Waiheke, Aotearoa New Zealand

March 15, 2020

Vulnerable.

Like you, I've watched the coronavirus grow from a foreboding threat locked in Hubei to everywhere, all around us.

Each morning, I read the WHO's latest updates, and look at the overall graphs for everything we know.

I'm watching - as my long ago training in microbiology taught me - for the shape of the curve. In all biological systems, the inflection point is everything - and we're all here, watching, waiting, for the world's.

But me in specific - I'm on a island off the coast of another island in one of the most remote places on earth. I'm isolated from high-risk scenarios - but also rather far from quality medical care.

And on balance, I'm vulnerable.

Watching the recommendations, I'm told that folks above 70 and those with health issues are at risk. I'm still (barely) in my 30's, reasonably fit, and I'm not getting treatment for anything right now. But "health issues" is also mighty broad bucket.

As Covid-19 started to creep around every corner of the world - in a day it hit both basketball and Tom Hanks, for god's sake - a doubt started to gnaw in my mind, as it morphed from "bad thing happening in the world" to "bad thing that I might get real soon now."

See, as a kid, I was asthmatic. Super asthmatic. Like I went to (and I can't make this up) Camp Not-A-Wheeze for kids with asthma. I spent weeks in the hospital for no reason other than my lungs refused to pick up air, plugged in to all kinds of machines, and working harder than I have in my whole life just to breathe.

As the years passed, I mostly grew out of it, needing that inhaler less and less, eventually losing it in a drawer somewhere. But a every few years, I get a terrible flu - fever, sinus infection, the whole thing - and my lungs freak out. All at once, my window for pulling oxygen out of air the shrinks, sharp.

I look at the warnings on Covid-19 about people with a history of respiratory illness and realize that's me.

And all of a sudden, even on this remote island, that vulnerability is real.

It's one of the tricky things about disease, health and how invisible all of it is.

You can never tell just by looking.

Take care of each other,

-Steven

p.s. The best thing I saw all week is perfect for some time stuck indoors. It's a game called Dreams, and to me - it means that the post-programmer future, where anyone can make anything they can imagine - is starting.

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