What I’m Grateful For: The Power of a Thank You

MedStar infectious-disease doctor Osamuyimen Igbinosa on what keeps him going.

This article is part of Washingtonian‘s feature “Gratitude.” We asked dozens of notable Washingtonians as well as our readers: What are you most grateful for? Read some of their responses here.

Osamuyimen Igbinosa

MedStar Washington Hospital Center infectious-disease doctor who has been treating Covid-19 patients

How are you practicing gratitude?

Thinking back to March and early April, a lot of physicians were depressed, including me. You had the sense that nothing you do works. People were dying, a large number. I lost count. And they were dying without their family members. That was really depressing. I [finally] had the courage to talk to a coworker who’s also an infectious-disease physician. I realized that I wasn’t alone. She had the same anxiety I had. That was when we devised a strategy that we shouldn’t just dwell on the sad parts. We should pick one thing we are grateful for every day and share [it] with each other. That’s really helped both of us. She calls me and says, “I’m not going to tell you all of the bad news today—I’m going to tell you the good news. That patient we started Remdesivir for was extubated.” We started to see that although we thought we weren’t doing any good, we actually did some good.

What does it mean when you receive a thank-you from a patient?

It means a lot. We don’t expect a thank-you from anyone, to be honest. We do our work, the patient is discharged, and that’s it. But when we hear “thank you” from a family member, from a patient who almost died, someone saw how much effort we went through to make sure the person lives. It keeps us going.

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Mimi Montgomery Washingtonian
Associate Editor

Mimi Montgomery joined Washingtonian in 2018. Her work has appeared in Outside Magazine, Washington City Paper, DCist, and PoPVille. Originally from North Carolina, she now lives in Petworth.