I have avoided this particular post up until now. But alas, I just have to get it out of my system. I will try to keep my points to what I know for certain, and what I have experienced myself. If you don't agree, that's fine, but as I said, it's my blog and my experiences and my take on things.source
This is how I feel, living in Ontario right now. The perpetual pulling away of the football by Lucy for poor old gullible, trusting Charlie Brown who ends up disappointed once again.
I'm going to start by saying I am NOT an anti-vaxxer. I have had, in fact, three doses now. But that doesn't seem to matter. The hint of a fourth dose is enough to make me scream. When, please give me an actual time line, when will it be enough? When will we get back to "normal" and what will normal look like?
If you are not familiar, in Ontario we are under some version of a revised stage two something or other. I've given up keeping track of what our premier calls it because it's just semantics. We cannot sit inside a restaurant, regardless of how many covid shots we've had. We cannot go to a gym, a movie theatre or a casino or a strip club if that's your thing, retail places are 50 % capacity, and if you are gathering in your own home you can have no more than five people. If you are gathering outdoors (and might I add it is currently -9 degrees Celsius, feels like -17) you can't have more than ten (I don't know if you could even find ten people who want to gather outdoors with you anyway!) If you live in Quebec, you are under a curfew between 10:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. As well, schools are back to being virtual instead of in class for two weeks (at this moment, but who knows how much more it will be extended). There is also talk of what "fully vaccinated" might mean. Two doses now, will it be three, four, five?? We already have to show proof on paper or on our cell phones of our vaccination status for various "priviledges", but currently most of those priviledges have been taken away.
Of course, all the usual practices are still happening: masking, distancing, self-assessing before going to an appointment...
Yes, I realize Omicron is highly transmissible. I also realize that even if you have had one, two, or three doses of the vaccine you can still get it. I also realize that if you have had the doses, you probably won't get terribly ill. But I also know, if the articles that I am reading are correct, that people are still going to the hospital even if they are only a little bit sick because they don't know what to do. They don't know if they can take something for it, don't know if they are going to get sicker, or if that's just what they are supposed to do. And what I do know FOR CERTAIN, is that our hospital system is the thing that is broken.
Here's why I know this. I know this because back when I had a family physician (primary care doctor), if I needed to see him, he was often booked up solid for three weeks. Usually the thing I needed to see him for could not wait for three weeks, so I would then have to go to the emergency department at a local hospital. That really is NOT what emergency departments are for, but there was no other choice. I know for certain that there isn't a "medical clinic" in which one can walk and see one of a collection of doctors who all work for that clinic. That is not what is available for me where I live. Now that my doctor has retired, I know FOR CERTAIN that the doctor who was supposed to replace him backed out and now I have no doctor. I know I can "see" a nurse practitioner until the end of February (that's if you can get an appointment because she is also booked up two to three weeks ahead). After February, I am up the creek (as is my husband and both of my adult children) and if we need anything at all, medically, we go see a random doctor in the emergency department. There will be no continuity of care. I also know FOR CERTAIN that no other medical groups in our "area" (an hour's drive) are taking new patients. I know because I have personally called and spoken to people. We have registered on something called "Health Care Connect" which is supposed to help you find a doctor in your area, but I also know, having spoken to the people at these other medical groups, that people sometimes are on the list for two years or more. Just to add to the mix, if I were to, I don't know, accidentally slice myself making a late supper or evening snack, I could not go to the little hospital emergency department about ten minutes from my home, because their emergency department is CLOSED after 7:00 p.m. Why? There aren't enough nurses to staff it. And if my daughter were to do the same? She would not be able to go to the emergency department at the hospital in her own town because it too, is closed after 7:00 p.m. Why? A nursing shortage.
Yes, we have "free" health care in Canada, but we have LONG wait times. My sister, who has been hobbling about on a wonky leg for a couple of years, was scheduled to have surgery on the 21st of this month. Guess what? Her surgery is now postponed due to the fear of Omicron patients flooding the hospitals and there not being enough people (not just nurses, but doctors, orderlies, cleaning people, lab techs, etc. etc.) to give enough proper care. Again... this isn't a rant about people not being vaccinated and therefore taking up hospital space, because anyone can get Omicron and people go to the hospital regardless of symptoms.
I also know FOR CERTAIN from my own teaching experience that most kids (in my neck of the woods) want to be in school. I know FOR CERTAIN that most parents want their kids there and do not enjoy having to guide them in their online learning or simply can't because they work and I know that child care is hugely difficult for many families and when the Ontario government announces that school will be delayed by two days and then within that time pulls the football away again and says, no, actually it will be two weeks, and now parents are bracing for the next announcement. I also know FOR CERTAIN that teachers don't want to teach online anymore. For elementary education (can't speak for secondary or post-secondary), it is ineffective and there are some students who just never really attend and it is a nightmare to assess. I know for certain that I am sick and tired of seeing the government commercial on tv encouraging parents to get their children vaccinated so they can get back to normal and see their friends and do activities, because even though a lot of them have got their vaccines (and I know this FOR CERTAIN because my friend is a local pharmacist who gives them their shots!), it still doesn't matter because they still can't go to school with their friends.
We have been told over and over and over that in a few months, after we flatten the curve, things will improve. How many footballs need to pulled out before we just stop trying? What about the next variant, and the next, and the next? Viruses mutate. I DON'T know this for certain, but I think they eventually get weaker and weaker. The British Columbia Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry feels that this surge could lead to an endemic. I'm wary of that football, too.
An excellent article, written by Rex Murphy really struck home with me. Murphy is a Canadian political commentator and someone who was a regular fixture in my house as a child, hosting "Cross Country Check Up" on CBC radio. He shoots straight from the hip and has a life time of experience in Canadian politics.
In my opinion, this is all about our health care. We've needed more doctors and nurses for ages. We should pay our hospital employees well. In my opinion, we should change the type of shift work that nurses and other hospital employees are expected to do. I personally wouldn't be on top of my game near the end of a twelve hour shift, although I'm sure I would do my best to not make any errors and put on a happy face for people who are in pain or scared. But I know FOR CERTAIN that medical errors do happen, being at the receiving end of one many years ago. Humans make mistakes. Other humans pay the price. We need to value our nurses (doctors too, but nurses are the ones in the trenches, I believe). We need to make nursing a career that people WANT and want to stick with because it pays well, has good benefits, has good intrinsic rewards, not one where burnout is real and resentment abounds. In my opinion, Omicron could have been handled differently (in Ontario, can't speak for the rest of the world), if our health care system wasn't already circling the drain.
"People" say we need to get to the point where we learn to live with Covid, and I wholeheartedly agree. I can say that because I am not immuno-compromised, I'm not in a high risk category. Others might have their reasons to disagree. But I honestly don't think we will reach that point (football) until things get fixed in our hospitals, big city ones, and little local, rural hospitals as well. Will that cost money? Undoubtedly. Where will the money come from? Well, I know I already pay a ton of taxes... surely some of that could be used even more for far-sighted health care changes. I have read, but don't know for certain, that there are lots of nurses from other countries who are waiting and waiting to be licensed here.
I'm not really a political person, so I know this isn't my usual type of post as it doesn't feature chickens or cats or baking or reading, but it's been two long years and we are right back to where we were. I know FOR CERTAIN that I am just sick and tired. So very, very tired. And I'm tired of being Charlie Brown.