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He’s battled COVID-19 as a doctor and a patient. The emotional toll, he says, is the untold story

Updated: May. 7, 2020 at 5:28 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - In March, New York physician Dr. Nick Tyau got sick with COVID-19. His classic symptoms were body aches and fever.

“What followed was the loss of taste and smell and anorexia,” he said.

The Punahou graduate from Kaneohe says despite supportive family and friends, he felt depressed, alone and anxious while in isolation for two weeks in his home that he shares with his wife, two children and in-laws.

“I’m very fortunate to have that social support and family checking in on me every day and more that were willing to talk to me on the phone,” he said.

“But I was so exhausted at certain points of the day that I’d answer people, but I didn’t really want to go into the emotional side of things mostly because I didn’t want them to worry about it."

So he called crisis hotlines to talk to professionals.

“Three in the morning the rest of the house and New York is asleep so calling someone who has no emotional connection to me was actually very therapeutic,” Tyau said.

"I've always valued mental health and this was something that I learned in high school in Punahou actually."

Tyau works in the heart of the nation’s COVID-19 crisis — at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, which just released its 5,000th COVID patient.

He says he knows dozens of colleagues who have battled the illness.

Despite wearing medical armor, Tyau has a sense of humor and with a large photo of himself on his gear, he wants his COVID-19 patients to know there’s compassion behind his shield.

“It allows me to let them know that I have experienced a sample of what they experienced,” he said.

Tyau spent two weeks recovering at home and is back at work on the front lines.

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