Published: 06th March 2021
Women's Day: How this medical student assisted during operations of COVID patients during the pandemic
No matter how much we commend frontline workers, it's less. And to remind you to be grateful, we bring you one such story of a medical student from Hyderabad who has been through many hurdles
She had to isolate herself from her parents, had to put herself out on the field while all of us were working from home, she lost a year of academics and, to top it all, she even caught COVID. If you think you've had it tough working during the pandemic, think again because Reethika Thatikonda has had to do all of the above, yet her determination to serve has not dwindled by any measure.
"One particular patient absolutely panicked when he tested positive in the ward. He started saying that he has kids and he needs to get married. His anxiety was through the roof. It took endless counselling to console him," says Reethika Thatikonda
The 28-year-old is pursuing her MS in General Surgery from Kamineni Academy of Medical Sciences and Research Centre in Hyderabad. When the pandemic descended in full force, initially, the hospital deferred all COVID patients to Gandhi Hospital, as per government guidelines, "And that was extremely difficult because as doctors, this goes against our grain. Even regular patients needing surgery were turned away as that could be delayed and a few came back with severe complications. But we had no other option," she rues.
Ready to face it | (Pic: Reethika Thatikonda)
But when a better understanding of the virus dawned on the world, in June, the hospital at which she was already assisting with surgery, started a COVID ICU. And Reethika had to step up as a COVID ICU Manager six days a month. "I was one of the first ones on duty to catch COVID and initially, I was dazed and disoriented. I quarantined myself for about a month but jumped right back into duty after," says the youngster. While she and other practitioners would go on rounds, they would video consult senior doctors and keep in touch with the attenders of patients.
Classes started in the hospital in November 2020
Reethika also has to assist during unavoidable surgeries, like appendectomies and for intestinal perforations, for COVID positive patients. While the mandatory PPE kits would make them perspire profusely, it was the mask plus glasses combination that was a deal-breaker because the glasses would keep fogging up. "And what people don't know is that removing the PPE is a skill that is very difficult to master," she informs. But they managed that anyway.
The team | (Pic: Reethika Thatikonda)
"We also had to console and counsel patients, even during a time when we ourselves did not understand the virus the way we do now. We would just say, 'Everything will be okay', 'You are going to survive' and all of that without having a clue if it is the truth. But we did it anyway because words are powerful," says Reethika. It was last month that they shut their COVID ward down because of the dwindling number of cases in Telangana, but the year they lost with it is what hurts the most. "We were all in the dark but we stood up to the challenge and why just us, even ward boys, nurses and ayyammas, the unsung heroes of this war, put on a brave fight," says the youngster who got her first shot of Covishield recently.