2 a.m. thoughts of an emergency physician during the pandemic


Ooh child
Things are gonna get easier.
Ooh child
Things’ll get brighter.

I sing these words to my one-year-old son quite often; I believe them. I’ll never lose hope.

Hospitalizations hit greater than 90,000 yesterday, and the trajectory is frightening.

This is not a political issue; it’s bigger than any one individual’s opinion. People will continue to die alone and say goodbye on FaceTime.

Thank your grocery store worker and the cleaning person cleaning every COVID+ patient room in the hospital. They don’t have a choice to work remotely or to minimize their exposure.

I’m not a hero. I’m a doctor who took an oath and will fulfill it every day for the rest of my life, pandemic or not: do no harm. It’s a pretty simple concept.

I don’t want to be called “a hero.” I want people to do the right thing—enough of entitled bull.

I love my 73-year-old mother, a three-time cancer survivor, and grandmother of eight grandkids who cherish her.  I refuse to see her, because as a front line provider, I may cause her demise. It seems many others need instant gratification and don’t see the long game. Maybe it’s time we all adopt the mindset of doing no harm and protect everyone, especially our elderly. My one-year-old son would like to see his grandma one day again soon.

If people have love in their hearts and care about something bigger than themselves, maybe, just maybe, they can think twice about their neighbor, their loved ones, and not only about themselves.

Many of us have fumbled and made mistakes in the last nine months; it doesn’t mean we can’t change our course now. Every individual’s daily decisions can make a huge impact. It’s a choice.

Like I told my own family very recently, I’m not a hero. The most love you can show is to mask up, minimize unnecessary risk and spread this message to help get us back to some normalcy, so our children can, one day, walk in the rays of the beautiful sun, anywhere they want to, without fear.

Keith Schenker is an emergency physician.

Image credit: Shutterstock.com


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