The surge of the delta variant of the novel Coronavirus is upon us. Normally summertime conjures up images of vacations and sunshine and barbecues with loved ones. Everyone’s eyes are usually bright and brimming with excitement. Unfortunately, we are seventeen months into the Covid-19 pandemic and it feels exactly like we were back in March 2020.
I have gone through all the stages of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’ model of grief in 2020. And again in 2021.
Denial: This isn’t happening. It’s not that bad and it will get better soon.
Bargaining: If everyone wears a mask, we can overcome this together. I’ll wear my mask for you and you wear your mask for me.
Depression: What’s the point anymore? Can I just stay in bed all day?
Acceptance: I will wear a mask every flu season for the rest of my life.
The stage that I find myself at right now is Anger.
I am certainly not perfect, but my family and I eliminated all travel and holiday gatherings last year. We wear our masks everywhere. We got vaccinated. I can count on one hand the number of times we have met up with friends in a socially distanced manner. My hands are cracked and scaling from the copious amounts of handwashing and hand sanitizing. Just when it finally began to feel like we were making headway with Covid-19 numbers and dared to start venturing out, we are now faced with a virus more contagious than last year.
Somehow I wrongfully assumed that everyone cared about beating the pandemic. How naive of me. The calls are coming in. Sore throat, body aches, sniffles, fatigue, cough. Most people chose not to get vaccinated.
I have missed birthdays. I have missed anniversaries, including my own. I have worked countless additional shifts. Was all the sacrifice fruitless?
The delta surge is here and worse than the first.
I find it challenging not to be ANGRY that people still think this is a joke. I find it challenging not to be ANGRY that people are not heeding the advice of epidemiologists and infectious disease specialists. I find it challenging not to be ANGRY at the utter failure of the handling of this pandemic at a government level. Everyone thinks they are the exception. It is hard not to be ANGRY at the bad decisions made by people who choose to ignore the warnings and endanger the people around them. Does anyone acknowledge that every choice they make bears consequences?
My hospital is filling back up. The majority of our Covid-19 cases are unvaccinated. The backup teams have been put on standby. We all have worked beyond our contracted duties to try to get through the backlog and now the surge.
I took an oath, yes, but how long can I last? How long can any physician last working back-to-back blocks and multiple weekends per month staring death in the face multiple times per day and calling family members with bad news?
I cannot recall a more divisive time in my lifetime. With so much misinformation available on the Internet, it is easy to choose the side that resonates and find the evidence to support alleged views. I am not old enough to have lived through the Civil War, suffrage, or the Vietnam War. These were considered divisive times. Ironic that the division now is between choosing to believe that the current “enemy,” a mere sixty to one hundred nanometers in size, invisible to the naked eye, is real or not despite 618,000 Americans dead. The vaccines have been rolled out and demonstrated to be safe, and the current division is still whether to vaccinate or not.
As for me, I witnessed firsthand the havoc caused by the novel Coronavirus, not just the acute illness but the post-Covid long haul symptoms too. I assure you it is real. I survived life without measles and polio, and I am grateful to be vaccinated.
The experience of this pandemic will ever-so-vividly remain etched in my memory for the rest of my life. It will be interesting to see what historians have to say about this time in one hundred years. I hope we can all unite for the common good and turn this history around.
#IGotVaccinated #ImVaccinated #CovidVaccine #VaccinesWork #VaccinesSaveLives #CancelCovid #HealingStartsHere #Coronavirus #Covid19
Uzma Khan, MD, is a practicing Internist and a Women in White Coats writer’s fellow. She blogs about medicine, money and life at http://www.meandmystethoscope.com/, and she can be found on Facebook Uzma Khan, MD, Instagram @uzmakhanmd and Twitter @uzmakhanmd