WHEN was the last time you felt real fear? Not the fear of missing a bus, forgetting your homework or making a mistake in work that your boss came down on you for. But the kind of fear that only a small few of us, thankfully, experience. The fear felt when stood at the side of the road having just escaped a fatal car crash, the fear as your child is diagnosed with cancer, the unsettling fear that is specific to life and death situations. You need to acquaint yourself with that fear, because that is the reality of Covid-19 if it enters your family home.
This is not an editorial to be fatalistic, it is an editorial about getting real.
‘They have already been attaching Covid-19 patients in UHW to ventilators. We are lucky that, so far, none of these have died. Our numbers stand officially at nine. They will grow, as they are already growing in Dublin and Cork, with clusters increasing across the country every day.’
Gowned and masked up, frontline doctors and nurses in University Hospital Waterford are already experiencing what that fear looks like. They are men and women of all ages – our sons and daughters, our mothers and fathers, in some cases our grandparents. They are psyching themselves up for a war, a battle with an insidious illness that randomly picks those whose lungs it will latch on to in a brutal, painful, dangerous way. They have already been attaching Covid-19 patients in UHW to ventilators. We are lucky that, so far, none of these have died. Our numbers stand officially at nine. They will grow, as they are already growing in Dublin and Cork, with clusters increasing across the country every day.
Pause and think what it would be like not to be able to breathe. To have your precious chest fight the daggers of this virus to draw enough air to stay alive. To be intubated and placed on a ventilator. To be one of those for whom the doctors must chose because they don’t have enough ventilators.
Pause and think what it would be like to gift this illness to another Waterford person. To later read their obituary in the Waterford News & Star, knowing you were the link in the chain that is why their tragedy is now permanently set in ink. Do you want that to be your story?
Many of us will contract Covid-19. It is highly contagious. Despite our very best efforts, we will have placed our hand on, rubbed against or breathed in its invisible poison. Some of us will have symptoms, some won’t ever know. Many – between 15 and 20% – of us will need those front-line staff putting their lives at risk.
But Waterford, you have the power to slow and curb the spread of Covid-19, to minimise its chances of making good on its attack.
Is a life really worth the short-term pleasure of a 99 icecream bought in a crowded queue or the awkwardness of saying ‘please stand back’?