Diary entry- by a healthcare professional (inspired by true stories)
With a heavy heart, I walked through the familiar whitewashed corridor. If this had been any other job I would have left by now. But the feeling of responsibility lay heavy on my shoulders. I had no choice but to continue my journey.
The cacophony of beeps was never a pleasant welcome. I would much prefer a fanfare of applaud for dragging myself out of bed in spite of the dire prospect that awaited me. My second skin was ready for me although I was not sure I was ready for it. Laying thick across my body it encapsulated me and protected me. It was something that I had not become accustomed to but one that I had gradually learned to cope with. Bruises and sweat became the norm. If I struggled to catch my breath with a mask on, I hate to think what it would be like to have the virus. I felt ungrateful that I didn’t fully appreciate my position. In less than ideal circumstances I was trying my best. Trying to be something I was not.
Raspy and hoarse the sound of breathing was muffled. The callous nature of a ventilator is not one I would wish on anyone. Patients were longing for good news, optimistic of their future. This was far from the reality. Living in ominous need, patients felt stripped of all rights. No family, no contact and no hope. I became that family member. A shoulder to cry on. A hand to hold. Hopeful and hopeless I continued to attempt to think of new possibilities and new ideas. All too often I felt I was letting down those in my care. I willed myself to do more. To be a better doctor. To save lives. But sometimes I had to do less. Sometimes I had to do nothing at all. Sometimes I had to let go.
Patient x was young. Only 21 to be exact. They had the lungs of elderly person with COPD. When they first came under my care this was not the case. They were spirited and amusing. Now they lay limp and lifeless. The desire to live was gone. Their battle had been fought hard. Their strength had dissipated.
They have compared this torrent of infection as being like a wave. One that will hit a peak and eventually fall. But the influx of patients hasn’t stopped. I feel like we have been riding this wave for a world record time. When on a beach perhaps I wouldn’t want the waves to end, gently rolling onto the shore. Sitting with cocktails and a good book. Bliss. Purgatory anguish was the only thing ahead.