If safety requires us to indefinitely forfeit the most valuable parts of our lives, what exactly are we trying to save?

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“Grandpa’s Arms” by Johnny Cohen https://unsplash.com/photos/OxOxqLAWvE0

This will be the final Thanksgiving for 2.8 million (the annual all-cause death toll) of our fellow Americans. It could be my last — or yours. That likelihood is significantly higher for our elderly loved ones, too many of whom will not have seen or hugged their family in nine months.


This decision wasn’t about the kids

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On July 29th, a freight train derailed and caught fire in Tempe, AZ, collapsing a local bridge. On August 5th, the local school district voted to delay in-person education. The mess from the train bridge will be less costly and a lot easier to fix. Photo credit Thomas P Seager, PhD

***On 8/5/2020, my daughter’s school district voted to push back the start date for in-person schooling from 8/17 to “at least” October. This is the letter I sent her principal within the hour. It was a shot from the hip and not my most eloquent exposition, but the point survives the passion and I think it exemplifies how a lot of families are feeling right now.

I’m writing to you personally to let you know that I am disenrolling my daughter from school tomorrow in response to the decision by the school board tonight to continue online-only learning until October.

I have never been more disappointed or disgusted with this district than I am tonight. You are depriving kids of normal social/emotional developmental experiences in service of the irrational fear of adults. The kids need to be the priority and they are suffering. I see the distress first hand and this decision represents an intentional increase in the very real risks teens in our district face. Teen mental health is at a breaking point. Teen suicides are through the roof. You are taking away their extracurriculars and their sports and activities which keep them on the path to success. …


“The Curve Is Already Flat” was removed citing public health threat. Many of the experts now agree with me.

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This is me: A.J. Kay, with my family. I’m a professional writer and the mom of four girls. I write complex, engaging essays that provoke thought and challenge narratives, including “The Curve is Already Flat”, which I published on April 3rd, 2020. I have no political affiliation or covert agenda. I’m a writer who digs deep to find meaning and truth and I want to live in a world where ideas rise and fall on their merits — an aspiration that Medium claims to share. And yet, after 48 hours and 300K+ reads, Medium pulled down my article, effectively censoring those ideas. So, I e-mailed Medium, asking them to reconsider. I have yet to receive a response. This is that e-mail.

5/12/20

Dear Medium editors,

I am writing to ask that you reinstate, “The Curve is Already Flat” on Medium.com — not because you think the theory is right, but because you think it’s the right thing to do.

It was removed on April 5th and justified on the grounds that it contains, “Health claims or advice which, if acted on, are likely to have detrimental health effects on persons or public safety.”

The premise of the piece is that COVID arrived in the US earlier than indicated by official case documentation. It was a well-reasoned, thoughtful argument that included supporting data and was written in collaboration with a friend and research expert who has a Ph.D., as well as a solid academic publishing reputation. …


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Photo Credit: Daan Stevens https://unsplash.com/photos/yGUuMIqjIrU

On March 15th, Janet Mills of Maine became the first US Governor to recommend statewide cancellation of all elective medical procedures. Governor Mills proclaimed that such action would, “relieve the strain on the healthcare system as Maine prioritizes COVID-19-related cases.”

That same day, the American Hospital Association (AHA), in cooperation with three other healthcare advocacy organizations, published an open letter to the Surgeon General rejecting the idea that the COVID response necessitated such sweeping measures. …


Here is our story and a timeline, told via text

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My 12-year-old daughter, Charly, with a 104.2 fever. I spent the day reading at her bedside.

*I have permission from all senders of these texts to reprint them in this article.

On January 26th, 2020, the Arizona Department of Health Services confirmed the first official case of the novel coronavirus in Arizona. The patient was a member of the Arizona State University community in Tempe, AZ.

We live in Tempe, too — literally across the street from the campus that matriculates approximately 52,000 students, more than 8000 of whom qualify as ‘international’. My four daughters attend four different schools, three of which are local to Tempe and one across the country in Pennsylvania.

We are exposed to a lot of different people and a lot of diverse pathogens. …


And what it taught me about my eating disorder

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There was just so much blood.

The scalp is so vascular that wounds often bleed heavily and look more severe than they are. For a non-medical professional, it can be tough to tell the difference between a minor head injury and a life-threatening one.

The symptom that most concerned me was how every time she sat up, she projectile vomited. The retching was immediate and involuntary and I read terror in her eyes as the convulsions rocked her little, empty body trying to right itself.

The throwing up was indicative that her intracranial pressure was increasing, which can signal the possibility of a skull fracture or a brain bleed, both of which could be deadly. …


A letter to my daughter on her 18th birthday

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Jane and I, circa 2003

Sweet Baby Jane,

It’s still hard to watch you cry. It’s 11:59 on the eve of your 18th birthday and we just got off a call. You told me you’re lonely, even though you’re surrounded by new friends and gorgeous grounds and novel experiences. It’s your first birthday away from home and it’s a big one. …


Hint: It’s not for the money.

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Photo cred: Trent Szmolnik /Unsplash

My job consists of telling strangers things about myself that I struggle to say to my closets friends.

It can be a real mind fuck.

Sometimes I think about changing my approach, specifically to publishing on Medium. I wonder if I could bang out three to four 700-word articles a day, maximizing the conversion of read time into cash, especially during months — like December — when money is tight and raising four daughters blurs the of the line between ‘We’re doing okay’ and ‘Am I going to make rent?’

In fact, I started this very article with that idea in mind. I thought maybe I would try my hand at writing one of those “How to Make X Dollars in X Timeframe” articles. They’re a sure thing, compensation-wise, especially when you have cred as an established author. …


Short Fiction — Parts 1, 2, and 3

Part I — Lindsay

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photo cred: Riley Crawford (Unsplash)

“Shit. That was close,” she said to herself as she recovered what she could of both her balance and her pride. The ice was thick on the concrete steps, but that wasn’t the reason she’d faltered. She was running.

Luckily, the street was empty at 5 am, so the only ones to actually witness her misstep were some wayward pigeons pecking at crumbs and the homeless man who frequently took shelter overnight in the shadow of the brownstone across the street.

The intensity of the man’s gaze — the way the streetlamp and the snow reflected in his light, glassy eyes — would’ve been unsettling if she felt she had anything to lose. She paused as her damp gaze met his for a split second before she resumed her flight, unmoved. She attempted to engage him before, but he never returned her timid smiles. …


After a lifetime of looking good for other people, I needed to reclaim my body

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Photos courtesy of the author.

In September 2018, I got my breast implants explanted.

The surgery was simple. Dr. C. made two-inch-long incisions and extracted a pair of saline water balloons from the exhausted skin sacks where they’d spent the previous 13 years. One moment they were inside of my body, and the next they were at the bottom of a red biohazard trash can in the corner of the room — where they belonged.

Physically, all the removal required was showing up, $2,000, 1 milligram of Valium, and my love at my side, holding my hand.

Mentally, it was vastly more complicated, and I had to dig deep to tunnel safely through to the other side. …

About

A.J. Kay

Mama, writer, lover, fighter — I wear my heart on my sleeve because my pants pockets are too small. www.ajkaywriter.com

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