Mr. K had been admitted with dehydration and malnutrition secondary to diarrhea in the setting of HIV. During his stay, he developed refeeding syndrome. When the resulting electrolyte imbalances paved the way for cardiac arrhythmias, he coded twice in the ICU. The care team managed to bring him back each time, but not without consequence; the brutality of numerous cycles of CPR left him with multiple rib fractures, inflicting him with sharp pain every breath.
Yet, I am worried that these stories of heroism are harming the very people they celebrate. By creating an ideal “health care worker” as an endlessly altruistic individual, it stigmatizes the medical workers who refuse to take on these risks — even though there are many legitimate reasons not to. I’ve talked to doctors in China who have watched their friends and colleagues die during the SARS epidemic, who have watched the government break its promises to support their families after their death, and who, as a result, are no longer willing to volunteer on the frontlines. I’ve watched videos of nurses in the U.S. crying after they were forced to quit their jobs because hospitals are not providing them with the personal protective equipment (PPE) necessary to keep them safe. Many of them said that they were afraid of getting infected and spreading the disease to their high-risk family members. Who can say these are not real concerns? Who can call these physicians and nurses selfish and irresponsible?
Yes, unfortunately, I have become one of the sixty thousand and rising daily cases in the nation.
Yet I am one of the lucky ones.
For a variety of reasons, the substance use population is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on data from previous financial crises, the emotional toll will increase rates of new substance use, escalate current use, and trigger relapse even among those with long-term abstinence. There may be a significant lag before these changes are detected and treated because health care resources are being funneled toward the pandemic.
Never committed a crime, / but now I feel like a prisoner. // Trapped in our minds, / our spirits leashed,
March 2020 One inch more than the measure of me, and one inch less than that of my father. It’s been a while since I lined up, back to back. But if I did, the space between us would only read two inches. Maybe less now that he is older. Nearly sixty. Closer to the next decade than the last. It’s common knowledge that people shrink as they get older. Or at least I think …
Unmotivated to study, I dedicated myself to researching the virus as well as its epidemiological, social and economical impact on our communities. Adjusting to life in quarantine was frustrating, and I felt like I was watching the world turn upside down. However, researching the pandemic felt much more relevant than trying to use all these anatomy apps to fill in gaps created by a lack of practical hands-on learning.
Until recently, vulnerability meant weakness, allowing oneself to fall behind without a chance for recovery. Courage, on the other hand, had the opposite meaning: betting all my chips on prevailing at any cost.
I was anxious because I was used to moving at such a fast pace that slamming on the breaks gave me whiplash. I was desperate for things to do because I had forgotten how to slow down and relax — how to just be. Slowly, I began to see the opportunity that quarantine had presented me with.
In Nicaragua, where I was born and raised, we routinely stayed at home for dengue outbreaks, violence and hurricanes. I had experienced at least three lockdowns as a child, and now as an adult, I was experiencing another. Although the Nicaraguan lockdowns I experienced happened in the 1990s, the COVID-19 lockdown was still familiar.
I am calling for international solidarity and aid for Yemenis who are currently living in the worst conditions imaginable without clean water, food or shelter. Today in Yemen, there is war, an economic crisis, cholera outbreaks, the Chikungunya virus and COVID-19, all in the same country.
Am I essential? / A med student waiting for change, / inundated with facts and figures. / Am I just in the way?