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“Only COVID warriors like us can understand.”

Seven metal suits of armour standing upright against a grey background.
By Dr. Animesh Kumar Mishra

West Bengal

Diary of a COVID-19 doctor and critical care medicine specialist…

The last two months of the second wave of the pandemic in India have been the most hectic in all aspects — emotionally, physically, personally.

Finally got some time to write down my experience toward the end of this second wave.

Working in a territory care hospital as an intensivist, managing my own start-up. Providing doctors on call for a home visit, tele- and video consultation, free consultation for underprivileged people.

Every day waking up after hardly 2 to 3 hours of sleep, I will see 10 to 15 missed calls.

Finish teleconsultation as much as possible and then do a home visit for a few patients on the way to hospital.

Home visits for COVID patients have been a totally different experience. These were the patients under the most stressed conditions, not getting hospital beds, their family physician had stopped seeing them due to fear of self-infection.

With proper PPE protection, treating patients at home successfully is so self-satisfactory as a doctor, which only COVID warriors like us can understand.

Then reaching my COVID ICU, where the sickest patients in the city are, managing such a sharp surge in critical cases has been a Herculean task.

Time is key in critical care set-up, the timely decision to give ventilator support or ECMO [extracorporeal membrane oxygenation] support saved few lives. Thankfully I have the best doctors, nurses, paramedics, housekeeping, and management guys who make our work easy.

Those grueling 8 hours In PPE without food, water, or toilet.

And the most important was talking with the family of those sick patients. Ask any one of our COVID warriors — every one has hundreds of sad stories of each family. This used to break us emotionally.

Coming out of the COVID ICU, the number of missed calls for teleconsultation was pending. I would finish them while having lunch in the evening.

During the peak of this, my wife is working as an anesthesia doctor, got infected for the second time and lost two elder family members due to COVID. But the patients’ families’ expectations from me kept me doing my work, and I didn't visit my sick wife or attend the funeral of any of my relatives.

Then in late-night, I had kept free a teleconsultation slot for my native hometown Sindri, Dhanbad, patients. And also underprivileged patients from pan India.

After finishing calls, it’s night again and I would start home visits for COVID patients, which go until 2:00 AM to 3:00 AM. Then finally nap for a few hours until the next day of battle.

This is the story of lots and lots of COVID warriors like me.

But think about us now, we are also getting burned out.

So, a request of all people not to relax after the second wave — get vaccinated, use a mask, maintain social distancing, even after the government unlocks. It's not over yet…

Dr. Animesh Kumar Mishra
Critical Care Medicine Specialist

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