Ever since I came down with Ebola yesterday, a lot of people have expressed anger towards me with regards to how I handled my illness. Quite frankly, I don’t think that’s fair. When I decided to take the subway to go bowling earlier this week in Brooklyn, I had been CAREFULLY monitoring my health, and I was FINE. In the absence of any fever or serious symptoms, there was virtually a ZERO percent chance that I would be able to pass the illness on to anybody. That’s right. Zero. Check the CDC website. Of course, that all changed once I started coming down with actual symptoms. But rest assured. Being a doctor, I acted as any sensible man should when my state worsened: I locked myself in my room, called the CDC to officially report my symptoms, and, as I waited for an ambulance to arrive, I sought out all of my close friends and family members so I could give them each proper goodbye kisses, just in case I never got to see them again.
Most people in my situation probably would not have acted nearly as quickly as I did. In fact, thanks to my diligent monitoring of my temperature, I estimate that I caught my fever within no more than an hour after its onset. Luckily, I was by myself at the time. Thirty minutes and fourteen kisses goodbye later, I was on my way to the hospital, ready as I’d ever be to face the grim reality that awaited.
Of course I wish I could have told my friends and family why I was kissing them goodbye, but there simply wasn’t time to explain to all of them. I knew the men in yellow suits would be at my door any second to escort me to my isolation bubble, and I had to make the most of the little time I had left. So I gathered my most priceless possessions, called everyone I knew, and told whoever was available to meet me in my apartment as soon as possible. No time for questions–just big slobbery wet goodbye kisses.
So to all of you who doubted me and the way I handled this situation, I hope this helps clear up some of the confusion. I understand the logic behind the initial inclination for you to be frustrated with. Here I am, a volunteer doctor who had just been in West Africa, the Ebola capital of the world, and it turns out I’d been wandering the streets of New York for days afterwards. But like I said, there was virtually no measurable risk of it spreading during the time that my symptoms were latent. I was merely a harmless ticking time bomb. And when the bomb finally did go off, I was super prepared, going so far as to set up time to give intimate goodbyes to my loved ones, many of whom are either too old and frail or too young and innocent to process the full gravity of the situation.
As I write this, I sit on my bed, in my isolation chamber, like an alien life form. I hardly have the energy to eat, my fever is getting worse, and I fear the worst. But regardless of what Ebola takes away from me physically, it can never take away my memories of my friends and family, specifically my memory from last week with my fiancée, when we toured the reservoir that supplies NYC with two-thirds of its drinking water.