It has been a few months since I last wrote a post. The last few post I’ve published were focused on the start of the Covid-19 outbreak in the UK and the start of the lockdown. Several months have passed and the UK is slowly returning to normal, with several restrictions being relaxed. We are now allowed to visit people from different house holds provided we remain 2 meters apart and businesses are beginning to reopen with new measures in place to help reduce any potential contamination. Some schools have even begun resuming lessons. From next week, McDonalds’ across the country will begin to open their drive thru’s and never in my life have I been so excited for a quarter pounder with cheese.
As a whole, Norfolk has seen relatively mild exposure to the virus compared to areas like London or the midlands. As I type this, a total of 377 hospital deaths have been recorded in our region, with 122 being at my hospital. This doesn’t include any community deaths. Despite that, I have seen my fair share of suspected/positive patients. During the peak we were operating on at least one a day. While that might not sound like much, the coronavirus doesn’t necessarily cause illnesses that require an operation so most of these were already ill patients who also happened to be battling Covid.
PPE remains in place for all our operations at the moment however this might change within our elective program as the trust introduces it’s ‘Ultra green’ project. The idea is to swab a patient having a non-urgent operation and ask them to isolate completely for 24hrs/48hrs before their procedure, ensuring that they couldn’t have contracted covid post test. My concern is that we, as staff, could still be asymptotic and pass it on to our patients but until a vaccine is discovered, we are pretty much living in limbo. You’ll be happy to know that visors are now single use (their intended purpose).
The FFP mask that I spoke about previously are still very much our go to mask. Within the first few weeks, we sampled a variety of different models as the demand across the country ballooned. Now, with fewer cases coming to hospitals, we have an abundance of out of date yet passable masks that have left some very unattractive contact burns across my face. I’ve discovered during the pandemic that my skin doesn’t seem to like certain latex-free gloves as within hours of wearing some, my hands were covered in horrible itchy blisters. I’m not sure if I’ve always had this reaction or weather the increase use of them during the crisis has caused some prolonged irritation but it would also explain why the latex-free elastic bands on the FFP masks are marking my face. I’m not complaining. They are itchy and distracting but it’s a small price to pay to prevent this virus spreading.
Over the past few months, my attitude towards this history-making pandemic has changed. I follow the news everyday and while I do think restrictions are being lifted too quickly without time for proper data to come back, I think the initial response (and panic) from the government set fear into everyone I know. Even now, there are still questions that are not being answered; What is really considered an aerosol generating procedure? Doesn’t talking without a mask also spread the disease? Is there any immunity? There is a gap in the true number of covid deaths. Anyone who died while carrying the virus was put into a database and a daily number was fed to the nation. However, not everyone who died, died a covid-19 related death. On the other hand, plenty of people who died during the earlier days of the pandemic were missed as testing had yet been made available to the public. The true number will probably never be known and I find that rather haunting.
It has been a very strange time. We are living in history and our grandchildren and great grandchildren will learn about this in textbooks just like we did with the 1918 pandemic. If you had told me this time last year that the world would be in lockdown, that the UK alone would lose 40,000+ people and that healthcare would be changed forever, I’d never have believed you. It’s a reminder that anything can happen and live each day like it’s your last. While as far as I am aware, I have avoided catching the virus, my heart goes out to everyone who has been effected by it. It’s truly horrible.
Stay safe and social distance.