"Yes Ammi, aap bas apna khayaal rakhna (OK mother, please take care of yourself). Aur Kuch bhi ho Jaye (and whatever happens), please call me if you need anything, I am just a phone call away," and I disconnected the call to go and attend a patient. My name is Asim and I am in Chennai working in a COVID specific hospital. My parents are in Osmanabad and my mother has tested COVID positive.
As a healthcare worker, I know how difficult times are. We have to make decisions whom to treat first and whom to ignore. But when I know my own mother has contracted COVID in my hometown, it is very difficult for me to act like a doctor - something I am for other patients in the hospital. I wish I could get her here so that I could look after her at all times.
I am worried about Ammi and if given a chance I would run to her to look after her health and care for her. I know many might ask why I don't go to her aid? But what people cannot understand is that I have to continue working here since I am bound by my duty as a frontline worker during the pandemic. I cannot leave my place as the hospital is short of staff and the tidal wave of the patients doesn’t seem to end.
Every day when I treat older patients in my hospital I can see my mother's face. Those are the most traumatic times for me. And if a patient loses the battle to COVID while in my care, it shakes me up to the depths of my being. Thinking of treating these stranger patients and not my mother is the reason why my guilt is at its peak. Some days when I wake up I wish that I could just take a bus or my own bike and be with my parents. But then it would make me a coward as I chose to run away from my existing patients.
Why is it so difficult for us? Why do we have to treat all patients equally? When on one side I have my mother and on the other side 20+ strangers, isn't it obvious for me to think of my mother first? But why isn't it right for me to travel to her and leave these other patients here? At the rate older people are dying at due to the virus infection I don't know if my Ammi will make it through the pandemic. What if she dies? What if I am not there besides her in the last moments of her life? How can I then forgive myself? Would she or abbu ever forgive me? These negative thoughts are not leaving my mind, what do I do?"
The act of leaving their own sorrows behind while they continue fighting the battle against the virus, for us, strangers, is what makes our healthcare workers heroes.