If one could say there is something good coming out of the pandemic it is this:
Medicine has been forced to rethink how it delivers care.
After begging for telemedicine access for years, BOOM! I have it. After being told I cannot see patients in their homes, BOOM! It is not only allowed, it is smiled upon.
I spent most of the day yesterday seeing my patients in their cars. I had regular patients that don’t have access to telemedicine out front in the morning and Covid suspect patients out back for testing in the afternoon so I was not going back and forth putting people at risk. In between I was seeing patients via telemedicine.
It struck me as I stood in the sun for a few hours that I need to start wearing sunblock in my moisturizer or I am going to get a fascinating N-95 tan line on my face if this keeps up. The temperature was close to 90 degrees (that’s 32 degrees to the majority of the non-US world) and I had ice packs in my pockets to try to stay cool in the sun while dressed in a long plastic gown with absolutely no ventilation. Dehydration could be a risk as the summer progresses and temps get up over 100 degrees (37 degrees Celsius). I can’t just take off everything to swig down some water and then pop it all back on.
But I am not complaining! I am getting to be creative, feeling like I am actually doing something productive and meaningful on a level I have not been able to experience since residency. Are there risks? Sure. But that makes it spicy.
I have not been able to respond to comments as I would like and I am sorry for that. I will catch up when this is all over and things have slowed down.
How do we stay connected as humans beings as we retreat from our patients and from each other behind gloves and masks and face shields?
I have been pondering this.
Back in the day when I was doing inpatient medicine, if I knew someone was dying and there was no one to be there with them, I would go and hold their hand until it was over. The thought of dying alone is very upsetting to me personally. I don’t want to be alone. I don’t want anyone else to be alone.
Hospitals right now are not allowing visitors at all. If your mom or dad or sister or husband gets admitted, no one can come in with them… they are alone.
We have made plans for COVID dedicated hospitals in the area. I am on the list to help out at one should the need arise so I have been brushing up on ventilator management. That part does not scare me. God knows when my time is up. I won’t be reckless. I just know that I could walk through a room full of coughing COVID patients without PPE and if it isn’t my time, it isn’t my time. But knowing that if we are overrun, I may not have the opportunity to linger at the bedsides of those on their way out really bothers me.
I wonder what all of this is going to do to us. What will the world be like in the other side, when the danger has passed? I don’t feel like a hero. It bothers me when people say that I am. This is my job. This is me being human. This is what we are called to do, to care for others. All of us has an opportunity to be a “hero” to someone right now. Whether it is giving food or money or emotional support to those who need it or caring for someone in a hospital bed. They ALL carry risks. It is easy to hide behind a door, a mask… to disappear.
Getting ready for work is super easy now. I throw on a pair of scrubs and my tennis shoes, pull back my hair into a ponytail, slap on a smattering of make-up and I am done. No rings or necklaces for germs to hitchhike home on. I kind of feel like I am back in residency but I don’t want my hair getting tangled in the face mask and who needs lipstick when you can’t see it anyway?
Face mask cons: they cause an increase in zits and blemishes
Face mask pros: they cover said blemishes
Right now I am running a Covid suspect clinic, meaning if you have respiratory symptoms that indicate possible Covid-19, you are sent to me for evaluation and testing. I have a safe harbor letter that allows me to go to and from work in case I am pulled over for being out during lockdown. That sounds weird.
This does not feel safe….
My kids are struggling, trying do online school with a grandmother who is not entirely technically savvy or a dad who is having to work from home. They miss their friends. They miss their mom. AND they don’t understand why they cannot use toilet paper for craft projects right now. Everyone started talking about toilet paper shortages and all of a sudden my kids decide it is great for all manner of things beyond wiping your butt.
There are dire predictions abounding everywhere. It is dizzying how much the world has changed in less than a month. BUT humans have a history of facing dire circumstances with ingenuity and sacrifice. Are we scared? Sure. But fear is helpful. It ensures we make safer choices. Will people die? Yes. Many already have. And yet many more will live.
So listen up, people! We are going to make it through this. We are all stronger than we know.