-Dr Madhura Mandlik
As I sit amidst the many beeping machines with the alarms on ventilators going off, this white overall seems like second skin. My glasses are all fogged up behind my plastic shield which apparently is protective enough against this virus.
In this ICU, some patients are sitting upright eating their breakfast, as small nasal prongs give them the air they need to live. Starkly opposite the grandpa on the next bed is breathing through a tube down his trachea , away from the real world. I wonder what goes on in his subconscious mind; Does he dream about his children? His happy moments? Or does he regret the not so good ones?
He suddenly desaturates and we run to check the ventilator pressures and this time he stays afloat. His time hasn’t come yet. And we breathe in a sigh of momentary relief. You know you have done your best , given him the medicines he needs.
On another day a man as old as your father, breathless, maintaining decent saturation on non invasive ventilation, is eating his breakfast. You ask him if he’s okay and his answer is I’m better than yesterday. And by the end of your shift he’s desaturating , and all you can do is run and intubate him , give him help, a little push to continue his fight. On some days , better days , your efforts pay off while on some you cannot get them through. They pass away fighting for air to reach their lungs.
On the inside this is the picture while on the outside it’s a meeker one. People are fighting to get their loved ones into hospitals , searching for oxygen cylinders. Some are lining up to buy the necessary medications, while some are scurrying towards vaccination centres.
While humanity battles this virus , inhumane acts still prevail.
To be honest not wearing your mask in today’s time is an inhumane act in it’s own stead. Time and again authorities have been emphasizing the use and advantages of wearing a mask , but the public has been flouting the norms. Some are fearless while half of them are ignorant of the true gravity of the situation.
But amidst all this , there are people who are tirelessly working to help people live on. Helping the patients to breathe a little longer , breathe a little with ease.
Doctors, no doubt are fulfilling their duties, residents from surgical ,para clinical as well as non clinical fields at the behest of their own academic curriculum are aiding in this fight.
But what we don’t realise is that standing shoulder to shoulder with the doctors are the nursing staff , the helping staff who make sure that doctors too have what is needed for the smooth functioning of healthcare centres.The nurses ,donning the white overalls are one of the main pillars that are keeping this workforce afloat. The helpers right from cleaning and clothing the patients , feeding them their meals , helping doctors transfer patients are equally important.
There are times when patients are close to giving up , they remove their oxygen mask and just want to go home. In our run for oxygenating them , we forget that they too have emotions and these emotions are gravely affected. They are deprived of the touch of their loved ones , some don’t have smart phones so they can’t even see the faces of their family.
This pandemic is tearing apart families and breaking down people. Everyone wants to help , some give money , some give food while some volunteer to work.
But what is of utmost importance ,today, is to be KIND in whatever we do.
There is no room for selfishness or politics. Sheer, simple support for each other is the key. Trying our hand at kindness is the only way all of us will be able to see the light shining at the end of this dark road.
Image courtesy- Dr. Shreyas Zad, Dr. Mayur Masurkar