It’s been 125 days since our lives have changed by the current pandemic.
Alone and stuck in my house; can go nowhere… These days are an extrovert’s nightmare and an introvert’s fantasy. I clearly fall into the former category.
I keep asking myself how could this little creature disrupt the entire world?
Well… that’s not it, there’s more to this thought. If a virus can influence a significant change, why can’t I? The pandemic has not only made me realize the capricious idea of life, yet additionally, had made me question my own possibilities.
Nonetheless, with questions come the realizations.
I was quite certain that my family and I are protected. The virus would never make its way to us. Whimsical I was, and confident that My family or I will be fortunate enough to endure this. Viktor E Frankl portrayed the term delusion of deprive, in his book named “Man’s search for meaning” – the book that I am currently reading. As he describes, these expectations were nothing, but an exhibition of my soaring sanguinity combined with the delusional tendencies.
These realizations rose when I become aware of the fact that my grandfather, who happens to live alone in his small apartment, is very sick. I usually used to visit him every week. He is that one individual whom I feel the most connected with. His presence in my life is extremely valuable. Our most enjoyable days were the ones when we used to eat together. No doubts that he’s a big foodie, but he was always delighted with eating with me only, which complemented our conversations just as our bond.
This time when I visited him, he wouldn’t eat or talk.
High-grade fever, dehydration, cold and clammy skin. I assumed that he couldn’t deal with himself all alone given his old age. Never had I imagined that he could have contracted COVID.
With a timeworn face and wrinkled skin, which appeared progressively prominent, and fatigued eyes, he would only request that I let him rest.
How could I let him sleep? How could I let him pass like this? He needed to be treated.
I rushed him to the emergency, thinking that he would just need conservative management and afterward he would have returned to the normal. Nevertheless, does anything seem to return to normal these days? Or would I simply need to adjust to this new normal as well? I contemplated it internally. I had overlooked the fact that this pandemic has influenced different things in various manners, and one such thing was getting admission to a hospital. Anyhow, we survived the hassle and got him the admission. A ray of hope flickered when he began conversing with me. Thus, in the wake of getting all the lab results, my family decided to take him home. But before that, we were advised to get the COVID test done. Even though his condition was stable after initial management, and X-rays were clear, we thought it’s very unlikely to contract COVID, for an aged person, whose exposure is very minimal.
Sigh… things returned to normal for a while… I was happy. The delusion of deprived seemed to return as we all resumed our routines. Until day after, when I was checking his lab results, I got to know that his PCR was positive. He had contracted COVID.
I was devastated.
How could he get that?
How will I save him?
What if I get infected?
What if my mother is already infected?
What if I pass the virus on to my companions?
My mind got all jumbled up with what-ifs… what uncertainties…
Soon after, I took him back to the hospital. However, patients like him were advised to manage at home. Henceforth, we were back once again. The real battle began when each of the family members abandoned him. They were fearful, conscious, worried of touching him, feeding him, and assisting him. They wanted to save themselves and their families which was truly reasonable, but who might then be there for an aged individual, who’s lying on the bed in front of you, absolutely dependent for his activities of daily living?
Has COVID additionally proven to disrupt the bonds that were claimed to be unbreakable?
As I paved my way to unwind these thoughts, I decided to walk a mile in those people’s shoes.
I-An Individual want to stay healthy. I have been attempting to make do in these testing times, and I would prefer not to overburden myself with something that is professed to be destructive.
I-A Daughter can’t see my father in unmeasurable pain and suffering. I want to help him, care for him, but my hands are tied. I am vulnerable in light of the fact that I need to secure my children just like other individuals of my family. Hence, I can’t serve him to the best of my abilities.
I-A Healthcare provider/COVID warrior can’t leave my patient to die. I can’t let him suffer. I can’t see him suffer. Notwithstanding the insurmountable odds, that I face every day while caring for him, I want to do right for him.
I-A Human comprise of the above characters that reside within me. I am uncertain, if or rather when, I will get the infection or I will pass it on to my family/companions. However, it’s undebatable that nothing can get me far from my beloved, in this case, my grandfather. Additionally, a nurse/healthcare provider/COVID warrior, commands my character. Given that, I can’t abandon him like all others.
This pandemic has presented a colossal number of difficulties on one’s physical, social, and psychological health. Nonetheless, the existential threat has always persisted in one way or another. However, this time, it has constrained us to make hard choices like this one:
if the end is near- with whom we like to die? OR whom do we like to save?
Komal is a graduate of The Aga Khan School of Nursing and Midwifery, Karachi, Pakistan. An aspiring public health professional, a nurse entrepreneur, and a writer. Her interests lie in developing innovative and accessible community-based solutions with regard to sexual, reproductive, and mental health. She is currently working in an Innovation and Incubation hub at AKU.