Nikita Agrawal MD
Montefiore Medical Center, Internal Medicine PGY3
April 2, 2020
He was a 49 year old south Asian male, although 10 years younger I couldn't help but think of my own dad. This patient could easily have been him. He had come to the emergency room that night because after 6 days of him and his wife having fevers he more recently over the past 3 days started to have trouble breathing. He had returned from Spain in the past 1 month and like all of us knew he most likely had the mysterious and unforgiving virus, COVID19. His symptoms fit too well. His chest x-ray with more white than black was already an ominous sign. He was immediately placed on a non-rebreather with improvement in his breathing. With the exception of an apple shaped abdomen he looked relatively healthy and I could picture him just 1 month prior vacationing in Spain. When I met him, he was able to converse at length but his oxygen levels did not match up with how he was looking. An oxygen level of 89% slowly crept down to 86%, soon enough to 80% and before we knew it he was down the 70s. Although his numbers rapidly worsened he continued to talk to comfortably as if he was my Dad telling me about his day. We all knew from the many patients that we had seen over the past weeks that if we did not put him on a ventilator he would almost definitely go into cardiac arrest in a few hours from low oxygen levels. But, if we intubated him-- would he beat the odds and be be the minority that are able to be weaned off the ventilator? Hesitantly we explained the situation to the patient asking him if he wanted to Facetime with his family before we put him to sleep and connected him to the ventilator to which he gasped...
"...Oh God. Im... going to die...”