Dr. Emily Landrum
2021 was supposed to be our start to a COVID free year. We’re barely halfway through the year and cases are at an all-time high. How can this be? We thought we had it under control. People said it was “over.” Many of us had hopes of return to “normal” in many ways. I had started carefully eating out again, going to the gym and I even caught the good ole normal stomach bug at 2-year-old birthday party. Many people were exited to travel with less apprehension and not wear a mask quite as much. I was really enjoying connecting with people in person again and feeling like my clinic was back to what it used to be in many ways. All of these things were made possible by the vaccine, until the delta variant came along. As many have stated recently the delta variant is a pandemic of the unvaccinated. COVID reignited itself in the large number of unvaccinated individuals, and, because of its severity and ease of transmission, it began to spread into some of the vaccinated.
All of the control we thought we had gained was ripped away. Instead of not being prepared from a supply standpoint it’s our mental capacities that aren’t prepared. Not to mention the shortages we’re experiencing in the workforce. For doctors and many other medical professionals, the beginning of the pandemic was exciting. It elicited a feeling of guiding and caring for people in the midst of something new and complex. We got to exercise our brains a bit more, learn on the go and try to guide people when they were scared. As doctors, I think we like this; not because it’s a pandemic, but because we feel we can make a positive impact on helping so many people. We, as doctors and as a society, made so many changes and adjustments to our day to day lives—many had to stay home, learn how to do things virtually, and going to the grocery store was a whole new experience. We all made sacrifices to make things safer for others and try to flatten the curve for the greater good.
Now we, as doctors, are just begging people to take our advice to get vaccinated, wear masks, distance, and wash hands. It’s the same trauma we experienced last year, but worse because we as a society haven’t seemed to learn from our past even though it is so recent. Doctors and other medical professionals are growing apathetic as we feel things spiral out of control. There are times it’s becoming hard to take care of our patients, as it seems many patients don’t want to care for themselves. The care we provide is difficult not only because we are burned out, but we ultimately don’t have a guaranteed treatment that works for everyone. The treatments we have (dexamethasone and remdesivir) give some benefit, but we never know who they may work for and who they may not. Many patients still think medications like hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin are needed, but they have shown no benefit and may even be harmful. Despite how difficult this has become we march on and continue to stay true to our oath. Doctors are burned out and running on fumes while the embers of the pandemic reignite and spread like wildfire. Be patient with us as we try to gain control and care for those with COVID and those without COVID, those who are vaccinated and those who are not, and ultimately care for ourselves so we can continue in our care for others. Be kind, get vaccinated, wear a mask, wash your hands, keep your distance and seek out monoclonal antibody treatment if you get COVID.