Almost two million people have been infected by the COVID19 Pandemic, indiscriminately, these include women, men and children. And the numbers will keep on rising well after this article is published! With more than a 100 days gone since the World Health Organization (WHO) first alerted the world of the virus, the wrath of the disease remains unabated.
These are unprecedented times where some of the biggest challenges include the urgent need of medical supplies such as Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), masks and ventilators even in the most progressive economies of the world, and how governments respond and cope with collapsing policies and plummeting healthcare systems; the latter that just cannot cope with the influx of patients, front, right and center. And that is just the tip of the ice berg.
The socio-economic construct that is our reality seems to be devoid of positive impact on human lives. Economies are built and bred on the ugliness of money grubbing globalization. This is transparent even in the stigmatization and politicization of the pandemic. Perhaps, it is not too quick to claim that the Coronavirus is in fact the product of that very ugliness. And it is not just up to governments to step up, it is a moral responsibility of each and every denizen of the world – an obligation to humanity, to step up and do our part to flatten the curve. This is what humanity demands and our humanity depends on it!
Going through the incessant noise created on social media, regurgitating an infodemic around the COVID19 pandemic, it has become increasingly difficult to filter facts from myths. As a consequence, real voices of real people especially those working on the frontlines get, many a times, buried under those raucous sounds. These are voices that need to be heard and listened to for they are the reasons that inspire us to help #FlattenTheCurve!
One such voice is of an amazing frontline healthcare professional, Dr. Saba Lodhi, a pulmonary critical care doctor in the State of Washington, USA.
Talking about the current state of affairs, Dr. Lodhi narrates an overwhelming story: “I am a pulmonary critical care doc in Washington state which was the first state to see COVID-19 in the USA. A few weeks on but unfortunately many lost lives later, Governor Inslee issued a stay-at-home state-wide mandate that was met with skepticism but overall abided by and I do believe it helped flatten the curve in our State. On the contrary I have friends and acquaintances in New York and New Jersey, some of whom despite being healthcare professionals did not take pleas for social distancing seriously and it does make one wonder if that accounted for what we see as chaos in those states now.”
“After doing critical care medicine for more than a decade at this point, it’s safe to say that one learns the art of emotional detachment from the subjects you care for. It is almost essential for critical thinking and acceptance of outcomes that so often are not in your control in the world of medicine. Then something devastating like this pandemic comes around and puts you face to face with mortality. Your own, your loved ones and the patients you assume responsibility for. One of the earliest patients I took care of was an educator himself, well aware of what having the COVID-19 meant. I was haunted for many nights by the fear I saw in his eyes when I explained to him that he needed to be placed on a ventilator. I asked him to call his wife and his children because based on reports from China, it was entirely fathomable that it may be the last time he spoke to them. I did not tell him that, but we both knew. The armor of emotional disconnect can’t withstand moments like that.”
“It is heart wrenching to watch these patients fight for their lives with no familiar face or voice around them. We have come up with iPads in their rooms so families can have “virtual visits” with their loved ones.”
I asked him to call his wife and his children because based on reports from China, it was entirely fathomable that it may be the last time he spoke to them. I did not tell him that, but we both knew. The armor of emotional disconnect can’t withstand moments like that.
“The past few weeks have been exhausting. It is emotionally tasking to take care of these patients who have a very protracted course of illness. It is also physically daunting with the added responsibilities that the pandemic has brought with it. I’m the Medical Director of Critical Care at our hospital so in addition to having extra clinical duties due to increasing ICU census, I’ve also been responsible for writing and implementing policies and procedures for the COVID-19. On my days off I’ve had meetings for hours on end at times.
My husband is a Hospitalist and has had to cover extra shifts in the hospital. Our nanny has older family members so we decided she shouldn’t work in what we consider a high risk household. We’ve been working opposite weekend schedules so someone can be home with the kids and have another healthcare provider’s teenage daughter watching our kids during weekdays since schools are closed.”
“Both my kids have Zoom school sessions during the week and a fair amount of school assignments they need to complete. I’ve made them a schedule to follow to have some routine in their day and for the most part they seem to be doing ok with this new norm but are we as parents ok? I know I’m not. As much as I despise the mundane, the chaos of this lack of routine, a lack of control definitely adds a new challenge to this pandemic. If I’m not working on a COVID related issue on my days off, I’m being a mother, a school teacher, house cleaner, cook and a psychotherapist for my extremely bright kids who have concerns about us being exposed to the COVID-19. I’m also up most nights trying to filter through the onslaught of non-peer reviewed journal articles about the COVID-19.”
“The worse of it all is that as a working mom I normally manage to keep an adequate balance between work, home and my mental well-being; that balance has shifted completely towards work. It is a tiring place to be in. I look forward to being able to shut my brain off when this is all over, I look forward to the mundane.”
“People need to understand the other side of quarantine. I longingly look at people’s posts about lazy afternoons, unscheduled naps, walks in the sun. I’d rather be there but I can’t even get my normal daily run in to clear my head because my days are consumed by extra COVID related work.”
“Most are bored, many believe this is blown out of proportion and several others are defiant about the need to follow these orders. Listen to what I have to tell you, it is here, it is real and it does not discriminate. I’ve seen young patients with no medical problems come close to losing this battle. Prevention is the best remedy. Social distancing helped flatten the curve in our state. I can’t fathom what our lives would be like if we hadn’t.”
“As a physician I never want to be put in a position where you have to allocate life-saving resources but that is what happened in Italy and is happening in New York City. It is not fiction, this is unfolding in front of our eyes. Get off the gram and watch the world news, stay home.”