Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Sadness and Heroes

Someone I know forwarded me an item sent to her by an Australian doctor of her acquaintance who is currently on the front line in New York.  I believe that it was from a social media account that has been posted publicly in that it was sent to me as a photograph with comments at the bottom and provision for likes etc.  I have not identified the doctor.  Her words make one realise how grim the situations are elsewhere, how well off we are and what heroism is being shown by the health care workers, responders and those willing to be in the middle of it to help others instead of isolating at home.

Due to download difficulties I have presented her message as typed text.

Here are her words:

Friends ask what’s it like there?
Is New York as bad as the media have portrayed it . . . .
I have worked on and off in ICUs for the last 25 plus years doing so many different jobs and I have often wondered what has been the most helpful training . . . . was it the 14 years of nursing?  Was it the critical care nursing training that taught me all about ventilator management as there was no respiratory therapist?  Was it recognising the ventilators from the 90’s and remembering how they worked? Was it being a doctor? A surgeon?  Critical care intensivist?  In the end it’s a combination of all of those moments in time to be a jack of all trades in a time of pandemic but most of all it’s being a human being and understanding the human carnage and the impact this pandemic is having on so many patients, families, health care workers lives.
I have never see so much death and the helplessness that you feel because you cannot save the patients.  Even when the patients may have a slight improvement they still seem to die . . . . and the patients just keep coming to the ICU.
It’s the lack of closure, the families not being able to visit, crying on the phone, begging to see or hear their relatives voice just one more time . . . .“I am so sorry, you cannot visit your mum” . . . .
“I am sorry but there is nothing more we can do” . . . .
“I am sorry but there are no further drugs we have for your brother’s low blood pressure” . . . .
“I am sorry but we are going to have to start dialysis” . . . .
“I am sorry but her lungs are so bad we had to place her facing down to try and improve her oxygen levels” . . . .
“I am sorry, I don’t know if he can hear but I will let him know that his granddaughter loves him” . . . .
“I am sorry that you cannot visit the love of your life and you have been together 66 years and you met when you were 10 . . .  and no, there is nothing zi have left to offer” . . . .
“I am sorry, I don’t know the long term effects  if his able to come off the ventilator” . . . .
“I am sorry, I know his kidneys were okay yesterday but they have rapidly deteriorated and he will need dialysis”     . . . .
“Yes, we are doing everything we can to save her” . . . .“I am sorry, her heart stopped and we did everything but she died at 0954” . . . .
One of my responsibilities as the intensivist is to call the families everyday and update them on the patient’s condition . . . .
I have only been able to call one family and let them know we were able to get their dad off the ventilator . . .
-----oOo-----






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