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On the bright side .... looking for the positive amid pandemic's many negatives


Peter McDonnell

Oh, the storm and its fury broke today 

Crushing hopes that we cherish so dear

Clouds and storms will in time pass away

The sun again will shine bright and clear


Keep on the sunny side, always on the sunny side

Keep on the sunny side of life

- “Keep on the Sunny Side,” 

a song written in 1899 by Ada Blenkhorn and 

J. Howard Entwhistle


With the coronavirus pandemic and the government’s advisories to stay in our homes except for essential business or trips to the grocery store, the risk exists that we could become couch potatoes who are eating and drinking too much, exercising too little and becoming lonely and saddened. Determined to not allow this to happen to yours truly, I have resolved along the way to see the positive aspect to each new development in this saga.

Travel restrictions
It began when the association between infection and air travel became evident and many companies and universities (including mine) banned or severely restricted air travel. “There is a bright side to this,” I thought. 

Because they woould not be traveling around the world giving lectures and being visiting professors, I would be able to see a lot more of my brilliant faculty members in meetings and around the institute. I was really looking forward to this.

But then we were told that we should stop meeting in groups and that unless they were engaged in “essential work” such as patient care, faculty should stay at home.  So no meetings with my faculty after all. 

But keeping on the sunny side, at least I would see the happy smiling faces of my residents and clinical faculty members from time to time.

But then came the rule that we were to wear masks all the time at work, except perhaps when alone in our offices. So no smiling faces to see during the workday.  

Let the beard grow
Again, keeping on the sunny side, I realized this was a golden opportunity to grow a beard and mustache. Not a ridiculously large beard, but the manly kind of silver and white growth that Sean Connery sported when he played the Russian submarine captain in The Hunt for Red October. As all men know, the problem with growing such a beard or mustache is that it looks pretty bad until it has grown out adequately.  

Under a mask, no one would see the early scraggly appearance and, when the period of mandatory mask use expired, the dashing end product would be revealed to all!

But then came the rule that hospitals like mine are banning facial hair in order to allow effective seals of the N95 masks to reduce the risk of viral transmission.  

“So much for staying on the sunny side,” I thought as my secret plan to look like Sean Connery was dashed. A frown began to develop on my hairless face.

A glimmer of hope?
But then today I received an email that revealed there is light at the end of the tunnel. The message was an invitation to speak at a meeting in London, England in August of this year. I have been to London and it is a beautiful city with wonderful people.  

“But will the restrictions on travel and limitations on public gatherings be over by August?” I wondered as I read the invitation. Then I came to the sunny side of the message that cautioned against panic over the coronavirus and made a series of recommendations:  

“Kindly follow some of the safety precautions like-wash your hands frequently for one hour, kindly include ingredient garlic or ginger in your food or along with the hot water which produces heat and acts as a barrier.”  

Reading this list of protective measures restored the smile to my beardless and mustache-less visage. 

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