Oct 01, 2020 News
With just a glimpse of the daily news from around the world, persons can easily deduce that the fight against COVID-19 has not been an easy one, especially for health care professionals. In fact, it has been more than exhausting for some who are continually strategizing in hopes of coming up with tactical measures that could help to advance the gains made thus far.
In so doing, many health workers on the frontlines, including our own Dr. Zulfikar Bux,
have been under immense pressure. “I can’t recall the last time I had a good night’s rest. I constantly worry about my fellow health workers, my patients, our country and last but not least, my family,” he intimated in his column of Sunday September 27, 2020.
The weekly KN contributor candidly revealed that “This pandemic has taken a toll on most of us but no one will understand the impact it’s having on health workers unless they are in their shoes.”
But as if the work itself was not hard enough during this pandemic time, Dr. Bux, an Emergency Medicine Specialist, revealed that “What’s even worse is the awful treatment that we often receive by those around us. I have personally copped more abuse and disregard than any other period in my practice,” he added.
A number of his colleagues, he confided, have been quietly sharing similar sentiments and this, he noted, “is slowly taking a toll on us.”
CHANGES IN THE ER
On a daily basis, the ER is bursting at the seams and it was pointed out that “the number of patients with COVID-19-like symptoms keeps increasing and we are running out of space to see them.”
The response, though noble, has been draining both physically and emotionally, the health worker noted, pointing out that it has become increasingly hard to face relatives who are “frustrated and scared because they worry that theirs may have COVID-19.”
The fact that these relatives are unable to be in contact with COVID-positive patients, translates into their frustrations being “directed towards us and we have no choice but to take these blows. These are heavy burdens to bear daily. We may not show that emotional turmoil openly but trust me, it’s there,” said the health professional.
Another of Dr. Bux’s colleague, who has recovered from the disease and has returned to the frontline to continue the fight against the dreaded disease, is among those feeling the pressure.
This colleague too shared verbal imagery of the state of the emergency room these days, adding, “Many days, I sit in my car taking deep breaths preparing myself mentally and physically for what awaits me in the ER and truth be told, I’m scared — scared for my life, scared for my family.”
But there is nothing more disheartening to this recovered health worker than to see members of the public flouting the COVID-19 guidelines. “I am sure that I speak for most when I say it pains me to see people out partying, breaking the curfew, having large gatherings, wearing masks on their heads and under their chins and to top it off, these people come with minor ailments that cause more crowding in the ER and they make life even harder for us and the really sick patients who need us more.”
Aside from the abuse, working long shifts while wearing N95 masks without fail, has been tough, another health professional shared. “The mask would leave scars on your face and nose. Sometimes, you feel that you are literally suffocating. Many times, I would get dehydrated on the shift. The straps on the masks are like sharp wires that dig into your skin and burn your ears.”
At the end of the shift, “your teeth and jaw hurt and don’t talk about the headaches. Wearing eye protection with the mask is a challenge, it either hurts your ears or it is always getting foggy.”
The consequence of working under such unprecedented pressure, the health worker added, is that “I go home tired and cannot tend to my two young kids as I would like. I feel like I’m not the best parent but yet I sacrifice this feeling to come out and fight for my patients. I have never felt so unappreciated for doing the right thing.”
For those providing nursing care, the struggle has been just as real but this, another colleague said, was overcome by tremendous courage and resilience. “Every day, we leave our homes to go do the job which we love…then head home to our families not knowing what more to do to keep them safe.”
Despite all the talks of social distancing, the colleague added, “we are still expected to deliver stellar nursing care with compassion.” Moreover, “whenever we receive news that one of our colleagues is COVID positive, we feel the sting of betrayal and despair.”
But health workers are not super humans. In fact, they are people like the rest of us – some with breastfeeding infants, children home from school and spouses who long for their attention. “We have mothers, fathers and grandparents…the best thing you can all do is show some gratitude, follow the health guidelines, do your part to slow this spread so that all our lives can be spared as we fight this pandemic together,” the health worker added.
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