Doctor shares his 'typical day' in a COVID ward, taking a jab at medical conspiracy theories

By now, we've all seen the many conspiracy theories about the coronavirus pandemic floating around (Plandemic, anyone?), but medical conspiracy theories are nothing new. In fact, most of the anti-vaccine movement is predicated on a couple of them, which are getting a lot of attention right now:

1) Pharmaceutical companies are big, money-grabbing corporations (which is arguably true) and therefore doctors and medical associations recommend people get vaccinated are all part of the Big Pharma conspiracy to fool the masses into paying them big money (arguably not true).



2) There's a bigger, more nefarious plot organized by some evil player (ahem, Bill Gates) to vaccinate people in an attempt to depopulate the world or control the masses somehow, and the pandemic is just a planned rouse to give the medical "establishment" an excuse to carry out the dastardly plan.

I'm sure there are other somewhat related ones, but one thing they all seem to have in common is an underlying assumption that most doctors are willing to go against their "do no harm" oath in order to stash some cash. That seems like a terribly negative view of doctors and humanity in general, but that's how conspiracy theories work—they play on people's fears and amplify skepticism to outrageous proportions.

Dr. David Young, a hospital care specialist in the Chicago area, shared a breakdown of his daily schedule in a COVID ward to illustrate what these conspiracy theories sound like when you take them out of the chatroom/YouTube information bubble in which they fester. And you have to admit, the absurdity really does come through.

Young wrote:

A lot of people have been asking me what it's like being on the COVID wards in the hospital, so I figured I'd share what a typical day looks like for me:

6 a.m. Wake up. Roll off of my pile of money that Big Pharma gave me. Softly weep as it doesn't put a dent in my medical school loans

6:30 a.m. Make breakfast, using only foods from the diet that gives me everlasting life by avoiding all fats, sugars, carbs, and proteins. For details buy my book and check out my shop.

7 a.m. Get to work, load up my syringes with coronavirus before rounds.

8 a.m. See my patients for the day. Administer the medications that the government tells me to. Covertly rub essential oils on the ones I want to get better.

9:30 a.m. Call Bill Gates to check how 5G tower construction is going, hoping for more coronavirus soon. He tells me they're delayed due to repairs on the towers used to spread the Black Plague. Curse the fact that this is the most efficient way to spread infectious diseases.

10 a.m. One patient tells me he knows "the truth" about coronavirus. I give him a Tdap booster. He becomes autistic in front of my eyes. He'll never conspire against me again.

11 a.m. Tend to the secret hospital garden of St. John's wort and ginkgo leaves that we save for rich patients and donors.

12:30 p.m. Pick up my briefcase of money from payroll, my gift from Pfizer for the incomprehensible profits we make off of the free influenza vaccine given every year.

1 p.m. Conference call with Dr. Fauci and the lab in Wuhan responsible for manufacturing viruses. Tell them my idea about how an apocalypse-style zombie virus would be a cool one to try for the next batch.

2 p.m. A patient starts asking me about getting rid of toxins. I ask her if she has a liver and kidneys. She tells me she knows "the truth" about Big Anatomy and that the only way to detoxify herself is to eat nothing but lemon wedges and mayonnaise for weeks. I give her a Tdap booster.

2:45 p.m. Help the FBI, CIA, and CDC silence the masses. Lament the fact that I can only infringe on one or two of their rights. Oh well, there's always tomorrow.

4pm - One of my rich patients begins to crash. Laugh as I realize I've mismatched her spirit animal and zodiac moon sign. I switch out the Purple Amethyst above her bed for a Tiger's Eye geode. She stabilizes. I throw some ginkgo leaves on her for good measure

6pm - Go onto YouTube and see coronavirus conspiracy videos everywhere. Curse my all powerful government for how inept they are at keeping people from spreading "the truth"

6:10pm - Go onto Amazon and see that a book about "the truth" is the #1 seller this week. Question the power of my all powerful government. Make a reminder to myself to get more Tdap boosters from the Surgeon General next time we talk.

7pm - Time to go home. Before I leave, sacrifice a goat to Dr. Fauci and say three Hippocratic Oaths.

9pm - Take a contented sigh as I snuggle under the covers made of the tinfoil hats of my enemies, realizing that my 4 years of medical school and 3 years of residency training have been put to good use today.

Snort. Even as someone who uses essential oils and herbal treatments for some things, I found this hilarious. That really does seem to be close to what some conspiracy-minded folks think doctors do all day.

The reality is that the vast majority of doctors really do go into medicine to help people and would not tacitly go along with any evil plots to harm even one person, much less mass numbers of people. While there are legitimate discussions and debates to be had about pharmaceutical medicine vs. alternative medicine vs. natural medicine for various ailments, as soon as we get into evil plots and conspiracy territory, those legitimate discussions lose all credibility.

Doctors on the front line are dealing with enough right now. They really shouldn't have to be fending off absurd ideas about them lying and scheming en masse to fill their own pockets or bring the world to ruin.

Courtesy of Elaine Ahn

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Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

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