From the journal of a Frontline worker
March 21, 2020
Excerpts from the journal of David Wong, a Toronto Anesthesiologist
You have put me in the lowest pit, in the darkest depths. Your wrath lies heavily on me; you have overwhelmed me with all your waves.
Speaking to my doctor friends on the Italian frontline, the situation was dire. Sick COVID-19 patients pouring into hospitals. Healthcare systems were overwhelmed, wartime triage decisions made, and health care workers traumatized.
It must have been agonizing to see ventilators run out causing unnecessary death. We are only behind Italy by about 2 weeks. Surely the tsunami will be coming.
As a frontline anesthesiologist, my job is to intubate the sickest COVID-19 patients experiencing severe hypoxemia. Tracheal intubation is amongst the highest risk procedures; it is aerosol generating, the intubator is within inches from the patient’s mouth, and critically ill patients have the highest viral load. Furthermore, many hospitals don’t have sufficient PPEs and ventilator supplies are limited. I am bracing myself against the coming storm, feeling scared and helpless...
It's at times such as this that we have to remember why we are called into medicine. Was it for security, money, recognition, helping others, or to glorify God?
There will be more difficult times ahead. We will be called upon to serve others by putting ourselves at risk. I may be in a position to make difficult decisions to save some at the expense of the lives of others. I may face traumatizing experience, resulting in sleepless nights and PTSD. Yes, I am scared. But I pray that I can live each day with courage and hope, so that I can be a light and blessing to others.