Divine Intervention in the Time of a Pandemic

St. John the Divine Field Hospital

The Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City is the largest Gothic style cathedral in the world and the 6th largest church building. Begun in 1892, the cathedral remains unfinished. As of Monday, the 610 foot cathedral became an emergency field hospital. Nine medical tents capable of holding up to 200 patients will be erected in the nave; the crypt will be used as a staging area for medical personnel. The cathedral is across the street from Mount Sinai Morningside Hospital, which will staff the field hospital.

Life is a Crapshoot

I haven’t posted anything since December. For many reasons, my interest in blogging crashed. I have been in Southern California since mid-December. I came to celebrate the holidays with one of my sisters and her daughter.

I stayed to help care for my sister, who discovered on December 27th that her breast cancer had returned and metastasized to her hip. On December 29th, her pain and inability to move on her own were so great we had to call 911. Today, she is doing well, following surgery, radiation, and oral chemotherapy. But it hasn’t always been an easy journey. And now, I remain in Southern California under a stay-at-home order as Covid-19 forces much of the country to shelter in place. Who knows how long I will be here. I live in Virginia. The stay-at-home order there runs through June 10, 2020.

I’ll be honest. The last three months have been a challenge for all of us. Watching my sister in terrible pain. Waiting for the results of each test and scan. Waking up and wondering what day it was and what was procedure was scheduled. It was my choice to stay and be her caregiver, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Luckily, three of our other sisters and her son were able to come for shorter periods of time to provide support, advocate  for her care, and to give me a break.

Her recovery from her February 3rd hip reconstruction and replacement surgery to remove the tumor and the damaged bone has been slow but steady. Today, she was organizing one of  her kitchen cupboards, as best she could with her continuing movement prohibitions.

Now we are bound together by a virus. I was able to make two quick trips home, one in early January and one in mid-March. Returning to California on March 17th, just as many of the travel warnings and restrictions were being put in place, was an eerie experience. Empty airports, nearly empty planes. Confusion about the lack of interest on the part of anyone in the airports if I had traveled outside the US recently. No extra screening. I flew on Delta and have to say I have never been on such a clean airplane. I felt like the airline took the risks of spreading the virus seriously.

I’ve learned a few things over the last three months. I’ve learned how comforting the company of a cat can be when you are worried about someone in the hospital.

Cleo the Cat

I’ve learned that even with the best medical care (and her’s has been wonderful) patients need to have family or friends to advocate for them so they don’t get lost in the circus that can be modern medicine. I’ve learned I never want to be in a skilled nursing facility if I have a choice. I was so distressed by the facility she was transferred to after her surgery that I wanted to put her in the car and run away. I’ve learned how important family is and how comforting it is to know they care. I’ve learned to appreciate social media (in most of its forms) for providing immediate connections and information, both on a personal and a human level. And I’ve learned how glad I am that I am not going through the pandemic on my own, isolated in my house in Virginia.

Oh, and I have learned to admire the doctors, nurses, and other medical professional who don’t always get the credit they deserve. And my hat is off to anyone who is a caregiver. I have a new appreciation for the struggles long term caregivers must face.

I think I am ready to return to my blog. I don’t have access to my photo archives so who knows what sorts of pictures I will post.  Luckily, I have lots on my phone. In an age of uncertainty, I am going to try to put a bit of order back into life.





A Photo A Week: Fresh


Basilico, Saturday Market, Arles, France

Basilico, Saturday Market, Arles, France

A Photo A Week: Fresh

OWPC: Camel

Camels Can Kill

Cigarette Ad in Munich Airpot

Cigarette Ad in Munich Airpot

OWPC: Camel

Camera Lucinda: The Colour of Life

Colour By The Pint

Part of the fruit rainbow

Part of the fruit rainbow

Camera Lucinda: The Colour of Life

Breasts or Beheadings: What’s Your Pleasure?

In the nearly sixty years I’ve been alive, attitudes toward acceptable language and imagery have evolved. The word pregnant is no longer considered vulgar on television. Cuddly cartoon bears walk around with toilet paper on their butts after taking a dump in the woods. Penis jokes are rampant in movies and on television. Fart jokes explode across the airwaves. Frigging, a euphemism for the F-bomb or masturbation, rolls off many tongues. Models in skimpy underwear and feathered wing float down the runway in prime time.

Yet a breast, a simple mass of tissue on a woman’s chest designed to give sustenance to babies, remains at the top of the list of the verboten, even if not shown in a suggestive or offensive manner. The brief glimpse of a nipple at a football game can result in mass hysteria and congressional investigations. Who can forget how AG John Ashcroft ordered the statues in the Great Hall of the Department of Justice building be covered in drapes lest an aluminum breast appear in one of his head shots during press conferences.

Today, Facebook (FB), of which I am a regular and semi-addicted user, announced that it is acceptable to post videos of beheading and other violence—but it still prohibits images of breasts, especially if the nipple is visible. Explain that to me. FB issued a statement saying

People share videos of these events on Facebook to condemn them. If they were being celebrated, or the actions in them encouraged, our approach would be different.

Does that mean it is okay to post a snuff film on FB if the aim is to protest pornography?

A thought provoking article by Shaun Hides on CNN.com discusses FB’s policy towards beheading and breasts—Facebook: Why beheadings . . . and not breasts. Hides points out the contradiction, to put it mildly, in FB’s policies.

Facebook sees it as a legitimate service to allow its audience to see a woman being brutally killed and then host discussion of that content, but will not allow its users to see exposed breasts — for fear of causing offense.

Only recently, following a petition drive by the organization The SCAR Project, has FB clarified its policy on posting photos of women’s and men’s mastectomy scars. While now allowing mastectomy scar photos, many of which it had previously censored, FB’s policy states 

However, photos with fully exposed breasts, particularly if they’re unaffected by surgery, do violate Facebook’s Terms. These policies are based on the same standards which apply to television and print media, and that govern sites with a significant number of young people.

One of my younger sisters is a breast cancer survivor. Her scars are a testament to her survival.

According to FB, it is acceptable to show a women being beheaded, based on the rationale it is spurs debate against violence, but a breast might violate standards of what young people should view. How is allowing young people to view a beheading less offensive than the sight of a breast? Fifty percent of the world’s population has breasts. It’s not like breasts are a secret. Just go to the beach.

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