Thursday, October 2, 2014

Walk a Mile in His Shoes...

I see a lot of hand-wringing about the Ebola outbreak in Texas on the news today.  Hell, I’m one of the hand-wringers. 

One thing I keep seeing in pretty much all of the stories and write-ups is the continuing disbelief that the guy would have been so selfish as to get on a plane after being exposed to Ebola, thus risking an entire continent of people. 

What a selfish jerk, amirite? 

"Then turn left at the huge stone with your name on it, asshole!"

But when you cut through the fog and really look at this guy, you have to ask yourself a question, and be serious and honest about your answer, because as far as I can tell, here is the guy’s timeline:

  •          4 days before he leaves for the USA on a trip he’d planned since the 4th of September, he helps his pregnant friend to the hospital.  She’s very sick.  The hospital is overfull, and she is rejected because they don’t have room for her.  She goes home, and the next day or the day after, she dies. 

Let's see, pregnant woman dies of hemorrhagic fever...
 Here's that cat picture again.

  •   He does not feel ill, but knows that Ebola has a 21 day incubation period, during which time he is more or less not contagious. I say more or less only because there is a small amount of uncertainty in this, since Ebola is so new and un-studied, but the general consensus is that during the 21 day incubation period, you’re not contagious. 

  •      He has seen the news reports of people who were sent to the US with Ebola infections, who received much better care, and who survived the disease with modern medicine.  And remember, folks, he just watched his friend die because she was turned away from a hospital in his own country, so he knew what level of care he could expect if he stayed.  I can’t stress this enough.  Honest to God, I really can’t. 
"Hi errrybody! "

  •       He considers his options.  If he stays home on the off chance he’s infected, and finds out that he is, he’s a dead man. It appears that the death rate on this strain is nearing 80%.   That’s pretty shitty chances.   If he goes, and find out he is infected, he hasn’t really put anyone on the plane at risk, because he’s not contagious until he’s symptomatic, right?  It takes 21 days to be contagious, and he got on the plane on day 4 after his exposure.  So go to America, and the second you get a sniffle, go to the hospital, tell them you’re from Liberia, and that you’re feeling ill and are worried it might be Ebola.  You won’t really put anyone at risk, because you won’t be contagious until you’re symptomatic, and the second you’re symptomatic, you go to the hospital.  Where’s the harm? 

The harm starts when the fucking hospital send you home with anti-biotics, despite you telling them all of the things they needed to know in order to flag you as a possible Ebola patient. 

"God damnit, I thought I left you back in Africa, you bastard!"

Consider that there might have been a bit of denial going on, and when the doctors in the super modern, technically advanced hospital (beyond anything you’ve ever seen back home) say “don’t worry, it’s just a flu bug, here’s some pills to make you better” you listen to them. 

Right?  Don’t you? 

I would.  What person would go into the doc’s worried they’ve got a deadly disease, and then when the doc tells them they are going to be fine, insist that they are wrong and that you really do have a deadly disease? 

"Listen, Doc, I know you've got 8 years of medical school and all, but I just spent 3 hours on
WebMD and I'm absolutely sure that I've got ovarian cancer.  Can you check again?"

I can’t imagine anyone doing that. 

So given this situation, and what he knew about Ebola, which of you wouldn’t have gotten your asses on that plane?  How many of you would have really played the martyr and chosen to stay in Africa and die, just to save America from the very miniscule chance that you’ll infect a bunch of people?  When you had the best healthcare system on earth just waiting to save you, and you were one plane ride away, tell me truly:

Would you have stayed and died?

Cause if so, that's fucking metal, bro!

Knowing what I know about Ebola, I’d have gotten on the plane, made sure to cough into my elbows, and checked into a hospital as soon as I got “feet dry” in the US.   

1 comment:

  1. Lets see- option A is to remain in a place where the mortality rate is 80% of those who get a hospital bed, or a plane ride to a place where the mortality rate roughly the inverse. Plus, you know exactly how many beds are available in the first one. And the mortality rate of people who DON'T get a bed is whatever number of people got it, minus the two zombie people. Yeah, I'm hauling my ass back to the place where capitalism has built the most effective and innovative medical system in the world. At least, while we still have it, that is...