COVID Ain’t The Only Pandemic

BY SAVANNAH MANDAKINI

Right hand yellow

Imagine a time where the only safe place is your room to hide

In their minds, people are dreaming of dining out- Inside Out

The fear of dying alone, with no hope of seeing home

And family, and I miss the joy of camaraderie,

My camera’s the only friend of me

As I vapidly take one hundred selfies

Angrily scrutinise them for deformities

And disgustingly add the black-and-white filter to make me edgy

There is no life outside,

People are dying like

It is the end of time

But no one realises

When it’s all over, the world isn’t safe

There’re still a million other reasons to panic

This ain’t the only pandemic.

Left hand red

There’s a lot of issues in this world

But first let’s recap the schism that has recently been re-unfurled

And let’s be real here- this is a chasm deeper than the thinking that started up these protests and impulsive animosity

What happened to the logical thought in this world?

What happened to equality?

Why does the colour of one’s skin matter so much to society?

And ironically, even those who ask this question

Are often the same people who criticise the “orange-skinned man”

For a “ridiculous fake tan”

There is no life outside,

People are dying like

It is the end of time

But no one realises

When it’s all over, the world isn’t safe.

COVID ain’t the only reason to be afraid

Panic’s the biggest pandemic.

Left foot blue

‘Click click click’

Are now a baby’s first words

I’m taking out the piss

On a collection of chicks, Toms, Harrys and Dicks

Who think it’s lit and sick

To act prissy- I’ll tell ya, missy

We’re all losing brain cells here; don’t get busy

Losing your mind over Instagram views, it won’t make a difference

I can keep saying that

But the truth is I’d be a hypocrite

Cos I’m hopelessly swept up

In a frenzy of selfies

As I lay in my bed on a magnifice-

-Cently lazy Sunday evening

Technology is killing our brains and our imagination

And if you don’t call that a pandemic,

I don’t know what will cause a panic

There is no life outside,

People are dying like

It is the end of time

But no one realises

When it’s all over, the world isn’t safe

There’re still a million other reasons to panic

COVID ain’t the only pandemic.

Limbs are shaking

The world is quaking

We’re in a time we haven’t seen before

People are making

Time to quell the aching

They are fighting injustice in corps

Unfortunately

We are creating

Disunity

It’s worse than

Quarantining

We should be awaking

Unity

It’s a world full of partitions

It’s more than an ocean of tectonic plates

Enough with the panic; let’s fight our pandemics.

There is no life outside,

People are dying like

It is the end of time

But no one realises

When it’s all over, the world isn’t safe

There’re still a million other reasons to panic

COVID ain’t the only pandemic.

All the world’s just a Twister game,

And we are merely players

Watch as I try to wiggle my way through unscathed

But it’s all just gonna

                            tumble

                                    over

Only if we change the rules, the world will be our oyster.

And we can conquer the demons that threaten our composure.

Right foot- green!

There is no life outside,

People are dying like

It is the end of time

But no one realises

When it’s all over, the world isn’t safe

There’re still a million other reasons to panic

COVID ain’t the only pandemic.

Silver Linings

By Anonymous

The history of civilisation has taught us that even in the worst of situations, there can be silver linings. Even if small, something good can come from difficult times. Don’t get me wrong, COVID-19 has wreaked absolute havoc and devastation across the globe. I am not trying to downplay or minimise anyone’s suffering or the widespread effects of COVID-19. The health and economic impacts are enormous. With the current number of total cases globally approaching 30 million with nearly 1 million deaths, it is likely things will continue to get worse, before they get better. More lives will be lost, and it will be a long time until we are living in a post-COVID era. While we are in the midst of what will be one of the largest pandemics to go down in history, it can be hard to recognise these silver linings. It is easy to be focus on the negatives of COVID-19 and 2020.

It has been an extremely difficult and trying year for all of us, some more than others. My heart goes out to anyone who has lost a loved one to coronavirus and also to the people who are struggling right now. As a final year student, I have been privileged to be able to attend placement for the majority of the year, even though my rotations have altered from what was originally planned. Even when I left my family home for a month during my ED rotation to live in an Airbnb near the hospital, I still felt lucky to get out of the house and have some sort of routine. I really empathise for all the junior medical students who have missed out on many months of clinical placement and have had to adapt quickly to learning via zoom. I am feeling Zoom fatigue, so I cannot imagine how it must be for students studying full time from home. Below are my reflections on some silver linings to come out the unprecedented year that 2020 has been. 

I am the kind of person who prefers to be busy. I have my daily “to do” list and only feel accomplished if I have ticked everything off by the end of the day. I am sure many other medical students can reasonate with this sentiment, I think it comes with being a perfectionist. In pre-COVID times, my weekends consisted of balancing two casual retail jobs, catching up with friends, study, exercise and spending time with family. Then on the weekdays, I would attend placement during the day and almost every night I would have something on, whether it be a social or uni event or study to do. Those days feel like so long ago now, where I remember rushing around to fit as much as I possibly could into a day. The strict lockdowns and restrictions on what we can and cannot do due to COVID-19 has allowed me to slow down. Previously I would stress out if I wasn’t doing things I deemed to be “productive” or a good use of my time, but now I really enjoy a Sunday morning sleep in, time spent watching Netflix on a Saturday night or just chilling out doing nothing. It is sad to think that it had to take a pandemic to change by mindset, but I am glad that it has changed. I have given myself the okay to chill out and enjoy the simple things. I really hope these chill vibes will stick with me long term. 

Being on placement, I have seen the impact that COVID-19 has had on healthcare workers, from nurses and allied health staff to doctors and administration staff. We are somewhat protected as medical students not being frontline workers. It is well known that there are ingrained cultural issues in medicine that have slowly been improving over the years. Another silver lining to come out of COVID-19, is the ending of presenteeism in medicine, as in – not showing up to work when you are sick. Previously, there was a culture of always showing up no matter what, to push through that sniffle or cough. But now, showing up to work unwell is very much unacceptable and looked down upon. Let’s hope that COVID-19 is the end to presenteeism for good. This will have two-fold benefits, including preventing the spread of an infectious disease to vulnerable patients and other healthcare workers, as well as focusing on the well-being of the healthcare worker, to ensure that they rest when sick and take the time off work they require. 

While Victoria has been hit hard and we have been in one of the toughest lockdowns in the world, things are starting to look more positive with case numbers going down on a daily basis. If you’re reading this, please make sure you take some time to do something good for yourself this week. It may be a nice walk along the beach or a virtual catch up with a friend; enjoy the little things. Look after yourselves during this time and think about your silver linings and learnings from 2020. Focus on these, and hopefully that will help to brighten your day. We can and we will, get through this together. 

If you’re struggling please reach out to a friend or family member, a university service (see more information listed below) or a mental health service such as Beyond Blue (1300 224 636) or Lifeline on (13 11 14).  Sending everyone lots of love, stay safe and stay well.

Dr Philippa Corby (Student Support): e: philippa.corby@monash.edu
Dr Matthew Thong (International Student Welfare): e: matthew.thong@monash.edu
Jodie Vickers (Student Services and Support): e: Jodie.vickers@monash.edu
24 hour counselling support services (free, confidential)
In Australia: 1300 STUDENT (1300 788 336)
Overseas: +61 2 8295 2917
For university health services: https://www.monash.edu/health/mental-health/resources/emergency-after-hours-contacts
Support from those who have experience dealing with medical students and doctors specifically: https://www.drs4drs.com.au/


COVID-19: An International Student Perspective

BY LORIN MCINTOSH

Back in my day, I lived through the COVID-19 pandemic. I remember in January 2020, we started to hear whispers of a new virus in Wuhan, China. We heard that the virus had spread quickly, and there had never been anything like it before. It was soon all over the media. At the time, I was a fourth year medical student, on an obstetrics rotation in hospital. To me, the virus honestly seemed like the latest news topic. Personally, I did not take it too seriously when I first heard about it. I had never imagined that five months later I would be sitting in my room writing about this virus in social isolation.

A couple months after the whispers began, all medical students were pulled off placement until further notice. I will never forget the dean of medicine hosting a zoom meeting, for international students, to explain to us that the borders would likely be closing, and that there would be no consequences if we decided to go back to our home countries to be with our families during this unprecedented time. That was the moment that I realised that I had only a week to make the decision as to whether or not I would go back to the United States, likely until the end of the pandemic. At this stage, the United States had a low case count, and my parents asked me to stay in Australia in fear of the “lockout”. I stayed in Australia, and we began to practice social distancing.

Over the next few months, I quickly learned that stage 3 restrictions meant I could only leave the house for four essential reasons. Social isolation meant you could only be in groups of 2 people. Face masks and social distancing were the new trend, and toilet paper would never again be taken for granted. Grocery shopping became the only weekly/fortnightly outing, and it became stressful. I would often buy what I could find, and rarely could get everything on my shopping list. My partner had to bribe someone at Chadstone (where he worked) for toilet paper. Zoom conferences all of a sudden became the daily norm, and gas cost 89 cents per litre in Melbourne. Also, the VIA was cancelled and OSCEs became pass/fail.

I watched in horror as my home country hit over 1.8 million cases and 100,000 deaths and many of the states began to re-open (pre-maturely). Some of my extended family fled New York City. Most of my extended family lives on the East Coast, in heavily affected areas. Currently, my Mom, Dad, and brother are in social isolation until further notice. My Mom and Dad are in the vulnerable population. Their state has completely re-opened, but is getting over 1,000 new cases per day with no signs of slowing down and ICU beds are starting to reach capacity. My family has made the decision that I will not return to the United States until there is a vaccine. The virus is too out of control. To give some perspective, their state has the same population as Victoria. My family is fortunate to be in the position to be able to continue to isolate. Some of my family and friends are in the frontline essential worker group, and many of my friends began their careers in the medical field during the coronavirus pandemic. I also have friends who have lost their health insurance during the pandemic, which (in America) makes healthcare unaffordable.

Now, in Australia, the restrictions are easing and the curve has flattened. This week, I enjoyed my first dinner (at an actual restaurant!) in five months and can finally leave the city to go hiking again. We are very lucky to be in one of the safest countries in the world right now. I am sharing this perspective because I feel, as an international student, that it is a unique perspective on the COVID-19 pandemic and as a reminder to check on your international friends. Many other countries have been heavily affected, and some international students are still overseas. I am very lucky that I have an amazing support system to help me through these unprecedented times.