Shortness of breath is a frustrating experience. The feeling of not being able to get air into the deepest parts of your lungs can be scary. Unfortunately, as COVID-19 spreads across the globe, more and more people are experiencing shortness of breath — one of the symptoms of the virus.
In order to flatten the COVID-19 curve, many people have been practicing social distancing and staying at home to avoid possible exposure to carriers and infected individuals. While these measures are necessary to slow the spread of the virus and keep the number of cases at a manageable level, they have several implications for mental health.
The world is quarantined, but we have learned to be human again. Rather than tirelessly working or studying, we are forced to engage with one another in meaningful ways. We find novel alternatives to maintain relationships with those who mean the most to us during this daunting time with no foreseeable end.
A rainy day while the sun is out is a bad omen. But every day seems like a bad omen now. I stand by the window at times watching the strange weather passing through. If you look at the right moment, you will see me there with a face that mirrors the solemness of what I look at.
Mask on. / Your own protective prison / the air is stale but clean, you hope.
To combat this, we are called upon to reach a higher degree of commitment within ourselves and curb the tide of fear. Mindfulness is an optimal behavioral strategy within this period of self-isolation to manage our stress and establish the foundation for optimizing our mental and emotional hygiene.
This year, like those before us, we entered our study periods for Step 1 with some trepidation — both about the long hours of studying and the high stakes of the exam. Like those before us, we reassured ourselves that if we put our time in now, we’d be able to move beyond memorizing minutiae to caring for patients in the hospital. And then, unlike those before us, testing centers across the world closed.
Today, my grandparents are older than Saul was when distanced from his family. Now during the coronavirus pandemic, they too are isolated. This time it’s not because they are the fomites, but because I might be. Those big enveloping hugs that grandma lives for and kisses from grandpa will likely become a thing of the past.
Hahnemann’s doors stay closed and our patients are waiting. While Philadelphia has stopped negotiations, we, as students with futures in health care, cannot accept this. We demand that Freedman provide free use of Hahnemann for the duration of the pandemic.
This year, a new threat has emerged. Across the border in Iran, COVID-19 has killed scores of people and infected many more, including a deputy health minister, prompting the Iraqi government to close the frontier. Iraq reported its first cases in recent weeks, with 1,415 current case numbers, as of April 15, 2020.
The COVID-19 pandemic has raised many questions about how to constitutionally handle a public health crisis on both the state and national levels. Many wonder if a national lockdown can be put in place — a new dilemma that has little legal precedent to follow.
At this very moment, our medical care providers are acting as the heroes we know them to be. They should be celebrated for their steadfast courage and dedication to the community’s safety and wellbeing. Our job as medical students is to support those brave practitioners in the way that most protects their safety and the safety of their patients, which very well could mean (and probably does mean) staying home.