by Patricia Wyatt-Harris, MD —
Things have certainly changed since I became president of the MSSC. I expected to be leading in-person board meetings and conducting large evening gatherings. I also expected to be going to the AMA meeting in Chicago. None of that has happened due to COVID-19.
MSSC has taken a leadership role in dealing with this pandemic, but who could have predicted this? MSSC Executive Director Phillip Brownlee and my predecessor as president, Michael Lievens, MD, created momentum last year with increased participation in events. I hope this continues when we finally see a clear way forward through this crisis.
My personal life also has changed. My husband is a high-school physics teacher at a private school. He is 66 and was looking forward to teaching a few more years.
Reacting to the new economic reality that we all face, the school did not offer him a full-time contract next year, so he made the decision to retire. I thought I would be first!
Getting used to this has been difficult at times, but we are adjusting. We are fortunate to be able to move on with this phase of life.
Another thing that has changed is our ability to be with our grandson. Anyone who knows me is aware that I love being a grandma. I don’t get very far into a conversation without sharing stories and pictures of Liam. He is 19 months old and, of course, is brilliant.
My son and his wife are both engineers and have been lucky enough to work remotely full time. They took Liam out of day care, which resulted in an unexpected consequence: He is much more healthy! He was catching everything that circulated through the day care, but he hasn’t had a fever or a runny nose since he started staying home. They have done a marvelous job of working full time and caring for him full time.
They live in Olathe, and we were getting together at least twice a month before the pandemic. Since then we have only had two visits, with masks and minimal hugs. We are all very compliant with wearing masks at work and in public. We are still careful with family visits. This lack of visiting in person has been hard.
On the other hand, my son has been able to put FaceTime up on a larger device (so we aren’t tiny), and we have spent a lot of time with Liam using technology. We call it the “Liamcam.”
We got some of his favorite books, and we read them together. We sing songs and do the actions that go with the songs. He shows us his cars and puzzles, and we have seen him grow through this process.
We usually spend about 30-45 minutes with him four or five times a week. While we are “playing with Liam,” my son is able to get some work done. Amazing!
People have used many adjectives to describe 2020, such as “difficult, “unprecedented,” “stressful,” “uncertain,” “extraordinary” and “turbulent.” Those are certainly accurate, as the pandemic has strained our health care system and economy and resulted in a staggering loss of life.
But I hope our members also have experienced some unexpected good things, like our “Liamcam,” while we are all working to find a way through this pandemic.