This story is part of a series about a Balint group for angels. Balint groups are groups for physicians to get together and talk about cases that bother them. This often means facing their own biases and discriminatory feelings. I wrote this in January 2022. The current estimate of Long Covid is 10 to 30% of non hospitalized people. Which is huge and terrifying.
“And really, it looks like at least half the population will get Omicron. The question,” says Qia, “is how much Long Haul it causes. If it causes 30-50%, like Delta, we are in serious trouble.”
The angels are silent.
“Do you think it will?”
“I am hoping for under 10%.” says Qia. “But of course I do not know.”
“Why do you go to WORST CASE?” snaps Algernon. His wings rustle.
Qia blinks at him slowly.
She thinks about it. “It is the safest place to start.”
Algernon frowns at her. Another angel slowly nods.
“If I start in the worst case scenario, I can face it. I have to think about it, work through it, plan for it. Then I can back off and hope for one of the less horrific scenarios.”
“You are WEIRD.” says Algernon.
Qia is annoyed. Her wings go bat and blood red.
“Word.” whispers a very young angel.
“WHY?” snaps Qia, “WHY NOT face the worst?”
“Most people never do,” says the moderator.
“What?” says Qia.
“Most people never face the worst. They don’t want to. They are terrified. They are scared. They do things to avoid thinking about it. They skip that step and just go straight to hope.”
Qia glares at her. The moderator smiles and her wings go black as pitch.
“We aren’t PEOPLE. We are ANGELS.” says Qia, nearly snarling.
Algernon laughs. “Yeah, well, some of us do not want to think about the worst either. That is Gawd(esses) job.”
Qia is doubly pissed off to be crying. “No, we have to think too.”
“Qia, I agree, but it is hard.” says the moderator. “That is why you have the job you have. Because you are willing to go straight to the dark.”
Qia has her face in her hands.
The angels surround her, soothing, and start to sing.
I have a friend for whom acknowledging the worst case means believing it’s the ONLY case. For me? I take the posture that I really do not know (but I will find out). I personally don’t think facing the worst is facing reality. Facing reality is facing uncertainty. No one likes that, but… All this said, I think how and what we face probably varies by who we are and what we’ve lived already, but I don’t know. SO I look for facts — if there are any — and try to act based on them. In the case of Covid the salient fact was always “We don’t know much about this virus.” That’s an inscrutable fact. So, I looked at how it had affected SOME people who shared some facts with me — chronic lung disease (asthma) and old age. I looked at the fact that I didn’t want to die (yet). Those “facts” were enough to determine my behavior. I still knew that all I could do would be to minimize my illness when I got it. Maybe that’s looking at the worst case scenario, but it doesn’t seem like it to me.
I’m an Omicron long-hauler, fully vaccinated when I got it. THIS is less fun than it was being actually ILL. Today my brain is working pretty well (so far), and I haven’t had diarrhea (yet). Yay!!!
I agree with Qia. “If I start in the worst case scenario, I can face it.” That is almost word for word what I have said to my wife more than once. Like Algernon, she doesn’t get it. Once I’ve faced the worst as a possibility, reality is much easier to handle. Others seem to think that if you are willing to acknowledge the worst case, you are expecting or even hoping for it.
I always want to get thinking about it out of the way.