Tennis offers short-term solace in these strangest of times. A book is sufficient if one is not proficient at playing the game. The American healthcare industry far exceeds expectations when challenged to the hilt. Brilliant professionals sacrifice themselves for better days on the horizon that we’ll eventually take for granted. I ask myself what I can do to make healthcare professionals’ lives better — given their suffering and over-exposure to the pandemic catastrophe. Aside from assuring my family does absolutely nothing to gain unwanted exposure, I take a seat in the stands to watch this scary movie play itself out.

It’s never been easier to experience stories in the daily Covid hospital hysteria from TV and social media sources. However, it’s tough to concentrate and read any book. Books that cut across multiple dimensions hold special meaning for me, especially anything medical- or tennis-related. The Tennis Partner by novelist-physician Abraham Verghese is a good book from a different era (the early 90s) that delves into the medical field’s underbelly. This page-turner unveils a medical lifestyle that must be all the more exhausting during the current pandemic. Doctors have always struggled to administer self-care in an industry unforgiving to their needs. They spend every minute of the day protecting and sustaining others without looking at the mirror. The book uncovers industry-wide drug addiction through the prism of a handful of characters.

I remember volunteering in a St. Louis ER ward during my college days, which was frankly dull. What I saw convinced me to pursue a different career path. I didn’t want to die of boredom. The age of the pandemic, compounded by deliberate and random acts of violence, and widespread drug abuse, makes the ER the most dangerous of all workplaces, if not the most enlivening.

Narcotics and prescription drug addiction overwhelms medical professionals, according to Abraham Verghese. The storytelling here highlights the pressure-cooker experience of being in close quarters with Verghese’s colleague, whose only means for self-care is found on a tennis court far away from the medical wards. The world-class doctor improves his novice tennis game against an Aussie-born tennis junkie who’s drowning personally at the hospital during his residency.

While this book ruminates about tennis and medicine in the early 90s near the Texas-Mexico border, not much has changed in professional challenges. Doctors are valued more than ever before but suffer endlessly on the front lines in the battle against Covid-19. Abraham Verghese’s book sounded the alarm two decades ago. Doctors should pay attention to themselves and for ailing colleagues before it’s too late. Governmental intervention is needed to avoid an epic collapse of our healthcare system if we don’t protect our healthcare professionals. Their jobs have become too dangerous to perform. As a result, they fall victim to the same scourges facing American society.