Numbers

Wrapped in a bath towel cocoon

Eyelids pulled heavy as lead

I stew on the numbers in my head- 0, 20, 22,000, 120 million

I’m not one to read the news but it came to my attention-

Pres caught a virus that he could have prevented

Said he felt better than he’d felt in 20 years

that’s the steroid talking- mania is a known side effect, we call it ‘pred head’ in the field. 

How many covid tests did he take since the outbreak?

How many doctors and dollars were on his team?

What was the cost of the monoclonal antibody that he received, inaccessible to everyone else? 

How many lives didn’t have to die on my watch?

Does he fathom that nobody has the resources that he has?

I’ve cared for countless COVID patients, watched them die before my eyes,  horrified that I’d pass it on to my loved ones, yet I’ve been tested 0 times- cold fact.

22,000 dollars per year- that is how much less female primary care physicians earn compared to our male counterparts, despite spending more time with our patients and more time in the office. We are more likely to be burnt out and depressed, which is an understatement- I feel charred and scarred after only 2 years of working in the US. 

120 million- the annual bonus of a local ‘health insurance’ company CEO

Many tens of millions more go to his direct underlings as a holiday bonus. 

They do not insure our health so much as their own wealth

Each dollar squeezed out of the poor people they claim to serve as they bleed them dry.

Patients are a commodity, raw material off of which others profit 

This imbalance of power is not new

Ancient Egypt- Moses fought Pharaoh to let his people go. 

Antebellum American South- Harriett led 70 slaves to freedom.

Happy scrappy revolutions won against all odds- ask Che

I search for a way out of the broken health care system for my fellow Americans- a path to escape or confront the sociopath CEOs who let people die in the name of more money than they know what to do with- purchasing yet another luxury home at the expense of human lives.

I search for a north star to navigate through this mess. How can I reach an enemy surrounded by impenetrable bureaucracy with no help from democracy- politicians line their own pockets with blood money first. 

I lean into these earthly concerns

Feel the weight of the world on my shoulders

Feel my fighting spirit, ever hopeful

I lean back into the waterfall of grace, the spiritual plane, the place where my soul melts with pure light

The fight is not mine alone, yet I feel alone sometimes, floating in the sea of collective suffering.

I emerge from my bath towel cocoon, one person who cares about other people, who wants to speak for the speechless, who is growing into herself as a person and a physician.

I know that being underserved means being served too late- society keeps dropping the ball then spending it all once health is damaged beyond repair. 

Is there anybody who feels the same out there?

Death Certificate

Another day, another death by COVID.

My COVID patient who died today was relatively healthy and young.
While filling out his death certificate, I paused over the ’cause of death’ section:
 
My patient had multi-organ failure with a subsequent cardiac arrhythmia incompatible with life and viral pneumonia causing respiratory failure, however the failure that lead up to his COVID infection was systemic at a societal level.
 
My patient was a prisoner, infected by COVID-19 because he was denied the ability to socially distance, robbed of the right the protect himself.
 
I didn’t know him, but as I studied his body during his final hours I imagined what his life had been like, and wanted to include on his death certificate:
 
Cause of death:
Complications resulting from loss of human rights due to imprisonment
Secondary to the prison-industrial complex
Secondary to class warfare
Secondary to poverty
Secondary to racism
 
I didn’t know him, but I shared pieces of his struggle:
Adverse childhood experiences, trauma on trauma on trauma
 
His premature death is another stone in my pocket
My path is liberation
Wherever his soul is now, I hope he feels liberated too
Liberated from the brown skin which lead to his incarceration which inevitably did him in.