Blog post by Marica Micallef
While I understand the feelings of the nurses working in ITU, and empathise with them, I can blatantly say that in the two months which I visited ITU daily, I never witnessed the state of panic which the media wants the general public to believe, in order to continue with the psychological warfare of “Obey so we get back to normal”.
I always witnessed one nurse sitting with dad. Doctors used to come round to check the files and give instructions. The panic I witnessed was that of the patients. Some cried as they did not understand what was happening to them; some wanted to remove the machines they were on; some cried to have a sip of water, which they couldn’t be given due to the slit and tube they had in their neck; some tried to communicate with their loved ones but they were still unable to speak. We used to write sentences for dad, so he could understand why we could not visit him in the evening and why we could not be altogether. I used to damp a ball of cotton wool and wet my father’s mouth, to alleviate the thirst.
Then there was panic from the family members of the patients. While we waited outside, some stared at the ceiling or at the floor; some had eyes on the verge of tears. I used to cry too, especially when a particular nurse used to blatantly tell my brother, who went in before me, that dad did not have more than 24 hours left to live.
It is ironic that one of the news portals wrote that “Many of the “last phone calls” that patients make from the ITU, before they are intubated, are to their parish priests. They are afraid they will not wake up…” The only call we got when dad was already intubated in ITU, was from the hospital to inform us of the intervention. We never got a call from him. And when we were told that he is dying in ITU 6, we were told that priests are not allowed in there since it is infectious and only medical staff can go in! So, are patients feeling beforehand what they are going to be put through? Do they know that many of the patients who are put on the ventilator, will suffer from other complications which they never had on entering the hospital? That makes it very hard.
I can understand this nurse who finds it overwhelming to find “ventilators and monitors are bleeping, pumps are ringing, kidney machines alarming.” So was it for me but this is thanks to a damaging Covid-19 protocol that hospitals worldwide have been ordered to follow.
Lastly, it is apt to note that Mater Dei has turned into a zombie land. Corridors are quiet. When dad now goes for his appointments, he is done in a few minutes, because no one finds those crowded waiting areas anymore. When dad was in the ENT ward, there was also the same quiet atmosphere. At least, Covid19 measures seem to have increased efficiency at our major hospital!