I cried more today than I have in a very long time.
I'm (mostly) able to balance my logical with my emotional self. It keeps me focused. And I felt balanced at the start of my ICU shift last night.
Things started off relatively smooth, the ICU was calm. But that calmness is an aberration during these times. That calmness does not usually apply to the ICU. Nor does calmness apply to my mom, sis, family, friends, and colleagues who care about me and my well-being.
I now get calls or texts daily from Mummy asking if I'm okay, and last night was no different. Some nights I hear her attempting to hold back tears while saying she is proud of me, but that she's scared for me and to make sure I take care of myself. I missed her call last night, so she texted me asking if I was okay. I simply responded: "at work. all good."
But it has been bothering me how much she worries for me nowadays.
I then received this text from my sister not long after Mummy's:
"How are you doing? I don't know what I was dreaming about but I woke up yelling your name. I am worried about you and I love you so much (even if you make me mad sometimes) so please be safe and take care of yourself."
I also texted her back, "all good".
But this time, I found myself choking up a little. My baby sister couldn't sleep because she is so worried about me. And that fucking sucks.
And inevitably, my ICU shift absolutely sucked as well. But not because we didn't function well as a team or practice great medicine or give it our all. We absolutely did.
But it was hard. And the grim reality of the tsunami approaching our NYC shores became readily apparent. And by the end of the night, my mind was a jumble.
And I started to lose my balance.
I shared the difficulties of the night with my colleagues this morning. They were all extremely supportive, including my Chairman, who personally called to ask me how I was doing and to thank me for all the hard work I'm putting in being on the front lines. I told him thank you so much for the call but I am fine.
But I was also numb.
I did not immediately go home because I stayed to do a fit test for a P100 mask, which I'm grateful my institution has made available to us.
But I rushed out after to get home and enacted the same thing I do every time I go home now: strip and shower.
I then plopped myself on the couch. And then poured myself some whiskey. I needed a drink.
I was tired. I was numb. I needed to decompress. And not think.
So I was texting my buddy Arash and told him how well the appraisal for my refinance went. He said I should just sell then and move back to LA. And then I said f-that, I may not even be alive. It honestly started off as a joke in my mind but then my mind continued to type:
"Last night was depressing."
He told me to call him. And over the next 26 minutes and 9 seconds, I was no longer numb. My feelings came back in their entirety.
And I bawled.
Bawled telling him how there are so many patients dying in the ICU. Bawled at how our entire night was running to one rapid response to the next for worsening COVID-19+ patients on the floor to managing decompensating patients in the ICU. Bawled at the young adult who we coded, one younger than me.
And then bawled even more because of how afraid I was during the code for my own life. And how selfish I felt as a result.
And the tears just wouldn't stop. I kept bawling. And shaking. Maybe it was because I was tired. Or a bit tipsy. Or both. But the tears were real.
My friend Rob, who came this morning to drop off some cookies as a thank you for my hard work, can vouch for the above.
My logical self gave way to my emotional self. Because the things I experienced, logic could not explain.
The time has arrived at many NYC hospitals where there is no longer a choice but to deny sick, dying people a breathing tube who are deemed unlikely to survive even if they were to be intubated; where people who have a very low chance of survival will not be coded to the fullest extent; where patients may have their vents transferred to someone else who has a better chance of survival.
DNI and DNR decisions being made by those who never wanted those types of decisions to be theirs in the first place.
Absolutely horrific. And devastating.
My greatest fears have come true. This is happening. This is truly a disaster. We have reached the point of where we have no choice but to direct our resources to those with the greatest chance of survival and benefit to us all.
And just because you don't see it or believe it doesn't make it any less true.
Those touting they live in America, the land of the free, whose arrogance makes them believe they will never be denied the choice of what happens to themselves or a loved one, well, this is your reality check.
But please continue to believe it's fucking hysteria created by the media, even though you can see with your own eyes refrigeration trucks and tents being loaded with body bags.
Please keep gathering in crowds while ironically taking pictures of the Navy ship Comfort, which is specifically here to help battle this crisis you have created.
Please keep denying reality. Keep touting statistics you don't understand as proof this is no big deal. Keep infecting others. And yourself. And your loved ones.
Please bring more people to overwhelmed emergency departments and hospitals where physicians will have no choice but to ration resources based on decisions of who has the highest chance of survival and who does not.
That could be you. It could be a loved one. It could be a complete stranger.
Know your choice could have led to someone who is refused treatment and must now die as a result. Know your choice may have led to someone suffering and dying alone in the hospital. Like the young adult last night.
We'll just keep having to build more makeshift morgues and bringing in more refrigerated trucks.
And if you find out at some point your choice directly led to the death of a loved one, you deserve the guilt you will feel for the rest of your life.
Because the choice you made was stupidity.
And I will not waste one tear on you.
Because I need to save those tears for all those lives that will be lost in the coming days. I need to save those tears for humanity.
But most importantly, I need to save those tears for myself. I won't allow myself to get used to death. Or allow my well of tears to dry up. Or allow the numbness to become permanent.
I refuse to ever lose my humanity. Even if others have lost theirs.