I’m screwed

March 22, 2020 • 3:00 pm

Reader cesar has made my day (not!) with this article from the Jerusalem Post (click on screenshot):


[Gai] Peleg said that, from what he sees and hears in the hospital, the instructions are not to offer access to artificial respiratory machines to patients over 60 as such machines are limited in number.

After receiving this article, I had this exchange via text messaging with a friend who just turned 60.

Friend:  You are screwed


Friend: You are more though.

Me: No, we’d both be denied respirators.

Friend (?): I am less likely to need one.

This is a person who’s not following Father Martin’s advice to act like Jesus.

Anyway, if I die, can somebody take care of my ducks? (Duck chow and mealworms are in my lab.)



84 thoughts on “I’m screwed

  1. I wouldn’t worry. In this country it would be more likely to be denied a respirator if you earned less than $60K a year. You’ll be fine (I’m assuming) but me or my kid? Naw, we’re DOA, or perhaps POA (poor on arrival).

    1. Nonsense. Look, we have an inefficient and expensive health care system but it isn’t cruel and inhuman. In fact, it is illegal to be denied this kind of care based on ability to pay. We may run out of hospital beds and ventilators, but no one will be turned away because they can’t pay.

      1. Yes, I’m being a bit of an ass, not being serious. But we do already let people die of treatable diseases due to a lack of finances. And as mentioned in gov. Cuomo’s press conference today, hospitals are complaining that they have to stop doing elective surgeries and focus solely on the pandemic response because that is their money maker. Plus, I’m pretty sure the hospitals would be more than happy to let people rack up thousands of dollars of debt.

        However, I’m just being a sour, whinging grump. It might do me some good to turn off the news, do some yoga, take another stroll around the yard and appreciate the wonderful things that spring is bringing back from dormancy. Sorry. My only tiny amount of socializing is gone at least until the end of April so I’m being more of a negative craphead than usual.

      2. Although some of the poor in this country have, and do, use emergency services whether it can be paid for or not (while others stay home, suffer and/or die), in this pandemic our doctors and hospitals already have had to make potential death decisions for individuals (and will continue to have to do so much against their training and will) by not performing essential surgeries and other treatments for people needing heart surgery, organ replacement, cancer treatments etc. “First do no harm”, apparently, isn’t possible when the medical system is overwhelmed with so many patients requiring immediate, potentially longterm hospitalization taking up hospital beds and using up scarce medical supplies. Hospitals and doctors even more than usual must be in triage mode. I hate it, but as a friend of mine says, “It is what it is.

        It is a terrible shame that some of our governments have not foreseen and planned for anything like this. It is a shame that our particular government shut down the most knowledgeable individuals and programs on pandemics so that their expertise was not immediately available (and that the current administration paid no attention to the previous one’s attempts to inform them during the changeover.) It is a shame that essential medical supplies have become insufficient or unavailable for whatever reasons. It is a shame that such critical supplies are not immediately available in our country and the materials and manufacturing take place almost exclusively in other countries, such as China.

        Each of us needs to follow best medical advice and practices (if we can be fairly certain of what they are without all the misinformation), stay at home, stay as positive as we’re able and help each other to the best of our abilities.

        And, may the fickle finger of fate not point at any WEIT person or his/her loved ones for extermination. This site is a major source of information, intelligence and humor for me. Selfishly, I want you all to stay alive, if you possibly can. I would miss you.

          1. Have to be some kind of stupid to hear the warnings and think that your… charm? can stop a global outbreak.

    2. If your job is critical to the national sanity, like professional sports, you have no problem getting treatment. Of course you’re bound to be young and healthy anyway.

  2. Beginning to sound like the joke about escaping from a rampaging grizzly: ‘I’m okay, Jack, because I might not run faster than the bear, but I can run faster than my slowesr companion.’

    1. Doh! I meant to add that the original report was in the Sunday Times, which Downing Street is accusing of making up details including quotes. The alleged attitude was reversed when the modelling became clearer.

  3. Triage is inevitable. How many ICU beds do you think we have in the US? It’s 50k. Once we exceed that number of patients, your doomed. Well, actually well before that since many of them are being used right now for other ailments. I’m 73, and don’t see any likelihood I’ll see the inside of a hospital if I get sick. It would be right about the time the number of cases peeks and there’s nothing left on the shelves. So, I’m keeping my head down. Weeks, or months.

    1. In Italy there are 32 hospital beds per 10,000 people and they are struggling. Here in the UK, there are only 25 beds per 10,000 – although that may have changed after a deal whereby private sector beds and staff etc are to be made available to the NHS on a non-profit basis.

    2. And I’d you get into another type of health crisis like a car accident or allergic reaction, heart attack or stroke the vents & resources won’t be there for you either because the covid-19 patients will be consuming them already.

  4. If you are still considering that haircut, don’t do it. From what one reads, the health care systems might get overwhelmed everywhere. It would be great if you can get someone to do your shopping for you in the next while. Or any readers in your area should just offer to help by dropping shopping by for you. Unfortunately oversees readers don’t qualify.

    1. I still have to work during this crisis, but if I were all or mostly housebound, I’d just buzzcut all my hair today and have it grown back out by the time normal society resumes.

  5. This is one of those things people do not like to talk or think about. I’ve heard, “Don’t talk about it!!! When you talk and think about it you make it happen!!! Don’t say these things!!! It won’t happen!!!”

    I’ve also had people getting all agitated about the “Sanctity of Life”, that life is “Sacred” and we must never ever think about the idea that there may be extreme circumstances when you simply have to let certain people die.

    If I really want to get people screaming I could say that I’m in the really high risk category. I’m 78, I have lung issues, and I just had pneumonia before the virus arrived and I’m weakened now.

    If I’m unlucky and get the virus and there are just too many sick people, no hospital beds, no respirators, well, I’m going to be one of the people who doesn’t make it.

    I support Death With Dignity and Compassion and Choices, and I joined the Hemlock Society (which became C&C) decades ago. If this stinkin’ virus is just too painful and miserable I’d appreciate a kindly overdose of sodium pentothal, please. Total unconsciousness so fast, so easy.

    But the idea that Life is Sacred means I’m not supposed to think about this.

  6. It is hard to support such an absolute criterion. I can better understand a “likelihood to recover” criterion. This would depend not only on age but on but other health conditions and the severity of the illness.

  7. I’m 78. Two years ago I anticipated that there will be pandemics and so I bought my own respirator. Right now I’m hoping they won’t take it away from me.

  8. I heard that 40 or 50 percent of those who must go on the respirators don’t make it. If that is really the case, you don’t want to go there anyway.

    1. A large number of elderly people die from respiratory illnesses every year – intubation and being attached to a respirator isn’t always kind and/or effective.

  9. I’m going to need the keys to get into the lab. I’ll just talk to someone at the front desk. Thanks.

  10. Angela Merkel, herself in isolation because a doctor who gave her a vaccine has tested positive for covid-19, said it best (I’m paraphrasing) how many of our loved ones will die? This is largely in our own hands right now.

    Extreme social distancing buys us time to develop anti virals & vaccines as well as have survivors become immune. I am so annoyed with people who are letting their kids play with their friends in parks or defying self isolation orders after returning from March Break. It is stupid & selfish & their behaviour will bear fruit in the coming weeks. I just hope they don’t cause people I care about to be harmed.

    1. Those reprobates are the ones who should have been put in cages!

      Maybe their boomer parents or grandparents should threaten to cut them out of the will. Arses.

      Oh, did you hear on the news about the 3 sisters who travelled to Ecuador less than 2 weeks ago, and now they’re stuck there and need to be rescued at taxpayers expense most likely? Where were they when Trudeau told all Canadians to return home? That meant don’t go abroad now, idiots! Same for some people who went ahead with their cruises, despite warnings.

      1. Yeah I defended Canadians being brought home months ago but you were told not to go & went anyway. This is different.

        1. I agree.. it was the right thing to bring home Canadians then. I’m also for bringing home those who are stuck and tried but couldn’t get a flight from where they were. Some of these people work overseas and are not simply pleasure-seekers. It all happened so fast with a cascade of border closings. thought Trudeau’s warnings were stern enough, so I’m bewildered why there are still people who have gone ahead with travel plans. Fool-hardy or cheap seats?

  11. I wonder if it comes to that here how many selfish brats returning from spring break who could have avoided getting sick in the first place, will take a vent from someone else. I could be denied because I have had cancer.

  12. Not long after I finished reading this post,
    “All Things Considered” broadcast a segment on the protocols of triage https://www.npr.org/2020/03/21/819645036/u-s-hospitals-prepare-guidelines-for-who-gets-care-amid-cornavirus-surge. That sure brought things home. I’m a goner, but I didn’t need to go into the finer points of triage to know that.

    I wonder if an atheist was a patient in a religious hospital and the triage protocols were invoked would the patient’s atheism be an existential blemish? I wonder if under some circumstances one’s atheism mightn’t be a strike against them even in secular medical settings. I go to a particular clinic, not religious, and whenever I’ve stated my atheism I’ve been looked at askanse and even with distaste; these of course are personal responses from individual doctors; the clinic itself makes no mention of anything related to the spiritual. I’ve found that some doctors are atheists, agnostics or are willing to live and let live, others, physicians I wouldn’t think of as religious fall back on faith or at least fall back on something supernatural so again things might depend on the faith or lack of faith of a physician, as well as making other extra-curricular judgments.

    The news segment after this one was about how various religions are coping with their ways of worship during the time of the coronavirus. The priest’s silly conundrem was laughable — he changes bread into flesh and wine into blood “O admirabile commercium” but he can’t manage to distribute Communion over the Internet. Why can’t you perform that miracle, Father?

    1. When I had surgery, there was a spot to put your religion. I left it blank in fear something would go wrong 7 some bigot would let the atheist go to hell.

      1. I did something similar. The form asked for religion and the list included “atheist”. I put “none”, mainly because I refuse to buy into this “atheism is a religion” nonsense.

      2. I had a similar question when hospitalized a few years ago for a respiratory infection exacerbated by asthma. I wrote in “Darwin”. It’s probably still in a record somewhere, perhaps I should have left it blank.

      3. You’ve made me think – carry a bible into surgery with you just in case the surgeon is very evangelical. It couldn’t hurt, and it would make a good impression.

  13. I would very much like to see a few more seasons of ducks in Botany Pond. I hope you remain well.

      1. I’d settle for that cool Acoustasonic Stratocaster – I had no idea such a thing existed. Though I couldn’t justify possessing it given my woeful lack of talent. Sadly, I’m the least musical member of the family – and I’m including Marcus, our cat, who often performs uninvited piano duets with my wife. Marcus seems to favour the Ornette Coleman approach to improvisation – I just play all the wrong notes, and apparently there’s a difference.

        1. “I’d settle for that cool Acoustasonic Stratocaster…”

          Ok, if Molly is not that exciting, here is the Stratocaster again:

  14. Standard triage.

    But it has to be hard triage since the lethality frequency is not much higher in 60+ compared to the next decade down and so on. It takes off in 70+ age categories.

  15. I’m 66 and healthy as a goddam horse. So, like Conrad Birdie, I feel I’ve got a lotta livin’ to do:


    But were I to get really sick, and it came down to the last respirator between me and some kid, go ahead and put me out on an ice flow; I’ve had a good run. OTOH, if it comes down to me and someone in their fifties, I say we arm-wrestle for it. Or at least flip a coin.

    1. Well put KK – pretty much my sentiments although I am 8 years older than you. We have medical directives in our wills, and mine is no artificial life-extending techniques – feeding, breathing, nothing. I figure if my number is called, I’ll be ready to go 🙂

      1. I’ve got a pact with my bestie that if either of us somehow ever gets stuck in that situation, the other will come by and snuff it for him. We’ve even gone over how to do it.

        I can’t stand the idea of being trapped in the husk of a human body while others battle it out, like that poor Schiavo woman.

    2. My dad is 78 & he is very healthy. He is really worried about this. I told him to stay isolated – it’s how people survived the Black Death. I will order them groceries & don’t even open the door to people. Talk though the door.

          1. Yes, that seems to be the latest:

            …the virus is viable for up to 72 hours on plastics, 48 hours on stainless steel, 24 hours on cardboard, and 4 hours on copper. It is also detectable in the air for three hours.

            Which means, if you bring in your mail wearing gloves and let it sit overnight, you can open it safely after the 24 hours. I think paper and cardboard absorb moisture so the virus becomes dried and degenerate.

            1. Yes but what’s important is that there are other factors to consider that the article goes over. I just got new AirPods. I took the package a part and washed my hands after.

              I also have a cold 🙁

              1. Oh dear, I do hope you’re OK, Diana. There’s that new self-assessment link released to the Canadian public on Sat. Did you check yourself?

                In case your parents *must* venture out to do a little shopping and if they’re members, Costco has an exclusive seniors shopping hour (Tues. and Thurs. 8-9am, during these times. For people 60 and over. It’s good that you’re ordering for them.

              2. Yeah I did that assessment and I don’t have any symptoms that are COVID. COVID isn’t an upper respiratory like a cold where you sneeze. I’m feeling a bit better now. I get colds this way – I started this one 2 weeks ago & worked from home for a couple days. Now it’s back. This happens so often with me where colds come & go. The good thing is between the cold & migraines I’ve really been in isolation for 2 ½ weeks where everyone else has been in for 1 week.

              3. I was surprised to read this morning that a runny nose is a possible symptom! I have to be careful, as I tend to ignore my ailments for too long; I have allergies and often have hayfever, stuffed up sinuses or itchiness.

                My husband and I have been in isolation here for a month now, as we pre-emptively cancelled all his home visits from PSWs and other healthcare workers, except the lab tech who comes once in a while to sample blood. His doctor and NP can check on him via internet.

              4. Yeah I always have a runny nose. Mine is pretty much gone now but my stomach is killing me. I have IBS so doing anything different is hard on my stomach. I also had stopped taking as much of a probiotic because I didn’t want to use it all up but I started back on my normal dose. I’m very fragile physically it seems. My flora is a delicate balance.

              5. Oh I ordered groceries for myself to be delivered Saturday & I called my parents & added to my order for them. I’ll drive over their stuff & leave it on their front porch. That way I don’t come in physical contact with them &n neither of us need to go out to the grocery store. My friend in Toronto went today after Ford announced closing all non essential businesses & everyone was out. She had to wait in line for 45 minutes but she said people were respecting the social distancing rules.

  16. For the first time in my life I get to do something that, as a non-Twitter user, I have never done before: #MeToo

    So thanks for that, Jerry, or this if you prefer: Благодарность!

  17. OK, an admission: my darling wife of 40 years (who appears to have all sorts of medical influence in this province) told me this evening that she had voted for a new policy that would deny me a ventilator (I’m over 60 and have a terminal cancer condition). And now I’m going to join her in the bath, and maybe offer a backscratch (the elderly equivalent of sex). Wish me luck!

      1. Thanks for your courage. Courage is a needed commodity, if that is the sorry state that courage is in, it still resounds and thanks to folk like you. Fair thee well.

  18. Today’s craziness. King’s Soopers[Kroger] announced senior shopping hour 7-8, MWF. So we drove over this morning and there were at least 75 people waiting in line, and they definitely were not 6 feet apart. We said “no way” and drove across the street to Safeway. No lines, uncrowded, and fairly well stocked – got everything on our list.

    Then this afternoon, Denver went on “soft” lockdown, and in the mayor’s infinite wisdom, said that liquor stores and dispensaries would be closing tomorrow. You can imagine what that caused – hundreds of people lined up at every joint in the city!! And again, not to much social distancing. In a rare admission of being wrong, the mayor reversed the order withe proviso that there must be “extreme social distancing” in the stores.

    “Wisdom is anticipating consequences.”

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