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Musings of an Intensive Care Doctor during COVID-19

The morning handover starts with team introductions followed by an outline of each of the patients on the ward – where they are in their Intensive Care journey, which machine is currently doing the job of which organ and how likely they are to die. The doctor on call overnight confuses the details of some of the patients.

After a 13 hour shift everybody merges into one. COVID. We’re fairly used to death and the pain and suffering that comes with it, but COVID has pushed the boundaries of some of the greatest physicians I know. Intensivists are a different species altogether, so when one says ‘telling a relative their love one died, over the phone, is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done’, it brings home just how devastating this virus is.

A few weeks ago the ward pharmacist cried during handover. She was seeing young adults, who would have otherwise been in the prime of their lives, dying alone. Without their friends or families, without even a photograph of somebody or something important to them.

6 years of being a doctor and I had never seen a member of the team break down during a meeting. We handed her a box of tissues and sat there in silence. Sometimes silence is the only comfort.

It’s nice that the public recognises the hard work of those on the frontline. But all we are doing is our job. The war didn’t start with, and won’t end with, COVID. We hear the car horns and fireworks in the distance during our evening board road at 8pm. We all look at each other for a split second and carry on with what we were doing.

Dr Reema Patel


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