Been in a funk the past few weeks … or to be honest, I've been in a funk for the past year and a half. Life without Stephanie is boring and blue and unbearably sad when I stop and think about it, so my defense mechanism is to try not to stop and think about it.
Stephanie made this apartment a home, and without her it's just four walls and a carpet. It's where I eat and sleep, so here I am. There's a pandemic, you may have heard, so nobody's supposed to go out unless it's essential, but coronavirus or not, I'd probably be here at home anyway.
I'm not an adventurous fellow, without my wonderful wife to create and share our adventures. I have next-to-no interest in doing something just for the sake of doing something, and with the ongoing "stay at home" orders, even the possibility of doing something is moot. I miss our little field trips — "Let's go to the museum!" she'd say, or "Let's have a picnic!" — but have zero interest in doing anything like that without her.
If Stephanie was here, of course, we couldn't do anything like that anyway. She'd be 100% homebound, or as close to 100% as her dialysis treatments would allow. Stephanie had a compromised immune system, so she was vulnerable, and this bug attacks such vulnerabilities. Steph was no dummy, so I doubt she would even venture out of the bedroom except for dialysis and absolutely necessary doctor's appointments.
I've said this before, but it's been on my mind a lot so I'll say it again: Much as I miss Stephanie, which is very, very much indeed, if she was here for COVID-19 this would be the most terrifying time of her life.
Steph spent several months in a nursing home once; did you know that about ⅓ of all COVID-19 deaths in America have been patients or staff at nursing homes? Did you know that deaths among dialysis patients are way, way up?
Yeah, Stephanie would be scared. I think she'd find Spring 2020 more terrifying than her diabetes diagnosis, or her kidney diagnosis, or any of the indignities she suffered. In all those health-care scares, Stephanie was fighting for her life, but she was only fighting against cruel fate. She wasn't fighting a bad guy from a James Bond novel who was actively scheming to kill her.
If my meaning isn't clear, the arch-villain I'm referring to is President Donald Trump. Stephanie thought of Trump as a loudmouth buffoon with no knack and no interest in running the government, and obviously she was right, but the accumulating evidence suggests he's worse than we had imagined.
Even in this epidemic, Trump's team is still arguing before the Supreme Court to overturn Obamacare, which would end health insurance for millions of people with "pre-existing conditions." If you've ever had an expensive diagnosis, that means you'd be unable to find health insurance, or if you beat the odds and found insurance, expect to pay quadruple the rates. That's what repealing Obamacare means. What could be worse, while a highly-contagious disease wreaks havoc, than having another thirty- or forty-million more Americans who can't afford to see a doctor?
Well, whatever could be worse, that's probably what Trump has planned.
In 2018, the Trump administration disbanded the government's top pandemic response team. In early 2020, with months of advance briefings about the coronavirus, the Trump administration did almost nothing to prepare for what his experts and advisors told him was coming. They turned down an offer of millions of N95 masks for doctors and nurses, who are now wearing homemade masks or no protection at all, and dozens of MDs and RNs are dead.
Instead, Trump downplayed the danger at every opportunity, saying the coronavirus would "magically disappear," and calling it a "bad flu" and a "hoax." Many millions of Americans believed him and still do, and they're actively resisting the stay-at-home orders. And Trump is explicitly urging people to resist, and encouraging states to open up again, when all the science says that's suicide. He won't even wear a mask for publicity photos.
Trump repeatedly and enthusiastically used the Presidential bully-pulpit to push hydroxychloroquine, a quack medicine that has no proven efficacy against COVID-19. In April, he removed the director of the federal agency working on a coronavirus vaccine, because the guy resisted funding this hydroxychloroquine nuttiness.
If I'm seeming all worked up, well, guilty as charged. I could go on a lot longer, with more and more wildly irresponsible things Trump has done as President, but instead I've limited my tirade to just his health-related malfeasance, and tried to keep it short and simple.
As someone who knew Stephanie almost as well as I know myself, I know she wouldn't take issue with a single word I've written here. We talked politics a lot, and I can almost hear her asking, What's the point of having a government, if it's not to protect people?
The Trump administration is the opposite of that — it's government actively working to put people at increased peril. Yes, Stephanie would be terrified to be alive in 2020, and so am I.