Author: Dr Jasmine Kaur
Senior Resident, Department of Anaesthesiology
Safdarjung Hospital, Delhi
The Covid-19 pandemic is the most challenging time for the doctors of our generation. This is due to multiple facets of the disease, ie, the periodic emergence of new mutations, rapidly changing management techniques, psychological and physical burden of treating and caring for patients.
Personally, the first wave was tougher for me as we were still learning about the disease and clinical management strategies used to get modified frequently as per the progress in research. This has been compounded with a constant underlying fear of contracting an unknown disease myself and passing it to my family. While we were more prepared by the time of the second wave, the sheer number of patients overwhelmed the medical infrastructure. Not being able to help people because of the unavailability of beds was heartbreaking.
This whole journey through the pandemic had been the most emotionally draining phase of my life. It is hard to forget the incidents that we had to face. We lost our colleagues and family members right in front of us. We cried with them while informing them that we could not save their loved ones. On the other hand, a recovered patient’s “thank you” used to make our day. That happiness and gratitude was worth enough to overcome the gloom created by the separation from our families. An elderly patient’s “thank you” card a month after his discharge made me feel extremely special and motivated to keep going on.
Unfortunately, an outbreak of the disease occurred in my family in April 2021, and all of a sudden we were living the nightmare ourselves. By the grace of God, my children did not contract the disease, but that meant that I had to take care of the sick members of the family while also making sure that the kids were safe. I saw the benefit of vaccination first hand during this time, as the vaccinated members of the family got through the illness with much more ease than those who had not received even a single shot.
Keeping away from family and especially from my 3 year old kid was the most challenging part. It was difficult to explain to her why mom could not be there with her for almost 20 days at a stretch. I was worried that she might not accept it easily. Fortunately, I have strong family support, so her grandparents and father took care of her while I was away. Video call was the only mode to connect with them. I used to go near to my home, only to see her through the window. She would wave hi and bye. I feared that, I couldn’t control myself and I would break quarantine, to meet them, and by doing so I would bring the virus to home.
It was a tough period for all of us, a phase full of challenges. The challenges before the front line workers were more as they have to care patients and also to make sure that they themselves and their families were safe. The biggest conflict as I mentioned earlier is the fear of bringing the infection home. Taking care of the children when they themselves are home bound became difficult for the family.
In my family, everyone was worried for the other. I was worried for my kids and family members with co-morbidities. We were seeing the consequences of people being complacent every day and were thus worried of what might happen if our family members made the same mistake. It was thus important to keep our loved ones motivated about being vigilant with masks and hand hygiene. They on the other hand were worried about us as we were directly present in dealing with the virus. Both I and my husband were posted in COVID wards. So we had to take alternate shifts, to ensure that our daughter have at least one parent with her all the time. This was the time, our 3 year old daughter declared that “I don’t like my parents’ job. They should leave their job and sit at home”. Indeed, her words hurt us. But we know this phase is transient and we just have to be strong and continue.