My name is Michael, I am a COVID-19 frontline doctor, a soldier of Christ, and this is a snippet of my experience this season.
At the beginning when some of us chose the novel path- volunteering for service in the fight against the SARS COV-2-, we were transiently looked upon as fools and ridiculed as sheep for the slaughter. I could not help but be amazed at the paucity in the number of health workers willing to volunteer, at least, when it was looking like a pro bono task.
The trajectory would soon change after an announcement by the F.C.T Minister that frontline healthcare workers would be paid certain hazard allowances, and then the arena became a stage for lobbying and shameful compromise.
Almost everyone who feigned oblivion now wanted a piece of the cake. Times like this give us an opportunity to x-ray our motives and convictions in life. If we don’t define what we stand for, we’ll fall for anything.
It’s been a rewarding experience being part of the management of a novel disease, besieged by diverse uncertainties, giving care and comfort to COVID-19 patients in despair, listening as they share their fears and insecurities, and striving by Grace to restore hope in their hearts.
My first day on the ward was surreal. I had dressed in PPE at the Donning Area ready to go but it seemed like the PPE couldn’t cover my insecurities; at that moment, the resounding voice in my ears, my only source of mental peace, was “the Lord is my refuge and fortress”.
At a point in the Treatment Area, I had to pause for a second and deliberately choose to betray my fear in exchange for faith. If there was a time I needed to look up to God for daily renewal of strength, this was it.
Physical fatigue, yes but it is nothing compared to the mental fatigue that comes with the work, and just like every worthwhile journey, there are ups and downs. From discharging almost half of the patients on the ward to being called by a friend or loved one the next minute questioning the reality of COVID-19, the struggle has been real.
Amidst the numerous struggles, we have seen the hand of God consistently palpable at our COVID-19 Isolation Center. I remember being up close with an elderly patient, semi-conscious, incontinent, and unable to ambulate.
At one point I spent about an hour with him trying to resuscitate when he was beginning to deteriorate. We did our bit by grace, and he continued his recovery at a more advanced center as par the protocol. Words would fail to describe the feeling I got when I heard he had worked home by himself after recovering.
On another occasion, we had a morbidly obese patient, hypertensive with a history of pulmonary embolism. At first, the general feeling was that our center was not the right place for her. Miraculously, in 24hrs, she was able to sleep for the first time in days, beginning to ambulate, with a significant leap in her oxygen saturation.
Amid the exploits and breakthroughs, an important lesson to keep in mind is to never become dependent on external validation. I became even more convinced of this important lesson when a young man who had COVID-19 with severe symptoms was managed at our center, recovered after some weeks, and was discharged, but would later send a message to the public that he never had the virus. This was someone that could not eat at a point. When all is said and done we must be prepared to hold on to our resolve to do good works regardless of feedbacks from men. It is he that endures to the end that would be saved.
The fight continues; the army of God rages on. We have no choice but to shine wherever we find ourselves. After all, we are candles lit; whether we shine or not, we are burning; let us make it count.