“My 7-year-old daughter locked herself in her room and avoided direct contact with me. After that day, everything changed. I could no longer spend time with my nearest and dearest ones like I used to do”.
We had the first case of COVID-19 in February 2020. The infection came from Iran. When the first cases appeared, we actively worked on the treatment of the COVID patients as well as on the prevention of the spread of infection in Armenia. We already knew how dangerous the virus was, but in fact, we were still not ready for the challenges that the pandemic brought.
I remember the day I met the first patient who came from Iran. I could hardly bear to spend that night at home with family members under one roof; I realized how dangerous I was for them. My 7-year-old daughter locked herself in her room and avoided direct contact with me. After that day, everything changed. I could no longer spend time with my nearest and dearest ones, like I used to do.
Everyone involved in fighting the unknown virus worked 24/7. The experience of our French and British colleagues helped us a lot. We also received recommendations from Chinese doctors.
I remember the moment we had no more places to admit patients in our hospital. Psychologically, it was very difficult to handle; 30 patients in serious condition were waiting for us in the reception room, and we had no more space or resource to admit and treat them.
Being at a distance from my family members was no less stressful. I actually had to work 24/7. When I found some free time, I would go to a hotel to sleep, but not at home. I couldn’t contact my children on the phone or online because I felt it would be more stressful for them and for me too. As my husband told me later, my little daughter was assuring him not to worry – mom will be back in the summer, as soon as COVID is over, she said.
It was my daughter’s birthday in May – and I couldn’t be with her, I couldn’t celebrate this day with her. My colleagues from the hospital decided to support me in organizing a surprise for my birthday girl – we drove to my house in an ambulance decorated with balloons and congratulated her with a birthday song from the street. My daughter came out at the balcony, but she did not express her emotions – perhaps because she could not come down and hug me.
That night I developed a high temperature. Everyone thought I got infected with COVID-19. In fact, the high temperature was caused by the heavy stress not by the virus.
I remember that during the peak periods of the pandemic, my colleagues and I stopped eating altogether – we simply lost our appetite. We just drank coffee and discussed serious cases.
Especially during the first wave of the pandemic we had a lot of losses. The calls from the family members of the patients did not stop. It was all so difficult that one day, in an emotional outburst, I broke my cell phone – I just couldn’t take any more calls.
Oh yes, it was a huge stress to deal with…