Author: Christian

I’m Not Safe, Doctor

I’m Not Safe, Doctor

Op-Ed: The pandemic, Hurricane Ian and me — a doctor whose friends say I have PTSD after Hurricane Sandy


“I don’t feel safe, Doctor!” I was thinking. “I’m thinking, ‘what’s next?’”

I was pacing my office, my phone held limply to my ear; I didn’t even know where I was anymore. My mind had been racing for hours as I scrambled to fill a series of appointments and write my regular medical journal. I was about to head to an infectious disease ward at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center’s Harvard-affiliated teaching hospital, where I’ve been conducting a “COVID-19 follow-up” ever since the virus first arrived in the United States.

The week had not followed the pattern I’d been expecting. I’d expected more of a surge in new patients with more severe symptoms than what I’d seen. And though I’d been dreading it, even dreading the prospect of being stuck there by myself, it’s been a relief to know I have a team with whom I can share my concerns with — my colleagues, my friends.

For days, I’d been preoccupied with my diagnosis: post-traumatic stress disorder. After Hurricane Sandy, I thought I might have it, too. But I hadn’t yet been prescribed a medication for panic attacks. And until now, I hadn’t had the chance.

But in the midst of my confusion, my friends had rallied, helping each other to navigate everything and sharing stories of how they’d survived — how they’d come to terms with the emotional cost of not being able to return to work or school or to see their families. A handful of them, in fact, had been stuck at an NYU hospital for a week, waiting to see if they’d get the results of a test for COVID-19.

As I finished my calls, I could feel them fading from my side. They wanted to be there for other

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