To Ebola, or not to Ebola…

Well, I guess I need to jump on the Ebola bandwagon. I mean, seriously, Fort Kent was on Anderson Cooper- I have to make some sort of commentary on it, right?

First and foremost, Nurse Kaci Hickox, is without a doubt, a fearless hero who deserves respect. She should not be belittled in any way, because it’s just not nice.

But let me get something straight: 21 days is a drop in the bucket. 21 days, if it means the obsoletion of the spread of a serious illness that we are trying to contain, is just a small price to pay.

I get it, I get it. She’s a nurse, she’ll know if she feels sick, and she’s only contagious IF she’s showing symptoms, of a fever, which she showed at the airport. So, yeah, I would have stuck her in a tent, too, if that’s all that was available.

But, by this point, our government should have designated a nice building with leather couches, big screen TV’s, and a gourmet chef waiting to accept these heroes with open (hazmatted) arms for the most bad ass, ridiculously pampering, mind blowingly phenomenal quarantine of their lives. I mean, this would nothing, since, according to David Kerley of CBS News, “House of Representatives spent nearly $2 million on coffee and food in 2012 for events in and around the Capitol.” (Sorry, any reference I can make to the frivolous spending of politicians that is going to make my point stronger is an argument I have to address.) These heroes deserve a red carpet, right to their quarantine headquarters.

Anyway, back to Ebola. Some people are being mean, some are being cruel, some are speaking out of ignorance. This is America, this is who we are. We think that Common Core Math is a new way to add (It’s not. It’s a list of standards. No way or form does it say how to go about it. It actually encourages students to find their way of figuring it out so they can master the standard. What you’re seeing a new way of structuring numbers, which is actually how I add, so it makes total sense to me.)

Again, I digress. There are some people who are claiming ‘science’ and ‘fact’ and to be quite honest, both sides of the argument are claiming them, and correctly. People who feel Kaci and her main man should hole up in her Fort Kent home for 21 days to make for 100% certain that she does not spread this thing we have all been afraid of for the past 10 months (when it was over the Atlantic, mind you) are claiming fact. I am actually one of those people. I would hate for her to overlook a spike in her temperature while she is grocery shopping, sneeze on some grapes, I buy those grapes and my 2 year old takes one without washing it (because who washes grapes?), then bam, it’s possibly spread to my house. (Mental note: wash your fruits for the next two weeks.) Or her boyfriend, who is great for sticking by her, btw, tries to save her after they decide that they need to hit the bike trails and enjoy another beautiful fall day, she develops a fever on the trip, she freaks out, falls, cuts her leg open, then two people are exposed.

I could do this all day, create these scenarios, because frankly, I’m a little freaked out by it. I’m usually a passivist, but in this case, because she resides in Fort Kent, I am on edge, much like everyone else. I couldn’t imagine how horrified I would be if I only watched one biased news source and wasn’t educated enough to get the necessary information that I need to know to protect myself. I’d be in the corner, rocking a hazmat suit, pretending to be dressed up for Halloween for 3 weeks spraying can after can of Lysol. I have done research, however, and know how it spreads, know the incubation period, etc.

I keep coming back to this: Why is 21 days of hanging out, watching Netflix so bad? If a pregnant woman was on bed rest for this amount of time because something MIGHT happen to her health or the health of her baby, she would do it. Not because if she gets up to do jumping jacks, she would 100% without a doubt have a miscarriage. No, she does it because the fear of hurting the baby inside of you is enough to keep you bed ridden, in your home, watching reruns of Grey’s Anatomy, hoping to see an episode that airs your condition, eating ice cream with the spoon you used to eat nacho cheese dip, while wondering why nacho cheese ice cream isn’t a real thing. You would do this all because you chose to be a mom. You agreed to protect the life inside of you.

But Kaci chose to be a nurse, and likely took The Nightengale Pledge, which ends with, “devote myself to the welfare of those committed to my care.” I’m not currently in her care, but if she develops symptoms while buying grapes, I very well may be. So I think she should be protecting the hypothetical care she would need to be giving if she spread the illness to others.

Here’s the thing that gets to me. Kaci may not have ties to any of ‘us’, or even understand who ‘us’ is. After all, and I quote Facebook here, “She’s not from here.” We would totally accept her to be part of ‘us’, but she is freaking most of ‘us’ out. Besides, ‘we’ are people (most of ‘us’, anyway) and she agreed when she took the oath upon her graduation that she would basically make choices for the better good. Like she did when she went to Sierra Leone to be in the trenches, risking her life for others in need. So, I’m perplexed as to why the 21 day thing is such a big deal. It’s like of like Al Capone who would feed the homeless, but murdered dozens and hired people to murder hundreds. It’s a stretch, I know, but Capone had ulterior motives behind his murders, much as Kaci seems to have ulterior motives behind her refusal to follow the 21 day policy. It’s just confusing.

She did say that it was because it was her “human right” and that the quarantine wasn’t based on science. But it is. If it was 37 days, then it wouldn’t be based on science, but the 21 days is the incubation period. So yeah, the science factor doesn’t work. Plus, history tells us that Dr. Craig Allen Spencer knew what he was talking about as he was over there, but still went places while showing symptoms. So yeah, we’re talking about science and history now.

Speaking of history, human rights? Really? We’re not asking for solitary confinement on Alcatraz Island here, which is where we put Al Capone, even though he fed the hungry, for evading paying taxes for his gangster activities, which would have paid for lavish breakfasts for congressional members. Sorry just trying tie everything in together to add cohesiveness. Or jab at the frivolous spending again. Either one works.

So, to connect Kaci and Capone again. (Kaci Capone would be a cool name…) Even though she spent time on the Ebola battlefield, she still should respect the fear of the people in this little town. She should not go for a bike ride to ‘exercise her human right’ because even though she may not (or may) be putting people at risk, she’s making people hate her. She’s adding anxiety by stirring the pot. It’s not fair to ‘us’.

And it’s not fair to herself. She is taking away from the good she did by acting sort of like a child who was asked to eat her peas, when damn it (I didn’t say damn it when I was 6, I swear), she doesn’t see the need in veggies, and sits at the table in defiance until her mother relents because it’s bedtime. Her defiance is ruining it.

An aside: I doubt if Governor Lepage were the one trying to make me eat my peas, I would have gone to bed. I would have sat there until my peas were all gone. Wrong state to try to play the game.

Here’s the deal. She may not get sick and I honestly hope (for her sake and that of others) that she stays symptom free until November 10, which is circled on the calendars of everyone in this quaint, little “logging town” (don’t even get me started on that). I pray that she remains free of this illness and goes back to help more people. But I also am praying that she understands her threats to sue and her refusal to do such a menial task makes her seem like a child. Lawsuits should be saved for people who have been wronged by others- not being ‘forced’ to remain in your home for 3 weeks. If I get hit by an uninsured drunk driver and lose my leg, yes, I should be able to sue because I need to support my kids. Or if a nurse refuses a 21 day hiatus from the rest of the world and one of my family members gets sick.

But this is ridiculous. A mockery of our justice system.

Does our government need to get its act together and provide accommodations for its returning healthcare workers? Absolutely. Should healthcare workers be held to the same standard as our military? Absolutely. Should I bring my kids trick or treating in this small town when Ebola particles could be floating in the air? Okay, I’m just kidding with that one, everyone relax. But yes, we are going trick or treating tonight. If it were November 11, I would probably bring my kids to her house to deliver her a thank you card for the service she’s done, because I still respect her for that.

But it’s not. There are two measly weeks until that time. And until then, we will side on caution and keep it to the family and Pleasant Street (and by Pleasant Street, I mean our neighbors). I just hope that everyone remains safe and that this illness becomes contained and that all of the health care workers understand that they are not invincible. Just ask Dr. Spencer.

Okay, time to get ready for my day. I need to stock my daughter’s bag with tons of candy to get her friends hyper before trick or treating (and tons of Purell).

But Kaci, if you’re reading this, please understand that you have my respect. You’re a better person than me for going to Africa in the first place. But you are scaring the crap out of people, so just comply. I’ll send you some soup, or lasagna, maybe some pumpkin sugar cookies. Anything you want, I’m a pretty good cook. Just stop ‘exercising your right’ and respect the rest of us out here as we respect you. Selfish as it may be, we didn’t choose to risk ourselves to fight this disease, so we shouldn’t be exposed. I know you’re symptom free, but it could be contracted at anytime and my children’s health and well being are not a price to pay for your civil liberties.

Claire Pelletier

About Claire Pelletier

I'm 30. Boy am I 30. I have three children: Shelby (almost 8), Harper (3), and Aidan (1). I work full time as an English teacher, full time as a mom, part time as a wife, part time as a cook at a Diner (this is actually a paid position), and a per diem house cleaner. Basically, I do it all. Oh and I like to write (revert back to my full time teaching position). This life is crazy, people are even crazier, and online blogging has given me a voice. Some may think it's a loud and obnoxious voice, but I kind of like it. I do my best to write about things that interest people, mainly about myself. Sometimes I verge into the political land, but that place scares me, so I mostly write about every day things that make me laugh, cry, or scream. Thanks for reading!