Having grown up with many a dystopian-world-holocaust-themed fiction novels lining my bookshelves, I could safely say I have lived through the most deplorable times, albeit vicariously.
Never in my life have I lived through times like these. The streets are silent and the televisions are loud with news, and the people, for once, are showing abidance and compliance. I guess nothing moves people into action (or inaction- which is so much more of a feat for a gregarious crowd as us Indians) like fear can. And I experienced this fear dearly and firsthand when, as a first year resident in ENT, I got assigned the duty of swabbing the nasopharynx and throats of suspect cases.
(Before y'all babies get worried sick 'bout me here's a not-just-a-representative picture of me donning on a PPE suit)
Yesterday I got exposed to my first known positive case of COVID-19.
I say "first" because it sure as day won't be my last one.
I say "known positive" because, I have perhaps already rubbed elbows with very many undiagnosed positive cases of this pandemic. It's a matter of how severely it affects us resident doctors when it does (not IF it does).
But then there's this certain sense of pride.
The first pandemic I am actively managing as a doctor, of course, along with dreary hours of outpatient, ER and OT.
I say "first" because it sure as day won't be my last one.
The suspected cases have just begun to come in hordes just as is prophesied with the Novel Corona Virus: it's the beginning of the end of the calm before the storm.
Stay home and stay safe my dearies, and stay sharp! The ancient curse is upon us
MAY YOU LIVE IN INTERESTING TIMES...
When you are a first year resident walking at a semi-leisurely pace on the ground floor with two backpacks on one shoulder, a laptop bag on the other, 8 indoor patient files in the crook of your right arm, a box of 70 degrees portable endoscope in the left cubital fossa, a thermos full of Garam Chai in the left hand, and your phone in the right hand, which flashes to show the message "R3 ROUNDS ON THE TENTH FLOOR MALE WARD IN 5", you RUN.
You don't wait to hear a reason for this aberration, you don't wait for the elevator, you don't wait to catch your breath, and when you run out of air, you continue to run. Because you don't want to scorn a third year resident by depriving them of your extremely useful presence of handing them the otoscope as they extend their palms out- not even in your general direction- as they look at the patient file.
Because, nobody knows the wrath of a scorned third year like a second year does, and the as the cascade of wrath trickles down the hierarchy, it amplifies exponentially.
I've learned a few tricks to survive the Trickle.
The key is to look as winded as possible every time you enter a place, be it the wards or the OPD or the ER.
Next, you need to always look like you're walking purposefully and be fast paced as you whoosh past a senior who is just waiting for a dartboard to aim his/her menial-duties-darts at.
Keep mini foods handy. Offer them to the seniors as you see one of your plethora of screw ups being close to getting discovered. Bonus points for mini chocolates! (Take it from someone who has screwed up PLENTY).
Most importantly, always keep your cool. With the patients, yes, more essentially with your seniors who might be younger than yourself in age, but most essentially, be cool with your own state of miserable being. Know that you are the badass that you've always been deep down, but keep it buried deep down.
During all my 24 hour duties I find my moments of joy in the little things I see around the hospital, like this youngling owning his badassishness.
More of the same later.
There's no time to eat, there's no time to sleep. But the fact that we aren't in control of any of the decisions that we are to take, personal or otherwise, is the real misdeal. And, there's a rotten hierarchy to maintain.
To do as you've been told, to not use your head past the mechanical chores you have been assigned, and to suffer through every punishment as willingly as the seniors themselves have, just because they deem it fit: the first year of residency so far seems very akin to a communist reformation camp. And it has only been 1.5 out of the 36 months I have to spend at this place.
Some fun facts:
View from the wards.
nota bene: The only reason I get the time to post today after a fortnight is because we were on a strike. All the residents, all over the country, standing in solidarity against the violence done to doctors. While enough will never have been said on the subject, I shall leave it to the more eloquently opined and the less sleep deprived.
Only 34.5 months to go.
I write, for I must keep up.
I started my residency in Otorhinolaryngology from May the first. It is now the 26th. Almost a month into this and BOY, has the time flown!
It has been the most mercurial month of my entire long life that it took me to graduate as an MBBS doctor. Now, here I am with another three years of my life on the line, pining to become a Master of Surgery of the ear, nose, and throat. To say it has been a testing month would be quite well worded, for it has been testing: academically, mentally, physically, socially, and perhaps even philosophically. But of course I don't know where to start; we'll get there in good time.
For now, allow me to share with you my experience of watching the series finale of Game of Thrones that aired earlier this month.
You see, I'm the type of annoying person who reads all the novels the movies are based on. So, 5 giant fantasy fiction books and 8 seasons into the saga, I was REALLY looking forward to knowing how they end the show after all these years. Expectedly enough, the Monday morning that it aired in India, I had my duties jam packed from 6 am.
Yet nothing was to ruin it for me.
I avoided all social media, lest there be spoilers. I avoided calls from friends, because I still wanted to stay friends with them. I ran out of earshot of any small talk sparking in my vicinity. I took the staircase -from the casualty on the ground floor to the wards on the tenth- twenty times, for the entire day, just so that I wouldn't be confined in closed quarters amidst awkward elevator chit-chat where they use GOT as an icebreaker. Before I knew it, it was 10 pm. My work hours were at an end. I now got to go to my hostel room and watch the finale that everyone else in the world already had.
But of course not.
That was the night of 5 emergency calls: I never got to exit the hospital building. It was 6 am again, and it was OT day now. You cannot mess up anything when there's an OT day: the cascade of events always circle back to how you forgetting to put the Operation Theatre list on the designated spot led to Global Warming. Of course, that's only if you're at the bottom of the food chain, as all R1s are.
I did not mess up. Nothing was to ruin it for me. I continued the self quarantine. I got free at 11.30 pm that night.
I went back to my hostel room and took a shower. I set the lights and temperature to just the right strengths; this viewing was to be an experience that would perhaps never be replicated, and it was entirely my own. I fired up my computer. I got goosebumps when I realised I was hearing the title track perhaps for the last time. Ten minutes into it, there was this epic speech by Daenerys in the Dothraki tongue which is the last thing I remember before I fell asleep.
Someday, I'll tell you about the other hebetudinous things I've done to cause global warming.
I write, also, for I must vent.
For all y'all wonderin': I did end up watching the show in the week that followed, without anyone spoiling it for me, because by now it was old news and no one was talking about it.