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"What a paradox."

An empty city street.
By Don Batisky

Atlanta, GA
United States

As I write this post, I’m sitting in an office at the children’s hospital where I work. I’m on service this week, and I’m covering the nephrology patients that I and my colleagues care for. As I drive to work in the morning, it’s noticeable that there is less traffic. I don’t live far from work, but with school buses, commuters and all, it can typically take 25–30 minutes to get here. And now it takes about 10. Winding my way through Druid Hills and snaking my way up Eagle Row, it’s a quiet campus. Not unlike spring break…or summertime…or a long holiday weekend, except it’s not.

I get to the hospital, and it’s easy to find parking. I come up from the garage, head into the lobby and instead of a lobby full of people, and therapy dogs, and arts & crafts, I see a table with people in masks taking temperatures of the people arriving to visit. Visitors, as of now, can only come in one at a time. Lots of handwashing, lots of Zoom [video chat] meetings (even for clinical rounds), lots of anxious people — staff and families. And very likely some COVID-19 in our midst.

Testing, as you’ve probably heard, has been very limited, so not everyone who might need a test gets one, and yet people (including those presumed to have it) are being treated as though they do. Everyone is doing their best to stay focused. But everyone hears the news, has family and friends impacted by what is going on in the world.

I escape the realities of work for a bit, yet work is also done at home. Zoom meetings, Zoom teaching sessions, Zoom Match Day…all the while blurring, and maintaining, that sometimes elusive work-life balance that we all try to achieve. Bike rides help me…yet I try to get out there early, before the crowds and knowing full well there’s little to no traffic. When I’m out on the bike, as I was last evening, I can often get some thinking done as well. It was quite rainy for a couple days earlier this week, but when I was driving home yesterday the sun was shining. I had Zoom meetings literally at 3 PM, 4 PM, and 4:30–6p. I arrived at home and wanted to be planted in front of my computer for the one starting at 4:30 PM, but when that was over, I needed to ride. And on that ride I snapped the pics attached here.

Those pics crystallized for me an idea in one word: paradox. I’m not a poet, by any means, but now and then I come up with a haiku, so indulge me as I share it with you here.

What a paradox.
Such beauty in the world,
and yet suffering.

And despite all that’s going on, nature shows such beauty around us…but we cannot share it together. The hospital setting is different, strange, quiet…yet there’s sense of shared purpose, collegiality, and communication. People say “good morning” and “how are you?”…and they mean it. Such a paradox.

The last pic does sum it up for me: “We are in this together.” As I sign off to get back to work, just remember that. Reach out (figuratively) and reach within. Be physically distant, yet connect with others through Zoom, and email and texting, etc. Use a time like this to really figure out your strengths and your weaknesses. Stay well and stay safe.

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