healthcare, social media, stupid people

Alabama doctor gets “threats” after warning people on Facebook about COVID-19!

Hey guys… I know I’m on a short vacation, but I need to make a comment. And right now, Mr. Bill is about to take a shower, so I have a few minutes to vent about this.

A couple of days ago, I read a heartbreaking story about Dr. Brytney Cobia, a hospitalist in Alabama, who shared an emotional Facebook post about the realities some of the people who don’t get vaccinated against COVID-19 will face if they get sick. She wrote:

I’ve made a LOT of progress encouraging people to get vaccinated lately!!! Do you want to know how? I’m admitting young healthy people to the hospital with very serious COVID infections. One of the last things they do before they’re intubated is beg me for the vaccine. I hold their hand and tell them that I’m sorry, but it’s too late. A few days later when I call time of death, I hug their family members and I tell them the best way to honor their loved one is to go get vaccinated and encourage everyone they know to do the same. They cry. And they tell me they didn’t know. They thought it was a hoax. They thought it was political. They thought because they had a certain blood type or a certain skin color they wouldn’t get as sick. They thought it was ‘just the flu’. But they were wrong. And they wish they could go back. But they can’t. So they thank me and they go get the vaccine. And I go back to my office, write their death note, and say a small prayer that this loss will save more lives.

As always, I am an open book. Please bring me your questions and I will tell you everything I know and everything I don’t.

It’s not too late, but some day it might be.

It got picked up by multiple news outlets and shared in the article I found on MSNBC. I shared it on my page, and one of my friends, who is a nurse at the Mayo Clinic and has been taking care of COVID patients from the beginning, wrote about how she took care of a person who asked her if they were going to die that night. That person, who was unvaccinated and asked for the vaccine while hospitalized, didn’t die. However, another unvaccinated person who was being taken care of by my friend at the same time did die. Both were previously healthy people in their 40s. She still thinks about both of them, and countless others who have been under her care.

Then yesterday, a friend of mine and Bill’s– a Trump devotee from Alabama who was smart enough to get the vaccine– wrote that his daughter is currently in the hospital with COVID-19 and she is VERY sick. She was not vaccinated, so her life is now in danger. Our Trump loving friend– and he really is a friend we knew when we lived in northern Virginia– wrote a heartfelt post to his friends and family members about the vaccine, encouraging them to get it. Most of his friends were respectful and kind, although one referred to the vaccine as “poison” and felt free to opine about how things are in Europe. Bill needed to set her straight on that. I also added my two cents, which I rarely do on this guy’s Facebook, because his friends are even more conservative than some of my relatives are.

People– COVID is NOT a political thing. It’s a public health crisis. Vaccines have been around for hundreds of years, and they WORK. Is there a small chance of experiencing adverse effects? Yes, there are risks in everything we do. But your chances of getting very sick and dying decrease dramatically with the vaccine. I am a big believer in people making their own choices, but some folks are just plain being stupid about this and they are paying with their lives. And their choices are affecting so many other people.

Making matters worse is that some of the terrified people out there in Internet land, offended or angered by Dr. Cobia’s pleading on Facebook, have issued THREATS to her, and her mother! What the hell is wrong with people? It’s never okay to threaten people, especially when they’re being kind enough to tell you the TRUTH. Below is a quote from the Washington Post about Dr. Cobia’s Facebook crusade and the aftermath:

Cobia said that she initially “agreed to a few interviews to help spread the word because I think the message is so important,” but she and her mother have since received “a lot of harassing and threatening messages.”

“So I just need to take a step back from everything right now and let the post circulate and hope it does its job and changes some minds!”

Cobia, and her husband, who is a neurosurgeon, both got COVID last year. Cobia was 27 weeks pregnant with her second child at the time, and chose to deliver early out of precaution. So this is not just about a doctor treating people with the virus. It’s also about someone who got the virus and survived. She knows firsthand about it, although she was lucky enough to have a somewhat mild case. Cobia says she got the vaccine as soon as it was available and even breastfed afterwards.

Getting the vaccine doesn’t mean you won’t get COVID. However, it does make it a hell of a lot less likely that you’ll die from it or be hospitalized. And you are much less likely to be sitting in a hospital bed, holding hands with a doctor like Brytney Cobia, BEGGING for the vaccine, only to be told it’s too late, and you are forced to die alone.

Please… for the love of Christ, get your information from healthcare professionals and, if you can, consider getting vaccinated. When you get seriously ill, it doesn’t just affect you. It affects everyone around you, including the people who have to take care of you. And no matter what, DO NOT THREATEN PEOPLE WITH DEATH BECAUSE THEY SPEAK THE TRUTH! That is just insanity!

I hope the people who issue threats are caught and dealt with appropriately. There is absolutely no excuse for that!


Negligent actions have consequences…

Yesterday on my travel blog, I posted an article about SeaDream Yacht Club’s unfortunate COVID-19 situation. SeaDream, for those who don’t know, is a fantastic all inclusive luxury cruise line. It has two identical “super yachts” and it’s known for being an awesome cruise experience for couples. Bill and I have sailed with them three times. Our last voyage with them was in May 2013, when we sailed from Rome to Athens with a trip through the Corinth Canal.

Bill and I love SeaDream, but circumstances have not lined up for us to sail with them again since Bill left the Army. I still follow their message board on Cruise Critic. Ever since the COVID-19 crisis hit, I’ve been anxiously wondering if this line will survive the pandemic. Things were looking hopeful over the summer, when SeaDream managed to complete several Norway centric cruises without anyone getting sick from the virus.

After their success in Europe, SeaDream came back across the Atlantic and, last Saturday, attempted their first round trip Barbados cruise. In order to pull this off, SeaDream had to change a lot of its standard operating procedures. Prospective passengers had to get a negative COVID-19 PCR test at their own expense 72 hours before flying to Barbados. They had to take another COVID-19 test before getting on the ship, as well as have an interview with the ship’s doctor. Their luggage and shoes were cleaned with ultrasonic technology. Halfway through the voyage, they would have had to have another routine COVID-19 test to satisfy the rules for returning to Barbados. And, while they were cruising, they visited empty beaches and engaged in activities that did not allow them to be in contact with any host country nationals.

Having been on a SeaDream cruise, I can tell you that I’m sure it was just fine even without the freedom to engage with locals, shop on the economy, or go exploring. I’m not sure if the piano bar was open, but that was my favorite part of a SeaDream cruise anyway, besides the many cocktails and endless champagne.

Unfortunately, someone DID get sick with COVID-19. As of Wednesday morning, the 53 passengers have been stuck in their staterooms, which I can attest to being really nice, but not very large. The windows don’t open and there are no balconies. It’s a nice cage, but it’s still a cage.

A video done by a couple of Geordie lads who have been blogging about SeaDream’s voyages. They are on the ship as I write this.

The person who got sent to a Bajan hospital with COVID-19 was part of a group of six who evidently decided to overnight in Miami on the way to Barbados. From what I’ve read, other passengers heard the afflicted one talking about partying in the south Florida city for a night. Four others in that group also had positive COVID-19 tests, but evidently aren’t showing symptoms. The fifth person’s test was inconclusive.

Now… in thinking about this, it occurs to me just how many people have been affected by this group’s decision to overnight in Miami…

  1. 47 people besides the afflicted have had a very expensive and luxurious vacation ruined.
  2. 66 crew members have had their livelihoods directly threatened. Two actually tested positive.
  3. 113 people besides the afflicted have had their health threatened. A couple not in the original group who stopped in Miami have tested positive.
  4. The entire cruising industry has had another blot on it regarding health and safety standards.
  5. Hundreds of future passengers will be affected because SeaDream will be cancelling upcoming cruises.
  6. All of the businesspeople depending on support revenue for the cancelled cruises will lose money– ie; pet boarding, taxi services, airlines, etc.
  7. People watching SeaDream to see if cruising during a pandemic could be done safely will be affected.

A whole lot of innocent people have been affected by this… I hope that night out in Miami was worth it. It really is a shame that this happened. As I wrote in my travel blog, I won’t consider cruising again until there’s an effective vaccine against COVID-19. I don’t think cruising while fretting about a virus on a luxury ship is a lot of fun. Hopefully, we’ll get this virus under control before too long. On the other hand… I’m not holding my breath.

Hopefully, those who got sick won’t get too sick… and the passengers will be able to get off the ship and go home without too much trouble. We’ll see what happens. Actions have consequences. But, on the bright side, by undertaking this experiment, SeaDream has provided some valuable data for others. Perhaps that will help some smart people figure out the best way to get back to a life approaching normal at some point.

ETA: COVID-19 positive count is now at seven.

condescending twatbags

Waiters who “know what’s best for you”…

Twenty years ago, I waited tables. It never occurred to me, at least back in those days, that I should do anything more than take my patrons’ orders and deliver their food to them. I even remember serving a glass of champagne to a visibly pregnant guest. The reason I remember it was because her companion had asked for strawberries to go with the champagne and our kitchen didn’t have any whole ones. I got punished by the guests for that, but I still served the alcohol. Things must have changed since the late 1990s. I keep reading stories about meddlesome restaurant servers who think they know better than their guests do.

Several years ago, I read a news story about 28 year old mom Tasha Adams, of Toad Suck, Arkansas. Toad Suck is a “dry town”, which means that you can’t buy alcohol there. Adams and her friends had gone to Gusano’s, a restaurant in Conway, Arkansas, where alcohol is not banned. They had just been to a funeral and were having dinner. Adams had her eight month old baby, Ana, with her and was drinking alcohol. She was also breastfeeding Ana.

Jackie Conners, an off duty waitress, decided that it wasn’t right for Tasha Adams to drink while breastfeeding. She claimed the party was “having a good time, drinking” and ignoring the baby, whom she said was fussing. Conners spoke to the manager about the party, but the manager decided not to cut them off. So Conners called the police, who showed up and arrested Adams for “drinking while breastfeeding”. Adams stated that she didn’t know that was illegal. It turns out, in fact, Arkansas law did not forbid drinking while breastfeeding. The charges against Adams were dropped and Conners was fired from her job. Still, Adams and her baby had to go through an ordeal before the matter was settled. I’m sure it was distressing and humiliating.

I was interested in this case because I find it disturbing on many levels, watching random strangers getting involved in the personal choices pregnant or nursing women make for themselves. Indeed, even if someone just thinks you might be pregnant, they might make a comment or even call the authorities if you do something they think might harm a developing fetus. When the police come, they could end up arresting someone. In Tasha Adams’ case, the cops weren’t sure if what she was doing was illegal, so they made a judgment call and ran her in, anyway. Adams likely can’t forget the experience of being arrested simply for enjoying adult beverages with her friends. She had no idea what she was doing was wrong and, in fact, it wasn’t wrong in the eyes of the law.

It’s chilling what can happen when someone makes a judgment based on incomplete information. I wrote a comprehensive article on my old blog about this case from 2014. Things haven’t changed in five years. In fact, it seems like they’ve gotten worse.

In fact, I just read another story about a waiter who made an “executive decision” on behalf of a woman he or she simply believed might be pregnant. The tale, which originally appeared on Reddit, was from someone who has been waiting tables for three years. A party of four women sat at the server’s table. They were “a pleasure” to serve, and started off with a round of cocktails, then perused the menu. The server, whose gender identity is never clear, overheard one of the women mention that she was “14 weeks along”. He or she got the impression that the guest was pregnant, based on what her or she had overheard and observed.

The server figured one drink was “no big deal”, and went about his or her business. But then the group ordered another round, which caused the server some concern. The waiter went to the bartender and asked him to make one of the cocktails a virgin. When the bartender questioned the server, the server just asked him to “trust him or her”. The party had several cocktails and got “rowdy”, including the supposedly pregnant woman. The server figured the woman didn’t notice that she’d been drinking virgin cocktails all night. Obviously, he or she thought they were going to get away with their deception.

But then the women asked for separate checks. The bartender had identified the cocktails for the “pregnant woman” as virgins, since he had to account for the alcohol, and it was too late for the waiter to edit the receipts. The “pregnant” woman and her party left, but then they looked at their receipts and noticed the word “virgin” on hers. The supposedly pregnant woman came back into the restaurant and asked what “virgin” meant, and the waiter explained that virgin means “non-alcoholic”. The guest asked the waiter if she had ordered non-alcoholic cocktails, and the waiter said he or she figured that’s what she’d want, since she was pregnant. Naturally, the guest was wicked pissed. She demanded that her part of the tip be returned. Then she spoke to the manager, who then yelled at the server.

The server said they didn’t want to be responsible for causing fetal alcohol syndrome. The restaurant manager said that the server had made them liable for discrimination charges and that they could get into serious trouble.

Once again, for those who came in late or are sitting in the back…

While servers certainly can and should cut people off when they get noticeably hammered, it’s not their place to make executive decisions for other people’s orders, particularly without their consent. Moreover, someone who is at a real risk of having a baby with fetal alcohol syndrome is not going to be deterred by a well-meaning but intrusive server. Someone who is pregnant and doesn’t care about what they will look like drinking alcohol in public will certainly drink at home. Aside from that, the customer apparently never verified that she was pregnant. It’s possible that the server misunderstood the situation. He or she was not a party to the conversation that was overheard and it’s very likely the information received was totally out of context.

I understand moral dilemmas regarding serving alcohol to the pregnant people among us, especially in the United States. In the United States, healthcare professionals do not recommend drinking alcohol while pregnant. However, the booze free pregnancy mantra is not necessarily practiced worldwide. Interestingly enough, in some areas, it’s not drinking booze that is frowned upon for pregnant women.

When Bill and I visited France a few years ago, a waiter thought I might be pregnant and was concerned because I’d ordered beef. He had nothing to say about the red wine I was drinking. Needless to say, I was really pissed off that he had questioned my order based on an assumption he made due to my appearance. Yes, I do have a gut, but it’s caused by beer, not baby. And no, you don’t need to ask me about it. If I want to eat beef or drink wine, it’s entirely my business… but I did take heart in knowing that at least I still looked young enough to conceive. I probably don’t anymore, since I let my hair go natural.

Most pregnant people are adults with the same rights every other adult has. They can make their own decisions without input from non-involved people who don’t know the situation. It’s not for another person to preemptively decide for another person what is best for them. It usually doesn’t happen to people who aren’t pregnant, but for some reason, society seems to deem pregnant women as needing special help and “parental guidance”.

Personally, I think the waiter in this story should have been fired immediately. I also think people need to mind their own business when it comes to situations like these, unless there is an obvious need to intervene. I hope the customer got a full refund for those mocktails, since they were not what she ordered. Also… I am really glad I have retired from waiting tables so I don’t have to deal with these situations.