Gary Tetz

More and more these days, like Winnie-the-Pooh, I frequently consider myself “a bear of very little brain.” Especially whenever I make the mistake of trying to ponder the logistics of delivering COVID-19 vaccines to residents and staff in long-term care facilities. 

Inevitably my thoughts spin off into surreal, cascading and confusing images of freezers the size of football stadiums, armadas of refrigerated trucks, multiple doses, an unwilling populace and the need for unprecedented and complex tracking systems and delivery processes. Just thinking about it makes my head feel like a hot, oily kernel of popcorn nearing maximum pressure and velocity.

Fortunately, at this point I know how to hack myself — by contemplating something else instead. For instance, when I’m dwelling to an unhealthy degree on vaccine distribution, I try to remember there’s an election coming up. Usually that’s ample distraction, at least until I try to digest the deluge of competing polling data, the prevalence of social media deception, the traumatic specter of 2016 and the likelihood of societal unrest, regardless of which way the vote goes. Suddenly my brain feels small again and further aggressive action is required.  

That’s why it’s such a relief to be able to shift gears and focus on the state of the economy, which is definitely deserving of my mental attention. I can’t tell you the peace I feel from setting aside the unknowns of the election and the incomprehensible intricacies of delivering vaccines to long-term care facilities to consider our economic future. Sadly, I soon realize I can’t even manage my own finances properly, much less understand the hidden machinations of the monetary system, and my brain shrinks back to walnut size. 

Which is precisely the perfect time to go off in a different cerebral direction entirely, setting aside the economy, the election and the logistics of delivering vaccines to long-term care facilities, and instead spending some quality time contemplating the American judiciary. It’s a bedrock of our democracy, after all, an inviolable institution that must be preserved and protected at all costs. The question is how, and I quickly realize it’s going to take a stouter mind than my own to divine where this is headed. 

What a relief that I don’t have to, because … climate change. Now there’s a good distraction from the courts, the economy, the election and vaccine distribution. It’s something so simple that even I, a person of tiny intellect, can understand—rising water, extreme temperatures, fires, floods and murder hornets. Except that it’s all so devastating and sad. We’re approaching oblivion like the glaciers are moving toward extinction, inch by inch, one degree at a time, frog in boiling water-style. 

That’s when I stop, take a deep breath, and with a Herculean effort push thoughts of global warming, the judiciary, the economy and the election far from my mind. Suddenly I’m grateful for the opportunity to mentally return to the starting point. Because after pondering all the other mighty challenges we’re facing, maybe getting vaccines to long-term care facilities isn’t so difficult and overwhelming after all. 

Or maybe like A.A. Milne’s small-brained bear, I just need to find a honey tree and eat myself into oblivious hibernation until about 2022. 

Things I Think is written by Gary Tetz, a two-time national Silver Medalist and three-time regional Gold and Silver Medal winner in the Association of Business Press Editors (ASBPE) awards program, as well as an Award of Excellence honoree in the recent APEX 2020 Awards. He’s been amusing, inspiring, informing and sometimes befuddling long-term care readers worldwide since the end of a previous century. He is a writer and video producer for Consonus Healthcare Services in Portland, OR.