As we continue to struggle with the coronavirus (COVID-19), everyone is attempting to keep the appropriate distances, wash hands incessantly, and wear masks. There is no question that these acts seem to be reducing the incidence of the viral infection. Unfortunately, the consequences of any action results in a reaction of its own. For instance, because people are staying home to avoid the virus, the incidence of people dying at home without medical care is increasing. Sadly, as people are together more, the incidence of spousal and child abuse also is rising. These are all devastating social problems that are the consequences of someone’s good ideas of how to manage this pandemic. I am not saying we should not be doing these things; I am just saying that every action has consequences, many that may be as bad as the things being avoided. Rarely do people making such decisions consider the downside of the advice they provide.
As you may know, our wound center has been open the entire time since we are considered an essential service. I believe that has been a very good thing, because many of the patients we have continued to treat would have certainly required hospitalization for infections or other major problems and would have been at significant risk for a major amputation. Two patients who feared seeking help for diabetic foot problems have already undergone emergency amputations that probably could have been avoided if they had continued the care they were getting before the stay-at-home order. Being home and trying to entertain oneself and the family is not without risks as well. We have seen burn wounds as a result of people cooking on their outside grills. One patient cut off the end of her finger while trying to use her new potato peeler. Working around the house to clean up or do repairs has not been without peril as well. We have had 2 different instances of family members working together to clean out the garage and running over the foot of another family member while moving the car. The Montgomery area in Alabama has had some bad weather during the lockdown, so after the storms passed, people were cleaning the tree limbs from their yards. One patient with diabetes stepped on a nail and got a significant foot infection, a second person was burned when using gasoline to burn tree limbs, and another caught his pants on fire after spilling fuel on himself and deciding to light the fire anyway! Likewise, children are not immune from danger when out of school and entertaining themselves. One little girl was riding on the back of her sister’s bicycle when she got her foot caught between the tire and bicycle frame. To say the least, the abrasions and skin avulsion injuries have been interesting to manage.
I have joked about listing all these problems as being due to COVID-19. I know the virus did not directly cause these problems, but the effect of the pandemic on all of us has resulted in these injuries and many other problems. Despite the best efforts of the “experts” in medicine, virology, epidemiology, and statistics, their advice and guidance of the government’s response to this pandemic has had consequences of their own, which for some may have been as bad as the disease itself. As you make decisions for yourself and decisions that will affect others, always try to see the “big picture” and evaluate the potential good and bad that can result.