'We felt like soldiers going to the war front without any ammunition'

timesofindia.indiatimes.com
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India News: A year since the lockdown was imposed on March 21, doctors look back at the emotional cost of the virus At the peak of the pandemic last year, an Engl.
A year since the lockdown was imposed on March 21, doctors look back at the emotional cost of the virus

At the peak of the pandemic last year, an English teacher asked her class of five-year-olds what they missed most during the lockdown. Answers were typical--the outdoors, friends, junk food--until Suralkar spoke up: "I miss hugging my mom."

For several months last year, Shalini Suralkar, consultant physician and rheumatologist at Powai's Dr L H Hiranandani Hospital, had cordoned herself off in a separate room from her two sons. Her eyes water easily at the memory of the teacher sharing the story but, at the time, shedding a tear--even when patients were dying in front of her--was a luxury she could not afford as there was always another in line who needed cheering up.

"We felt like soldiers going to the war front without any ammunition and with no guarantee we would return," says Suralkar, summing up the emotional roller-coaster that the lockdown proved to be for frontline workers.

During the suspense-fraught March-to-June-2020 period when--many panicky showers prefixed and suffixed the healthcare workers' PM-induced national flower shower--the air was hazy with rumours, conspiracy theories and uncertainties and the vision of doctors, foggy from wearing PPE kits in non-air-conditioned wards. Death loomed large, bad news had to be broken often and the cost was both personal as well as professional.

"Take me out of here," some Covid patients would scream in the grip of ICU psychosis, recalls Dr Anita Soni, obstetrician and gynaecologist at Powai's Dr L H…
Sharmila Ganesan Ram
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