Andreas LaupacisAndreas Laupacis is Editor in Chief of CMAJ.


 

Monday March 16th felt like day 1 of COVID in Canada. The first workday of mass changes to work, school and play. Our daughter, Megan, is now working on the pediatric inpatient ward – no more elective rotations for residents. I know she is young and healthy and will protect herself, but…

My wife, Karen, and I drove to our farm, which brought back memories. When I was isolated at home with SARS, Karen and the kids (then 9 and 11) quarantined themselves at the farm for 2 weeks. By all accounts it was a time of endless Monopoly, building functionally useless furniture from scraps of wood and many walks. Also fielding the odd question about whether dad is going to die. No panic – just curiosity.

I found myself turning off the highway and driving into McDonalds, wanting a Big Mac, fries and diet pop. Haven’t done that for ages. Who would have thought McDonald’s would be my comfort food? The lineup at the drive through was so long we turned around.

On Tuesday I spoke to Meg who said it is uncannily quiet in the hospital. The calm before the storm?

At CMAJ we are working hard to keep the “regular” journal going while responding to requests to fast track submissions related to COVID-19. It is important to get some information out on a timeline much faster than a journal’s usual clunky process of review, revision, review…. I am grateful to reviewers who have been willing to provide excellent reviews in 2-3 days despite many of them being immersed in clinical work and COVID planning.

I got a call from my mom’s nursing home yesterday. Everyone in the home is quarantined, so they are putting mom on the phone every 3 days. It is more for me than for her. Her dementia is so advanced that she doesn’t realize we aren’t visiting any more. Never thought I’d think it is lucky mom has dementia.

She sounded happy and asked when we’d come see her. I said in about five days. I’ll repeat that lie the next time we talk. She doesn’t know I am lying, but I still feel like a jerk. I tell her we saw a coyote crossing the lake on the ice at dusk last night. She’d normally be excited about that, but it clearly didn’t register. I feel sad.

I am impressed that people still want to write. CMAJ Blogs received a great submission from a family doc in Kingston providing ten pieces of advice for physicians on how to cope in a crisis – it’s based on his experience as a medic in Afghanistan. Wise, realistic, funny and powerful. I have never met him, so I was looking forward to seeing what he looks like when we got his photo for the blog. He looks like he could bench press me! The blog and photo made me think I’d be very happy for him to care for me if I am ill, and I’ve never met the guy. I was moved to see that one of my ICU colleagues at St Mikes (we’ve cared for many dying people together over the years) tweeted that she is printing the piece, putting it on her desk and reading it every day.