At 7 a.m., my clinic schedule had many openings. By 9 a.m., they were full. I added some on even. ALL of the urgent appointments were for: Flu-like illness/ cough, sinusitis, or GI symptoms.

We’re having an usually viral season. We get emails every few days from the hospital, with new and multiple alerts:  Informing us what viruses are currently epidemic (Flu A and B, RSV and Norovirus); who to swab for flu, who to treat, who to admit… These emails contain exhortations like (cut and pasted):

“No Heroes! Staff with flu-like illness should leave the office and STAY HOME per the protocols of occupational health.”

I would definitely stay home if I got sick, but I’d prefer not to get sick. It would be really, really inconvenient, to say the least, if I picked up one of these viruses. Not only for me, but for my household.

Because if I’m sick, it sucks for me. But if the kids are sick, it sucks even worse. Not only is there all the worry about them, there’s the sleep deprivation, the disastrous disruption of household function, and more sleep deprivation. Total chaos ensues. I shiver to think about it.

So I am not sure why I shook her hand.

My 10 am patient:

The line on the triage sheet read “GI symptoms- persistent”. I figured right away that this was one of the hundreds of Norovirus cases spreading across our state. So when I walked in I was prepared to be friendly and nice, but not to shake hands.

But the young lady grimly pulled herself to standing and stuck out her hand, in such a spontaneous, disarming, and almost heroic manner, that I just reacted. I stuck out my hand too.

And we shook hands.

The whole visit I was thinking “Got to wash my hands. Got to wash my hands.” After she left I disinfected my keyboard and the doorknob. I’ve been very conscious or not touching my face. But I’ve seen so many patients with these illnesses, I may be doomed…

We may all be doomed!