Pandemic – the diary of a dentist on the Covid wards
We speak to Harshini Pindolia about her recently released book Pandemic and what inspired her to write it.
Can you please introduce yourself and just give us your background?
I’m 30 years of age. I live in London and I’m a dentist.
I have the privilege of working across a hospital setting where I treat patients based on primary disease or referrals for secondary disease.
When the pandemic struck, anyone with any sort of hospital experience was redeployed. That’s when all of the madness basically began.
But generally I work in a general practice. But I do spend two or three days a week in hospital as well.
You’ve launched a book that you’ve called Pandemic. Can you tell us what this book is all about please?
I started the book when the pandemic hit.
I was just taking notes of what was happening. A new year goal from 2020 was to keep more of a diary and look back on the positives and the negatives in the day.
When March came around, I just felt myself writing a bit more about what was going on.
Then, as everything evolved and the dental practice shut, I moved into the Covid wards.
I was sort of writing it on my laptop and that’s basically how the book began.
So the book basically shares the story of me as just an ordinary dentist who was asked to go onto the front line.
It covers the things that happen inside and outside of the four walls of the hospital.
I try to take a lot of charitable initiatives. So I tried to incorporate that in Pandemic when I could see where they were certain flaws in the system or where we could help people a bit better.
I’ve tried to amalgamate that all into the book and share the journey of someone who is quite ordinary, going through something quite extraordinary.
I tried not to cut out any of the bits that were happening in the hospital. I feel like most of us could only see it through our TV screens. So even when my family and friends read it, they had no idea.
What inspired you to take all those notes to take all those entries and create a book out of it?
I’m always thinking of new ways to raise money for charity. How can you come up with something that people can engage with and want to support you?
So, when I started to write the notes I was showing certain bits to my friends, they said I should write a book.
I put it in a book and then hopefully the proceeds of the book and everything that we raise can also go to help many more people.
Both ideas came together but it was a steep challenge. The main challenge was first of all finding time to write it.
When the pandemic was over, Amazon said they would like to publish it. That’s how it all took off. I had to reread it all again and it’s hard to relive it.
Secondly, I wasn’t sure I really wanted to share that much of my personal life and what actually happened to me.
But I had to say it how it was, otherwise I wouldn’t be doing the book justice.
How similar is the story to what the rest of the dental profession went through?
I would say very similar.
Anybody who’s had any sort of experience in hospital was called to the front line in some way.
A lot of people had a lot of hospital experience. But some may only have been working in hospital for three or four months. So they were really thrown in the deep end of it.
I was watching them go through the mental and physical effects, to the point where you sometimes stop and ask whether they think they should take some sort of formal support from someone to talk about what they’re going through.
The book is hopefully an outlet for some people, not just dental professionals, doctors, anyone, anybody involved. For them to realise someone else went through the same thing, it was actually OK to go home and have a little cry about it. Or to go home and take it personally.
What have you taken away from your experience during the pandemic and implemented into the dental practice?
I think without sounding too cliche, it would have to be life is too short.
As a dental profession, we’re very quick to take a lot of stress on our own shoulders.
We take the stress off our patients, the stress of our workload. So, I think it’s mainly to just focus on being a dentist. I love to do the job that I do. But I realised that I’ve got to make time for myself as well.
As a profession where you’re so busy, it’s often easy to just say ok to doing another day at work. Whereas actually, it’s important to take that time for yourselves.
When you see the effects of what people are going through, suddenly it’s a 30-year-old who probably thought he had another 40/50 years to live who was suddenly not there anymore, that’s a lot to take.
You’ve decided to donate the proceeds of the book to charity. What charity have you decided to support and why did you choose to do that?
I’ve tried to split it over three charities. So, the first is the NHS charity to support all the NHS workers and families that have undergone severe trauma.
I think they definitely deserve some of the profits to help continue doing the great work that they’re doing to support everyone.
The second charity is Operation Smile, which is a charity quite close to my heart and they do some absolutely fantastic work.
But they do need basic resources to carry out the operations that they do.
The third charity is UNICEF to support any children or families whose lives have been torn apart by the virus.
So, all Covid related, but I’m sure each charity will do its best to support the people that they target.
The book is called Pandemic. How can people find out more information about it? Where can they purchase it from?
It’s available for purchase on Amazon.
Some people have asked me if they can have a signed copy. In which case just message me via social media or email me and and I’ll order a copy, sign it and I’ll post it to you.
There’s various social media pages like on Facebook or Instagram where you can find out more about it. Amazon are in the process of releasing an audiobook when I find a minute to record it.