by Tory Toles, MD

Beep. Beep. Beep.

Muffled voices, shuffling feet.

Smell of chlorhexidine.

I never expected the anxiety, the growing panic and shudder that couldn’t be stifled, all because of a cough. Cough. Cough. Cough. The ragged breathing, the machines beeping against stiff lungs. Are we really not over this? Every time I walk through the doors, I expect a different scene. Maybe it’s my optimism or maybe it’s simply foolishness—a foolish hope, a pleading wish for the pandemic to be over. What started out as sickening fear of the death of my loved ones or even myself while dealing with PPE shortages and the shrouding unknown, has turned into a feeling of overwhelming disappointment and fatigue. To watch so many perish, feeling defeated, to a profound triumph, with tears of relief after vaccines were released, to a dull heartache and despair when people yell their vaccination fears and leave masks below the chin or off altogether. So, I enter the double doors, eyes drifting through the glass towards the beeps, the coughs, the ragged breathing, and sigh against the tightness in my own chest. I pull on my gown, the gloves, the N95 and goggles and pause for a moment to quiet the fear banging in my ears. I think of my husband and recheck the seal on my mask. I turn the handle and the burst of air greets me like an old familiar friend.

Dr. Toles is from Las Vegas, Nevada. She completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and her medical degree at Temple University School of Medicine. Her medical interests include medical education, office-based procedures, and reproductive and women’s health. She enjoys indoor rock climbing, kayaking, hiking, cooking, and playing music. She chose the University of Utah because it is an institution known for innovation and provides a diversity of educational opportunities, community involvement and strong commitment to care, all while located in an area with amazing natural beauty and outdoor recreation.

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