During the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, a doctor and a respiratory therapist recount a night in an Edmonton ICU.
Dr. Raiyan Chowdhury works at the Royal Alexandra Hospital as a critical care expert.
Just hours before a Friday interview with Global News, he concluded his shift at the ICU.
“A COVID-19 patient’s typical story is that their symptoms began one day…seven days ago.
“They were attempting to cope at home, but things became so awful, such as shortness of breath, that they sought medical help. It’s fairly quick from there.”
Chowdhury said the patients with COVID-19 he is seeing during the fourth wave are younger and deteriorating more quickly while in hospital.
“Within 12 hours they need [five times] their oxygen level. Then, very quickly, getting put on life support,” he said. “When we put someone on life support we sedate them and often have to paralyze them. Then all sorts of invasive procedures follow.”
For example, Chowdhury said a patient Thursday night required a “cardiopulmonary bypass.”
“That means we are putting huge hoses in people’s necks to oxygenate their blood,” he said. “They have never had any interaction with the health-care system before and now they are facing death in their 20s and 30s. That’s heartbreaking.”
The doctor said many of the procedures are “torturous.”
“We’re stopping care on people when it has become futile. When (someone is on a ventilator) and you’re doing that to them and there’s no improvement and a continuous decline, you run into a moral dilemma. Should I keep doing this to someone if you know they can’t pull through?”
During Chowdhury’s shift, a man in his 40s with COVID-19 had to be placed back on a ventilator after recently being removed from it. He said before the hospital staff did that, they asked if the patient wanted to see his parents.
Instead, the patient sent a text to his family. Chowdhury said the man detailed his funeral rights to his parents, apologized for putting them in this situation, and thanked them for giving him a wonderful life.
Cara Moffat often starts her ICU shift with heart break.
The registered respiratory therapist said she recently spent a majority of her shift with a young mother who would eventually die from COVID-19 after spending days under care.
“It’s a lot of regret from patients. I would say the majority of patients regret not being vaccinated,” Moffat said. “It’s like Russian roulette. Maybe your friend didn’t get sick. Maybe your uncle had a mild case of COVID. But for you? You don’t know.”
Chowdhury and Moffat both recommend that Albertans get immunized.
“As an intensive care doctor, no one I know who has been vaccinated in the ICU has required any big interventions from me. That’s just the way things are,” Chowdhury explained.
Because most Albertans haven’t had to be admitted to the ICU, Moffat said it’s difficult to express the gravity of the problem to them.
“We’re seeing things that the rest of the world isn’t seeing. Allow us to be your eyewitnesses. Moffat responded, “Let us tell you what’s really going on.”
“I hope Albertans hear these stories,” says the author. They go out and get their immunization when they notice the situation growing worse.”
Source_ The Canadian Press