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‘I have PTSD’: Former surgeon general reveals crisis and chaos of COVID fight

I have PTSD: Former surgeon general reveals crisis and chaos of COVID fight

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — More than three years after COVID-19 arrived in the United States, the country’s former top doctor believes the federal government is still not acting fast enough to protect Americans from the virus or a pandemic of another kind.

Dr. Jerome Adams, WISH-TV medical expert and former U.S. surgeon general, has published a new behind-the-scenes account of the White House’s response to the onset of the pandemic.

Before his book “Crisis and Chaos: Lessons from the Front Lines of the War Against COVID-19” hit shelves on Tuesday, Adams spoke exclusively with me for his first televised interview on the release.

“It’s hard to really talk about war when you’re still in the midst of it,” Adams said of his decision to write the book. “I needed to give myself time to really think back and reflect. I had hoped that we would be post-pandemic and past a lot of the politics that made the response incredibly difficult.

“Unfortunately, in many ways, we’re not, and I was almost forced into writing this book because I saw that we kept having surges. We kept having the same mistakes repeated over and over again and that’s really the central theme throughout the book is that we change the captain of the ship but we kept charting the same course.”

According to Adams, the answer to steering the metaphorical ship is not found in politics – it’s in prioritizing health and the related issues that plague the country separate from a pandemic.

Adams said, “Once you got sick (with COVID-19), more people were likely to die if you were an American or in the United States. That is because we have higher rates of obesity, we have higher rates of high blood pressure, and higher rates of diabetes. If we continue to fail to pay attention to those baseline health issues, we’re going to continue to see the same terrible results, no matter which disease we’re presented with.”

In 2017, Adams was sworn in as America’s 20th surgeon general, being the only anesthesiologist appointed to the role. Before then, Adams ran the Indiana State Department of Health and led Indiana’s response to the Ebola, Zika, and HIV crises.

During his tenure as surgeon general, he issued advisories urging Americans to carry Naloxone, warning children and pregnant women about the dangers of vaping and marijuana use, and pushing more focus on suicide prevention.

Two and half years into his service in Washington D.C., COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic. The crisis would then redirect his career away from his original passion projects.

He details in the book the experiences of becoming a scrutinized face of the pandemic’s fallout amid a rapidly dividing society. His family relationships, reputation, health, and finances all suffered.

“I have PTSD, and I mean that very honestly. It was very jarring for me to be in a situation where I was trying to be the nation’s doctor, but everything I said and did was framed through the lens of politics,” Adams said. “I think God put me there for a reason and that reason was to be a voice for many of those marginalized individuals. From that standpoint, if the pandemic was going to occur one way or the other, I’m thankful that I was there.”

“It really was and not just on me but my wife, stage four cancer kids, going to school with classmates who had strong feelings about dad’s boss,” Adams said of the impact on his family.

“Crisis and Chaos: Lessons from the Front Lines of the War Against COVID-19” is available to purchase through Amazon, Target, and Barnes & Noble.