Opinion | Young doctor struggles to survive coronavirus


A few weeks ago, I visited two hospitals in the Bronx to report on the front lines of this pandemic. While I was there, I heard of a young doctor with Covid who was fighting for his life in intensive care. Things weren’t improving. The amount of anger, frustration and sadness that I felt. The idea of ​​losing my son was unbearable. But ultimately he survived. I’m Andres Maldonado and I’m an emergency room doctor here in the Bronx. I am a healthy 27 year old guy. No medical problems. But I got Covid-19. I was so sick that at one point I thought I was going to die. Here is my story, which should be a warning to everyone. I worked mainly during the two weeks when it really started to gain momentum. It was pretty terrible. Stretchers aligned at two or three depths. You had just been called from patient to patient. “I need a vent. “I need a vent. “How many vents do we have? All these questions that we had never considered, never. They begin to ration these N95s. We are in a place where we wear stuff one day at a time, several days at a time. Many of these patients I have met are afraid. I want to be able to help people when they need you most. There was a patient and she coughed right on my face. And that’s where I got scared. What if she had a coronavirus? First day, March 23. It was the middle of the night. I started to feel really horrible chills. But I thought, oh, you know, I’ve been sick like this before. You know, I had a virus. I am young. I’m 27. I’m invincible. You know, nothing can touch me. Day two. When I took a deep breath, it hurt. Day three. Fevers that would reach 102. But I would take Tylenol, and it would be fine. Day four. I talked to my mom. Throughout the week, it was like, what is going to happen, what is going to happen? The fifth day was actually when I went to get tested. Day six, and my coronavirus is positive. Our worst fears were realized. Seventh day. I was pacing in my room and I was just thinking, come on, Tylenol, start working already. It worked a little, but the fever returned two hours later. Day eight. Impossible to finish my sentences without catching my breath. That’s when he clicked, I can’t continue to stay at home. Day nine, March 31. Andres calls me, and he says to me, the first thing is, “Mom, don’t panic. And when he says don’t panic, what do you think I’m going to do? And he said, “I’m going to the emergency room right now. I do not feel good. “And I said,” What’s wrong? “And he said,” I’m out of breath. “I met Mike Jones, our residence manager, inside a tent outside the emergency room. He came to the hospital where I was that day. Every patient with COVID reaches a critical period where you can see that they are headed in the wrong direction. They’re sort of going over that slope of that cliff, heading in the direction where they may need intubation. At least 70% to 80% of patients on respirators died. So we tried very hard to avoid intubation. Everyone who was there knew me. All the nurses, Mike Jones. I personally know Dr. Romo. They were alarmed. Just looking out the window was like I got kicked in the stomach. I ended up writing “we love you” and I stuck it on the window so he could see it. I entered the room and cried. I cried. I wanted to stay strong and support Andres, and not let him see that I was worried. I was terrified. When I walk into the room, I realize that he was breathing faster than before. It was an important moment for me because I was in this position where you see a patient, he was seriously ill. I knew this sense of urgency meant that they were considering more invasive options. We decided that he was getting sicker and that he might need to be intubated. We made the decision to admit him to the intensive care unit. I said, “Call intensive care right now. Let them know he’s coming. I heard Dr. Romo say it should be placed on a high-flow nasal cannula. A device that supplies a large volume and high speed of oxygen to a patient. So we brought it in right away and started the high-flow nasal cannula. The only thought in my head was, please, improve on this. Please work. I woke up in the middle of the night. I heard a lot of commotion outside and people turned on all the lights. I looked at the monitor to check my vital signs, and above you hear … “Quick response. Quick response. They ask additional doctors to point out two rooms to me. She was 25 years old. She kept saying, “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe.” Then she had this cardiac arrest. Her heart stopped. And I was terrified. You know, I thought, it was two doors, and it could have been me. Sometimes you think about what would happen if you died. And then you think of your parents if you die, of the permanent distress they would probably feel. And I didn’t really see my husband crying, and he broke down. I’ve never seen him like that. He got down on his knees and asked God to please save Andres and take him instead of Andres. My father doesn’t do like this. You know, he’s serious. He’s like a soldier. Let me get over it. The idea of ​​losing my son was unbearable. Although I think I can die, I still felt determined to get better. And the way it translated for me and my medical mind was to focus on your breathing. One breath at a time. Think of the air coming in and out. Try to breathe deeply. Makes you cough? OK, take a break. Try again. And then at a magic moment, we turned the corner. What’s up, Andres? Welcome back. Hey, thanks. Sensational. [CHEERING AND APPLAUSE] (SINGING) Andres! Andres! Andres! Andres! Andres! Andres! Andres! Andres! Andres! Andres! I’m completely overwhelmed right now. It’s a victory. Each victory helps us to try to help the next patient get through this ordeal. It was an incredible feeling of triumph. It was like, yes, we did it, we beat it. They saved my life. 24 of our 84 emergency medicine residents came out ill during this crisis. The number of health workers who have died is horrible. All healthcare worker infections are preventable. I really, really believe it. I believe the government has failed everyone. Oh, only 400 died today, not 700 like last week. It’s like, for the love of heaven, we’re talking about human lives. It’s a virus. It will infect you. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, what you do, who you support politically. It does not matter. Please enjoy your life more before choosing to ignore house arrest or quarantine orders, as anyone can get sick.


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