Tuesday, April 08, 2003

How shall I put this delicately. I AM TERRIFIED.

It's official. As of this morning, I felt my first pang of unadulterated fear as I stepped into the hospital. It was confirmed last night on the news that 2 staff nurses here are down with SARS, but both came from the "fever ward", which I never step into. The alarming bit of news came from another source. Guess you've heard about the Filipino nurse from Orange Valley nursing home who's intubated and already diagnosed with SARS, which they say came from an inmate at the home. And this inmate apparently was warded at TTSH recently, and sleeping right next to another patient who has the condition. The inmate in question was subsequently discharged from TTSH, and lo and behold, admitted here a mere 2-3 days later, because she became breathless. She was seen by the geriatric team and treated for both pneumonia and heart failure. Wait, there's more.
Where I come in is on the day the lady died. I was on call, and asked to review her in the afternoon -- it was Saturday, March 29th -- which I did, thankfully with an N95 mask and gloves. She was also seen by the registrar on call, who took the same precautions. This was despite our not really knowing that she was a high-risk candidate for SARS. Really thank God for pushing me into masking up... I later signed her up after her death. But during the call, there were other admissions in that ward, and when I walked around, I didn't wear the mask 100% of the time. Feel kinda stupid about that slip, but it's too late to regret now. 10 days have passed, and all those who took care of her are still okay. Understandably, we're perplexed as to where the nursing home worker got SARS from.

My parents freaked out big-time last night, and were even more anxious today when I confirmed that the patient I reviewed is the one the papers has classified as a "suspect SARS". But life goes on, and all of us turn up for work each day, taking full precautions during rounds, measuring temperatures twice a day -- sometimes thrice. A bit apprehensive about covering the ICU today, but what can any of us do. I definitely know it's my duty as a doctor to carry on as per normal, but can anyone blame us for feeling just a little selfish once in a while? I mean, we're throwing ourselves into the fire and getting burnt, so to speak. I worry about my health not because I don't want to die young, but because I'm an only child, and I don't know who will care for my parents and support them in their old age.

I urge all of you who are reading this to once again, no matter what religion you are, pray hard for the world, which is going crazy right now. Save one little prayer for Singapore too. Much appreciated.

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