Dr. Halleh Akbarnia is a physician in a Chicago emergency room, which means she’s regularly treating novel coronavirus patients.
Despite having to sleep in a separate room from her husband and disinfecting everything before she sees her kids, she’s choosing to soak up all the good she can! She recently took to Facebook to share the “knot-in-your-stomach” feeling she gets before every shift. Thankfully, one patient, Mr. C., gave her the hope and strength to keep going!
When Halleh met Mr. C. in the ER, “he was classic in his presentation, his X-ray findings, his low oxygen levels… we just knew.” But what struck her most was his kindness.
He was the nicest man I had met in a long time. Gasping for breath, he kept asking if we needed anything, and that it would all be okay. He told us he was a teacher but that he was learning so much from us, and how much he respected what we were doing. The opposite could not be more true.
When they eventually put him on a ventilator, Halleh explained that even though he was scared, “he, with his teacher’s steady voice, kept me grounded, where I was supposed to be.”
At that point, Mr. C. was transferred to doctors in the ICU, while Halleh continued working in the ER, but she didn’t stop checking on him. After 12 days, he was finally taken off the ventilator and transferred to the recovery unit!
When she went to visit him, she wasn’t sure he would remember her (especially since she was wearing a mask during all their interactions), so she reintroduced herself. That’s when something amazing happened!
He started to cry. He said, ‘I remember your eyes.’ And I started to cry. What he didn’t know is that, at that moment, I realized that we do what we do exactly for people like him, for moments like these. His strength, his kindness, his calming words to me meant everything. At that moment, my heart (which had been beating over 100 bpm since this pandemic began) finally slowed down.
Their encounter touched Halleh more deeply than Mr. C. ever could have predicted. She wrote, “He will always have a place in my heart. And whether he knows it or not, he will be my silent warrior and guide as I take care of every patient, COVID or not. He will fuel me until the day I hang up my stethoscope.”
What a powerful moment! Share this story to thank everyone who is working so hard to keep us safe, and check out the Coronavirus Good News Dashboard for more joy and hope.
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