Our guest writer today, Dr. Pritom Das, Dhaka, Bangladesh. June 2020.
In the last few days, I’ve gotten many text messages from people I know, asking where to go to test themselves, what symptoms they are experiencing, how worried they are, where to manage plasma, where ICU seats are available.
This has been a heartbreaking experience. Thus I can understand how doctors at the frontline are feeling. They are witnessing not only the plea of people, they are also seeing patients die first hand. Their misery is of multitude of any like me, of course.
This is a feeling of helplessness. A part of me breaks down when I text someone “there is no ICU seat available at govt hospital, you need to take your patient to a private one” knowing well how many can’t afford a seat there, and even if they can there is a possibility that they won’t get desired treatment.
I can empathize with doctors, many of whom I know, who are feeling the same. People dying in their arms, they are disempowered to do anything. Sands slipping away from their hands, waves rushing away as they are stunned.
In war soldiers develop shell shock, or PTSD, from not being able to do enough, to save their comrades, to fight the enemy. I can guarantee any conscientious doctor will feel the same.
I know this patient needs oxygen, but I also know there is nowhere she’ll be able to get them. You are the judge, jury, and the executioner, but you are also the most powerless.
What this leaves you with- the burden of witnessing deaths you didn’t ask for. You and death, two remain constant while people die away. A wonderer as people pass away. A dispossessed soldier forced to bear witness to your comrades suffering. A doctor.
I hope everyone I know will come out of this in good health. That’s the only thing we can do, probably.