Letter from the edge

"When you're weary, wary and worn"



Crisis, whether personal or societal, has a way of bringing out the best and the worst in people.

They are chronicled in best-selling books like that of soldiers from the war zones hailing their heroic deeds, or their moments in rehab centers for relief from post-traumatic stress. Or those of mothers or family members caring for loved ones battling sickness or depression.

There are also songs and meditations of those struggling with broken homes, trauma and the pain of life, as some writers have called these encounters. Others have become adaptations turning out in plays, movies or even homilies.

Indeed, time and again, the public finds itself drawn back to reality, say, by the simple and realistic narrative of an autobiography masked as fiction. One such was "Postcards From the Edge" - the highly acclaimed and commercially successful semi autobiography of the actress and author Carrie Fisher of Star Wars fame. In the book, Fisher, the daughter of Hollywood royalty, details the struggle of Suzanne Vale, a movie actress putting her life together after a drug overdose. The heart-wrenching book was so candidly simple that Hollywood and the public realized the draining effects of drugs and the joy of getting back on track, as it were, after the fall.

I am sure our experience with COVID-19, the invisible enemy which has turned our lives and that of the rest of the world upside down, will soon become the subject of similar undertakings - letters, books, homilies, plays, songs, meditations and other forms of expressions - not to mention scientific papers and treatises. This early we have been seeing traces of such initiatives. One such is the lamentation of a young doctor at the forefront of the "war versus Covid 19" in the form of a letter/message to a friend which so realistically details the thoughts of a dedicated but "weary, wary and worn" medical warrior.

Here's that letter:

“Three weeks ago, my wife showed me an online article saying that by the end of this COVID-19 pandemic, medical doctors will be tired of their profession and will seek more satisfying (probably more lucrative too) jobs.”

"At that time, I shrugged it off as nonsense, as most doctors (including yours truly) go into this profession as a calling and with tons of passion for it. Personally, I've never seen myself as anything but, so in essence, this is what I grew up wanting to be, and this is what I ended becoming.”

"It's just one big hullabaloo. This pandemic will be over in time, and us doctors will be better appreciated after. Yeah, right.”

"Five months after this pandemic started in Wuhan and a little over two months since Enhanced Community Quarantine (now that's a mouthful) was declared, we are, by no means at all, much closer to finding a solution to it all. But that's okay.”

"For those in the know, or for those who actually give a f**k, the whole stay-at-home order and this quarantine whiznit was never meant to be a solution to the problem. It was meant to buy health officials enough time to come up with something, with the least number of infections possible, and consequently, fewest number of deaths. Ideally.”

"So, yeah, while we haven't exactly flattened the curve, the good news is that...well, there is no good news. Our economy is, pardon the language, in a sh*thole. But who cares, it was headed there anyway, with our incompetent leaders (I'm being polite, by the way). It was destined for that, with China waiting in the wings to be our 'savior.'”

"Our health care system is on life support. But who cares. Doctors, after all, were useless. remember? 'Salita nang salita wala namang ginagawa, complain ng complain. Our government is leaving us out on our own. But who cares. They get VIP testing, mananitas, “human compassion” and other entitlements. All while we barely get through the days at home or at work. Frankly, that's the exhausting part."

"Never mind this virus cloud hanging over our collective heads. Never mind the lack of PPEs for health care workers. Never mind the alarming rates of infection and deaths of nurses, doctors, allied medical professionals. Never mind the endless stream of patients painstakingly waiting for their test results to come out. It's fine. We can handle these things."

"It's the ineptitude, the callousness, the stupidity, the insensitivity, the sense of entitlement of our government and health care leaders that's burning us out. Burning everyone out. The doctors, nurses, bank employees, supermarket staff, drivers, delivery guys, etc. All the little guys. I am proud to be a doctor. Always have been, always will be."

"I am proud to work alongside nurses, pharmacists, nursing aides, utility workers and other hospital staff. These people work day in, day out, night in, night out, not just to collect another paycheck. It's because this is what we swore to do - serve and care for patients, regardless of color, creed, affiliation. The thing is...I'm beginning to distance myself from the profession I swore to. "

"Yesterday, I declined to take an emergency case at one of the hospitals I'm affiliated with, despite it not conflicting with anything on my schedule. It's the first time I have ever done that. For the first time in six plus years of being an anesthesiologist I was not excited to do what I do best. And it was because I have grown weary, wary and worn."

"Weary from the sh*t that we've been subjected to by the very people we pay to serve us (such as high taxes, all for naught). Wary of this virus that has killed some close friends and colleagues, and a constant threat to the well being of my family. Worn from just being a doctor, a healthcare worker. "

"I'd never thought the day would come when I would have second thoughts about being one. Those who know me well know that the operating room is my happy place. It's called work, but I like to call it act. This OR is where I'm comfortable and it's where I work my magic and do what I am good at."

"I pride myself in coming to my ORs prepared, punctual and passionate about what I do. I come locked in and ready to go. I always tell my residents. Be excited about coming to the OR. Learn from every patient, every case you do. Treat each procedure as a learning experience."

"Because that's what I live by, being excited about going to work, because it's an opportunity to better myself at my craft, a chance to learn and become more. But for a confluence of reasons, yesterday, I wasn't up to it. I never thought I'd see the day when I was unmotivated to go to work. Maybe it was fear, maybe it was fatigue, maybe it was just f**k, you know?"

" At the start of this rant (that's all I'm good at these days, it seems), I mentioned about my wife telling me about that article saying that doctors will want to get out of this profession when the COVID-19 dust settles. Sure, I brushed if off then, but you know what? Maybe the article was right. Maybe. "

" Do I still want to be a doctor when all of this ends? It's the only thing I know how to be, and yet, the very nature of me having second thoughts about it is..disturbing to me. Like I said. Worn out. Weary. Wary in whatever order you want. It's not the virus that's going to kill us. It's the stupidity of people tasked with leading us. F**k."

"If you're still reading this, then man, I think you'll agree with me that it has gotten pretty depressing real quick. I am speaking as a physician, but I'm sure other professions out there are feeling the exact same thing about their work. Nothing too big, nothing too small."

"Weary. Wary. Worn."

"I'm trying to thank of some happy anecdotes or some insightful ideas right now that can flip this narrative into something upbeat and inspiring, but nothing's coming to me. It's hopeless. Then again, I guess that's the sad reality of the state of our lives here in this country. Hopelessness. "

"So to everyone out there who's working and trying to fend for themselves in this time of crisis, hats off to you. Hang in there. Survive. Like my wife says, at least we're alive."

Topics: Jonathan Dela Cruz , Postcards From the Edge , Carrie Fisher , Suzanne Vale
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