Looking Forward

By John Bonnewell, Infectious Disease Fellow, Moshi, Tanzania

John Bonnewell, Infectious Disease Fellow, Moshi, TanzaniaI was coming home to see my partner, who I had not seen in months, but I became trapped in situ due
to this crisis. While I enjoyed this uniquely special but frightening time with her in Rhode Island, I soon became anxious to be involved in this response—as an infectious diseases physician, it was simultaneously my nightmare, responsibility, and passion. I came back to Durham quickly to assist in the response at Duke, and I was deeply anxious to contribute. Sadly, I was quarantined and thus felt quite sidelined in that process. The sense of duty remained.

I am now engaged in a biomarker study for COVID-19 patients, and I am preparing myself to lead on general medicine and infectious diseases as a clinician, if I can contribute in that manner during the peak of the pandemic locally. The sidelines can hurt when it is time to fulfill your responsibility as a physician, particularly when it is a viral pandemic such as this—it feels like my time to lead.

It is perhaps more painful, however, to abandon your role in a place that you have grown to love and care for—that, for me, was Tanzania. In many ways, I cannot stop thinking about how I abandoned that role, even though required. Regardless, we must keep looking forward during this crisis.