Covid log – Day 259:

Brisk walk in the crisp morning air.

Day breaks. Breakfast and scripture reading with Chuon Yvonne. Stricken man’s friends sit in comforting silence for 7 days and 7 nights.

0730: Traffic heavy but moving on the road to Sungai Buloh Hospital. Clinical duties kick off with a text from SN Haslina.

Straighten tie in the rear view mirror and put car in free gear before heading off to the orthopaedic clinic. Walking in, I hear Drs Steven and Arul convincing a trauma patient to stop smoking to give his fracture a chance to heal.

1145hrs: Intervening hours have vanished somehow. Dr Hyder calls my name, MRI images rolling on his screen. Vague sense of phone vibrating in my pocket.

Wait.. did the ligament reconstruction patient from 3weeks ago get his brace yet? Let me go to the Sports Physicians’ room to check.

1200hrs: Phone vibrating was Dr Amir Firdaus beeping about COVID patient with limb infection. Sister Sara catches me in the clinic corridor with a stern look. Note to self – must remember to call patient Sister has been anxious about since yesterday.

1415: Team assembled in OR pulling on Tyvek suits. Struggle to put on N95 mask that leaves me feeling like a duck with a fishing hook stuck in its beak. The boot covers are new.

Size M Tyvek suit seems a little tight today. Must go slow on the Gulab Jamuns Mama made.

1440: Amir, MA Andy and I pass through the airlock feeling like we are on a mission to Mars. Respirator blowing air around my head makes Amir’s voice sound like the buzzing of bees. Scrub Nurse Huslizawati hands us a dish of iodine and paper drapes.

1530: Andy clamps hemostats onto bleeders and Amir ties them off with silk threads. We clean up and start closing the wound. Anesthetist gives a thumbs up. I can only see her eyes through the clouded visor, but her eyes look like they are smiling.

1600hrs: Bandages in place, we lift the patient off the OR table and onto a gurney. A white haired gentleman, face smothered in a mask.

He is ravaged by COVID and obviously in pain, but turns his head to me slowly saying, ‘Thank you, Doctor’. Light bursts forth through the darkness.

Remembering the 7 days and nights, I squeeze his shoulder. No words leave my mouth. Just an exchanged glance. But that’s enough.

The day goes on. A simple dinner my wife has made. A small slice of Papa’s 70th birthday cake he mailed us.

The day goes on, and it isn’t over.

But to me, it’s been a good one.

Originally written on 1 December 2020 in Sungai Buloh Hospital, Selangor