—- Pages from a Dentist’s Diary
30th Aug, 2020
Last 2 months have been quite hectic. I shifted to a new place as I decided to stay alone and at peace. Meanwhile, there came a notice. We, dentists have been directed to perform Covid duties at a Government Medical Hospital. I was the 1st female dentist posted at the isolation ward. I was asked to join for duty on the 1st of September, 2020.
I shifted to another room during my duty, for isolation.
Day 1 – Afternoon shift – 2pm-10pm
The isolation ward building had 4 floors, I was posted on the 4th. As I entered, I saw a doctors’ room flooded with people. I waited for 5 whole minutes before I was given way to enter inside. I had no idea who was who and what I was supposed to do. Soon I met my colleague posted along with me and we introduced ourselves. I was told that we need to go for daily rounds and update every patient’s condition and also look after admissions and discharges. The 1st day passed by as I tried to get acquainted with the new work.
Day 2 – Morning shift – 8am-2pm
As I entered my shift, I saw a dead body lying on the floor near the ward. I was told 3 patients passed away, 2 brought dead. I was surprised. Never had I experienced anything similar before. I had to sign death notes for nearly 4 people in the first 2 days of my duty. And how did they die? Respiratory arrest, Covid positive. This was one diagnosis I had been hearing everyday. This was reality, not the one we see in news or in papers.
Soon, I also realized that the building had around 300-400 patients, 80% of them being Covid Positive.
Day 3 – Night shift – 10pm-8am
This was the 1st night shift of my life. I attended duty post dinner unaware of what was going to happen overnight. I saw that the density of patients was low during those hours. But conditions might change in an instant. There would be sudden admissions of new patients coming in a critical condition in the wee hours of the day, when the rest of the world would be fast asleep. Some would need emergency care and immediate action. It was a strange feeling. I slept hardly for an hour and stayed awake most of the times. It was during this 1st night shift of mine that I learnt a few basic emergency management protocols.
Day 4 – Afternoon shift – 2pm-10pm
It was tiresome and hectic. Lots of paperwork coming in and patient queries, few deaths. Without sleep overnight, we all just burned ourselves with sleep, hunger and work. It was difficult.
As soon as it was 10, we rushed to our rooms in dire need of some rest.
Day 5 – Morning shift – 8am-2pm
The marathon of shifts since the last 2 days was chewing our head off. People were dying and things were building up. We kept pushing ourselves.
It was finally at 2 o clock that we were relieved. We came back to our rooms and then it was all time to sleep for the next 24 hrs. The next duty was night shift the next day.
Day 6 – Night shift – 10pm-8am
It was a little better than the 1st one. I wasn’t feeling sleepy, I was getting used to it. But today was more restless, I couldn’t sleep even for a minute. I stayed wide awake the whole of the night, waiting for the sun to rise. 2 critical patients had come for admission at 2 in the night and they were struggling all night even with proper care.
Day 7 – Afternoon shift – 2pm-10pm
The patients’ condition stayed the same. They were shifted to ICU, but saw no improvement. All I remember was their family repeatedly asking us to help them out. We were just as helpless as them, with patients pouring in and all the noisy routine happening all around.
Day 8 –Morning Shift – 8am-2pm
One of the 2 critical patients had passed away. I remember the attendant asking me a few minutes before that they would shift her elsewhere. I also vaguely remember me telling him, ‘her condition isn’t good, she is in ICU, where would you take her now?.’
This was the last shift of my duty.
At the end of the day, there are a few things I want to mention about.
I always aspired to be a medico. Infact, I was broken when I had to choose to become a dentist. But this duty helped me realize what the life of a medico is like. It put me in a place which I thought I could never be in. I am proud to have been there, to have experienced what I did and will forever mark it. It was difficult, yes, but it made me proud.
I salute all the Medical Doctors who spend most of their life in these conditions. It’s a sacrifice they are doing for us all. They don’t have time for anything else in life, not even like us, dentists. How much ever we appreciate them, it is nothing. And what are we people doing? Blaming them for whatever we wish to? Attacking them? Complaining that they charge more? This is ruthless.
The place where I was posted in, was always steaming with people. And who are these people? Covid positive patients and their attendants. They come in into the doctor’s room, forget about social distancing, few don’t even put masks and a few more even shout on the doctors and make issues or even manhandle them, when they don’t like something. These are the same doctors who are working for you in these adverse conditions without worrying about getting infected or any personal gain for that matter, and this is how you repay them. What kind of a society are we living in?
I personally have seen patients die here. Me, with no previous experience of such bad situations and with only a few minutes of acquaintance with the patient, felt anxious and for a few moments, even worried about what is going to happen to them. I felt very bad when I saw them lose the battle for life. Imagine the compassion we would feel for each and every other patient we see, the kind of an emotional rollercoaster the doctors go through.
They are selfless, yes! For a simple reason that they are Doctors! They have been accepting their duty and responsibility for us all and we are taking it for granted. Shameless us!
Appreciating them with flowers, garlands and claps isn’t enough.
Respect them, as a person and as a professional. That is all I ask for!!
For, they are doing a job greater than anyone else can.!