I can vividly recall memories of my final exam 10 years ago at Ife medical school, where I was asked why I wanted to be a doctor and my answer was because I wanted to impact and save lives. For those who opt for a career in medicine driven by financial gains, its more than just a job. Its a vocation. It’s a real, guttural calling that cannot be articulated as you always strive to do good, not harm, and provide a duty of care to your patients.
I proudly accepted my medical degree, I know there would be some tough times when I would need to make some challenging decisions but never did I think my job could put me in a position where I could potentially risk people’s lives, that of my family or even mine. Fast forward to the present day, I found myself amongst other medical professionals and healthcare workers in the frontline fighting an unseen enemy COVID-19. A few weeks ago at the onset of the pandemic in Nigeria, I was recruited along with a selected few as frontline workers to manage COVID-19 infected patients admitted into the isolation center in LUTH.
Our level of anxiety was equally as high as our patients knowing fully well how contagious and transmittable the virus could be. Our days at the isolation center were full of memories, one day was overwhelming with so much, this day 20th of April 2020 at about 5 am a middle-aged man was rushed in by the response team presenting with acute symptoms of COVID which were fast breathing, restlessness, altered sensorium, low blood pressure, reduced oxygen saturation level with a positive history of recent travels to a country with the epidemic. History revealed, symptoms started 5 days ago and it was been managed at home however his conditions got worse that they had to seek help.
Of course, we all had to gear up in our protective equipment and resuscitation commenced with no further delay. His clinical conditions deteriorated despite giving oxygen via a face mask so we had no choice than to place him on a ventilator pushing pure pressurized oxygen into his lungs. After a few hours, his vital signs gradually returned to normal while all guidelines and protocols were strictly adhered to. The man was fortunate to recover from the deadly virus after receiving treatment for at least 21 days at the isolation center.
The incidence of COVID in Nigeria in the past few weeks has taught us that we are all going to face adversity at some point but how we deal with it matters most. Also, it teaches us that we can find glimmers of hope even in your darkest hours. Over 800 health workers have gotten infected since the onset of the pandemic, to reduce transmission among health workers, continuous training on infection prevention and control must be provided.