Doctor Diary, Day 10: “Please, Cut Us Some Slack Sometimes. We Are Not God.
A 28-year-old anesthetist working in the OR of a government hospital in Mumbai shares the ups and downs of her days as a doctor amidst the Covid19 pandemic. This is the 10th, and final, installment of a daily diary she shares with The Swaddle.
Morning: Waking from a disturbed sleep I woke up at 8 a.m., from a disturbed sleep again, thanks to the anticipation of a call. I did my morning yoga, then cooked poha for breakfast with my roommates. In the afternoon, my friend went to the I.C.U. And then the two of us who remained made parsi dhansak and rice. I was informed of some cases, but none were taken up for some reason. So, the waiting game began.
Evening: Going to work Around 5 p.m., I went in for a C-section again. This time, I was with a first-year resident. We gave spinal anesthesia, and after the patient was adequately numb to pain, surgery started. This time, I was especially happy with the level and density of anesthesia we achieved, as it lasted the entire duration of the surgery, without complications or the need to sedate or administer other drugs. That hadn’t been happening the last couple of times for some reason.
During the case, I kept checking on the patient with ears on the monitor and eyes on the surgery. I had to help push to get the baby out — it was her third C-section. The baby came all nice and pink. Through the surgery, my resident and I spoke about the postings they have had and also the difficulties some of our colleagues have faced in losing their loved ones to Covid19.
Otherwise, it was uneventful. I came back home, showered and cooked.
Night: Reading Shashi Tharoor After dinner, I spoke to my friend whose grandfather I had helped get admitted. Ajoba is completely fine; he tested negative and got discharged. So that was nice. Then, I video-called a friend, bought a few sarees after some contemplation, and now I’m planning to read Shashi Tharoor and improve my vocabulary.
Rajvi: As this diary ends, can you tell me how you felt about jumping into Covid19 duty right after training ended?
Doctor: I would have liked to do a lot of other things. I wanted this government bond year to be more about life and less about career. I had picked a place that would give me decent exposure, be good on my CV, and give me time to do other things. But that was not to be so.
We had a few mass casualties back in residency, like the Elphinstone stampede, the Lower Parel pub fire. But this is of a scale we have never seen, didn’t imagine, and weren’t prepared for.
But it got us doing things out of our professional zone of experience. I learnt a lot of life lessons. Hopefully, I will come out stronger.
Rajvi: What are these life lessons?
As a doctor, I learnt that I can’t hold myself responsible for things that aren’t in my hands. I learnt to be strong yet empathetic. I learnt that less is more sometimes. Personally, I learnt that life is very short and I absolutely want to grab each moment, not waste a single one on procrastination. I could maybe be a little impulsive, and learn to love and live without regrets.
Rajvi: How are things changing at work? Where do you see this pandemic going?
Doctor: Honestly, I am out of the I.C.U. So I can’t really say. But from what my friend says, it’s about the same. It’s already full, and no beds are vacant. There are always calls to fill in beds that have just been emptied. And mortality is quite high in I.C.U. Patients seem to deteriorate very fast. But on the good side, some of those trial drugs are working for a few patients.
People around me roam around like there’s nothing going on. Sometimes, I see people with masks on their necks. I tell them to please put it back up. But beyond a certain point, people always think they know better and get aggressive. So after a while, you don’t want to.
Things have to get back to normal, but with caution. And no one has paid attention to remaining cautious. It disappoints me.
Rajvi: What do you hope people understood better about being a doctor amidst the pandemic?
Doctor: That we are all normal people. We have a work schedule that’s unpredictable, and more gruelling, but that doesn’t mean we are less human. We also have families and we also need all the love and affection. We have dreams of travelling the world and everything else that everyone does, maybe just not enough time to do all of it. And even if we get to do it, we are not committing a crime by taking days off. So please, cut us some slack sometimes. We are not God.
As told to Rajvi Desai.