Happy F*&cking New Year

 “Gov. Parson declares end to COVID emergency as Missouri cases soar to record levels” reads the tweet from St. Louis Public Radio. “There are no ICU beds in all of Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, or Arkansas ask me how I know” tweets Adrienne Taren MD/PhD. 

It’s New Year’s Eve here in New York City, the city that is the bellweather for the rest of the country. The news is bad: 43,985 new cases of COVID yesterday; 884 new hospital admissions; the highest number of pediatric admissions since the pandemic began.

Photo by Edward Jenner on Pexels.com

I’m basically a shut-in. By choice. I walk my dog Dev, pop in to the corner store or the liquor store (don’t judge) for a few essentials, have the majority of things delivered. Again. Why? Because even though I am vaxxed, boosted, masked, I fear the consequences of omicron. I need to keep seeing my family for the sake of my mental health. I need to escape illness, doctors, hospitals and especially ERs.

I am still grieving the loss of my husband, still grieving the loss of the life we had before cancer, before COVID, before the imminence of authoritarianism. I am still suffering from PTSD stemming from Dan’s final six months. He was warehoused in the ER or an adjacent hallway for 36 to 48 hours four times waiting for a bed to open up because — COVID. I could not accompany him, could not be there to ask the right questions about procedures, to staunch the fear in his eyes, to tell him that I loved him and that we would manage. COVID made everything so much f*&cking harder. And it still is.

Much of America is just pretending that it’s all over. I’m beginning to take that personally. Unlike the other widows in the bereavement group I attended, I wasn’t angry about Dan’s death. I didn’t see the point. He got the best care that medicine could offer. The virus that caused his cancer– HPV– had been lurking in his body for decades, only turning deadly in 2018. The vaccine to prevent contracting this common sexually transmitted virus, Gardasil, only came on the market in 2006, too late not just for Dan but for my daughters’ generation. Eighty percent of sexually active adults have had contact with this virus. Only a small percentage of those people end up with HPV related cancer, but trust me, you don’t want to be one of them.

Which brings me back to COVID. I am furious. Livid. Not at the virus. What’s the point of bearing umbrage against it? One might as well hold a grudge against dust, or rays of sunshine, or trees for producing pollen. It’s humans I am furious with. Take this virus seriously. Get vaccinated, boosted, masked, social distanced. How many cases of “long COVID” are the consequence of “mild” COVID? How many cancers will – in ten or twenty years be attributed to SARS-CoV-2? I’ve only heard one doctor on television mention this possibility– an oncologist– but all of them know that the more we learn about MS, cancer, CFS and a host of other chronic or fatal diseases, the more we understand how viruses catalyze cell mutation.

But let’s just pretend the virus is over. Magical thinking doth not a solution to a pandemic make. The economic cost of controlling the spread will be far outweighed by the externalities in the years, decades to come. The emotional cost of ongoing trauma on our healthcare workers, children, families, survivors (and I include myself among that number) is becoming untenable. 

I’m finding it difficult to hope for a Happy(er) New Year. But I am trying. Let’s all just try to do better, be better. Thank you for coming to my rant Ted Talk. See you in 2022.

23 thoughts on “Happy F*&cking New Year”

  1. It seems it was only yesterday I toasted and ushered in 2021, sure it would be so much better than 2020! I had no idea what that new year would bring for me, my family, the community, and our world. At midnight tonight, I will be grateful simply for having made it through this year, for having another year with my boys. I will be grateful for the friends and family that helped me through. Far from imagining that our problems will magically disappear in 2022, I will instead ask for the strength to get through whatever the new year brings, and to find love and peace and joy in small moments amid the darkness that surrounds.

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  2. Preach it, Sister. Amen. I am so tired of all the fucken stupid people that have come out of their holes in the past five years. I am so afraid for this country, especially for the fallout my children and grandchildren will endure in the future. I think their lives will be far less equitable than mine has been. I want to wish they would all die of Covid and return the country to a sane population, but they would hurt too many innocents on their way out. And now I need to feed the juncos, again.

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    1. I do so worry about what my children and grandchildren will live through — between the end of American democracy and prosperity and the environmental disaster that will change everything for everyone, it is so hard to be optimistic. Keep enjoying your beautiful natural world — for me getting outside and especially down to the river keeps me (somewhat) sane.

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  3. “Much of America is just pretending that it’s all over. I’m beginning to take that personally.” This reality just blows me away. We currently don’t have many cases here in the San Luis Valley. Last night the power company turned off our power for several hours to help people in another part of the state where there was a deadly large grass fire that destroyed homes (that maybe should never have been built?). OK. A heads up would’ve been nice but…

    So sometime in the evening “they” (emergency services) opened warming centers for people. I thought. “Wow a bunch of random people all gather together in a closed area to stay warm.” Because mask and vaccine mandates are Socialism and we can’t have that in this fascist backwater of the American Republic. Never mind that measures taken to save lives are not “Socialism” and carrying an AR-15 is not freedom.

    I really really think it’s time to stop pretending this is ‘business as usual as we’ve always known it.” It’s not. It’s something else completely, but our consumerist society can’t seem to fathom that a long era is over and we need to grow the fuck up. I’m so sick of it I don’t even want to leave the house. I might tomorrow, if the winds die down and if, by some remote chance of benevolence, nature gives us snow.

    Basically I just want to cry.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. OMG Martha I wish we could cry together. I have been numbing myself for weeks in order to get through the holidays — the first without Dan — and trying so hard not to let the world intrude and make me break open, but today it just did, and I just did. I’m so sorry that I haven’t been commenting on your posts. I have been writing, and reading, and trying to stay sane and have something optimistic and helpful to say. I think about your cranes and the beauty of the place where you live when I need to relax and try to get some sleep, both of which have been hard to do recently. It is all so very very sad.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh Trish, don’t worry about reading and commenting. You will when you can. Writing every morning is just a thing I do while I drink my coffee. Maybe sometime you can come out and experience the cranes and beauty IRL ❤

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  4. It’s hard to find much to be joyful about these days. My father (90) and I have the same conversation every time we talk. “Can you believe the people in this country…” we say. I can’t. Most of the people in the grocery store still aren’t wearing masks. Don’t they read the news? My father’s wife has covid as of yesterday. She’s vaxxed and boosted and my father tested negative. So far all is well, but 90, and she’s in poor health. We sure did squander an opportunity to do this pandemic right, and in truth, I think we’ve learned nothing. Getting out of this (if we ever do) will be a stroke of luck that we probably don’t deserve.

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  5. Here in Connecticut we are similarly slammed. I keep thinking that we are undergoing a national test and we are flunking. The citizens of today would have curled up and died during the Depression or World War ll. It is insane that science is under fire and people spend time claiming immunity to a virus because of whatever talisman they hold. Before this hit I kept thinking what death of an empire would look like here. I guess we are seeing it.

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    1. There’s a front page story in the NYT today about how Americans are constantly throwing toddler-like temper tantrums. Somehow, somewhere, the sense of taking life’s challenges in stride and doing one’s best has been forsaken. I call it “selfie culture” — within which the “I” becomes all, the pose more important than the behavior. And yes, I too am reminded of fin de siecle Europe on the edge of not just WWI but the destruction of the empires tottering after centuries of expansion.

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  6. “Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies — ‘God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.'” ~Kurt Vonnegut

    This quote has been a surprisingly simple way to get through many things. Be kind. Of course. But these people living without regard for others scare me. They will haunt us for years to come. When it comes to Covid, we don’t know what we don’t know. So sure, be kind. But wear the fucking mask and get the fucking shot. Happy New Year. Keep on writing it out !

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  7. You know, this is the first time I’ve read anyone relate going through the death of a spouse as having PTSD. It certainly seems apt, looking back. (Widow 16+ years) It is the worst club to join. The Widows Club. (Which every time I think of it, sounds like the perfect title to a murder mystery in which a bunch of women decide to off their spouses in creative and undetectable ways. But the title is already taken. Sigh.) Sorry, I tend to digress in conversation.

    The anger over COVID extends as well to losing friends to it. While I was going through COVID at home, a friend was hospitalized with it. We texted that week and her last text to me was the fact the doctors were going to intubate her. She died the next day. I was hysterically angry at the world for her loss. For what felt like the indifference of a nation to the ongoing crisis. I’ve got issues with a lot of things and what has happened and is still happening. So, I think 2022 is going to be the year of resolution. I need to resolve my anger, my frustration, my fears and my grief so I can find a balance to move forward. It isn’t easy, but focusing on what we can do for ourselves and our families is the priority. Doing what we can for others is a next-best option. Voting out anyone who contributed to this mess–a definite necessity–but knowing who that is can be tricky. I’d like to vote in a bunch of medical professionals and scientists who would require educating the public to be a priority–even if it is just starting in public schools. Again, my apologies, I think I triggered off your topic into a nest of all my bad thoughts about the world.

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  8. At least we still have new years. They offer a glimmer of hope even in the most discouraging times. If the hope turns false over the next 12 months, at least we get the glimmer again in 2023, just like Charlie Brown expecting Lucy to hold the football until he place kicks it.

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  9. Your blog is refreshing and honest, thank you, Trish, for putting your truth on the page. I can’t gin to imagine what you’ve endured throughout the last couple of years… sending you and yours much peace and comfort. I’m with you 100% plus regarding the “vax” situation. Why can’t we all understand this is about humanity and get vaxxed for one another? Blessings of light to you.

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