By Thilini Rajapakse
Curfew was lifted
at 6am yesterday, so I took Dog for an early morning run.
Dog was surprised
but very enthusiastic about this arrangement, after a whole weekend spent
forcibly at home.
There was still a coolness
in the air as we both huffed along, with Dog making frequent stops to closely
investigate fascinating lamp-posts, and me using those stops as an excuse to
take a break.
early-bird vehicles overtook us. There
were a few brisk house-owners near their gates, all busy. We exchanged nods in passing and a
camaraderie – ‘Short curfew break; must
The run was a
little shorter than usual, which disappointed Dog, but I had also to go to the
hospital in the morning.
It was the
best-ever Monday morning drive to hospital; no traffic! Even the Gannoruwa
roundabout was pristinely clear.
At the hospital,
things felt normal and familiar, though much less crowded with patients
compared to a normal Monday. Last
Friday, not everyone wore masks; but now almost all staff, and most patients, were
wearing masks of various descriptions – paper, cloth, folded scarves, patterned
handkerchiefs – it was as if a weekend under curfew had really brought home the
possibility of infection.
In the ward, things
were busy as usual. Nurses were giving medication, and a junior doctor was
already seeing patients. Most non-urgent
patients had been sent home, and only a few remained in ward. The nursing officer in-charge bustled up,
hand-sanitiser on offer. All well, she said. We are
coming to work, of course. Again the
sense of camaraderie, and also a sense that this
is our job, we will do it.
I wondered how the
junior doctor was managing her domestic situation. She had family at home – how
was she going to get provisions during this brief curfew break, and come to
work at same time? But when asked about
the home front, she just said, it’s ok.
Mrs M. was better
and ready for discharge. She was from Mannar
and worried about how to get home in this situation. She was tearfully thankful for getting
better, but worried about her children in Mannar. How do
I get home, she repeated, and her mother, who spoke only Tamil, stood by
smiling, not following the conversation.
An elderly man had been admitted with features of acute alcohol withdrawal. He was smiling, very tremulous, orientated, and acknowledged taking a ‘small drink’ now and then. His son, a neatly dressed young man, hovered anxiously outside. He is a good man, he said. He is a man of good standing in the area. Yes, we have told him to reduce the drinking, but… Shrug. Will he be alright? What do we do now, with curfew and everything?
to be going smoothly, but there was a tension.
The junior doctor
was suddenly worried. She had seen a
patient earlier, who had complained of non-specific body aches. He had no other warning signs, had seemed ok,
and was sent home with medication. Now
she had just realised that the area he came from had a patient diagnosed with
“Could he have had contact?” She asked.
“What should I do? If I go home my
parents and children are there…”
Going back to the
Consultant Room, I walked in on a heated discussion about the difficulty of
getting elderly parents to restrict their movements. Last week I told my mother – give me your list, I will go shopping for
you. And she said, I have always done my
groceries, I can do it now! …and there were servants listening too – so how to
fight? So she went. There were nods of agreement.
Dog seemed happy when I got back home, and gave me a bright eyed, shall-we-go-for-another-walk look. Corona-curfew for the next 48 hours, I explained to her, to which she gave me a very dubious, dismissive look and walked away.
Please note patient details have of course been changed to protect confidentiality.