Dear Friends and Patients,
Like many of you, I usually dismiss the mainstream media's sensationalism of medical news. COVID-19 (coronavirus) is not sensationalized medical news.
If you have ever noticed the letters "M.P.H." by my name, they stand for Master's of Public Health (in Epidemiology). On Thursday, March 12, the alarm was effectively sounded by those to whom I have been trained to listen. The information we are all receiving from public health officials at our nation's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the World Health Organization (WHO) sounds a lot like NASA trying to explain how potatoes grow on Mars.
In the movie, "The Martian," Mark Watney is stuck on Mars with meager rations, including potatoes. His PhD in Botany, equally as nerdy as Epidemiology, finally came in handy. Faced with starvation or learning to grow plants on a dead planet, he said:
So for the first time in twenty years, I get to say COVID-19 will come to fear my epidemiological powers! I have immersed myself in the information coming from CDC and WHO, and I will continue to do so.
I want you to know that I am available to answer any of your concerns about COVID-19, as getting bottom-line answers can be difficult given the complexity of viral epidemiology. Yes, you have your own PERSONAL epidemiologist!
The advice I texted to my daughters is the same advice I would give to you:
So if you are a new patient, I would need to meet in-person unless you have a fever over 100.4, or a cough, or if you have been within six feet of someone who suspects they have been exposed to the virus.
For all other patients, let's meet by phone, Skype, Facetime (or even smoke signals!). In two months, if we look back and feel silly about having been too careful, then we will have nailed it.
Gary M. Bullock, D.O., M.P.H.
Sometimes words come to you that bind up a burden or at least make it easier to bear. It may take years or decades to experience this, if ever. Even if the weight of that truth is so seemingly overwhelming and hard to accept, there is hope in knowing the enemy. What you can define and articulate, you can overcome. You can fight it or flee from it, now that you own its name. You are no longer frozen in its shadow, wracking your brain to make out its form and size and speed and proximity. You no longer grope in the darkness to gain a foothold or reference point, teeth clinched, shoulders tight in the constant fear of when it may blindside you again. All you knew then was, it would.
Predictably unpredictable, your best efforts to move forward in this world seemed marked by setbacks you didn’t see coming. Worse, maybe you saw it coming, but you were inexplicably unable to do what you knew was necessary to avoid the danger. Then, as if failure to perform as expected wasn’t painful enough, there is shame, guilt, or rejection for letting others down. Even if you work twice as hard as those around you and give yourself no escape in excuses. Even if those around you cannot see your failures because your extraordinary, obsessive work ethic camouflages the error, there is no escaping your most devastating critic. Every time you look in the mirror, you feel the pain.
The same face that is your worst critic also holds an enigmatic secret: there is more to the difference in you than the potentially fatal blind spots. There is the ability to perform in clutch situations, the intuition, the reflexes. The blind spots and failures seem to be in areas of tedium or bureaucratic tasks. Your conscious brain knows not to procrastinate them, but your unconscious mind just scoffs. You do those things last minute with an unmatched proficiency. And self-loathing. That thing you find challenging, especially if you aren’t expected to be able to do it, you feel yourself zoning in, (sometimes unconsciously) moving through the task with grace and elegance. Losing all track of time, you find yourself finishing this undoable task after midnight with the joy of excellence that you feel all too rarely.
This is the double-edged curse you were gifted with. This is your ADHD, and it is time to stop letting it own you. You own it. Call it what it is. Transform your understanding. All the force of those years of frustration, plus all that pain, let loose by eyes now opened from insight.
ADHD is not flawed genetics. It is selective survival neurology designed to die from boredom and thrive on a challenge. Make that curse your gift.