Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

Archive for the month “March, 2020”

A PPE Nightmare, No Not What You Think


We are hearing enough daily reports about the shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) that you do not need me to remind you.  Instead, I want to give you a non-Corona virus situation to help understand just how important PPE really is.  What is scary, just this morning, it was revealed that the Center For Disease Control (CDC) last week created a crisis strategy for PPE.  In other words, the CDC is modifying its already minimized requirements for PPE, and in a crisis like we have now, even lowering those standards.  I have not read these changes in great detail yet, so I will not overstep my boundary of this post.  Instead, like I said, I have a story to tell you about PPE.  And hopefully after, you will understand in simpler terms, just what our health care workers are up against, and why this is important to them.

First, to understand, personal protective equipment, is just that, personal (for you), protective equipment (worn to protect you and possibly others).

I worked in medical research for a number of years.  Quite rewarding actually to have an avenue to give back to what saved my life.  Working in medical research, not just wearing PPE was important, but the proper levels of PPE.  And there are different levels depending on how serious a pathogen (germ, bacteria, virus, bad stuff) you were dealing with.

Your dentist wears PPE, usually a mask, and definitely gloves.  Most doctors wear gloves to examine patients.  Scientists and researchers are no different.  The thing about PPE, it is supposed to be once and done.  You wear PPE to prevent you from being exposed, or exposing anyone else.  When you are done with it, you throw it away.  You do not reuse it.  That is why most PPE comes individually wrapped.  It is not meant to be used over and over.  But what happens when it does get used again, and again, and again, and again?  Here is that story.

I had a co-worker, who shall remain nameless, who did just that.  He had several work areas to maintain.  Of course, that would mean that he had to wear a different set of PPE in each area.  Well, “gowning up” or putting on PPE takes time (booties, gown, mask, head bonnet, two pair of gloves, face shield if necessary), as does “ungowning.”  That co-worker had no issue, wearing the same PPE from area to area, and as long as he did not get caught, no harm, no foul.  And by getting caught, I mean, not just by management, but by cross-contaminating from one area to the next.  This alone is disturbing enough.  But it gets worse, much worse.  His laziness not only covered the various work areas, but extended for his entire work week.  That is right, he wore the same equipment to every area he entered, but wore it all week.  You might want to put down anything you might be snacking on or drinking for the next paragraph.

Some of us, including me, would discover what our co-worker was doing.  For the average co-worker who did not give a shit, some of us did, realizing the potential for compromising any studies.  Remember, research, looking for cures, looking for vaccines, these things all require acting appropriately.

Upon inspection, and removal of this PPE that had been discovered, was the evidence that he was doing just as I have written.  With the exception of his gloves, he had reused everything, all week, in every area.  There was “soiled” evidence on everything.  On one particular piece of PPE, was enough to make me vomit, his mask.  The one piece that would go against his lips, cover his nose was filthy, actually crusted with residue from the environment.

Forget the person risk to himself, he was carrying all of this from area to area, putting every study at risk.

That is why, when I hear today, that we have health care workers and responders pleading for PPE, being forced to wear the same PPE for days, even work without, now having the CDC “allowing” reuse of certain PPE with one of the most contagious viruses we have seen in a long time, if ever, I just want to hang my head in despair.  But I cannot.  Because I have so many friends that work in health care, and I know that they are speaking up for what they need.  And they are risking their own lives, and the lives of their loved ones at home, compromised from reusing PPE.

This is a disgrace.  This PPE shortage is something that a 3rd world country experiences.  But in times of companies operating under the guise of Six Sigma, simply put, a method to learn to do more with less, to increase profit margins.  And that means, many, if not most, have been caught with lower inventories of PPE.  Manufacturers probably cut back manufacturing due to lower demand.  And in the firestorm of an emergency like Corona Virus, here we are cut flatfooted, scrambling to find resources, rush production, and in some case, average citizens trying to do their part, making home-made PPE just so that our health care workers can have some sort of “protection.”

Our healthcare workers deserve better.  We deserve better.  All of our lives depend on it.

Getting Through This Crisis Called Corona Virus


The recommendation from the Center For Disease Control (CDC) is really quite simple.  All they recommended, was for us to minimize contact with each other, self-isolate or social distance each other, for a period of fifteen days.  It did not seem like an over burdensome thing to ask, given the potential severity of the Corona Virus crisis.  After all, many time away from others through vacations and other trips, voluntarily.  But this was being recommended.

For the most part, only astronauts and scientists are the ones most frequently performing this act of socially being isolated.  In fact, they train for this.  Others, those with serious illnesses such as cancer and auto-immune diseases, are often forced to stay away from others.  In either case, we do what we have to.

Unlike astronauts and scientists, cancer patients, etc., who endure many months of isolation, having to kill time and loneliness, we are only being asked to do fifteen days.  It should not be so hard.  At least it should not be.  I mentioned before how I dealt with this necessary, and sometimes unfortunate behavior.  The bottom line is I always got through.

So, how am I doing it as a “healthy” person, a non-scientist, definitely not an astronaut?

STAY OFF SOCIAL MEDIA

I am a bit of a hypocrite with this one.  Because of my health issues, I do spend time looking for information, as it will help to protect myself with this crisis as I am one of the more vulnerable people.  It is just, when you are on-line, one thing you are likely to see… others not following the social distancing guidelines.  And this is guaranteed to make you go crazy, perhaps in anger.  After all, you are following the rules, but they are not.

Then, there is also information overload.  I try to keep this to a minimum, so as not to get overwhelmed.  I rely on facts, not hopes and opinions.  And as long as the numbers continue to climb, the risk of me developing this, increases as well, and I must continue to be even more aware.

BINGE WATCHING

With a variety of video streaming services, there is no shortage of things to view from documentaries, concerts, movies, and some very interesting series.  I will say though, it would be nice if Umbrella Academy, Ozark, Stranger Things and others would come out with their new seasons.  This might help some stay inside.

MUSIC MUSIC MUSIC

Play it.  Listen to it.  Write it.  Sing it.  Enjoy it.  No matter how you do it, I am certain that you have a variety of media options to enjoy some cool tunes.

A PICTURE IS WORTH A 1000 WORDS, AND MIGHT TAKE UP A 1000 MINUTES OF TIME

Between my laptop and a huge tote of hard copy photographs, I spend a lot of time looking at old memories.  This also helps me with another issue, as I am currently geographically separated from my daughters, so these memories help keep them fresh in my mind.

WRITING AND OTHER COMPUTER WORK

My laptop is over fifteen years old.  In other words, there is a lot of old “memory” that I could probably eliminate to help extend the life of my old computer.

Also, as I do with this blog, there are also other projects that I have been working on.

This is also a good time to reach out to old friends, if not by email, by phone.

We can all get through this period.  The more that comply with the recommendations, the sooner it has a chance to resolve.  Hopefully these ideas will help sparks other suggestions to help.

As always, I wish you health and safety during this difficult time.

Home Stretch To Adulthood


The two greatest blessings in my life occurred when I became a father.

I was supposed to spend this passed weekend with my daughters celebrating my older daughter’s “final” birthday of her childhood.  Of course, with my health concerns, putting me at a high risk of complications from the crisis our country is dealing with right now, those plans had to be cancelled.

A slight irony, is that when she was adopted, the world was dealing with a SARS type virus (just as this Corona Virus is a SARS virus).  That episode back in 2004, caused a delay in the adoption process which actually caused a “surprise” birthday party, in Hong Kong.  We went from being concerned of missing her first birthday, to the rapid response and dealing with SARS, to celebrating her birthday, with her fellow adoptive “siblings” and their families.  Sadly this time, a SARS virus has kept us apart.

She had several nicknames, but one that I told her she would always be, “my little ting ting”, a reference to one of her original Chinese names, referring to a graceful swan.

The most amazing thing about being her father, has been watching her grow.  To actually see the influences that I have had on her through her formative years, she still carries with her today.  There is so much that she has done on her own as well.  Look out world, she is coming for you.

Fun.  Intelligent.  Full of surprise.  Empathetic.  A loyal friend.  Respectful.  Determined.  Loving.  Talented.

I cannot believe it.  The next birthday I get to celebrate with her, will be her first as an adult.  Where did the time go?  As I peruse through all the photos that I have taken of both of my daughters, I see all the blessings and time that have passed.  At the same token, it has just gone by, way too quickly.

I wish I could be with her, and she knows that.  But we both know it is safer for me where I am at because of my health.  My attention will be directed to another important date with her, Father’s Day.  Hopefully by then, the danger of this crisis will have passed.

Happy Birthday Madison, forever my “ting ting.”

Love, Daddy

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