As We Await Our Medical Knight in Shining Armor to Release Us from Our Viral Bondage

We humans survived in the savannas of East Africa by banding into small clans and families. We stayed together. We hunted together. We defended each other from the predatory creatures with big muscles and big fangs and big appetites who viewed each of us as their next meal.


As our ranks expanded and as we became more sophisticated, we built cities. We developed weapons, and we developed walls to protect us from that dangerous world. We relied on each other. We learned from each other, and that is how we survived.


But then something dramatically changed.


That “something” probably started in an open-air market in Asia in the latter months of 2019. That marauder was not a lion or a tiger but a deadly virus. And here is the rest of my story.


Growing up on the East Coast, I had very few friends, rudimentary social skills, and only marginal athletic talents except for the gift of endurance. I was a long-distance runner—at first a miler and then I stretched out into longer distances and had some visibility in the running community. Over the years, I have run 14 marathons without any significant injury. Running is built into my orthopedically gifted DNA.


Fishermen are always seeking that magical lure to catch the big fish. Golfers are on the hunt for the Holy Grail, which is that perfect golf club. And runners seek an elusive, mystical shoe that will propel them into the pantheon of greatness.


I stopped into a specialty store for running gear on my quest for a new pair of running shoes. Because of COVID, I patiently waited in line outside the store because the number of customers in the store was clearly limited by law. There was no such thing as simply stopping by. This was going to be a process. There was little conversation in the store because of muffling from masks. And each customer was escorted to a kiosk for hand washing.


A sales associate, a woman in her early 40s, promptly greeted me, “Hi, Dr. Creagan, great to see you again. I hope your day is going well.” My ego was inflated, and I thought to myself that here is another person who recognizes my iconic stature and my transcendent greatness. However, my fragile ego was shattered when I realized that I had on my professional name tag.


From Internet searches I knew the size and model shoe that I wanted, so it was a pretty quick sale. She then explained to me that because of COVID her husband who was a graphic and web designer was now working from home, isolated from the creative energy in the office. He is now hunched over the kitchen table, while their teenage son was impaled on distance learning from his local high school. This did not make for the happy all-American family.


The associate then shared with me that in the pre-COVID era, reps from shoe companies and from sporting goods manufacturers would stop by the store on a quarterly basis and discuss the pros and cons of recent shoe and athletic attire developments. She could feel and manipulate the fabric and the shoes and could be intelligent in advising customers. All that was gone because of social isolation and no contact with the sales representatives. Sales reps would quarterly meet on a video platform, but this was profoundly unsatisfying because of the absence of any tactile dimension.


And now we are on the threshold of the Minnesota winter. Once upon a time we would have daylight until 9:00 p.m. Now, at about 7:30 in the evening, darkness envelops us. This enhances our sense of isolation.


With the onset of some schools opening and with gatherings for sporting events, the retail world is concerned about another global lockdown as happened during the spring. This means profound economic uncertainties and the palpable concern that some businesses like the shoe business may never again reopen.


We read about new cases, we read about deaths and number of ICU beds filled with patients suffering from COVID, but at the end of the day,


Are we helpless and hapless drones drowning in a viral and digital world?


The answer is a definitive “no.” We can be proactive, and we can be assertive in taking prudent steps to take care of ourselves, our families, and our fellow citizens as we did on the savannas when our ancestors were living in a fight-or-flight world and the worst that could happen (well, it was pretty awful) is that they would be eaten by a saber-toothed tiger.


Enlightened public health and administrative and medical professionals have outlined repeatedly a data-driven, evidence-based health strategy to restore our communities. Of course, we each await the development of that monoclonal antibody, that vaccine, that convalescent plasma that will restore our health and our well-being of mind, body, and soul.


But until that medical knight in shining armor releases us from our viral bondage, we can take the steps to restore our sense of comfort and community by being respectful to each other by washing our hands, wearing a mask, observing social distancing, and avoiding crowds. It’s that simple.




© 2020  Edward T. Creagan, MD, and Write On Ink Publishing