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When I started work as a doctor, I never thought that I would find myself working in the middle of a pandemic. I guess, no one really thought that this is how 2020 would shape up. It’s not been great, so far, has it? Even the weather is mocking us by being gorgeous when we can’t go outside. I thought this was Britain. Isn’t it always raining?
My first realisation that this was bigger than me was when I found out that wards in my hospital were being closed in preparation for the influx of Covid positive patients. Then all educational and non-essential events started getting cancelled. Our rotas changed and overnight the hospitals across the country turned into battle grounds. With us as the warriors. As I stood putting on my gloves, apron, viser and mask and probably looking like a member of the SWAT team, it became apparent that this was really just the beginning. It seemed, the whole hospital, the whole nation, the whole world was bracing itself. We had examples of where it had not gone well to tell us just how devastating this pandemic could be.
I remember feeling scared when reports of people younger than my own parents being sick and in hospital came through. When well-known celebrities and political figures starting falling prey to this illness, it proved once more that health has no bias. When there is a pandemic upon us, it equalises us like nothing else. Then it doesn’t matter if you’re rich, poor, old or young, we can all be affected by it or know someone who is.
Sitting in yet another ‘update’ talk on covid, the lecturer said something that made me stop and take stock. ‘When this is all over,” he said. “You’ll know people who have suffered and lost loved ones. Look after yourselves.” And he hadn’t meant physically (which is a given, obviously) but he meant in terms of emotional and mental well being. I stopped then and thought about what matters. What really matters. Family. Friends. Colleagues. And I realised then that we were only as vulnerable as we let ourselves be.
So whilst the pandemic is wreaking havoc and we’ll remember 2020 as the year when we all sat indoors and it felt like dystopia had arrived. Whilst the headlines continue to strike fear in our hearts, we will continue to quietly fight. We will fight by staying inside and working from home. Bankers by helping us re-build our economy. Shop keepers by serving us vital foods. NHS workers by coming in to work and looking after patients day in day out. Actors, comedians and musicians by reminding us why we’re doing this in the first place. For the protection of our society, our culture and the fabric of humanity itself. We have to remember that this is temporary. It will pass. We will get through it.
So I’m going to continue clapping for our key workers. Continue going on Zoom and having virtual parties. I’m going to continue enjoying the sunshine in the garden. All the while remembering that when we work together, humans have always had the last laugh.
And we may even learn a thing or two about this novel disease and about our health infrastructure and our role in disease prevention. So that next time when there is a pandemic (and believe you me, there will be), we’ll be even better prepared and better informed.
There’s never a good time to have a pandemic but it’s here. Let’s not let it get the better of us. Stay safe and add me on the Houseparty app!
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