An ER doctor's poignant first-hand account of coming home to her young children after losing a patient to COVID19.
There is a global heightened awareness right now about protecting yourself. Which mask do you use? Places and people to avoid? Disinfectants? There are resources constantly discussing these topics. As an Emergency Medicine physician I am a #frontlineworker. I don’t have the luxury of avoiding high-risk transmission areas. In fact, I sprint towards them. I recently lost a patient due to suspected #COVID19. The patient and I had a lot of similarities: age, both had children...and although we never spoke I felt like I knew her. In the midst of trying to save her I kept praying. And when we knew that death would be inevitable - the entire female team taking care of her paused to pray. Then we hugged each other (with all our PPE on). We had to break news to family then continue seeing patients.
When my shift was over I drove home in silence. I thought about my patient and how this is likely the worst day ever for the family. I thought about my family. I thought about my parents who both are deceased and what they would advise me on in this moment. I thought about all the things I want to do while I am still alive. And what legacy I would leave for my children and community.
I parked the car and started the decontamination process. I texted my husband that I was home to make sure he kept the kids occupied in another room so they wouldn’t be tempted to jump on me, celebrating their mommy coming home. I entered my laundry room and disrobed my COVID19 clothing into the washing machine and put my robe on. I then took a shower - washing my hair and body twice just in case any COVID particles lingered.
I took a minute to pray while the water was beating on my face. I cried. I prayed for my family. I prayed for my patient’s family. I decontaminated my brain of the trauma of the day.
I got dressed and ready for bed. I am thankful for being alive although I was witness to someone’s last breath just hours before. I am thankful that for all that I have. For all of you reading this. I am thankful for my patient and all she has taught me without saying a word. And I hope she can continue to teach you as well.
Wash your hands often.
Call your friends and family and tell them you love them.
Be gentle with your frontline workers - we are all working hard and decontaminating daily.
Dr. Hala Sabry