SGIM Forum

Breadth: Part III

Things I Learned in the First 2 Weeks

Dr. Sgro ( is an academic hospitalist at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System and a clinical assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

That the proper pronunciation of fomites is fow.maites.

That, in the same way you’re never been able to un-see your parents having sex, you can’t un-see fomites.

That essentially anything can be a mask. A shard of coconut. A knee pad. A used coffee filter? It’s worth a try.

That people have widely divergent views on the meaning of “shelter in place.”

That I can give up handshakes, no problem. I kind of like this elbow thing. But now you’re telling me I’m not supposed to have strangers rub dark tanning oil on my hard to reach places? How am I supposed to bronze evenly?

That my commute is really not that bad. It’s the other commuters who are bad. While I wish them well, I hope they never come back.


That there are very clear, sensible criteria to guide testing based on the latest epidemiologic data, the ethics of resource allocation, and our nation’s comprehensive strategy.

Wait, are you serious? I’m sorry. I just heard about Rand Paul. I have no idea what we’re doing.

That my children will not eat the homemade mac ‘n cheese I spent an hour preparing when I could have just dusted them with aerosolized cheddar and called it a day.

That my four-year-old has absolutely no concept of time, mortality, or even basic safety, and yet seems to take handwashing more seriously than any adult I’ve ever seen.

That non-profit health systems are not interested in profits. Never have been. But knee replacements? Can we talk about that offline?

That, actually, it’s cool. We can reuse our masks. And we have floating hospitals now, so space is not an issue. We also have space. Outer space. Maybe we can build a space hospital.

That Trader Joe’s is a germ-ridden hellscape. Still, the man at the door who greeted me with a spritz of hand sanitizer was extremely friendly. He made my day.

That, when I finally got a chance to go running last weekend and was passing over a particularly shabby stretch of sidewalk and my phone started buzzing with a volley of text messages, it was not one of the residents asking for post-exposure instructions, nor was it my boss calling me in for jeopardy. It was not even my father asking for clarification on whether or not he is allowed to stop by Carmine’s so long as he just “grabs a pastry.” No, it was—once again—my dear friend Dan, sharing another important pangolin meme.

That, as I nosedived into the concrete, my iPhone in one hand and my wedding band on the other helped absorb the impact. I think you’d be surprised by which of these items now needs to be replaced.

That, when the going gets tough, the tough buy meat. Seriously, what are you people doing with all that meat?

That, as of this writing, my children no longer eat chicken. Apparently, they’ve lost the taste for it. Wait, did you say they’ve lost their taste?

That the idea that love is blind seems to have been definitively disproven by the pioneering Netflix original series, Love Is Blind.

That the Netflix original series, Love Is Blind, can render the viewer temporarily incapable of thinking about anything other than Mark’s stunning lack of emotional intelligence, and for that we are very grateful.

That, if you wouldn’t (or couldn’t) do it during an in-person meeting, you probably shouldn’t do it during a Zoom meeting. I’m sorry, Kathy. I had to say something.

That Ninja Kids is a program on YouTube that causes my 7-year-old, periodically, to run screaming into the kitchen and jump kick me, hard, in the upper leg.

That home school is a cute idea. Really f*&%ing cute.

That my neighbors have all sorts of used and vintage masks, which I’m welcome to use if I wish to be killed and/or unemployed.

That, while my wife and I were in medical school, every friend and living relative was apparently acquiring the skills to knit surgical masks.

That I could make it 61.5 hours without once touching my face—my own face—only to have my perfectly sterile field shattered by three swipes of a McKesson Exergen digital temporal thermometer, at the entrance to my hospital, at 6:30 on a Monday morning.

That my house is precisely 2,466 square feet, not counting the attic, which is really just an unfinished crawl space.

That, sometimes, I’ve found, after a long day of work and/or home schooling, it’s nice to unfold the ladder, climb up into the attic, and lie face down on the floor, just for a little while.

That, if we had enough yarn and enough knitters (which it seems like we do) maybe we could knit a containment shield around Myrtle Beach? Like, just for a few weeks?

That the only thing we have to fear is fear itself but dying has been gaining ground.

That my thigh is sore.

I wonder if Trader Joe’s has any ice cream.


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