I MISS the times where we could say “it’s just a cold” and move on. Even writing this sentence makes me feel sad that it’s come to this point in this pandemic that even a sneeze invites funny looks and a slight panic ... I hope it’s not Covid.

People often think that doctors don’t understand what their patients are going through. During this pandemic, where primary care especially has been at the centre of public frustrations, it’s believed that healthcare workers don’t face the same as everyone else. So today I’ll share some personal reflections – we are struggling too.

I’m so fed up with this pandemic but I guess the difference between you, if you’re non-medical, and me is that I never get away from it. I’ve been right at the heart of it, on the frontline dealing with all the chaos that Covid has brought us. In my private time I’m studying about it to ensure I’m up to date with all the evolving changes which at times feels relentless. And then there’s my personal life – it’s impacted me and so many I love in various ways. I’m scunnered by it.

This time of year is always horrendous for the viral illnesses that circulate. From the very young to the elderly and frail, we see them vulnerable to it all. This year there is added anxiety as we have all these viral illnesses being passed on as well as Covid and I’m hearing the exhaustion and frustration from my patients. I feel it too.

This week, yet another trip down to the all familiar testing centre with my baby. The night before during her bath she coughed. Once upon a time we would have thought “maybe it’s the start of a cold” and simply moved on. These days, a temperature (which is very common in kids), a sneeze or a cough spirals you into panic. It’s no longer a casual concern; no, it brings everything to a halt. My husband and I looked at each other – “here we go again!”.

As a parent to young children, it breaks my heart that when they feel poorly, their parents make it worse for them by dragging them to a strange environment to stick swabs down their throats or up their noses. This week my baby cried, gagged and vomited. She looked at me with helpless eyes and I found myself whispering back to her “sorry baby, so sorry”. She doesn’t understand this bizarre world she’s been born into. To her this is the norm and that too upsets me.

Of course, this is a necessary evil we all have to deal with just now but still, it doesn’t make it any easier. I don’t want anyone to get Covid and especially not my loved ones.

I reflect back to last Christmas where on actual Christmas Day, my baby and I received our Covid positive results. At that time we knew little about it. The vaccine programme was just starting. We had soaring levels of cases and we were in lockdown. The most miserable 10 days of my life, days I’ll never forget. This Christmas has to be different for all of us. We need it.

A year down the line however, things are promising. Yes, cases are still unacceptably high but we have vaccines and boosters which are highly effective at reducing the severity of illness and hospitalisation. We have better testing, we have more knowledge and the majority of people are being cautious. This is what I now hold onto. If in one year we’ve made such advances and we’ve learned to live with other viral illnesses, one day (hopefully soon) Covid too will become one of the casual concerns. In the meantime let’s all keep going and do what we can to keep cases down by getting our jabs and continuing to practice good infection control.

I find the anxiety of it all does get to me. I’m sure you are the same. I hope this gives you a sense that we are truly in this together. Though it may seem at times that your doctor might be black and white about things, it’s because they’re doing their job but after hours, they’re human too and experiencing all the things you’re experiencing. Covid sucks!