India has seen a steady increase in the number of reported COVID-19 cases in the last two months. While the country languishes under the weight of the pandemic, our healthcare workers are giving their all to the fight against the pandemic. Here is a story of a healthcare worker who treats COVID patients.

4.30 AM.

The alarm rings.

It’s time to wake up, do the domestic chores, get ready, and report to work.

“God, I hope I don’t get exposed [to the virus] today,” she thinks to herself as she gets ready to go to the frontline – to the war, as some would call it. The war that is fought using medical science, complemented with compassion, care, and love.

Susan Thomas is a staff nurse working in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) designated for COVID-19 patients in a private hospital in Bengaluru. Before the pandemic, her duty used to last 8 hours a day, six days a week. But things have been different since the end of March. She has been working for about 12-14 hours a day, five days a week.

On a typical day at work, Susan goes into the COVID ICU after she has put on the personal protective equipment (PPE). There, her predecessor updates her about the status of the patients and hands them over to her care.

“It’s a lot of pressure and it’s physically exhausting,” Susan says. “It’s more than just taking care of patients. There is also the paperwork that must be done. All this extra work takes up a lot of time, but we have to do it for the good of everyone. There is very little time to have food or even to take a break in between.”

She has to protect herself while treating the patient. Even the smallest mistake or negligence can get her infected. It’s quite an ordeal. The PPE makes the routine work also difficult. “I am soaked in sweat for the most part of the day. And things get worse when I have my periods,” Susan says. While on duty, she hums a tune or sings a chorus to keep herself calm and make the patient also feel better.

After the long day at work, all she just wants to do is to get home, take a shower and hit the bed with the hope that her patients get better. Although she tries not to think about her patients when she is going to sleep, it seems impossible sometimes. I tell myself, “Hey, stop thinking about your patient now!”

The ordeal of being in treating patients during a pandemic is not only physically exhausting but is also mentally taxing. Susan combats this challenge by making the best of the days when she is not working. She cooks, listens to music, prays, and catches up on the lost sleep, getting herself ready for another week of fighting the pandemic.

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