The Sounds of Silence

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Hospitals especially ICUs are usually dreaded places. Dim lights, curtains over each bed, the sounds of monitors, the frenzied activity in one corner or the other usually are enough to scare anyone. The lone person lying on the bed, with multiple lines and tubing attached to him. Some who are more sick will have a big machine aka ventilator taking the place of lungs, pumping breaths into the body. A monitor over the bed shows the activity of the heart. ICUs always depressed me. However, it became a calling for my husband and I have seen him most alive and intoxicated when working. I had never seen him tired or complaining about his duties, however busy he might be. In-fact, he loved everything about being an intensivist. Until the pandemic arrived last year.

The 1st wave whose peak lasted here 2 months left him broken and disturbed. The horrors he experienced first hand gave him insomnia for months. Next peak came in this January, which was much more severe not just in numbers but in severity as well. There would be a concern etched on his face 24 x 7. It is not easy to work extended hours in the PPE gowns, N95 masks and shields. It is more traumatic when you know that even after the best efforts you were not able to save a patient. It hurts more when the emergency beds are full and the ICU does not have more beds or ventilators to cater to the surge. It is not easy to see someone die in front of you just because the resources were not enough, or because it was too late by the time the patient reached you. It is painful to break the news to the relatives and it is heartening to see the children orphaned, wives or husbands left widowed, old parents turning stoic on hearing the news of a child die. Yet, the life inside an ICU has to go on. Silently, the bed has to be cleared, the emotions have to be buried because outside another patient is more needy and may have a chance. That’s’ where it gets lonely and aloof, because you alone know how much it pains inside.

The stillness inside continues. For the governments these may be just numbers, but for those of us who have been in anyway part of the hospital, this pandemic is a nightmare which does not seem to end. For doctors, each number on the curve is a patient. The end does not seem in sight, but we cannot lose hope. As of now, it looks like the survival of the fittest. The virus definitely is just trying to survive and multiply. We humans still think we are invincible and are letting the virus live by giving it chance to survive, by not wearing masks, by our need for togetherness, by our need for socializing. Its high time we learnt that we are just another species on the earth, not the only species. And its high time we stepped back.

Photo by Sunsetoned on

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