Life of doctor: Interning in 2nd Covid wave; baptism by fire
By Dr Damini Kashyap
Bengaluru. November 20: Only five days had gone by since the announcement of the final year MBBS results. Second wave of the Covid -9 pandemic had struck. Hospitals in Bengaluru were full to their capacities with the patients. My one-year internship began with a 12-hour shift in the Covid ward. There would be a 36-hour shift once a week, which would become twice soon after. The Covid ward would always be full of capacity.
There were no vaccines against the pandemic. There was also pressure and persuasion from parents and relatives to skip the internship. Life was at risk. But the call of duty of the medical profession outweighed all such persuasions.
Once a Covid patient in this mid-forty gave the rude shock of the ward. He would flash his fruit-cutting knife to threaten other patients in the ward. To get rid of his threatening theatrics, we tried to convince him all night long and finally confiscated his knife, while he was asleep. This gave us a rude shock of the behavioural abnormalities caused by the pandemic. There were patients, who suffered from Covid psychosis, while others had acute depression. Shock and panic were writ large on faces of patients in the ward.
As an intern, I was along with other colleagues was assigned the task to monitor the basic vitals of patients. We had to tell nurses to follow treatment regime as handed out by senior doctors who made rounds of the ward every morning and visited during emergency situations afterwards. The challenge was significant, because we were fresh out of the college and had to adapt to the hospital software as well as handling the patients in an unprecedented situation.
Young mothers almost in labour would arrive and upon being tested they would turn out to be Covid positive and would have to create separate facilities for delivery to prevent the spread of the infection to non-covid patients. The shock of the life would come soon after when it would be found that the new-born also tested positive. Now, a separate containment facility had to be created for them.
The beginning of casualties in the Covid ward was with a young man, who suddenly collapsed after a bout of violent bloody cough. He was in his early 30s. He suffered from hypertension and had no other co-morbidities. The brutal scale of the pandemic hit us hard when I saw him collapsing five minutes prior to the end of my shift. The young and healthy man passed away. Afterwards, there would be several casualties and men and women just became statistics, as the second wave of the pandemic left deathly trails.
The 12-hour shifts soon became a habit, but many young intern doctors caught infections. Now, the few among us who remained uninfected had to do double duties of 36 hours, wearing the PPE kit. You cannot use the washroom. You cannot drink water. There was no time either, because patients overflowed the wards. The sleep never struck, because of the enormity of the task on hand. It would be rare to catch naps between shifts for a couple minutes.
The financial capabilities of the patients also determine their access to healthcare services. This was a rude learning in the ward. A 10-year-old boy came with Covid infection and recovered after some time. He was eventually discharged. But a few weeks later, he returned to the pediatric ICU with post Covid complications. It was found that he had heart issues. But his parents were without the financial means to afford the treatment. The boy was taken away by the parents without adequate treatment.
Nothing is impossible was just another phrase while I was in the college. But the contrary was on the display in the hospital. A woman in her 70s had slipped into coma. There were no indications that she would survive. I would end up counselling her children to prepare for the worst. But they would never give up hope. They spent an enormous amount of money on her treatment. Soon, the treatment began to show results. She not only came out of her coma, but in a few weeks, she even began to walk inside the ICU. That was a life lesson. The medical profession indeed gives a second chance at life.
(Author completed one year internship at a leading hospital in Bengaluru during the second Covid wave)
3 thoughts on “Life of doctor: Interning in 2nd Covid wave; baptism by fire”
The young Doctor’s account gives a direct insight into thesufferings of the Covid-19 patients and their loved ones during the C-chaos….
A more of such accounts should come as what happened inside the hospitals across the country (good , bad and the ugly) during those days when many of us got cured sitting at home or altogether escaped the infection called Coronavirus (gradually seem to be fading from our memories..!).
The write-up is straight as she saw it, unblemished by the weight of the narrative…
The experience as an intern, am sure, would go a long way to make her a wholesome Doctor and more than that a good human being….three cheers..!
Sounds terrifying to say the least. It is unfortunate to notice that common citizens do not pay the due respect deserved by all serving doctors; interns and practicing doctors.
The COVID-19 pandemic is an example that depicts the urgency for increasing the number of medical practitioners in our country.
Very good walk through of the Covid-19 second wave period witnessed by an intern.
– Struggle of all the health care staffs to save life of patients from different sections of the society – have other next level challenges also.
– This had nested loop of challenges, many doctors , interns, other supporting staffs had gone through physical & mental trauma in this period and some lost their life in saving others.
– We should appreciate their efforts & dedication (bounded by professio ) on similar lines of the Armed forces on the borders.