I had a dream last night. I was at a presidential party, dressed in a beautiful blue ballgown. I was a well mannered guest until the president stood up for a toast, beginning to tout his achievements and proclaiming a win over the pandemic. Shocked, I stood up in the middle of his monologue and started screaming expletives at him like a wild woman. Then suddenly I was sobbing and my screaming became more incomprehensible. While I don’t remember all the details, I can recall parts of my rant: “How could you? You have put us all in this position! Is this how you thank us?” And then I recall him nodding his head at the secret service who promptly escorted me out as I continued my tirade. I woke up with my heart racing wondering what prison would be like.
This isn’t the first pandemic related intrusion into my sleep. I know where this is coming from. I don’t want to be, but I am frustrated and angry some days. Probably too many days now. I believe I am not the only frontline physician in America who feels this way. We have been saying the same thing over and over and over again and there were those who did not want to listen due to the inconvenience of what we were saying.
This isn’t easy for anyone, I acknowledge this — it is nothing short of tragic for the whole of our society. But to be clear we are trying our best and learning as we go, so knowledge around this virus is fluid at best. But as we figure it out, all we want is for everyone to wear a mask. To follow the science. To limit to smaller gatherings. To be patient. To care for one another. But instead here we are now, in a place that we never thought we’d be. Leading the world by thousands in COVID diagnoses and deaths. We are living our worst case scenario despite all the warnings. And this scenario has become the nightmare of many healthcare workers across the country.
This surge around will likely be more about the sheer volume of patients needing medical attention, not necessarily the acuity thanks to advances in care. But all the advances in the world don’t provide more man power. We are human, and as humans our abilities can only stretch so far.