By Dr. Hassan Masri, Intensive Care Specialist
As I counted the hours and minutes until I received my vaccine, day dreaming of that moment that I never thought would be possible in 2020, I was reminded of a very ugly reality:
COVID-19 has affected the health and the well-being of more Canadians than any other disease in recent history and in a very short time. It has made those who were previously healthy breathless. It has made those who were previously surrounded by family and loved ones lonely. And it has made staying away from people a sign of love and care.
Yes, the vaccine is here and it signals a milestone in this fight and possibly the beginning of the end of it. Yes, the vaccine is a moment of scientific glory that we all must celebrate, and yes, the vaccine is the first moment in this fight where we finally have the upper hand. All those seemingly happy statements should not make us lose sight of our difficult present reality of rising numbers of hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19. All those seemingly happy statements will lose their power if we lose our focus on the finish line.
COVID-19 brought with it a lot of tragedy. In the hospital room, I hear difficult gasping breaths of a lonely patient. Outside of that hospital room, a physiotherapist shares with me the story of her husband’s small business that closed down. In the break room, a nurse tells me the news of her daughter losing her job. Inside and outside of the hospital, joy seems to be a rare currency.
COVID-19 did also bring the best in people and made us remember why we are great here in Saskatchewan. People looked out for each other, stayed away to save the lives of each other, increased their support for those who are less fortunate, and shopped local so others in our cities and communities can thrive. Yes, joy might be hard to find, but the citizens of our province will try to help you find it.
As we approach the beginning of the end of this fight with the arrival of vaccines, it’s important that we negate and avoid any further tragedies in our province by staying home when we can, washing our hands, limiting our bubbles, hiding our smiles with a mask and showing our creativity to spread science, hope and health.
“What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you,” said Ralph Waldo Emerson.
I have always loved this quote, since the first time I read it on a sign in my cousin’s living room. The challenge of fighting COVID-19 is an enormous one, but the human mind and spirit will always be greater and will always win. May those tough days be behind us soon and may we stay healthy and happy.