This is Vatsal. He is a fellow in critical care. He takes care of patients in the ICU.
“It’s been just over a month since our first patient with COVID came to the ICU. Since then, we’ve seen several more.
Many of these patients have died, less than a handful have left the ICU alive, and the rest stuck in the long-standing battle of the chronically critically ill.
From the time we met that first patient to now, we’ve settled into a different routine. We line up to enter the hospital where we are screened for symptoms, we get our daily allotment of two face masks, and we sanitize our hands several times an hour. Every ICU round in the COVID ICU is predictable: oxygenation, ventilation, proning, unproning, blood gases, antibiotics, chest x-rays, and so on. A steady, manageable flow of COVID positive patients: some new, some old.
I no longer get to meet family members, they are all just voices on the phone. I suppose I’m also a voice on the phone to them. It’s harder to build a therapeutic relationship without seeing each other’s body language or expression. I make concerted efforts to display worry, fear, even cautious optimism at times, through my tone.
Leaving the hospital, the fresh air is welcome, but the empty streets of downtown Toronto are a haunting reminder that we are still in the thick of it.
We still have a long way to go. I find solace in acceptance; this is our new normal. While this isn’t ideal for our social, mental, financial, or economic health, being back in the COVID ICU the next day reminds me that it can always be worse.”