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October 29, 2020

Awaiting COVID-19 — Reflections from the Frontline.

As a Junior Doctor on the soon-to-be frontline, it feels like I’m preparing for a war I didn’t sign up for, one I was too naïve to believe could occur during my career.

I’m currently living the scene where the enemies are near but remain invisible. There’s a palpable sense of panic for what comes next. The frontline is hyper-vigilant. We await the advance of our enemy.

In the films, the suspense lasts seconds. For us, it’s lasted weeks.

At the time of writing this, there’s yet to be a significant number of affected patients at my hospital. The wards are breeding grounds for anxiety and paranoia — our colleagues and patients are all potential carriers.

I’m usually a hopeless optimist, but lately, everything I see, hear or do has been underlined by an eerie undertone of fear. Fear for my friends, family and our extended loved ones. Fear for myself.

Even in the comfort of home, the spring sun glaring and the birds chirping, the quiet outside doesn’t sound the same.

Here’s what’s been on my mind lately:

At the end of this, the NHS needs a big hug

If you’ve never had the time to reflect on how important the NHS is to us, use quarantine as your chance.

Without having worked in the NHS, it’s difficult to internalise the spectrum of daily struggles that our workforce faces.

One truth remains, however: no matter how destined the NHS is to drown, those that champion it will keep it afloat.

If the NHS was already on its knees, it’ll be left beaten and bloodied by the end of this ordeal.

Our hospitals are already gearing up to echo untold horror stories.

When all this is over, the NHS needs a big hug from us all.

Flowers blooming in adversity

It’s not all doom and gloom.

Whilst the world concerns itself with a new-found discovery of survival instinct and its effect on toilet roll supply, it misses the opportunity to focus on flowers blooming amongst the adversity.

When something shakes up the status-quo, we get to see aspects of the human character that we don’t see everyday.

And my personal highlights have come from the frontline.

In the past week, I’ve had conversations with nurses about their God, fears and families. I’ve witnessed doctors offer each other accommodation and I’ve been taught a lesson on courage from elderly consultants who stepped up for the “privilege to serve our communities”.

Difficult times breed beautiful moments, keep an eye out for them.

Tech for good

Amidst supermarket chaos, schools closing and businesses on pause, I’ve been attempting to keep a watchful eye on how companies (both big and small) adapt and help others.

It’s made me reflect on the following:

1 - Technology builds bridges

UberEats brings us food. Zoom keeps our business meetings on schedule. Amazon delivers items to our doorstep. The internet keeps us connected to the world from home.

Today is a stark reminder for those who distrust technology that in times like these, it can be a lifeline.

More importantly, if you leave behind tech, it might do the same to you.

2 - Big problem, big solution, big gratitude

Digital companies (such as those facilitating virtual classrooms) are giving away their products for free, gaining a wealth of new users and well-deserved public support.

By opportunistically addressing an exaggerated pain point, these companies are sure to reap future dividends in the form of loyal, paying customers.

Good deeds are contagious, too

Alongside all the things we hope to repel using our excessive use of hand gel, I hope that some things contagious will remain.

One good deed that quickly went viral on social media was a note that we could offer to our elderly neighbours, expressing all the ways we’d be willing to help during their time in isolation.

Another was the contagious marketing campaign from Pret A Manger. By offering free drinks to all NHS staff, we couldn’t help but feel obliged to share the touching offer on social media. It was such a wholesome and well-received campaign that almost every competitor shortly followed suit.

Good marketing makes you buy. Great marketing makes you feel.

There’s no doubt that these good deeds will create stories worth telling for years to come.

Amongst all the chaos, there’ll be other stories worth telling.

Let’s shine a spotlight on the positive ones.

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Every week, I write about self-development, meaningful living and all things that matter.
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