On an encounter with Unvaccinated America at the hospital

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      I soon was subjected to something between a diatribe and a cri de coeur about their presence at the hospital, that being because the man’s sister was in with a very serious case of COVID-19. And that her illness shouldn’t have happened at all because she was healthier “than most fat Americans, because she is a competitive athlete.” They added that she shouldn’t have needed any vaccines because vaccines (allegedly) are tools of Big Corporate Healthcare, and that “if someone we could believe had only told us” the virus could sicken “really athletic people like us,” well, they could have tried homeopathy. I thought for a few seconds about the piece I did for MinnPost in January about no longer engaging in arguments with those for whom reason is confused with season. But I was tired and distraught and I entered the joust. After all, I am an opinion writer and a former high school debater.

      I started by telling them my mother and I had been fully vaccinated and that my mother was not in the hospital because of the coronavirus. Then I explained I was no genius but that it seemed clear they believed enough in hospitals and conventional medicine to entrust their sister’s life to such care. And then I asked if they decided the prep their sister was undergoing for a very invasive ventilator was worth their anti-vaccination position. The woman said, “Well, I guess we’re going to have to get vaccinated now. But we still don’t believe in it.” The man then asked if I felt “justified” in having my mother take up “valuable medical resources” when “people like my sister who have more of a right to live are in the hospital.”

      Now, some might think I would have been livid at this impertinence. But I wasn’t. Not entirely. I don’t know if it’s because I’m of a certain age or because I witnessed so many questions of appropriate medical resource use come into play when I was at the university that I kept most of my powder dry. I told them in as Rod Serling-calm of a voice as I could that I didn’t disagree with their position about wise use of medical care that is certain to become even more scarce as this variant and others spike their way throughout the nation.

      I told them the only reason my mother was in the hospital was because hospice had not yet delivered the equipment needed to keep her out of hospital and that I brought her there because, while I know her time here is likely not long, I didn’t want her to die while choking for breath. I told them that once she was stabilized later that day, I’d be taking her home. I also said their sister’s medical resource-intensive hospitalization was, to be blunt, almost certainly avoidable. Then I thought about how many other similar discussions might be going on outside hospitals at that very moment, given reports about non-urgent treatments and surge

      Jesus: Hey, Dad? God: Yes, Son? Jesus: Western civilization followed me home. Can I keep it? God: Certainly not! And put it down this minute--you don't know where it's been! Tom Robbins in Another Roadside Attraction

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