Man Vs. Ebola
Last week the story broke of Craig Spencer, a physician in New York who contracted the Ebola virus. Craig had just returned from West Africa where he was treating patients with the deadly disease. He put his life on the line for the sake of others, and he is braver than I will ever be. However, from the reactions of many people you wouldn’t know Craig was a hero at all. I read one comment under a news article where someone opined that we shouldn’t treat Dr. Spencer at all because he brought the Ebola virus to New York.
|A screening of Karate Kid in NYC this summer- Photo by me!
One day, when I was 2.5 years old I started getting a fever. My father being a pediatrician realized I was more sick than usual and took me to the ER. I was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis, and were it not for the Children’s Hospital I would have passed away. My life today is possible because of the care given to me by others. In my moment of need, I am sure dread was a gripping emotion, but what ultimately wound up saving me was love.I was able to survive meningitis and make it to medical school, where I was set on becoming a goofy pediatrician. In medical school, I had an amazing group of friends and one Memorial day weekend we decided to go whitewater rafting in West Virginia. It was a beautiful sunny day and everything seemed perfect, that is until our raft flipped over inside a rapid. Everyone in our raft was pushed out from the rapid into calm water rather easily, everyone except for me that is. I was caught inside a whirlpool, and while I was wearing a life jacket, raging water was rushing above my head. I couldn't breathe, and I couldn't go anywhere.
|Surviving meningitis turned me into a taco eating machine
Somewhere in this drowning process my shorts started getting pulled off by the water. At first I held them firmly with my hand because I did not want to come out of the river with my birthday suit on. However, after about 30 seconds of being underwater a thought rushed through my head: “I might die, my shorts are very secondary.” All of a sudden, after what seemed like a lifetime, the current changed and I was pushed out of the rapid. Shortly after I was pulled into a random raft of strangers and I couldn’t see very well. My shorts were also gone… forever. Luckily, a man on the raft noticed this (although I doubt he would describe this moment as lucky) and said, “Hey man, I got an extra pair of pants.”I went into medicine because at every step of my life someone has helped me get to the point where I am today. When I was a 2.5 year-old sick kid in the hospital, the doctors and nurses made sure I made it to 3 years old. And when I was a freezing, embarrassed man in a raft of strangers, someone gave me pants.
|A bear found my shorts- Artwork by Saleh Heneidi
How does this all relate to Craig Spencer (especially the part about me losing my shorts)? Sometimes in the etching of our lives there will be bad moments, they are as unavoidable as a Ryan Mathews fumble (this is a Chargers reference). We must not let our phobias in those moments blind us from love. Craig should not be treated as a villain. This is a man who flew across an ocean, and risked everything including his health, because he lives up to every part of what a doctor should be. We can only beat ebola by having more people like him, who will fight it at its source because that is how we will truly stop its spread. Craig went to West Africa and sadly got Ebola, and while we can all be fearful of getting Ebola ourselves, we must not forget to show Craig some love. He deserves it. We all do.
There is a love in all our souls, and it shines like gold. - The Bouncing Souls