Politicization and Sensationalism During Covid19
I have experienced very deeply, death in my family. Dementia, chronic heart disease, cancer, significant chronic lung disease , affected at all ages. Because of this I have navigated our massive health care system, palliative and retirement living systems. I have walked the halls of ICU endlessly, met families in the same boat I was. Bracing ourselves for the inevitable if you were at the end of a chronic disease, in absolute melt down shock if it was a death that blindsided you. I have faced both. Our family faced a significant loss this year during the pandemic (not from Covid).
The life lesson for me was that I wanted to actively give back to the very disease institutions that took my family away from me. I am actively involved on behalf of my deceased to ensure that my journey can help other people facing the same dark days and help them navigate our horrific health care system (more in different blog).
I am not special. I am not alone, thousands of families across Canada face my journey every day. Death from a chronic disease is a prolonged period, sudden death from accidents and suicides etc is brutally shocking, losing children, unimaginable. A death is a significant event for patients and their families. However the reality is, death is inevitable for all of us.
I read an interesting article about death by Anita Hannig about death and the conversations we need to have with people. I quote her “in the United States the end of life has become so medicalized that death is often viewed as a failure, rather than as an expected stage of life”. This is the same situation in Canada. This position has escalated during the pandemic. In a frightening manner.
The medicalized failed death conversation has now invaded social media platforms and created more division. This invasion was started by the media, government and a small group of medical doctors and academia in Ontario.
Last week two well known Globe and Mail reporters posted a close shot picture of an intubated patient. It crossed the boundaries of all decency on behalf of the patient, family and the guidelines for reporters at the paper. Daily, a group of media MD stars that extoll how busy they are, but have well set up studios in government paid facilities or their home office, describe in emotional detail about deaths they see in ICU and how slammed they are. Ironically, they have time to escalate their star value endlessly on twitter and TV. They have massive followers and their followers parrot their talking points with, by all appearance have no idea or context what they are actually talking about when they retweet. These Dr’s also cross their very own regulatory body social media guidelines.
As someone who lost family and the thousands of others, these diatribes’ and posts on social media by Dr’s et la about how cold we are about death statistics, intubation process, death moment descriptions, I find these messages deeply shocking and violate the intense privacy of the death of a loved one. At times I read or watch them and break down in tears or scream at the screen. The vast majority of people with Covid will never face death or intubation and it is intensely irresponsible these media stars have not been called out by their regulatory bodies for amping this message.
If you have lost someone due to a disease or sudden event, you will know in reality the medical community will do everything they can to save someone. They are trained for that. But that same team will tell with you with brutal honesty what you are facing, the path ahead to death in brutal black and white terms. The social media Doctors stars counter that reality with their strange posts and interviews. I have my opinions on why they are choosing to sensationalize death from Covid19, but a lot of the dialogue is used as political warfare against politicians . These parrot statements are used a lot- “cares about business more than death” “you don’t care about people dying at 90”. Anthony Furey factually reports death by location and age group without comment. He gets rained on with holy hell statements on twitter that he is an uncaring conservative. He is stating black and white where deaths are, which is aligned with the reality that anyone who has gone through the health care system with chronic disease the same medical experts will tell you brutally in no minced words your chance of living.
As a society, painfully, we need to accept death as reality. We live in a weird echo social media chamber of food, fashion, selfies. Social media is awash with experts and non experts telling us about how scary Covid19 death is. The reality is it is speeding up the death process in our elderly. Cdiff, Influenza has historically done the same thing unfortunately. Quoting Anita again “That death has become something many Americans avoid and abhor — an enemy to be defeated — is evident elsewhere too. Just look at the plethora of contemporary fantasies of immortality, which range from anti-aging creams to efforts to download a person’s brain so he or she can continue to live virtually, to cryonics, the practice of freezing and storing bodies or body parts in the hope that future scientists will thaw them and bring them back to life.“
Accepting death statistically or as a reality is not callous. It is self awareness of the circle of life. Tongue in cheek I suggest people go back and watch the Lion King.