During these recent world events, we find two types of people: those who follow all the rules, and those who believe that they are spared from this pandemic. Here are some words of wisdom from Dr. Emily Kahn, inspired by Dr. Britney Bowling.
“I am an Anesthesiologist. I am trained to stay calm when everything surrounding me is going downhill. In the OR, I am the anchor. The steady hand, the ready plans. I work with skilled CRNAs, nurses, PAs, surgical techs, and RTs who are an integral part of the team. We do critical care medicine everyday. We don’t run from the chaos. We are always ready to fight the good fight. We don’t scare easily, but yet I am terrified.
I am also a wife to a husband who never signed up to fight this fight or expose himself to what I bring home each day, but still loves me and sleeps next to me each night and puts on a brave face for our kids every morning. A mother of two, ages 3.5 and 16 months- one of whom spent 1 week in the PICU with respiratory issues – both of whom need me in a way that even the most amazing Dad would never replace. Sisters who would kidnap me and fight this fight for me if they could. A daughter to parents who would sign over their lives for mine without a second thought. An aunt to two nephews who I love like my own children. A friend to almost everyone I encounter. A colleague to some of the hardest working people you will ever meet.
And although I am terrified, I along with countless other healthcare workers am waking up each day and going to the hospital. I will be there to guide you through your surgery. I will make sure you have a pain free labor and will hold your hand through your c-section if your loved one can’t. I will be there to make sure your airway is secured when you are short of breath, hypoxic, and confused from a fever. But yet my team and I do not have the PPE (personal protective equipment) we need. Would you send a soldier into enemy fire without a gun? Without a helmet? Without clothing?
I know it is not if I get COVID-19, but only how sick I will become when it happens. Will I be lucky enough to only feel poorly for a few days? Will I need a little oxygen? Will I be the intubated instead of the intubator? Will I survive? Will I die alone because no one can visit me? Will my kids remember me if I do die? Will I be spared but bring the virus home to those I love the most? These are questions I never anticipated asking at the age of 34 and because of the profession I was called to serve. I am preparing to potentially die for you. I do not want your sympathy. I do not want your praise. I want you to stay home. I want you to pray for all of us. I want you to demand that we be provided the PPE we need to save your life or the life of someone you love. Now is not the time for self-interest. Now is the time to think about the greater good. If we are to make it to their other side of this, we must all be in it together. Stay home.
Do not fool yourselves. I am not an alarmist. I too read the news and I didn’t believe this was real either a few weeks ago. This virus is real. It is deadly. It is here. It is getting worse. People are dying. More people will die. Our ICUs are full. We are getting short on staff as we lose staff every day to the virus they were helping fight. If you have supplies at home, you don’t need them. Stay home. Help protect us so we can will be there when you need us.”