Lubbock trauma surgeon opens up about pandemic PTSD

Updated: May. 14, 2021 at 9:47 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Though things are looking up, millions of healthcare workers are now coming to terms with the stress they have experienced during the pandemic.

Including Lubbock trauma surgeon, Dr. Brittany Bankhead-Kendall.

“It will never be the same. Because we all have this, this small graveyard in our minds, not only of the patients that we couldn’t save, but of the parts of ourselves that we couldn’t save,” she said.

Dr. Bankhead-Kendall recently opened up to The New Yorker about the raw emotions experienced living through not just one but two surges in the last year.

KCBD first featured Dr. Bankhead-Kendall in December, as she received her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

CLICK HERE: UMC Vaccinates begins vaccinating healthcare workers

But in the months leading up to her tears of joy, was a day-to-day struggle.

“It just all kind of came to a head one day. When I was driving home, it was one of those pretty Lubbock sunsets... I came over an overpass and it was just like, you know, would this all be easier if I wasn’t around?” she said.

“If I wasn’t here, would it be easier?”

The article details her experience from the start of the pandemic.

At the time she was a resident at Massachusetts General hospital in Boston, battling the East Coast spring surge.

In the Fall, she started at UMC and TTUHSC shortly before cases began to rise once again.

“While from a mental PTSD standpoint that’s no where you want to be, reliving this nightmare that you had a few months ago,” she said. “From a clinical and physician standpoint it’s like, well, I know this time how to deal with this.”

At first, she was apprehensive to share her story on a national platform.

But she has since connected to others, dealing with their collective trauma.

“I am a lucky one who’s been able to come out on the other side,” she said.

To survive, she let her emotions drive her care of patients as they lay alone with no family.

She too spent months away from her children during some of her most difficult moments.

At the height of the pandemic during the spring, she made the tough decision to send them to their grandparents to keep them safe.

It was months before she saw them again.

“With my daughter here in the Lubbock airport, the first time that I saw them, my son came and ran up and gave me a hug and she stood back,” Bankhead-Kendall explained. “She started talking and I realized how different she was, and how much I had missed.”

The mother of two hopes sharing her story will help them understand her sacrifice, one day.

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