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Viral Shadows - by Dr. Lana Myroniuk

Updated: Nov 22, 2021

Wash hands.

Don mask.

Wash hands.

Don face shield.

Wash hands.

Breathe.

Open the door.


Desperation pours out of him like an oil spill.

“Doctor, the surgery is cancelled because of another outbreak.”

The urgency turns to panic and his voice cracks.


“Can’t you just call the surgeon?”

His distress is palpable

and my pulse begins to hammer.


A look of helplessness creases both our faces.

“I’m sorry this has happened again.”

He leaves with more questions than answers.


Wash hands.

Breathe.

Open the door.


Twins scream as their newborn sibling wails.

Her ears are deaf to the cacophony.

“How are you feeling?” I ask.


I study her face and ponder

if it is possible to drown in thin air.

Lockdown. Online schooling. Money is tight. He’s drinking again.


An empathetic ear.

“You have a lot on your plate.”

She leaves, but the load is no lighter.


Wash hands.

Breathe.

Pick up the phone.


“Doctor… it got... worse... overnight.”

Her breaths are shallow and

her pain is audible.


“What if I…. catch it… in… the ER?”

She could die if she caught COVID.

She might die if she doesn’t go in.


She never used to fear the healthcare system.

Her husband urges her to listen to me.

I pray this will not be our final conversation.


Wash hands.

Breathe.

Open the door.


His head hangs in his hands.

“Doctor, I lost her on Tuesday.”

The tears flow freely down his wrinkled face.


I swallow the lump in my throat.

Four decades of marriage ended by this virus.

“I can’t imagine your pain.”


I listen to the gut-wrenching sobs of a widower.

“Why did it have to be her?”

He leaves, dragging with him an unfillable void.


Wash hands.

Doff face shield.

Wash hands.

Doff mask.

Breathe.

Sit down.


My jaw clenches, silencing a scream.

The pandemic casts long, dark shadows on us all.

I, too, search for answers that do not exist.


Dr. Lana Myroniuk is a Family Physician who practices in Beaumont, AB. After reaching burnout during the pandemic, she turned to writing to help heal, recover, and process her emotions. This helped her chart a new course in both her personal and professional lives, including taking the leap to start writing a children's book.

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