Anxiety. Nervousness. A wreck. We’re left in the unknown.
If you’ve watched Contagion you would know that the story’s protagonist was a bat. Coronavirus is a set of viruses that is meant to infect animals. However, some have jumped onto human beings as well. And the latest one is no exception. In the movie, a bat infects the pig.
Shouldn’t have been a problem to the humans, right? This pig was sold at a wet market in Hong Kong, cooked at a famous restaurant, touched by the greatest chefs of all time and eaten by customers. Oh, and also, the greatest chefs of all time came in contact with the greatest customer of all time. This customer returned to the United States and only then started showing symptoms. She succumbed to this virus but left her doctors confused about what had taken her life. Very soon, they realized that it was a virus of great danger and is highly contagious. But by this time, she had already infected millions. Sounds familiar?
Contagion is now our reality, a pandemic.
COVID-19 started in Wuhan, China, and quickly spread throughout the Hubei province and the deaths increased day by day. Till this point, the world was unbothered. But what exactly happened and what is COVID-19?
COVID-19, a virus enters your body through the nose, mouth and eyes. Once inside, like any other virus, it multiplies and creates copies of itself throughout the body. The illness starts in the respiratory tract, the airway between the mouth, nose, throat and lungs. Your immune system counterattacks this virus by how it would counteract the common cold, fever and a slight cough. This is normally considered as a mild case and doesn’t require any special treatment to cure. However, if this virus penetrates deeper into the tract, it can create serious issues and might decrease chances of survival. It can result in the lungs getting filled with a liquid, similar to what happens with patient having pneumonia and even cause breathing issues or acute respiratory distress syndrome. As the fluid in the lungs increases, they carry less oxygen to the blood. Without sufficient oxygen organs like kidneys, lungs and the liver will shut down and stop working.
I don’t mean to scare you. But we need to be aware of what’s happening in the world and what this virus does to our body. However, there’s one more aspect that I want to bring to your notice. And that is an introduction to the warriors in the battle field.
We are bored of staying at home, because “c’mon, it is the 21st century” and hanging out is a part of our daily routine. We are bored of seeing the same faces at home every day, we’d rather see a hundred unknown faces at our workplace. Maybe if we could get just a ten-minute drive before the cops catch us? We have the opportunity to isolate and not step out of the house. We can wash our hands multiple times to stay safe. No matter how bored you are, you still get to embrace your family time every single day. You still get to touch your loved ones.
Every single day.
You see, we are selfish. That’s human nature. We care about ourselves and our family and that’s about it.
As you read this right now, doctors and nurses are fighting in the combat zone every single day. Their day starts early and ends late. Many of them are unable to sleep because of the anxiety of what remains in store for them the very next day. Some are pregnant and some are old. But they report to their duty every single day. Their priority isn’t to have a sufficient breakfast or to wear their best clothes on an important workday. But they need to get there early, to prepare themselves for the worst. It takes several layers of clothing and masks for a doctor or a nurse to enter the ward safely. But there is an increasing shortage of these items every single day. Now, their protective equipment has become minimal so that the equipment can last for as long as it can. And when I say minimal, it has come to a point where the nurses in NYC were using trash bags as isolation gowns. Maybe you can deal with your half-a-size too big pants now?
The entry to the hospital is the last peaceful stop that these doctors and nurses have before their shift begins. As they walk in, chaos unfolds. They learn that some of the patients that they have been caring for have passed away. They learn that another dozen patients are to be admitted. They are made aware that most of their patients’ reports have turned out to be positive. While prepping one patient to be put off the ventilator and transported to the morgue, they need to get the next one ready to be put onto the ventilator. Apart from all this physical stress, comes the emotional toll that they must bear.
The patients that enter the hospital walls cannot have any visitors, for obvious reasons. So, the doctors and nurses have an additional responsibility of providing emotional support to all their patients. To make it seem more real, I’d like to put in a snippet from an article from Medium.
“I do something I’ve never done before. Because there are no visitors allowed, I facilitate a mother saying goodbye to her children via Face Time.”
This is right before the patient was put onto the ventilator. The patient never survived the CPR. To stand by her side throughout this procedure was surely a difficult task for the doctor.
Doctors cannot self-pity. Simply because they do not have the privilege to. Seeing multiple deaths in a day or seeing patients ripped off of their family’s comforts cannot take them off of their grid.
After all this, you and I can probably go talk to our parents or our better half or friends and you can get it off your chest what I’ve just told you because you feel bad. But they can’t. Most of these warriors haven’t seen their family. Their kids don’t run to hug them as soon as their home. In fact, they flinch when their parents sit on the same couch as them. Most of these doctors choose to stay at the hospital because they cannot afford to infect their family members. This is their reality.
“When you find your calling you cannot pick it apart.”
Doctors and nurses are brave, professional and committed. When you choose a profession you will never be able to choose only the parts that you’re comfortable with. You are going to have to embrace every bit of it. Unfortunately for doctors, this means to fight the pandemic at the very front line of the battle. This means to unwillingly expose yourself and your family to the deadly virus. Today, the hardest part of their job isn’t the work but the fear.
‘Why did I have to spend the past three minutes on reading about a doctor’s life?’, you may ask.
I did this to make you aware of your choices. While you carelessly choose to step out of your house for fresh air, you add burden to the lives of hundreds of doctors and their families. Your choices of not wearing masks and gloves can become that one more patient that is added to the hospital list and one more room that the nurses have to run around to get cleaned. You not coughing onto your sleeve or using handkerchiefs is risking another doctor’s life.
And lastly, you not isolating from the outside world will surely affect your family.
*The figures stated above were taken while editing the article and may have changed.