We have heard firsthand accounts of people who suffered, recovered or died from COVID 19. But what does a doctor go through and feel while treating their patients? Dr. Payal Debbarman from Vadodara, Gujarat tells us her experience of the pandemic.
The virus felt personal to me from the beginning. The first time I stepped in the OPD with COVID positive patients, I got blank. I felt chills, my skin felt dried and the PPE kit anyway made me breathless. With time, I got used to the trauma. When my mom called me, she said- “I don’t know when I will meet you next. We will meet again, right? But never forget, you are doing great!’ She was scared and frightened of the uncertainty.
As doctors, our parents are going through rough days when they see us going in an unseen warzone. It’s a battle where you can’t see the enemy but the enemy can see you.
Being a heart patient since birth, everyone around me showed concern and asked me to take a break. I was in greater danger. But for me, work has always been foremost. What made me feel upbeat, out there, and profoundly happy? But with multiple masks, shields, and helmets, it got claustrophobic.
It felt the pain to see so many young and old people catching the infection. But you know, it was not me who gave them hope but the patients. In spite of being terrified, there was a soldier-like optimistic spirit in the wards. I have seen people chanting prayers together in the unit and sometimes just counting the rudraksha prayer beads over and over again. It’s the faith we Indians have. No matter what we go through, that faith in God keeps the hope alive.
The other day, a couple who were tested positive did not give two cares about the disease. All they wanted was to be in the same ward, near to one another. I smiled when the husband “demanded” that he wants his bed to be near his wife. They spoke all day when their beds were moved next to one another. When they got discharged, they went through the corridors holding hands and saying thank you to the nurses. I remember when I went back home from duty, my help said- “Didi, mere chote chote bache hain!”(I have small kids) and added that she won’t be coming the next day. I understood her concern. Within an hour, she called to apologize. She told how her husband scolded her for not being there for the doctors of our country. It was so moving that despite being uneducated, they were aware!
I mean, there IS a little rainbow in the clouds too. All I have learnt is to look at that slight rainbow and smile. A smile can get you through all kinds of blues, even in the darkest of pandemic!
As told to Infano by Dr. Payal Debbarman