Today, at times, I found that my eyes were leaking.
I saw the increasing numbers of dead in Italy and I realized: This will touch me. People I know will die of COVID-19. It is inevitable…only a matter of time. In general, I believe that I know how to face death. Two of my brothers had died by the time I was three and my father died when I was twelve. My mother and my younger sister have died within the past ten years. I think I manage death philosophically, accepting it as a part of life.
There are articles online that tell us that doctors are making their wills. My will is made – and all the necessary powers – of – attorney are in place. I have a graveyard plot and the rudiments of a funeral set out and paid for. You see, I am managing even my own death. I could do this. I could be philosophical.
Today, however, I read about a doctor in New York City who died, who had no other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) than a garbage bag. Think of this, doctors in New York City, one of the richest cities in the world, one of the richest, best-equipped cities in the United States of America, with highly acclaimed medical training programs and exceptional health professionals, is being brought to its knees by COVID-19.
My eyes are filled with tears, but I am not sad, I am angry.
Like many of my colleagues, my heart is breaking.
But while we feel sad, we mostly feel angry –
After we get past our momentary tears, the limits of our resolution and determination will only increase.
This is what we trained for, this is what we signed on for and we will look after you, even if we have to manage with no more personal protection than garbage bags.
(This is my medical school graduation picture. Like all my classmates, I look different, but inside I am as idealistic and committed as ever. Like all those who graduated with me, before me and after, I still want to be the best doctor I can be.)