A lot has changed in the past week; Almost every social venue in the UK had closed its doors, shutting out the deadly Covid-19 virus. Pubs, Theatres, Cinema and restaurant are all closes. Fast food restaurants are allowed to stay open for take away orders only. Schools across the UK have also closes, leaving thousands of teenagers about to sit there GCSE’s and A-Levels in limbo. My heart goes out to the teachers who have now been given horrible task of awarding students predicted grades as their final and official qualification.
Panic buyers have cleared the shelves of vital products such as toilet paper and pasta. Several clips and photos of exhausted NHS workers wandering around bare shelved supermarkets have done viral. While I personally haven’t been effected by the panic buyers, I can sympathise. There is no need to buy 7 packets of spaghetti. The one thing that seems to be abandoned is sweets. Every supermarket I’ve visited this week has had shelves upon shelves of fully stocked sweets and chocolate bars. I’d have thought this would have been one of the first aisles to be stripped but apparently I don’t know how to panic buy.
The NHS is still holding up and my hospital in particular is in a stable position. While there are now 11 confirmed cases (which now just means 11 known in a hospital) in Norfolk, Norwich has seen a proactive response and has devised a strict visitors system. In a hospital, its hard to banish all visitors; you can’t stop people from saying goodbye to their dying relatives. Especially the patients in palliative care. But we seem to be managing, as far as I’m aware at least. We also have more face mask in stock (The high durability ones I mentioned last week) so out PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) has improved and is reassuring a lot of the staff. As a theatre department, we haven’t had much involvement from Covid-19 infected patients yet which is a relief but we are getting constant training on how to deal with a situation should an emergency come crashing through the door.
It has also been announced that recently returned doctors and nurses will be asked to come back to work in an effort to boost our working numbers. It’s a bold moved from the government but I’m not sure what I would do. On one hand, you’re helping the NHS. We are stronger together. On the other hand, people who have retired are 55+ and in the more vulnerable category if infected. If these staff members catch the virus and require medical help, then the NHS becomes even weaker.
The decision to cancel all operations apart from emergency surgery and cancer cases has helped us and eased the work load. This gives us time to prepare. Attend additional training and learn how to work machines we wouldn’t normally need to use such as ventilators. Sadly, however, this means when things return to normal, there will be a massive back log of breaching patients and I bet the government won’t change their ’54 week’ policy…
As a department, we have always been light hearted and relaxed (unless the situation call otherwise). You have to be to work in healthcare. The stuff you see on a day to day basis… it takes a certain kind of person. So we often joke and have fun when we aren’t busy. That’s changed this week. My once lively department now has a horrible dark thunder cloud looming over it. There is this knowing feeling. Knowing that its almost inevitable that we will catch this virus at some point. It’s too hard to avoid, especially in a hospital. You can’t exactly practice social distancing in my line of work and while I can wash my hands until the bones are exposed, it just takes one cough or sneeze and boom, your infected. It’s the unknowing that gets me. I could be infected. I could be in the incubation phase and still working with vulnerable patients who haven’t got it. But due to a lack of tests and a three day turn around for results, there’s too much time to waste. I got in to my career to save lives and I can’t express the burden I feel when I think I could be jeopardising those lives.
In my world, I’ve turned off from coronavirus. Obviously I’m doing all I can to help prevent the spread of it but if I think about what could happen. Who I could lose to this… It’s not worth thinking about. This has always been my coping mechanism. I shake my head, get rid of the thought and carry on walking. What else can we do?
I follow the News everyday, I have for years, and with the BBC providing live updates, my phone is constantly switched on. One thing that keeps getting published is the amount of negative swap results. This absolutely infuriates me. It implies that if you are negative on the 21st March 2020, that you won’t catch it. That isn’t true and is a miss leading data to throw out there into the media. Negative swabs mean nothing. It just means 3 days ago, you weren’t infected but you could have caught that virus the moment you left the test point.
Something else that’s been niggling at me. The death count. This is more about peoples perception. As I type this, the death toll in England is 220. These deaths are people who had Covid-19. However, Covid-19 might not have caused their deaths. If you had a liver transplant a few days ago, you’re immune system is already weakened. There is always a chance such a major operation could kill you. What I’m trying to say is that we don’t know what killed these people. For some of them, it will have been respiratory failure caused by pneumonia caused by coronavirus. However some of these people may have already been in palliative care for another reason, died and it happened that they had the virus. It might not have manifested and some people infected with Covid-19 only have mild symptoms. I understand that the media, WHO and the NHS is trying to be transparent but there are more things to consider.
It’s an interesting time to be alive. The world outside is very quiet. A ghost town. It almost doesn’t feel real. It’s as if we are part of a movie… Contagion, perhaps.