Flight of Ideas
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Flight of Ideas

The plight of Dr. Frankenstein

I enter the hospital gates that open up for me but close back for ambulances lining up outside. I approach the reception area where I see a throng of crowd, half on oxygen cylinders which they probably brought from their homes. On the side, there is a bunch of weeping people who have lost their dear ones. On the other side, there are half a dozen dead bodies, all covered, leaving their identity obscure. At the reception desk, a person is sobbing, pleading for a bed for his dear one. His accomplices shouting at top of his voice, hurling abuses to the doctors, staff, and anyone in the way.

The good spirits that I brought from the home for my night shift take a deep plunge. It is going to be a tough night. I get to the PPE donning area, issue a PPE for myself. As I tear its cover, the entrance scene looms again and again right in front of my eyes. My heartbeat raced as I remember my own horrors of the time in my PPE kit that I had spent last night.

Regardless, I still fasten up the zip in my PPE. I pack myself and walk towards the staff elevator. I’m already sweating. Today’s PPE is a bit tight near my flanks and is squeezing my abdomen and pelvis. I enter my ward and I quickly take a look at all the monitors. I mark the patients that are not maintaining saturation. These are the patients that will need extra attention from my side.

Another sleepless night reels on. I stride up and down my ward carefully keeping an eye on the monitors. Jotting down the values on my monitoring sheet. As I see my patients breathing heavily, I notice that I am breathing heavily too. This mask is digging too tightly on the back of my ears and there’s too little air for me to breathe. I still persist. There is no other option.

Monitoring is finished. I head towards the nursing station to get a seat and to go through blood reports of my patients. I am processing all the information, trying to make the best decisions for my patients as I hear a monitor go off. The loud beeping alarms me. I follow the sound and rush to the bedside of the patient to find her gasping. 78…76…75… the monitor reads. She is desaturating quickly. My ward sister rushes to the drug stand knowing exactly what I am going to shout for. After giving all that we could've given she finally succumbs 45 minutes later. A terrorizing sight to see someone die gasping for every last breath of air.

I make preparations to declare her. I need an ECG machine. I raise a request on our WhatsApp group. I also need a few documents to declare her. I wait while the said things arrive in my ward. I meanwhile get busy tendering one another patient. Time has slowed down for me. Writing the documents requires time. I received a phone call from reception. They ask me to complete the formalities fast. The family members have alleged foul play. They accused the duty doctor of organ harvesting.

Organ Harvesting! Words sting my ears. The mask digging into my skin was nothing. The PPE trying to suffocate me was nothing. But there was no time to rue the allegations. My other patients needed me. I continue doing my duty. Occasionally thoughts intrude into my mind about an incident from a fortnight ago. One of my colleagues was threatened by hostile family members as they picked an oxygen cylinder to beat him up. I fear for myself. But my own emotions are of no use at present.

Time passes on. Sun has risen, morning has come. I see a tree blossoming in its full glory with all the red flowers through my window. I notice the beauty it is. But that beauty is not for me to behold. For I have to carry the horror back home only to return back tomorrow.

I joined my post graduate course in psychiatry back in May 2019. This was an area of dreams that I wanted to learn and that I wanted to contribute to. Barely 9 months into my course, Covid knocked the doors of the world. It was expected from us to step up and to serve the covid patients. And, so we did. The government was expected to step up and hire new doctors and staff to ease our burden and to allow us to practice and learn our own craft. But that didn’t happen. It has been over a year now. Psychiatrists like me are not able to practice psychiatry. My colleagues from surgery, dermatology and various branches are not able to hone their skills in their respective fields.

But my cry is not just for my own selfish interests. The kind of response from the government (which is almost non-existent )has paralyzed the entire healthcare system. Providing covid care has been coming at a cost of other fields. Are not people experiencing Myocardial Infarction anymore? Are not people requiring appendicectomy anymore?

Had the government done the proper planning and hired new doctors for the already suffering healthcare system, the problem would’ve not been so serious. When we see deaths at hospitals we see human lives that could’ve been saved if the government was not so inept.

They do not keep true statistics of covid deaths. Else I would’ve asked them to also count the deaths due to unavailability of beds, the deaths due to unavailability of medicines, the deaths due to unavailability of oxygen, and the death due to apparent apathy of the government. I am sure those numbers would’ve been much higher.

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A flight of ideas occurs when a person rapidly shifts between conversation topics, making his or her speech challenging or even impossible to follow. This blog is my way of organizing my own Flight of Ideas.

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Priyash Jain

Priyash Jain

Psychiatrist. Aspiring writer. Voracious reader. Tech junkie. A logophile. History enthusiast. Foolishly optimist.

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