COVID-19 has changed the outlook for many people and what they use to take for granted may now retain a greater measure of importance.
COVID Hospitals and ICUs have been the center of battlefield for many Doctors and the Paramedical staff who in my view are true ‘warriors’.
The high level of emotional distress among hospital workers — stemming from social isolation, the pain of losing colleagues to the disease, and social stigma, apart from the stressful duties, cannot be described in words.
Doctors and our dialysis staff face the emotional turmoil of being forced to choose between protecting themselves and their loved ones and doing their duty as caregivers during this crisis.
Clinical workforce has already been experiencing a crisis of burnout. We are now facing a surge of physical and emotional harm that amounts to a parallel pandemic. Burnout is associated with higher rates of anxiety disorders, depression, substance abuse, and suicides — trends that have been aggravated by the pandemic.
Most of health care workers like our dialysis staff did not sign up for disaster medicine. When entering the profession, most did not envision their days were going to be filled with fear, questioning their own mortality. Most did not envision days with bruises on their face from prolonged mask use. Many from our own fraternity have contracted the illness, leaving many with the anxious question, “Am I next?”
Yes, most of us still enjoy the work. Many doctors voluntarily work longer hours and take on extra tasks out of a sense of professional obligation. How should health systems respond to such a formidable challenge?
Think about the various medical problems we have been treating Pre-COVID. Now, most general hospitals and clinics are running with minimal staff and very little patients (Non-COVID). Patients have realized that many simple problems can be tackled at their end without hospital visits.
We realize that the necessities for life are very minimal but for maintaining a ‘life-style’ the effort is enormous. This brings in a lot of stress, anxiety, hardships and envy. Life can be simplified easily.
With the digital movement gaining momentum, there is a paradigm shift in every walk of life. There will be radical changes in how we work, commute, socialize and communicate.
Techies work from home, children attend virtual classes, exams are on-line, e-commerce and internet banking is the way of life. So is tele-medicine. Many doctors adapt to this modality for follow up of patients i.e. minimal interaction, brief communication and e-prescriptions which is convenient for both patient and doctor. It is safe in many cases (not all) and cost-effective. Health records are better maintained.
However busy a professional or a health care worker (you may be one of them) please take out some time for yourself. Listen to music, play games, spend time with your spouse and children maybe, like indoor games, singing, small outings just to mention a few.
Remember ‘yeh zindagi na milegi dobara’.
While we hope that the standards of personal hygiene, social distancing, mask, cough etiquette etc. would be followed I also feel, the urge to travel abroad, hold large gatherings would also come down. It is going to be a new normal. Mother nature can breathe better. A new world order, in short.
Many of our friends would have closed their clinics during the lockdown or reduced the timings and numbers. This can earn lot of peace, happiness and good health – which money can’t. Just to borrow the words from one of our colleagues (name not known) which has been circulating in the social media.
“It is not T20 nor an ODI. We are engaged in a test match on a bouncy pitch. Watch every delivery and survive for the next. Runs do not matter. A single here or there would do. Survive and occupy the crease as long as possible. Umpires are not going to be considerate.”
Reminds of an old song – Zindagi ek safar hai suhana, yehan kal kyo ho, kisne jaana!
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought us closer than ever before. Everyone is united in efforts to contain the virus. We have realized that if we don’t prepare ourselves well, then we can lose what we have now.
This thought that we may lose a good future if we are not careful, has made us more appreciative of the present and thankful for what we have.
Let us learn and practice the art of living. This pandemic has given us a unique opportunity to reinvent and redesign our life. Let us do it.