Dear ALL Healthcare Professionals,
I feel the need to tell you how precious you are. I want to be gentle with my words because I know you are fragile right now. I know in the midst of this crisis you are holding it together, but barely. You have on your superhero armor. You are masters of compartmentalizing your lives, you couldn’t do your jobs otherwise. It is tough to do them in regular circumstances, but in this climate, it is impossible unless you are called. And you are, therefore you have been given the grace and the passion to bring healing, under pressure.
I want you to know, I see you. I see you in the ambulances fighting to stabilize the lungs and transport to someplace that hopefully can help. I see you in the ER getting the Covid patients ready to hand off to ICU. I see x-ray and phlebotomy personnel. I see lab techs and CNAs. I see custodians and food service workers. All pulling together to keep things moving for anyone who shows up.
I see you in ICU, in all your battle gear, doing everything you know and some things you don’t, to save patients. I see critical care personnel and specialists. Respiratory therapists, doctors and nurses…always the nurses…going above and beyond. I see your kindness and compassion as you speak to the dying. I see your head hang down when the last breath of another one is released. I see your celebrations when one turns the corner for home.
I see those of you whose jobs have been temporarily cut because you work in the OR and most surgeries have been cancelled. I see the struggle for you to be observing and not in the battle. I see those of you who are retired, coming back to stand in for those professionals who fall ill with the disease. I see professionals who are traveling to hot spots and running into the fire instead of away from it. I see all those who are trying to keep hospitals clean and operational from an invisible foe.
I know you feel as if you are boxing the air. I know as the death around you rises, your ability to remain emotionally detached as a professional is weakening. Tears are close to the surface and sometimes spill out in the shower or on your pillow. Your heart is breaking. You are tired. You are likely hungry. You are hot and need to breathe fresh air, but you don’t dare, because the air around you now can kill you.
Your strength is formidable because you are warriors, but you have hearts made of flesh. You have feelings and emotions which threaten to overflow as you navigate this place. Fear is behind your masks. Worry is in your eyes. Not only for your patients, you know you are exposed. You know you could expose your children, your parents, or your spouse. And you know that this disease looks like up close and personal.
As medical professionals you know too much, and it eats at you, but your mental health has to be put on the back burner during the nightmare that is your work. The trauma forces you to keep moving, keep fighting. However, the suffering seeps into your subconscious and wakes you in the night. It taunts you and demands you do more. It tells you that you are not enough…that you are failing. It is these thoughts you have to banish in order to keep going. Pushing them down deep inside. Waiting for the explosion or the meltdown and hoping that neither happen while you are trying to save lives.
It is from this tired exhausted place you hear of protests. It is from this emotionally charged powder keg that you have to defend your work, your calling, and your knowledge that we are not anywhere close to out of the woods. At the height of this crisis, the unkind words sting more than at any other time. What is worse is that no matter what you say, no matter how bad you try to tell people it is, they do not believe you. They have not stood where you are standing. They do not know. They cannot.
Precious Ones, do not listen to the words. Plug your ears. You cannot fight more than one battle at a time. You cannot stop ignorance. It is not up to you to defend yourselves. Throwing yourselves into a war of words will only reduce your effectiveness. It will cause you to stew and churn in a sea of anger and bitterness. It will not bring healing to your patients nor to your heart. You do what you do because you are gifted to do it. Because you care. Because you have been called to it. Your actions speak louder than words ever will.
You are the light of life for those you treat. You are their calm and their peace in a frightening time. You may not feel it, but you walk in it. You carry it with you. You enter and they know they are not alone. That you are for them. That you will do all that is humanly possible for them and then you will do more. And when all possible hope is exhausted you will pray for them as they slip away alone.
This is your life. This is your chosen profession. It is more than a job. It is beyond a career. The tender part of your heart is what makes you so good at what you do. It is the part that weeps when others are in pain. It rejoices when healing comes. So be gentle with yourself. Nurture your softness, don’t bury it. A shattered heart requires glue and a lot of time to come back together. Mercy and compassion are in short supply in our world, but they are the glue in yours. Use some of that glue on yourself. The more you give it away, the more you have. It is the opposite of depletion…it is restoration; enlarging your capacity to care for your own wounded but beautiful heart.
You are valued. You cannot be replaced. You are priceless. You are doing a phenomenal job. You are lovely in your care for others. Your heart is exquisite. A national treasure. You are seen. You are known. Rest in that. Eat. Sleep. Cry. Rest. Pray. Then go back to do what you know to do.
One day, in the post Corona world, history will report that healthcare workers saved the world. Your legacy will be your defender. The lives you save will create ripples for generations to come. You are a part of that. Don’t ever forget it.
An Appreciative Citizen