By: Zehra Shafi
Srinagar: For four years in his service as a doctor at SK Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS), Tauqeer Anjum Mir, has seen the scenes of life and death very closely. However, the death of a man and the shrieks of his child, has left an indelible scar on his heart and mind and continues to give him sleepless nights.
It was a bright afternoon in April this year, says the senior resident working with the department of anaesthesia, when the eerie silence around the Intense Care Unit (ICU) was broken by a loud scream. In the sound of ventilators, the sobs of a child standing next to the corpse of his 35-year-old father went unheard. A group of doctors and paramedics were trying to comfort the little soul that everything is going to be fine.
“The boy seemed to be waiting for a miracle to happen. With tearful eyes, he was pleading before doctors to revive his dead father. It was a moment I can never forget,” recalls Dr Tauqeer.
“Witnessing deaths makes one vulnerable. It is very emotional to bid last goodbye to those who are close to your heart and for me it has become an everyday story since Covid-19 hit the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir last year,” he adds.
After the hospitals were swamped by the first wave of deadly coronavirus, doctors at SKIMS were assigned duties, sometimes even a 24*7 shifts. Initially, there was less awareness about the disease, so there was less panic among people. But once cases started soaring, the doctors started feeling the intensity of the deadly disease.
“Last year, maximum patients recovered but this year, it is worse. Young people, in their 30s and 40s, are dying. Earlier, we did not take it very seriously because the disease was new and we had little knowledge about it. But now we understand the gravity of the situation,” Dr Tauqeer said.
Around 100 to 150 come out positive everyday at the hospital’s covid clinic and most of them are either critical or have serious complications. The frequent complaint registered by patients is shortness of breath, fall in the oxygen saturation level, uncontrollable fever and cough.
“Kashmir is already a troubled state and covid has increased the anxiety among people. Frequent lockdowns have affected the mental health of people at a large scale. And in these times, it is very important to stay sane,” Dr Tauqeer said.
“Mental health is very important and stressful jobs add to it. And ours is society that doesn’t understand the expression of appreciation. Even if you do your best, people will still criticise you and it becomes easier when we talk about doctors,” he added.
J&K has recorded 263905 coronavirus cases and over 3500 deaths since the outbreak of pandemic last year. The fresh spike in cases since March this year has prompted J&K administration to impose a strict lockdown across all the twenty districts of the union territory.
Dr Tauqeer, who has been working relentlessly, hardly gets time for anything. His shift starts at 10am in the morning and sometimes it ends very late. He gets 50 to 100 calls every day and in emergency cases, the phone rings even in the middle of the night.
“Catering to attendants, answering their queries is very challenging and it exhausts you mentally and emotionally as well. Sometimes, they ask such questions that I feel numb. I am not even able to console them and it makes me sad,” Dr Tauqeer said.
He further said that “sometimes the condition of patients is such attendants get tired emotionally and it heavily weighs on their minds. They are ready to let their loved ones go.”