Enough of living in denial.
Rather, this is THE time to accept our present more than ever before.
In January, 2020 ; India got it’s first COVID case. I remember a medicine Senior Resident told me this with some seriousness and honestly, I thought it wasn’t going to be a big deal.
Then, a few days later I heard one of my very good friends talking about how her ward was made a COVID ward with 2 patients in it. By this time, we had all heard enough news and seen enough medical commentary about how this was increasingly becoming a nuisance rather than some “Chinese virus”.
Well, we all know what happened after that. I don’t want to repeat how painful yet numbing 2020 was.
Yes, I, like many others will never forget that year. My internship was supposed to be the time I gained confidence and experience for honing my clinical skills, diagnosing patients, making mistakes, learning, getting tired due to the patient load and party, because there was supposed to be time.
But instead, I spent the year learning and unlearning about this new infection, learning to breathe through two masks, fighting for PPE kits, trying to figure out how to wear a hazmat suit, trying to look for patient’s veins through the face shield, trying to treat COVID patients to the best of my ability while hiding my fear of them, from them; seeing my friends get sick, really sick; being scared of examining any patient, touching any surface, sitting anywhere, standing in front of the wrong ward, talking to a potentially infected patient or person, hearing or seeing anyone cough, eating anything even if packaged and literally, having sleepless nights in the wards even in perfect rooms because I feared I might catch the infection.
I didn’t realise I was pent up. But now, we are in May 2021, almost halfway through this year and well, I am no more an intern. I am not working at any hospital and I am sitting home on most days, trying to read atleast one chapter for an exam that seems like it won’t ever happen. Taking calls from frends, families, their friends, their families and just, random people consulting about their symptoms, their diagnosis, their treatment and their survival.
Let me say it, all the times that I advise anyone about anything now, I feel so so proud because now, I can literally put a stamp on it!
But, as much as I would love to pat myself on the back every single minute; I also have noticed that no matter how strictly I advise them something, they will only listen to what they wish to.
And this, I know isn’t just a “COVID THING” . I have seen this since the very first patient encounter I ever had.Patients not taking their doctor’s advise seriously, it’s called NONCOMPLIANCE OF PATIENTS.
It is pretty common.
But just like everything else, this non compliance is also different when it comes to COVID cases.
See, this time people aren’t just refusing to listen to their doctors or ignoring them in the first place because they think they don’t need so many meds or they feel fit, no matter what the reports say, this time, they know they need more attention, they know if they have breathlessness and chest pain, its time to rush to the hospital, they know they need oxygen supplementation and they know they are putting everyone at risk.
Thanks to social media, despite the misinformation, people do have some basic knowledge about the disease now. But now in the second wave of COVID 19, our fears have taken an unexpected turn. We not just fear the diagnosis, we feel we know the prognosis. Prognosis is the course of a disease.
I don’t blame anyone.
I know we have seen or atleast heard of so many lives being lost, we have seen way too many crematoriums being filled more than capacity, too many videos of doctors break down, too many bodies in the Ganges, too many people being insensitive, too many people being overly sensitive, too many people suffering, too many neighbours being departed, too many breaking news’ , too many manifestation of this “respiratory virus”, too many Whats App forwards about COVID, too many hospital beds with three patients on them, too many stories of patient’s going unattended at hospitals, too many hospital bills worth lakhs of COVID patients, too many this, too many that and too much of every F******G thing.
So maybe, we fear the same.
Maybe we think that if someone suggests hospitalisation, there will be no use of that, that we are doomed and we would just spend our days on white metal beds than with our loved ones; maybe we fear going for the CT scans because we have all heard of CT scores being so high, people had to use the ventilator; maybe we fear the next spO2 reading, the next pulse rate reading, the steroid drug , the experimental remdesivir; maybe we think giving up is better than not trying for the first time in the history of our lives .
Maybe that’s why we choose denial. We choose to not take our options, even when provided. We choose to not get tested, because “it’s just a cold.” We choose to not see, because its better left foggy. We choose denial because maybe, right now we aren’t running on fear anymore, but we deny because we have accepted our fates as doomed.
This is what some psychologists call the death instinct. Something the world has never seen in such numbers before this pandemic.
Now, I on’t know what is right, denial or action. I am no one to suggest anyone that.
But, i do know that one thing we must do, especially now is help. Help, over anything else. Whether it is financial, psychological, physical, emotional or any other form of support; humans need it more than ever now. No matter how small or insignificant you think you are, do not hesitate to send that one message of condolence, do not NOT call your friends to check on them, do not NOT share useful links and leads, do not NOT share a funny meme and do not NOT forget to take care of yourselves and inform yourself.