Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Baby Theo

We are over-the-moon excited that little Theo is finally here! The Kotynski family are an integral part of our community. We truly DO life together. Since my girls will never have a "little sibling" I am super glad that they are going to get to experience a little baby from the ground up. I think it's wonderful practice for young people -- especially our girls!

Baby Theo will be the Kotynski's last baby as well so our Two-Family Homeschool group will round out with ten kiddos: five girls and five boys! 

Here are some pictures we snapped the day after he was born. Because of the Coronavirus, they were released from the hospital the morning after he was born.

My niece Grace

Wwoofer Jacob

Sunday, April 26, 2020

John's letter to his staff during this pandemic

This is the email my husband sent to his team. He is the co-medical director of an Emergency Department in East Tennessee. I asked him if I could reprint it, as I thought it would help people understand what things are like for him right now. I have shared with some of you personally that he's been quite close to burnout. Here is why: 
April 25, 2020
We have had pay cuts, because our volume is down.
We had had to cut hours, because our volume is down.
We are getting rid of scribes, because our volume is down.
We are cutting nurse, radiology tech, lab tech, and phlebotomist hours, because our volume is down.
We can go hours with seeing only a few patients.
But then we will see fifteen patients in two hours… on our own… all with a lot less support than we used to have.
We are seeing fewer patients, but the patients we are seeing are sicker than normal.
The stress is higher.
We have to wear gloves and masks and face shields for every patient, and we have to get into full PPE for some.
Our hospital’s chief medical officer has been hospitalized and intubated due to COVID.
Did we get exposed today? Did we bring COVID home to our kids yesterday?
Everyone at work has questions and fears about COVID… our patients, our nurses, our lab techs, our administration.
Everyone at home has questions and fears about COVID… our spouses, our children, our friends, our Facebook acquaintances.
Some are asking our opinion as medical experts. They are hanging on our every word. Their fear is heightened or lessened with our response.
Others are doubting everything we say, because this has political and social ramifications, and they have preconceived doubts and skepticism and they watch YouTube and read blogs. 
Everyone who knows me, knows that I am pretty much a perpetual optimist. Nothing ever really gets me down.
But I am worn out.
I am tired of answering so many versions of the same question.
I am tired of having my knowledge and motives and my ethics irrationally challenged.
I am tired of having to read through so many emails to make sure I don’t miss a vital update to protocol.
I am tired of needing to go in the house through the back entrance so I can do an immediate scrub down in the shower and put my clothes in the wash before I hug my kids and wife.
And my ears are sore from this mask.
I am not burned out, but I am close.
I know that if I am feeling it, others probably are too.
We are probably going to have to change the schedule multiple times before this is done.
We are probably going to have some really busy and chaotic days before this is done.
We are probably going to have more frustrations before this is done.
Hang in there.
This will not last forever.
This is not the new normal.
This is a season, and it will pass.
I don’t enjoy this at all.
But this is what we are here for.
This is why we chose medicine.
This is what we do.
And I am so glad you are on my team.
Please take care of yourselves.
Let me know if you need anything.

“As an ER physician, do you think should we open up the country again?”

“As an ER physician, do you think should we open up the country again?”
I’ve been asked many versions of this question over the last few days. Here are my thoughts.

We are ready to start reducing and eliminating COVID-19 restrictions over the next few weeks and months.
But how exactly should we do this?
Slowly. Incrementally. Intentionally. Cautiously.
And we have to be willing and able to back up a bit when and where we need to. Both personally and publicly.
We cannot go from a closed economy where COVID-19 is manageable to a wide-open economy where COVID-19 doesn’t exist.
Because it does exist. COVID-19 isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
And reopening the economy WILL cause a rise in COVID-19 cases. It will happen. And that is a risk we have to take now as long as it stays manageable. Which it has been because of the actions we have taken as a nation.
Remember, the entire point of closing the economy was to “flatten the curve”… keeping the spread of coronavirus at a manageable rate so the medical system does not get overwhelmed.
We were never closing the economy to eradicate COVID-19.
So we have now kept things manageable from a healthcare perspective. I believe that flattening the curve has helped. And this causes the models to change. And it causes recommendations to change.
I was very much in favor of shutting things down.
I am now very much in favor of opening things back up.
But please let’s do this with wisdom.
We still need to follow social distancing recommendations.
We still need to avoid large crowds.
We still need to be extra cautious with those who we know are at higher risk; but we also need to understand that many who are not “high risk” may get very sick.
This is still a serious situation.
We have this wildfire seemingly under control.
But the fire is not stamped out yet.

A series of Blessings

We purchased a Corn Hole game and have been having tons of fun with this! We've been working on more and more things to help us enjoy this time together. 
My Isaac has really "stepped up" during this time and has been such a good big brother to Hannah especially. This picture shows how "grown up" he is becoming. I'm so proud of him. 
I continue to be blown away by the people BLESSING us during this time. My friend made these lasagnas for us despite the fact that she is working MORE than full-time. What a gift.
The creative things people have done for us! I know I will always covet these wonderful memories.
I will never stop singing the praises of Magnatiles. If you want to bless a family during this time, THIS is the toy to give them. (Don't buy a small set. Get a large one.) My kids have loved them since they were little, and even at almost 12, Isaac finds joy in them. 

My sister-in-law sent this game for the kiddos. Seriously. People are just so amazing and kind and think of so many cool things. I will always look back on this experience with fond memories despite how stressful this time is.  
Another friend sent us some fun foods including this "Princess Macaroni" that Grama made into a wonderful salad. 

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Who we "were" during the Pandemic

I want to remember us during this time. So here is who we are right now:
Isaac: Isaac will turn 12 next week. Currently I'm in love with this kid's introverted nature, his dry jokes about not wanting people around and just hilarious subtle, quiet humor in general. He's been playing a lot of Chess and beating me regularly. He's growing up and is maturing a ton. We have conflicts a lot less because truthfully, he's pretty mature for his age and usually very reasonable. He really has very little problem with the fact that we stay home outside of his opportunity to go to the store and see the latest Hot Wheels collections. He is a Dad's boy to the core, and he struggles when John isn't around.
Sidge: Sidge turned 11 in January. He is a bull in a China shop all the time. He moves faster than he should because he's always five steps ahead of everyone. He is so passionate about so many things and never afraid to share how happy or frustrated he is. We've noticed him getting stressed out during all of this. As is often the case, he picks up on other's people stress and it affects him. We've helped him by really easing up on schoolwork and trying to make each day just a learning day -- not doing particular learning things. He especially loves animals, Wingspan, anything nature, and spending time with his Dad.
Abigail: Abigail will turn 9 in July, and she continues to amaze me with how she has emerged from her shy-shell. She is not afraid to sing loudly, make silly jokes or gestures, and is constantly moving. She is so much older than 9 in my mind, and we often expect so much more from her than her age should allow. She loves spending time with her cousins Ana and Kari, and they all get along so well nearly all the time. (I can't remember a single fight during this whole pandemic -- at least so far.) She loves ballet and gymnastics, but she doesn't love doing ballet nearly as much by herself. As long as a cousin is with her, she has no problem doing her workouts. She loves hugs and snuggling, and will come to John and I for different things depending on her need.

Hannah: Hannah is 6.5 right now and she just lost both her front teeth. Since she doesn't smile showing her teeth (just like her dadd) she had to squiggle up her nose to take this picture and show me her teeth. She cries hard and often and comes to me for hugs and comfort regularly. She's reading like a crazy girl and loves to be with her cousin's Genevieve and Eoin. She is precocious as ever and is the kid who complains the most right now about not being able to go anywhere. I'm convinced she's probably the only true extrovert in my children. Her voice is still high-pitched and squeaky and she wants me to sing "Rockabye Baby" each night and hold her in my arms and rock her. 

John: John is 44 during this pandemic and the co-director of a small rural Emergency Room in Greeneville, TN. He is trying to manage taking care of 13 people here on the farm and running the ER, and to be honest, he is weary. Hours and pay have been cut because the ER has had very low volume. But the people who are coming in, are sicker and the stress of keeping himself and his family safe and wearing uncomfortable equipment for 12 hours in a row, intense. He is also dealing with a lot of "helping others" when he comes home because our friends and family need him right now. He is truly the strongest and most amazingly devoted family man I know. I would be lost without him.
Wendi: I am turning 43 next month, and I'm starting to become aware that I'm now a forty-year old and not the 30 year old I feel like in my mind. I have been struggling with discipline for one of the first times in my life. I just want to eat what I want to eat and not spend the time with the Lord I need to and sometimes it shows. But mostly, I am doing well. I've worked hard to get good sleep and take care of myself as there are a lot of people around me struggling right now. I continue to be the "Farm Manager" which can be a bit exhausting sometimes, but I try to take it in stride and keep morale up the best I can. I'm very, very proud of my husband right now. He's a rock.

Coronavirus Memes