Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by this author are their own and do not represent the official position of the Barbados Today Inc.
“I’m ashamed to say but I weigh 186lbs. I have a pretty bad posture. From leaning over to exam patients I’ve developed a slouch. I was born into a poor family.
My mum did her best to raise the four of us.
This is what actually drove me to pursue a career that could enable me to break the cycle. I am a registered medical practitioner.
I serve as a Medical Registrar in the Department of Internal Medicine at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. I also serve as a member of the COVID-19 ICU Medical Team at Harrison’s Point.
“My happiest childhood memory was when I was successful in gaining a Barbados Scholarship in 2009. It was the turning point in my life.
I attended Queen’s College. Three teachers that were instrumental in helping me are Sonia Rawlins, Marsha Grant, and Keisha Thompson. I would venture to say that I am a very loving person.
I try to put others before myself and I would do a lot to help others and put myself last when it comes to helping those who are in need of assistance.
I can be a little impatient sometimes when it comes to persons not doing what they are supposed to. I think I am intolerant of mediocrity.
In 2019, my favourite liming spot was the beach. I like to go to the beach in Fitts Village because it’s usually quite peaceful and relaxing.
“When I first learnt that COVID-19 spread outside of China, as a man I didn’t really have any significant thoughts until learning that the virus tends to affect men more than it affects women.
And we men generally don’t go to the doctor that often. And a lot of men smoke and that predisposes you to COVID-19 pneumonia.
If I am honest, as a man I didn’t think about it affecting me until more information came out and I realised that COVID-19 had a gender predilection. It tends to favour men and we were seeing a lot more men becoming more ill than women.
That’s when I started to think about the fact that we as men need to do better. As a doctor, my greatest concern was that this could significantly impact Barbadians and overwhelm our health care system which was already under-resourced and under significant strain.
I don’t have to think very hard about what my response was to news of the first local COVID-19 case. I was in the room with Dr Corey Forde. I got a call the morning, Tuesday, March 17th at 7:30 a.m. I was on my way to ICU and got a call saying, “come to Enmore, we have our first COVID-19 case.” It was a shock.
My family is my rock. My mum is of great support.
My siblings are all older than me. I am the baby of the family. I called them on the way down to see the first patient and they were like “Can’t they find someone else? Not my Bentley.”
I did have some dark days. Missing going to the beach was a big thing for me because it’s my happy place.
Being one of the doctors dealing with the COVID-19 patients and having some of them die, it would have been nice to have that time at the beach to relax.
Add to that the fact that I couldn’t have the close interactions with my family that I was accustomed to, that did take a toll on me. Not being able to hug a family member or kiss a family member, was a struggle. It took a toll on me mentally and physically.
We were doing 24-hour and 12-hour shifts. Being in a space where you are confined to your home and you can’t go to your happy place, it’s going to take a toll mentally.
And then you are putting your best effort and people still die that took a significant toll to the point that it affected me physically. Because you feel defeated.
You don’t feel like you want to get out of bed to work or do anything because you are trying to do your best.
And you’re still not getting anywhere.
People are dying. And you don’t have the usual avenues to de-stress. I felt physically exhausted, and I felt mentally exhausted. I ended up having to call my friends.
One of my best friends Kendra Niles is a COVID-19 ICU nurse in New York.
Being able to have someone understand where I was coming from was useful. She was a support for me, and I was a support for her.
We were able to encourage each other in this fight because that’s what it is. A fight against this virus. We have been friends since 2009 so quite a long time.
“My new good habit I have now that I did not have in 2019 is that I now interact on a day-to-day basis with my family. Because of COVID-19, I’ve learnt to appreciate those around me more. Recognising the importance of family, of persons around you, of those who support and love and care for you.
And appreciating them more by telling them on a regular basis that you love them and by showing it by making sure they are well. I would like to encourage persons to take what is going on in our current era very seriously.
Come away from this idea that because God is a Bajan we are invincible and try to think about others.
Before you contravene the COVID-19 directives and public health policies, think about those who are risking their lives to preserve yours.”
Jade Gibbons is an arts and business graduate with a keen interest in social issues and film-making. See https://www.jadegibbons246.com