A Junior Doctor's Perspective -- Part 5

Nestled within what is often a narrative of uncertainty, fear, sadness and loneliness, are moments of humanity and love. There is an enormous sense of reward in witnessing patients, whom you have helped care for, recover. The kindness of strangers is extraordinary: neighbours of my consultants are baking delicious treats, and beautiful handmade creams have been donated as gifts to the hospital. The Thursday celebrations are touching in all their forms - cheers, resounding horns, wooden spoons clanging against saucepans, fireworks in the sky. There is a very well-dressed elderly gentleman who lives across the road from me: he stands proudly in his front garden each week at 8pm, using various kitchen utensils to beat against his saucepan, often remaining outside even when the rest of the clapping has died down until the clatter of his single saucepan is the only note that lingers on in the empty street. I try to hold on to this image.

These things sustain hope, and show that it is still possible to weave threads of connection with others in spite of social distancing and in these peculiar and distressing times.

PPE

Masks, gloves, aprons, hair masks, goggles

Claustrophobic heated breath inhaling and exhaling

Moist stale air pooling and circulating, never being replenished

Stocks diminishing within hours

Entering battles unarmed

Panic and anxiety rising and falling, rising and falling

Tightrope-like material scouring and scraping delicate ear cartilage

Polypropylene and non-woven fabric curving over the nose and constricting it

Etching grooves into the nose where they remain

Telling a tale of defence and building walls

Cold impassive faces looming before patients

Smiles relegated to the past

A sea of masked faces around tables

Jolts of fear shooting down frazzled nerves when someone edges closer than they should

Invisible droplets swirling around the contaminated air seeping into nasal cavities

Hands forbidden from touching faces

Hands washed abrasively with ruthless rigour

Hard grainy skin mapping hard grim moments

Sky blue scrubs billowing and blustering around the wards

Shivering flesh clothed by jarring fluorescent lighting

Haunting harsh eerie yellow unforgiving lighting

Bathing scenes of death and loss and recovery and loneliness and hope and love and tenderness and warmth

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