sit idly by and engage in examinations that aren’t considered to be emergent just so a company can continue to profit. I chose to start quarantining about two weeks ago after a week of performing exams on many of whom, my patients were part of the high risk groups of individuals. I saw ten patients one day and of those ten, eight had at least one pre-existing condition that would deem them high risk for death by COVID-19. I found myself unable to stop questioning these patients as to why they were not following the recommendations and coming in for a non-emergent routine exam. Many of them responded by saying: "well, it's a medical exam, I felt like I had to come in or this exam could take months to get." I had grown so frustrated by the end of my work week, and couldn't believe that people were so uneducated that I nearly walked out and never looked back.

So now here I am about a week and a half into quarantine, no job, because morally I’m refusing to do mine. Confused, but mostly concerned. Concerned that we won't heed the warnings and learn from others so that we can end this thing. The only way this virus will be eradicated is if we decide to work together, sacrificing most of the normalcy we have in our usual life and protecting those who have to continue to work. The longer we refuse to follow the mandate, the longer this will continue to be a problem, and the more lives we will lose. Take one for the team, stay home, protect your neighbor, protect your family, and protect yourself. After all, what are we without one another?

Submitted Anonymously under the moniker Ryder Blake

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