Alone with COVID

During the COVID-19 pandemic, most hospitals have been forced to adopt a no-visitation policy for patients to mitigate spread. Additionally, to reduce exposure to staff and to preserve PPE, many healthcare workers are also forced to reduce/limit time spent in patient rooms. Many COVID patients are struggling alone in their rooms. This poem is written from the perspective of a physician who witnesses a patient struggling to breathe, alone in his room.

I am here before you, under layers

I know to you it is not fair

To have to strain to understand what I have to say

When you are straining hard to breathe anyway

I know the non-rebreather mask and the oxygen at high flow

Make it impossible to communicate, and so

I am literally trying to scream beneath my mask and face shield

You don’t understand a word I say, I believe

Anxious, afraid, isolated and struggling to get a breath adequate

You are in an impossibly vulnerable state

Your loved ones you can barely see

On FaceTime, amid all this gadgetry

Besides, you don’t want to see them upset

At how you struggle with every breath…

I started out planning to spend as few minutes as I could

In your room, to decrease my exposure as I should

I can still make good clinical decisions if I prioritize

Spending less time in a COVID room with virus aerosolized

Reducing my exposure, but on a human level it would be

To leave a patient in discomfort, a travesty

So still under full PPE, I take a step closer to you

Hold your hand, try my best to listen too

To your concerns, articulated between anxious breaths

I try to comfort you, your anxiety I try to whet

When you nod in comprehension, believe me it’s true

I feel a sense of accomplishment too..

I leave your room hoping the time I spent

Would be worth every extra second

This pandemic has taken so much away

We have to find solace in something every day

I was going about dissatisfied with myself. I must say

At leaving patients alone, in distress every day

The simple act of touching my patient and spending minutes few

Hopefully helped him, made me feel better too

When I reflect on what the pandemic has done

One of the worst things seems to be the isolation

To be alone when you are sick, afraid, in an environment unfamiliar

Is a torture inflicted by this pandemic severe

Even if it is under layers of protective gear

If a little proximity can allay my patient’s fear

I am willing to do it, setting my fear aside

At least I would know that I tried..

One thought on “Alone with COVID

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