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The real trauma

By Chukwuneta Oby
02 May 2020   |   4:11 am
According to a relative, her six-year-old son walked up to her and said “mummy, Coronavirus has entered me.”

PHOTO: shutterstock

According to a relative, her six-year-old son walked up to her and said “mummy, Coronavirus has entered me.”
Mum: Where?
Boy: My leg.

You see, we will overcome this but the trauma of the times will not bow out so fast. One can’t even feel unwell in peace again…without wondering to oneself, “could it be that this thing has entered me?”

As the reality of Covid-19 dawned, a lot of people swore they have had to question or suspect their “normal breathing” several times. Unpardonable becomes when the body (poor thing!) gives in to any coughing or sneezing.

Ha! These are just the nightmares happening in your head oo. The drama is unpalatable out there!

Prior to the lockdown, I passed by a section of the market dealing in “Cameroun pepper.” And because the aroma of the pepper induced a sneeze in me and I dared to obey nature.

And the reactions? “Who is that person?’’
“Is she out to kill us?” May we not let fear override our humanity!

My only advice to parents is to spare the children the details of the pandemic. Limit your efforts to the sanitisation and social distancing sermons.

Humanity is already overcoming. Thanks to a recent research, a new reality has just permeated our consciousness. Moral Injury!

It is said to occur (mostly) when a person commits or fails to prevent or witnesses an act that is anathema to their moral beliefs.

It is likened to psychological trauma involving “extreme and unprecedented life experience”, that can lead to “haunting states of inner conflict and turmoil.”

Amid the onslaught of Covid-19 and the reality that healthcare systems the world over are getting overwhelmed, it is claimed that healthcare workers potentially face having to decide who receives less attention in order to save the cases with better chances of survival.

One doctor reportedly explained the feeling thus: “Seeing people die is not the issue. We’re trained to deal with death… The issue is giving up on people we wouldn’t normally give up on.”

A research institution says, ‘’ the fight against the coronavirus is strikingly similar to battlefield medicine: desperate and unrelenting encounters with patients, an environment of high personal risk, an unseen lethal enemy, extreme physical and mental fatigue, inadequate resources and unending accumulations of the dead.’’

Guilt has been identified as the crucial factor that distinguishes a moral injury, even as other symptoms – anxiety and despair, flashbacks, social isolation and suicidal thoughts – overlap with post-traumatic stress disorder.

It’s also claimed that the breach of a person’s personal ethical code at the heart of a moral injury can inflict lasting behavioural, emotional and psychological damage, distorting a person’s self-identity and provoking reflexive distrust of others.

And that, “While healthcare workers know they are doing the right thing by helping people with Covid-19, they may still be affected by responses of leaders, from the hospital hierarchy up to the national level. Our healthcare workers are working to save people, but they have been betrayed by the government’s inadequate response.

“You know you are on a life-saving mission, and so you can’t understand how those in authority don’t seem to get it the same way.”

It is also reported that the period following the acute phase of the coronavirus epidemic will likely be hardest for medical professionals in terms of psychological impact.

“Once the rest of society has said thank you and moved on to getting back to normal and thinking about the economy, that’s when these people will sit down and think, “what the hell happened back there?”

A researcher states that some medical personnel may take their lives because of moral injury, having been “crushed by decisions they had to make, swamped by unrelenting grief, consumed by fury and humiliation at the authorities who failed them.”

It has also been stressed that “moral injuries are not inevitable” – and that medical professions will need time to reflect, and support from their managers.

He also advised: “Leaders of hospitals need to communicate with the people working for them, that they are using their training to make the best possible decisions under horrible circumstances. Everyone in the profession needs to recognise that they are trying to do the least harm possible in a situation in which it is impossible to provide the highest-quality care to every patient in need.”

Meanwhile, experts say that individuals in the society have an important role to play too.

“The rest of us can offer compassion to those who must, because of safety, keep us separated from those we love who are dying,” they admonished.

“Essential, too, is support for the families of medical professionals who are our friends or neighbours. And every time we interact with a medical professional, we should thank them.”

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