I have thought many times about writing this and tried over the past two years to put my reflections and sentiments into words but haven’t been able to. How does one take something that has so shaped, changed, and shaken me and put it into a group of words that maybe those on the outside might get a glimpse and an understanding and acknowledgement of all that has gone on.
To begin with medicine isn’t easy at baseline. We see things and care for people in their darkest hours and there are patients and experiences that have shape me as a person and as a physician and will stay with me the rest of my life. I have celebrated the highest of highs and the lowest of lows and encountered pure evil all within the walls of the ER. That said the last two years have taken that and exploded it in a new way. It has hit every corner of the hospital and health care system.
I have been blown away by the response and the work ethic of everyone within the hospital. Scared, overworked, exhausted, and deeply sadden people have shown up to work day in and day out and given it their everything and then even more. It has been an honor to work along side each and every person, from our EVS staff tirelessly cleaning and disinfecting each room to our amazing respiratory therapists who have cared for each vent day in and day out, to the pharmacists who have researched and obtained all the treatments needed, to the nurses who have spent hours under layers of protection holding hands and giving meds and fighting for each of their patients, to the doctors I get to work along side and have put their lives and family’s lives on the line to care for patients. I stand in awe of the bench scientists and researchers who have worked tirelessly to find cures, vaccines, and anything that would help. I have been amazed at the way technology has allowed communication between hospitals and doctors and care teams to communicate and work together across the miles to provide the best care. I have been in awe to be a part of such a group of people.
That said, on the other end there has been immense anger and hurt over the rest of society, especially those that claim to care for others and love people. I have been shocked by people’s pure selfishness and unwillingness to work to care for those that most need it. Individual comfort and desires have trumped love for others. I have been called names, threatened by patients and family members, and yelled at all in attempts to care for and treat those that need it within the hospital. Outside of the hospital people have ignored, spoken against, politicized, and fought against anything I have said or health professionals have said. It has been an extremely lonely couple of years. At a time when health care professionals of all walks need the most support and care there is nothing but an empty chasm.
And so what do we do as health professionals? We get up the next morning or hop in our cars again each night and drive back into the hospital and do what we’ve been doing every day for the past two years and will continue to do. While everyone on the outside continues to fight, argue, scorn what we do, we will continue to do it. Yes we are all walking away with deep scars and deep hurts and those will take years and years to heal and we aren’t going to be the same, you can see it in each one of our eyes behind the masks, the forces smiles, and the tears we shed. There aren’t words and ways to describe and force those on the outside to understand what we have done and seen and experienced these past two years. In many ways the burden for healing ourselves shouldn’t be on ourselves to do, the community and society we are a part of should help take up that burden but they haven’t and they won’t. And so just as we have done we will continue to care and reach not only a society but each other as well.