Being on a roller coaster of emotions of extreme highs and lows, is leaving COVID doctors overwhelmed.

“I’m experiencing the worst and the best of emotions, at the same time, for the past so many months that I feel as if I am on a constant roller coaster of emotions—sometimes on the peak and sometimes in the troughs of sad thoughts,” said Dr. Vidyadhar when we asked about his COVID section experience. He said, “I am old and so many of my colleagues are too. This roller coaster of  emotions is now starting to make us feel overwhelmed and causing us to lose perspective. 

Can you imagine; a while ago there is a huge bunch of people trying to attack you and your team and you are praying for your life and safety, and the next moment there are people or rather the whole nation, clapping for you standing at their windows and balconies. At one moment, doctors are being denied a respectable burial even if they have lost their lives fighting against COVID like Dr Simon Hercules in Chennai; after a few weeks, rose petals are being showered on them from the skies in appreciation  of their jobs. Do you think we are immune to these high and low feelings?

I’ve been experiencing this for a while now where people are thanking me for saving their lives and then there is another bunch of people who are abusing me for being a carrier of the virus. 

Being a doctor is not easy emotionally...there is  always this battle between life and death but this phase is a huge mix of many highs and lows so much so that all my energy seems to be getting sucked into just processing the feelings and emotions. I remember this one case where the patient, an old lady who was suffering from COVID asked me to use the ventilator for some other more deserving younger patient than her since she said she had lived her life already. It broke my heart hearing her say this, but my hands are tied, since our country does not allow such things...the patient cannot decide to die. And so I could not heed to her request. Finally she got better and walked back  home.

That day I had this weird feeling...a mix of being grateful to God for endowing  on me this power to cure and help people and for people like the old lady who were selflessly ready to sacrifice themselves, yet I was filled with sadness that I could not accept her request, that I could not save many other younger lives. As doctors, we try to disconnect with our patients but no matter how much we try, we are humans after all. 

I’ve been able to save thousands but also failed in saving the hundreds, I have been thanked and cursed too by families. I’ve made my own family sad by staying away and felt broken when I went home and my neighbours, my friends, accused me of spreading the virus.

As a healthcare worker, COVID pandemic has been a continuous roller coaster of emotions for me and most of my colleagues too. And now, this struggle has reached its brim and I don’t know how to take in or process these overwhelming emotions anymore. 

But whatever said and done,  I also realise the huge responsibility that rests on my shoulders and like Frost said, “...But I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep.”