Death Without a Theme Song

I carry Kick on my left hip. She’s in this phase where she wants to be held, all the time, and if I want to get anything done at all, I have to do it one-handed while bouncing her, and I’m right-handed. So I carry her on my left hip.

Four days ago my lower back started complaining. This isn’t unusual, though it’s generally not bad enough to make me throw up. Iced it, heat-padded it, and shoved some of my leftover C-section painkillers in my face. No relief.

(There are very good evolutionary reasons to have children when you are 19 and could eat Tupperware and lift hay bales and be just fine in the morning, turns out. I’m not saying that’s when you’re mentally prepped, but damn, my 19-year-old body would have aced this shit.)

Three days ago the pain migrated around to my left side and got worse. More ice, more painkillers, begging Kick to learn to walk early, hot baths. Saturday night brandy was applied with some success, but by Sunday morning I wound up in Urgent Care.

And the first question I was asked was if I had traveled to West Africa in the past three weeks.

I am not faulting the nurses here. The one who asked me this was rolling her eyes and she knew this was stupid and a waste of time, and said over the past week at least three crackpots, inspired by CNN, showed up in full Hazmat gear. Two of them had the flu. One, she thought, was just bored.

That’s a great use of our overstressed, understaffed hospitals’ time and energy: 

The economic costs of epidemics are often out of proportion to their death toll. The outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003 is estimated to have caused over $50 billion-worth of damage to the global economy, despite infecting only about 8,000 people and causing fewer than 800 deaths. That is because panic and confusion can be as disruptive as the disease itself. Studies of past outbreaks have shown that lethal diseases that lack a cure tend to provoke overreactions. This is true even if the risk of transmission is low, as is the case with Ebola.

Poverty will kill more people this week than Ebola. Preventable cancers, malnutrition, gun violence, will kill more people in a single night than Ebola will in the lifetime of the world. It’s getting colder outside, and that cold will kill more people in one neighborhood of one city than Ebola will worldwide.

Those people’s deaths aren’t fodder for morning news segments and they’re not the subject of talk shows and nobody but nobody is demanding the president do anything to protect them. Nobody will politicize their tragedy, nobody will make money watching them die or garner ratings by shaming the health care workers who will try to help them, and therefore there is nothing to write a catchy chyron about.

I don’t have Ebola. I have an inflamed sacroiliac joint, like an 80-year-old, and should learn to do stuff with my left hand so as to vary the pressure on my hips and back. Mr. A gets to hold the baby a lot more for a few days, I get some muscle relaxers and a lecture about “taking it easy,” and we all go back to business as usual.


One thought on “Death Without a Theme Song

  1. Sorry, A. I can’t agree. The nurses need to ask the question for now, and it only takes a few seconds. A nurse did ask Eric Duncan, and he answered yes. She flagged his chart, but no one paid attention, and he was sent home. I’m most certainly not in a panic about Ebola, but if I worked in ER or Urgent Care, I’d insist on asking the question.

    I hope you feel better soon.

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