“…I am very sorry! We tried for almost half an hour but couldn’t revive him.”
I vividly remember consoling one of the patients’ wives, who, along with all the family members, was waiting outside the COVID-ICU at almost midnight. I had got a phone call for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) after the patient’s cardiac arrest.
The patient was under mechanical ventilation for more than a week for critical COVID-19 infection with other co-morbidities. It was my first encounter with pandemic death during my early days as an ICU House Officer.
No sooner had I informed them about the patient’s demise than the corridor filled with grief and cries. They had lost someone very close to their heart!
“How many times I had warned him not to roam around into the crowd without wearing a proper mask! Had he taken my words seriously, we wouldn’t have to bear this misfortune…”
Amidst the panic, I overheard the patient’s wife crying and saying that still keeps striking my mind, time and again, with a deep sense of significance and regret. It seems very obvious that a simple preventive measure would effectively save a life. That’s worth more than anything!
As per World Health Organization statistics, with more than one hundred million cases and three million deaths worldwide to date, our globe has been mired in a deep crisis of the Covid-19 pandemic along with the economic meltdown and fraught misery created in the world’s history. While the governments, international agencies, scientists, healthcare jurisdictions and personnel, essential frontline workers and every individual across the nook and corner of the world are persistently struggling to fight against the pandemic. Our mother earth is still interwoven under the wrath of vague challenges and chaos of this crisis.
Even so, as there is no rainbow without rain, the rain of this global fear has taught human civilization many crucial lessons of the century!
We always hoped for stability but never were best prepared for the opposite! The pandemic made us realize that we must build early warning systems and keep the stash ready for the future crisis.
The pandemic challenged our capacity for resilience. Nevertheless, we did not fail to prove how resilient we are! We had to cut off our daily routines, face hunger and dive into the ocean of loneliness and grief. In any manner, we fully optimized the reservoir of our inherent resilience.
The world went into a pause. We unapologetically slowed down. Many were forced to work from home and we no longer traveled unless urgently necessary.
We accepted this power of stillness and took this an opportunity to indulge in self-care. We learned to be involved in the activities like yoga, indoor gardening, reading books, amusement with music and so forth. Otherwise, most of us have always neglected these things while running with modern and rushing schedules.
We taught ourselves to befriend nature and knew that nature lets us live large when the world gets smaller. Owing to the coronavirus, while the human world was at an unprecedented halt, mother nature continued to thrive.
We exemplified that self-care is not just self-indulgence. It’s beyond that and has many positive outcomes for us. Correctly understood and practised self-care also sets a lesson for the younger generation to establish and maintain the values of life for self and others as lifelong learning.
We must learn to prioritize mental health seriously. We faced several mental breakdowns driven by varied causes and issues- financial crisis, loneliness, losing loved ones, etc., a few to list. We learned that mental health must always go parallel with physical health. We must understand that our health is gold above all worldly goods.
One is wealthier only when one is healthier! The pandemic also imparted a new meaning to the proverb-age is just a number!
Even though age affects the risk of one’s severe illness with Covid-19, we should prepare to avoid chronic health illnesses by acquiring healthy lifestyles; proper nutrition, restorative sleep, physical activity and a healthy weight.
Lifestyle changes can improve overall health, thereby directly reducing the risk of severity and mortality by Covid-19 illness. The simple yet effective domains of preventive public health measures like using proper masks, sanitization, hand-washing, social distancing, etc., now carry deeper concerns as much as or even more than the curative aspects.
We will have to advocate promoting healthy behaviors and awareness as firmly as we do to build sophisticated hospitals and large institutions every day.
We have unleashed many revolutions in medicine during this pandemic and we must learn to adapt them efficiently. Many drugs are under trial, while the vaccines have already started reaching many corners. It is no doubt that we must acknowledge vaccines as powerful tools to fight this pandemic.
Community and technology both are essential. We have revolutionized the technology and the digital health care concept. Hence, the benefits of telemedicine should become indisputable. Equally, we must also consider that some baseless conspiracy theories ruling over the digital platforms and myths can be deadly, creating chaos and unnecessary fear among the general public.
While bearing this pandemic, we should have understood by now that families and community matter more than we realized. As we humans are fragile by ourselves, our strength lies in being part of a family and a community. We have witnessed the tireless work and efforts of every essential worker working in healthcare, groceries, supplies and deliveries, cleanliness, industries, farming, etc., across the world.
We should show deep respect to those heroes and their selfless efforts! Sometimes, we need to remember how vital kindness and love are! We should share a caring connection among ourselves.
On the other side of the coin, we must not turn our deaf ear against the other darker side shown by the covid-19 pandemic that is ‘Wealth Inequality.’
People with poor financial status are more likely to be under serious threats of not getting timely interventions and healthcare facilities, no matter how many advocacies globally operating with the motto’ equality in quality health care.’
As a doctor working at a tertiary care hospital in a developing nation, I have directly and indirectly witnessed the tragic circumstances of many people, time and again.
It is high time we understand this fact and join hand in hand to end this discrepancy by roots. It shall only end with our integrated voices and efforts!
Life itself is a lesson. We learn and continue to learn every day. There’s an old saying, ‘There is good in every evil!’ From this evil of the Covid-19 pandemic, we should learn to live, love, care, respect, and help.
Dr. Bhandari is a medical doctor and the House Officer with the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at HAMS (Hospital for Advanced Medicine and Surgery), Kathmandu, Nepal.