8 min read…
Frankly, the last three months of lockdown has been a blessing in disguise for me. With my office closing down (requesting us to work from home) and cricket season taking a hit, I have had more time to indulge in some of my other interests like reading, writing, podcasting, and cooking. Also thankfully, I didn’t face a pay cut.
But, the picture hasn’t been rosy for everyone; especially for our frontline healthcare workers. A lot has been already written about the magnitude of sacrifice these people have made. I wanted to hear the experience of being on the frontline in India and Ireland.
So, I got in touch with two friends from different parts of the world to glean what they are going through during the pandemic. They wished to remain anonymous, so I’d not use their names. Here’s what they had to say:
Q1: What is this PPE kit? Do you always need to wear it?
Ireland – “PPE stands for Personal Protective Equipment. In simple words, it protects healthcare workers from getting the infection. Wearing a PPE takes some time. It’ll also take a few minutes more than our usual preparation before handling patients.
We need to wear full PPE if there are any positive or suspected cases, but when we treat patients or can’t maintain social distance, eye protection and masks are a must on the campus all the time. Wearing a PPE is exhausting, you feel like you are dying for fresh air.”
India – “We wear PPE for at least six hours a day, which means we cannot use our phone, drink water, or use the restroom in those hours. We are so much dehydrated because of the perspiration, especially in India.”
Q2: How challenging was it for you to ramp up with the rapidly increasing cases?
India – “They have been stressful. I would normally take care of 15-20 patients in my ward every day on an average. Now the numbers have gone up to 100. I’m drained. We are more badly deprived of basic facilities than the patients. Also, the guidelines change every now and then. We always have to constantly stay aware and updated.”
Ireland – “I wasn’t working at peak time; I was home with COVID. Before I got sick, there was staff shortage because many already fell sick from COVID. So we had to put in extra hours. That was the beginning of the pandemic.
Later, we all started receiving PPE’s and workers felt safer. It is difficult to work with PPE but we feel protected. Lack of PPE was a huge problem and now we have enough supply.”
Q3: Can you recollect an incident where you felt the situation was beyond your control?
Ireland – “One night I was giving medication to a patient. While I was administering the meds, she was coughing and I didn’t have a mask. Out of sheer fear, I started crying. The patient has ongoing chest problems, so a cough was normal. She has always had it. But you know, the fear was terrible.”
India – “We did an abdomen surgery for a 35-year-old female. She was fine postoperatively. At 5 am she suddenly started deteriorating and her oxygen levels went down. I decided to intubate her immediately, I didn’t even wear a mask or PPE then. Her COVID status was unknown by then. We sent the tests later and I was literally petrified till the results arrived. It took one day to arrive and fortunately, she tested negative.”
Q4: How did you feel seeing your friends falling sick?
Ireland – “It was terrifying. Most of us became COVID positive; it was the time we had no PPE’s. Like, one after the other fell sick. A couple of my colleagues were very serious. Since it was the beginning and nobody had a clue how serious it was.”
Q5: What motivates you to wake up every day and go to work, knowing very well that it would be another long tiring day?
Ireland – “Honestly, I wasn’t very eager to go back after recovering from COVID. But few of my colleagues suffered from the heavy workload and I felt guilty. I was out sick for nearly 4 weeks and I wasn’t in full swing when I started working but I just continued.
If you ask me what’s the motivation, it is my profession. I cannot run away from it; we need to be there for patients. My mom kept calling me back home in the early days, but how can I? This is what I do for a living.”
India – “Amidst all these the only motivation is a patient’s recovery. When patients keep recovering with the treatment, that gives a huge meaning to all this stress.”
Q6: How long do you think this situation would continue?
“Here in Ireland, it looks like it’s under control now. At the same time, we are expecting and preparing for a second wave. It’s hard to say when everything will be back to normal until someone finds a vaccine or treatment.”
“In India, it is going to be there for another 6 months for sure. Now they are deputing doctors from other parts of the state to manage the load. Hopefully, it’ll get better for us.”
Q7: We all know about sanitizing and maintaining social distance. What else would you want to say to everyone?
India – “Immunity. Take care of your immunity. If you have good immunity, you can easily fight COVID and come up trumps.”
Reading about all these struggles in newspapers or on social media is one thing, but when you hear it from your close friends, it is a totally different feeling altogether. The compassion with which they do their service definitely rubs off on others, spreading positivity all around.
They worked hard before the pandemic, they are going above and beyond their call of duty to serve others during the pandemic, and they’ll continue to work full-throttle even after the pandemic.
– Kavi & Ninja