Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

Archive for the category “The Heart”

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?


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

15 Days, Limits Of Group Size – It Is All About Perspective

This meme came across my feed today.  It could not be more appropriate.  Honestly, I had been hoping to follow up my 30th Anniversary post with stories of the adventures of my next ten and twenty years.  Instead, my last several posts have all been geared to help everyone understand the big picture, and why it needs to matter to everyone.

This afternoon, President Trump announced an extreme measure meant to help contain the spread of the Corona virus.  The result from this press conference is simply, politics needs to be thrown out the window dealing with this crisis.  If you were anti-Trump, you heard a press conference that appears to have nearly everyone on the same page, hopefully giving confidence that were will progress forward.  If you are pro-Trump, you should stop hearing (at least for the time being) attacks on the efforts, but rather, from the President himself, this is serious, and it is not going away any time soon.  Both sides should now be on the same page, going for the same goal.  Slow the progression, buy the time needed so that the medical system does not get overwhelmed.  More importantly, casualties kept to a minimum.

One of the hardest things for most people to accept, is being told their life needs to be put on hold, at least temporarily.  No secret, I am a cancer survivor, and I think I can speak for anyone who has ever had to deal with a serious health issue, when I say, “hold my beer.”

15 days.  We, as a country, are being asked to limit our interactions to groups less than ten people.  In some places, businesses are either being recommended or required to close to assist with this effort.  Chances are, if you are a healthy individual, the news of being told to restrict your social activity probably resulted in the same result that a teenager would give being told they could not go to the movies or mall with their friends under normal circumstances.  Que the eye roll and thunder as the pupils hit the back of the head, and the screams of exasperation at the perceived “end of days”.

I just heard a great analogy, that pushing to find out how much longer we are going to have to deal with this, is like asking a fireman how soon we will be able to move back into the house, as they are still putting out fire.

Perspective.  Also known as “keepin’ it real.”

My chemotherapy lasted 8 months, 240 days.  No hair.  Sick as shit.  Fatigued to no end.  No one wanting to hang out with someone looking like a freak.

My radiation therapy went 30 days.  My skin burning worse than any sunburn imaginable, resulting in a peeling that you could only imagine being equaled by a Hollywood makeup artist.

Recovery from open heart surgery, six months, 180 days.  With one full week in the hospital, 2 days in the ICU, I lost all my strength.  I needed the full six months to heal properly, before being able to return to work.

Enough with the sick stuff.  Are you reading this and old enough to remember the events of September 11, 2001?  Have your forgotten all of the changes that were immediately implemented, leaving us no choice to accept the way things were, many of which still exist today, some methods even stronger?

Do you think only bad things in our lives can make us appreciate perspective?  Nope.  I know it is a bad example, but how many have gone on a two week cruise?  Spring Break?  Family vacations?  The truth is, we have no problem with a “social distancing” when we are able to make that decision ourselves.  Because that is a good thing.  But you know what else is a good thing?  Keeping your health.

President Trump has made it very clear today.  We need to do this, limit our social activity for fifteen days.  It is not like we cannot do it, because we can.  But just as I lost control of my life to fight cancer, and the many late health issues have come up, of the events of September 11, 2001, this situation is no different.  I cannot control the outcome of the spread.  But I can deal with how it affects my personal life, which as a collective, will help everyone.

I have gone through this many times.  So can you.

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