One of my colleagues in the hospital at which I work recently retired, and the reason he closed up shop was the pandemic. I was shocked, as he was still quite young and in the prime of his career. Indeed, Covid has forced many physicians to leave the field for good.
I won’t lie, during the height of the pandemic, leaving bedside clinical practice crossed my mind. As the darkness of Covid-19 surrounded me, as the death and destruction suffocated me, I also asked myself whether I should close up shop and do something else.
Indeed, there are other things I can do in healthcare that don’t involve risking my life day in and day out with Covid-19. Yet, I never went through with it. The call to the bedside was just too strong.
Ever since I was a young boy, I’ve only ever wanted to be a doctor. It’s all of which I’ve ever dreamed. When I applied to medical school, all the odds were working against me, and when I got the notification of my acceptance (off the waiting list, I might add), it was one of the happiest moments of my life.
And so I’ve tried to never take my being a doctor for granted. I try to live a life of gratitude for being chosen for this profession each and every day. And when the thought of leaving did enter my mind, it was quickly eliminated because, I just can’t see myself doing anything else.
I enjoy taking care of patients too much. I enjoy battling the pathophysiology of critical illness too much. I enjoy being able to watch patients come near death and make it out alive and well too much.
Now, it’s not like I haven’t seen death before. I’m an ICU doctor. I see death all the time. With Covid, it’s different.
Covid has brought a scale of death and destruction I’ve never seen before. Never before have I taken care of patients with such a contagious illness that has made me terrified of getting it or — much worse — bringing it home to my family. Never before have I seen an illness that literally tortures its victims to a painful and horrible death. Covid has changed me as a Physician forever.
But Covid has not beaten me down to the point of actually leaving the bedside. The call is just too strong.
No doubt, as the Summer comes to an end, and the Fall and Winter set in, I am scared of a resurgence. I am scared that we will get overwhelmed once again with patient after patient after patient with frightening illness. I am scared that we will, once again, face the darkness we faced in the Spring. That fear is constant, and it’s a menace that pervades everything I do.
But the call to the bedside is just too strong. The call to care for the sick is just too strong. The call to witness the Healing of the Lord is just too powerful to ignore.
Perhaps one day, things may change and I will leave the bedside once and for all. Perhaps one day, I will hang up my scrubs once and for all. Today is not that day. That’s because, the call to the bedside is just too strong.