It was a usual fine start of the year 2020, then the breaking news came that unknown infectious yet contiguous bug started spreading in China. Being in health care profession working as a year one medicine resident in one of the largest tertiary care hospital in the biggest city of Pakistan, these news effected me as well. No one thought that it would spread like a fire in the forest and I too assumed that it would not be a big deal.
I was posted as routine duty in Acute care Unit, when it had been heard that this deadly virus was escalating and crossing borders and could reached to Pakistan any time soon as being in the neighbourhood.
Our institute is the largest private tertiary care hospital equipped with latest technology so every one in our country had their eyes on our institute. As expected our institute started adapting to deal with this deadly virus and it was decided to convert the acute care unit in to COVID special care unit as the patients with this disease needed to be kept in isolation to prevent the spread of the disease.
I was among those front line workers, who came forward with out hesitation and reluctance to deal with this novel yet potentially fatal disease. And the day came, when first COVID-19 patient in Pakistan had been reported from our institute and then the wave taken over.
I was posted in that newly designated isolated special care unit dedicated for COVID patients, hence got engaged in managing those patients. As this aetiology of infectious disease is novel to all health care professional and public, it wasn’t easy to decide how to calm down the anxiety of patients who were isolated and away from the home comfort and on the other hand it was challenging to dealt with their families’ concerns who were unable to touch, feel or even see their sick love ones. This situation was indeed hard to tackle. Apart from this emotional stress, like all my colleagues, we had to face the mental stress regarding the fear of catching the virus and taking back home and ended up infecting our dear ones. While courageously fighting the battle with this lethal virus we all prayed that our loved ones may remain safe.
Nevertheless, the physical stress was not any less, as wearing the personal protective equipment (PPE) i.e. being covered in a gown with eye shield and N95 mask, round the clock , while on call duty for 36 hours (some times even more) was not a bed of roses. We had to endure the hunger and thirst ,as only limited time allow to had something to feed ourselves with off mask. Ah, and it was a night mare to hold your bladder urge with all the PPE on and to rushed to rest room and take out our selves from those layers of PPE.
I know this what all health care professional had to face after pandemic, but our country being a third world country with limited resources and lack of awareness among public we had to dealt with common people’s lack of understanding of the diseases and more over lack of trust to doctor as most of the public didn’t recognise the threat carried by this virus rather some even not consider that it had actually existed. This really a huge disappointment rather a sad situation, but this did not stop us and we continued with same pace due to devotion towards our profession.
After working the straight nine months, in a COVID unit, it was a roller coaster ride, had encountered the lot of different things which led me to pen down my experience. It’s really difficult to watch patients’ air hunger with oxygen requirement reached from 15 to 30 litres in matter of few hours. The major draw back was to kept hypoxic patients on continuous Non invasive ventilation (NIV) support via continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) or Bilevel positive air way (BIPAP) pressure which unable them to eat any thing orally due to continuous application of NIV. This what I thought increases the misery of the patient other than the primary disease. One of my patient was Nil per Os (NPO) for two days and he begged out of stress that he did want to get die from the disease rather then being kept NPO. It was unable to do as desired by him as he was on more than 15 litres of oxygen. That day I realized that we need other alternatives, there is high flow nasal oxygen cannula available in developed countries but despite being the equipped with most of modern technology we lack this useful and beneficial device due to financial constraints and a pitfall of a third world country economic status.
This is just a glimpse of developing nation factuality. Despite, all the hurdles, I and all the COVID warriors continues their effort to provide maximum emotional support along with quality patient care. May my desperate wish comes true and the world will see the sun rises with our life’s back to normal as in COVID free era.