What a year this has been. It has been one punctuated by anxiety and many moments of feeling hopeless. I feel like this year brought out the worst in people. It brought out the racists, it brought out the naysayers, it brought out those who would put themselves over their neighbor and do so loudly over something as silly as wearing a mask. This year brought out many who would spew hate over political affiliations and many who would deny the problems in this country be they medical or social. It was at times infuriating and exhausting, often in the same breath.
Before 2020 even began, I was already restless. I was dissatisfied with my job and felt that medicine as a whole needed to change. We had lost something. For me, that something was the very thing that led me to the practice of medicine in the first place…love. It felt like I was so busy checking boxes that I was losing touch with the people I was entrusted to treat. Rather than languish hopelessly in a large system that felt like it would never change, I took my future and my patients’ experience of the medical system into my own hands and I started Pure Family Medicine. It has been a joy to create a place that feels like practicing medicine the way it should be - personal and rooted in love for humanity.
And there it was…HOPE…this little emotion that changes everything. It was growing alongside Pure Family Medicine. Hope for myself and my own career and hope for medicine as a whole to move back toward the art of caring for humanity.
Then there was George Floyd. His death opened my eyes to a problem that has long been boiling under the surface of American life. I will honestly say I had no idea the degree to which racism plagues our society. I am learning. I admit, I was initially overwhelmed by the weight of it all. It felt too heavy, too huge to be able to do anything about it. And yet, people did do something. The people in my community came together in a way I have never seen before. We reached out and stood up for one another. We raised money to keep our neighbors’ lights from being turned off. We stood peacefully on the street together in solidarity.
And there it was again…HOPE. Hope for my community, hope for my children’s future and for an end to the plague of racism in this country.
In the midst of all this, there was a global pandemic. Oh, the many ways that Coronavirus has changed our way of life. There were long periods of isolation. There were many with severe illness. There were many, too many, who died. It has overshadowed everything else about this year. In my lifetime, Covid has had a bigger impact on our day to day lives than any other single event. I went to work a second job in the hospital to feel like I was contributing where I could. I missed seeing my friends and my family and I struggled with distance learning with my children. We have grasped at things that feel “normal” but I doubt life will ever look quite like it did before.
And yet, rising up over all of the issues of this year, there is hope. For me and for many of my physician colleagues, that hope came in the form of a vaccine signaling what we hope will be the end of this pandemic. I got my vaccine on Christmas Eve and I celebrated with an almond croissant and a hot cup of coffee. It felt fitting that while I contemplated the greatest hope of my life, hope found in Jesus, I was able to receive the symbol of hope for the current crisis. It made me reflect on this year, and on the many times that unexpected hope rose above the troubles of the world. As 2020 draws to a close and I consider all of the words that could be used to describe this year…unprecedented, unknown, scary, angry, polarizing, anxiety, isolation, sickness, death, and at the same time creative, compassionate, inventive…the word that I choose to remember for 2020 is...
HOPE, that little emotion that changes everything.