The COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on the family dynamic of the resident doctor

Isibor Efosa

Recently, I became the father of a toddler; whose activity levels keep me wondering where he gets the energy to keep up with such activities. Of all the beautiful things about being his father, what delights me most is the sight of him running so excitedly towards me, with absolutely no attention paid to caution, his face gleefully lit, arms fully extended to get a full grip of me whenever I get home; this is an everyday occurrence. This feeling validates the sacrifices of parenthood, and for all the world can offer, I would not trade it. 

With these thoughts in my heart, one can understand the foreboding fear I harbour. The endless torture of uncertainties and the lack of answers to the questions always in my head; why did I sneeze? Why do I have a headache? Are these muscle aches from the day’s stress? Or….am I infected? Is my family safe around me? Should I take the test? What if I turn out positive? What happens next? Questions I otherwise will have ready and swift answers to if a patient asked me.

“The endless torture of uncertainties and the lack of answers to the questions always in my head…”

Well, this story is not about me, but of the numerous doctors who in so many ways have had their lives suddenly and rudely (unarguably so) distorted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

So, let’s start with the ones who had their weddings scheduled for the second quarter of 2020. After successfully asking or saying yes to the very rare “will you marry me” question, they end up at the forefront of the battle against the virus on the proposed wedding day. (1)

Now, as fortunate as those who had the opportunity to tie the knot, start a family and develop a balanced routine before the pandemic may seem, they aren’t left out of the chaos meted out by the infamous virus. Alas! They are probably the worst hit.

 As schools and crèches are closed due to the government lockdown, (2) and the idea of maintaining social distancing has seen domestic staff stay away, the additional burden of homeschooling children, babysitting infants, grocery shopping and carrying out household chores have become the sole responsibility of parents who also happen to be doctors. Routine tasks that would have been outsourced now have to be considered in work schedule. But guess what, the drama continues. While the pandemic continues, that parent and doctor are required to stay battle-ready and put in more time and effort to contain the virus. This may mean spending more time in isolation and treatment centres. In some cases of suspected exposure, he or she is required to stay away from family members for a minimum of fourteen days to minimize the risk of spreading the disease. But how do you spend more time at home and away from home at the same time? – One more question to which I’m clueless!

Well, times like this remind me that NOT ALL HEROES WEAR CAPES, MOST WEAR WARD COATS”.

References

  1. https://www.nzherald.co.nz/lifestyle/news/article.cfm?c_id=6&objectid=12324989 (accessed 6th June 2020)
  2. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/03/nigeria-announces-lockdown-major-cities-curb-coronavirus-200330095100706.html (accessed 6th June 2020)

Dr Isibor Efosa is a Senior Registrar in Paediatrics at Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital(ISTH), Irrua. He is an active member of the Research Collaboration Network of NARD since inception. He is also the Coordinator of the newly created Residents Research Collaboration Network of Association of Resident Doctor(ARD) at ISTH, Irrua.

38 thoughts on “The COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on the family dynamic of the resident doctor”

  1. Very apt about the fact that most heroes wear ward coats. My experience I somewhat similar as I work in an Isolation centre. I am thankful for God’s preservation during this pandemic.

  2. A really nice read! Reminds me of how often I tell my children do not touch me as they try to hug me when I am back from work.
    The life of a doctor.

    • Hahahaha this is always hard say to the kids because all they want to do is share their love with you, only to be told no

    • Just this morning I reflected on how our lives have been modified by this unseen enemy, this was because I realised I was missing our previous way of live. To fight this our common enemy our lives must be modified and however this modifications come our families must be protected.

    • Keep in mind, especially , the mental torture of clerking oneself for COVID-19 in events of ”an apparent symptom”, let alone present to a colleague who may (just in case) be at risk of being infected….. and the chain goes on.
      Now at the community phase of transmission, it behooves on us all to help each other by simply following safety/hygiene rules.
      Inspiring write-up chief.

  3. Quite an interesting insight into multitasking taken to extreme levels mostly for selfless reasons. At this point I agree with your statement about heroes, doctors and capes, you and your likes are unarguably one. Thank you for showing up in a time like this; even though the reasons to sign out overwhelm those to show up.

  4. I could relate with the write up… and more so the health worker who has been infected can relate with it too. I have witness painful separations of family members .. facing the fight against covid 19 and keep the home safe. I look forward to the end of this pandemic.

  5. Thanks chief for this writeup!
    The fear has always been the implications of a positive result on the family.
    Everyone’s life has been altered by this virus.
    Some have sent their children on exile

  6. Beautiful piece Sir.
    The profession actually leaves one caught between the devil and the deep blue sea.
    We move!

  7. I was surprised to see that you put into words some of the questions in my head about the sneeze, muscle ache e.t.c.
    And not being able to hug your loved ones freely…………
    This pandemic has indeed changed our lives.
    I pray it will be over soon.

  8. Nice piece doc, this highlights some of the impact of the novel coronavirus which has changed all most if not all aspects of life and the importance of work life balance. Achieving a balanced work life balance if difficult at this time. Anyway we all have to cope and sharp our lives especially at our medical workplace so that we don’t get burnout.

  9. Just this morning I reflected on how our lives have been modified by this unseen enemy, this was because I realised I was missing our previous way of life. To fight this our common enemy our lives must be modified and however this modifications come our families must be protected.

  10. Keep in mind, especially , the mental torture of clerking oneself for COVID-19 in events of ”an apparent symptom”, let alone present to a colleague who may (just in case) be at risk of being infected….. and the chain goes on.
    Now at the community phase of transmission, it behooves on us all to help each other by simply following safety/hygiene rules.
    Inspiring write-up chief.

  11. “The endless torture of uncertainties and the lack of answers to the questions always in my head…”
    Simply put sir, you captured my thoughts clearly.
    However, we will continue to give our best always, in Christ who strengthens us.
    Great write up chief👏. Thank you.

  12. It is a soul searching realities that you have brought to light that many may know what Doctors are passing through in the line of duty.
    We deserve every bit of encouragement in all modalities as we put our trust in God and do our best to provide care, protect ourselves and our families

  13. Nice piece.
    A friend gets home and dashes to the bathroom 1st to bathe and clean everything he brought in.
    His toddler bangs at the bathroom door and waits for him to come out so she can hug her daddy.
    Another friend sent her children away from the house.
    May God keep the families of all health workers safe.

    • Hahahaha I sneak in through the back door to avoid this drama. Hopefully I don’t begin to look like a thief to my little man

  14. Living may never remain the same postcovid and we all are facing a new challenge we all never envisaged.But we have to be steadfast because we are professionals , fathers,mothers,parents and yes we are Doctors ;We will manage through and fix the remains.
    Nice write up. Thanks Isibor Efosa.

  15. Well done, Chief Isibor.
    Your thought line is superb.
    This is true story of the doctor and his family.
    Thank you for sharing.

  16. Very interesting write up! The questions don’t stop. Almost every day one starts a new countdown. God bless you chief for this Piece.

  17. The realities of the present dilemma beautifully captured. Well done Bro! Bravo!! May God protect you all our frontline warriors. Amen

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