Internal Medicine Hospitalist Physician, Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights
To better understand the context of working with Covid patients I’ll back up a little to cover the last few months of 2019. After many fulfilling years, I had the luxury of becoming pregnant. While this is a powerful moment for everyone, this specific life cycle change meant a huge deal to my mother and I. She had a renewed bout of cancer spread after many years of a quite nervous stillness. Elan was born right before Chanukah, which is appropriate for the ICJA Chanukah campaign. My mother and him held a very special bond. He brought tears down her face, and a sparkle to her tired eyes.
As Covid plodded from overseas, healthcare workers became aware of the impending doom. We began self isolating from my mother in advance of the city orders. We feared that we might bring Covid close to her, which would surely end her life.
As it happened, my hospital had the second and third cases in Illinois, and that sealed the deal for seeing her in person and being close enough to hug. It was a very complex decision with few even understanding the implications at that time, but as we all know now it was necessary. Nevertheless, shortly after the US went into its first lockdowns she succumbed to her illness. We were devastated. After she passed, we had one of the first of the abnormal shiva zooms. We await a time when we can have a true memorial that is meritorious of her monumental life.
It was with that heavy heart that I stepped back to my hospital to work with Covid patients. By that time, my hospital had created new floors dedicated to Covid, a task force to scramble to obtain personal protective equipment (PPE), track numbers, and the ever changing environment. Methodologies and treatments were adjusted often, and information on where things were headed changed weekly.
It was a battlefield of chaos, with tactics involving medications, equipment, diagnostic modalities, and more coming in from all sides. We always opted to treat the human first, with goals such as stabilizing, removing pain, and communicating with fearful families over digital means.
While the idea of bringing home the disease to my newborn, husband, and grieving family was complicated I needed to be back on the floor with my patients. No one really knew how things spread, what worked, and everything I did was focused under the lens of family healing, a huge loss, and community social-ness around Purim in the ebb and flow of information.
Elan pulled me through, keeps me strong, and is a large part of my well-being. Everyday I get a bit of quarantine-esque uninterrupted time to be with him and watch him grow. He is now on the cusp of taking his first tentative steps, and I am thankful that we could be together so much for his first year of growth. It would have been just what my mother would have wanted. That is, to create a strong bond early on, just as she had, which can carry us far into the future.