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‘Periods occur even in pandemic’: What it means to be a female Covid warrior

By now we have all heard the tales of the intense pressure and the strenuous working hours of the doctors in PPE kits. However, this first-person account of a female doctor gives a whole new meaning to the stress, hardships doctors are braving every day in the battle against coronavirus.

Reshma Shinde, a Junior resident doctor in Pathology Department at KEM Hospital has written a heartfelt open letter narrating what it takes to be a “female frontline Covid warrior”.

“Periods occur even in a pandemic,” the doctor says. The deadly combination of sweating and bleeding during monthly menstrual cycle is what has been adding to the discomfort of working in the uncomfortable PPE suits.

The moving tale of this doctor also brings to light that despite praises for service to the society, the word Covid has a certain degree of social stigma attached to it. The doctor narrates how she and her family were receiving huge praises after the society came to know that she was doing Covid duties. However, things changed for her on the personal front as she stopped receiving marriage proposals.

“Though my house was blessed with praises for my work, marriage proposals had stopped knocking my house doors. It took me no time to realise, that, it was due to the stigma associated with the word ‘COVID’. I started feeling very low as I could only see my dreams of marriage getting shattered,” she said. Her female colleagues had similar experiences she adds.

Things took another turn for worse once her lab technician, a mother of two-year-old tested positive for Covid-19.

“I froze at that moment as it was my first time to be quarantined. During the quarantine period, I got time to think for myself. At that time I was grateful to god that I was not married. Had I been married, I would have been a mother of a year or two-year-old baby. Though it is difficult for a daughter to stay isolated from her parents after Covid duty, it is indeed, even more difficult for a mother to stay isolated from her child. My respect for the mother Covid warriors grew all the more. The fear did not lie in testing Covid positive, but, definitely with the stigma attached to it.” She said, adding “I have still not given up on my dreams of marriage as I believe it definitely takes a heart of a warrior to accept a warrior as his better half.”

During the initial days of her duty, Shinde adjusted her Covid duties according to the time of her menstrual cycle.

“It’s like being a true warrior who bleeds in the line of duty. These challenges are faced on a regular basis when a woman’s body is inside a frontline worker. But, still, We women, are blessed with special powers to work despite all these struggles,” she said in the letter.

On May 17, a female anaesthetist had an experience of bleeding in a PPE during Covid-ICU duty in Rohtak. In the busyness of the duty she completely forgot that it was that time of the month and after two hours of donning PPE, she realised she had started bleeding but she continued to work in the same PPE to avoid wastage of PPEs. As it was waterproof, she could work without fear. After her shift ended, it took her 45 minutes to doff her PPE and discard it after sanitising.

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