Written by Dr Ken Uwajeh of the Healthy Mind Foundation, Nigeria:
The life of a Healthcare worker is challenging. From relentless and endless studying; to writing exams. But that is just the start. The experience of touching dead bodies (known as cadavers, in order to lessen the trauma) can be harrowing for many but eventually, many overcame.
Graduation day, celebration!!!! Our parents and loved ones rejoice and then we are custodians of human life.
The dust settles and worries rise. Your first patients pass away and you plunge into the depths of despair. You blame yourself, others, life, destiny or whatever you can hold on to.
This loss is painful but easier to bear than loosing a relative or friend. There are relatives to console, who may blame or thank you, there is an outlet to release some steam.
COVID-19 presents a unique situation of debilitating double dip loss. In the words of a colleague, the daily requests have transformed from " Doctor help me, I dont want to die" to "Dr please stay with me, I dont want to die alone". Can you refuse the dying their last wish? Before you answer, come along with me on this Patients journey.
He drove himself to the clinic because of a mild fever and difficult breathing. His wife accompanied him but had to rush home to stay with the kids (4 of them from age 6 - 12). He was diagnosed with COVID-19 even though he was jovial and reminds you of your long lost best friend in primary school (eons ago).
He is intubated because his vitals are plummeting but he remains strong. By day 10 his vitals are looking good but the x Ray's are looking bad. Day 13, he had to be resuscitated, his temperature is so high that it can boil an egg. It drops and he stabilizes by day 16. Then day 17: multiple organ shutdown; his mum, wife and kids are calling daily but his father is out of the loop because he cannot stand the thought of his first son a qualified pharmacist barely 50 years old lying under the spell of COVID-19. He beckons to you and writes " Dr stay by myside for a minute, please I do not want to die alone" He flatlined in 30 seconds.
He is the 4th patient this week, with the same request. The anguish is professional like loosing any Patient hurts but middle aged hurts more (maybe because you also are) and personally because you the Dr were his only relative.
When the dust settles after COVID-19, where would the mind of the man who suffered 4 professional-personal losses a week; every week for 4 months be? Who guards the guardians or are Drs human?