Another Piece of String

[excerpt from A. A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh: the House at Pooh Corner, chapter 8.]

The above paragraph describes the scene in chapter 8 of The House at Pooh Corner, during which Owl, Piglet, and Pooh all find themselves trapped inside Owl’s house which has been blown over by the very Blustery Day. At this stage of the pandemic sometimes I am Owl, sometimes I am Piglet, and sometimes I am Pooh.

Owl, the unflappable healthcare worker. Vaccine breakthrough with omicron? Ok, we lean on therapeutics for high-risk patients. Monoclonals no longer working against omicron? No problem, we become experts on using Paxlovid. We run short of Paxlovid? We try Molnupiravir or Remdesivir, and clamor harder for the shipment of Sotrovimab to arrive or figure out how to deploy Evushield… as Owl says: “If the string breaks, we try another piece of string.”

But I am also Piglet, who caught Covid. Will I have long-term effects from my Covid infection? And if I had delta, and I am re-infected with omicron in the next couple weeks, what will that mean- to have both so close together? Piglet is really wanting to know (since it is the same him who will always come tumbling down), although he agrees there seems nothing else to do.

But then I am Pooh — who, although he has very little brain, is the one to reassure Piglet that the string won’t break (because Piglet is very small) and Pooh will stand underneath anyway. If you catch Covid and are vaccinated, your risk of severe outcomes is steeply reduced. And if you do worsen, and your Covid infection becomes serious, we know so much more about how to help you now than we did in 2020. “You are vaccinated, you won’t fall seriously ill. But just in case, we’re at the urgent care and ER to help. We will catch you if you do fall.” And Pooh reassures Piglet that the story will end very well; although right now we are all three stuck in this tumbled-down treehouse together.

And then once again I am Piglet — who rises towards the ceiling, and sees some tiny signs that perhaps this is close to the end… but doesn’t call out just yet, because what if we collectively let go of the string too soon?

The E.H. Shepard Archive, University of Surrey.

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