Doctors and nurses are on the front lines of the war against coronavirus, going into battle on a daily basis against a deadly enemy. They're putting their own health on the line to treat their patients and keep the rest of us safe.
And many of them are also being forced to make another devastating sacrifice—social distancing from their own families to keep the virus from infecting their loved ones and to help flatten the curve.
Some of them have taken to Twitter to share their heartbreaking new reality.
One doctor/mom wrote: "I'm about to separate from my family within my home for [who knows how many] months. So that I can [keep] treating you, whilst trying to keep my family safe. It hurts. No hugs from my girls, no cuddles from my partner. [Please] socially distance NOW, to make my sacrifice worth it."
As parents, we all know how hard it is to be away from our kids for any amount of time—it's hard to imagine having to cope with separating from them for an unknown period, to not be able to hold them in the midst of the pervading fear and anxiety we're all dealing with. And we're so grateful to these first responders.
That thread continued: " We will do it, because we will step up and do our job. We'll be tired, anxious, and, almost certainly, a patient ourselves at some point.. we just ask for your help now Cancel book club Cancel that 1st [birthday] party. Cancel meetings. Please help to #FlattenTheCurve"
Another doctor, whose spouse is an emergency room physician, shared that her husband is also taking extreme measures:
My spouse is a physician in the emergency dept, and is actively treating #coronavirus patients. We just made the di… https://t.co/iBdKUioB8c
— Rachel Patzer, PhD, MPH (@RachelPatzerPhD) 1584408900.0
Rachel Patzer shared that with a newborn baby and two other small children at home, it's too great of a risk for her husband to come home and mix with the family as he continues to treat coronavirus patients. For men and women in situations like these—giving up the chance to see their babies grow up, to snuggle their kids and kiss their partners hello—it's a huge sacrifice.
Viral video: Health care workers on the front lines of coronavirus are asking us to stay home
An anonymous user on TikTok uploaded a video that has gone viral because it shows the sacrifice parents working in medicine are making during coronavirus and the steps they want us to take.
In the clip medical responders wearing personal protective equipment (gowns, masks, gloves and eye shields) hold up pieces of paper displaying messages for the public.
"We also have families and can't stay home..." one sheet reads.
"Be responsible, stay home, because I can't," says another message.
"Help us! Take care of me, I'll take care of you," another piece of paper reads.
Author Brené Brown posted the clip to her Instagram, captioning it: "To all the healthcare professionals and to the people who love them - thank you for protecting us. We will do the same. It's such a small ask, friends."
For anyone not taking this threat seriously, these stories should serve as a reminder that we all need to do our part to get through this crisis. Social distancing is hard, but if these doctors can do it so can we.
[This post was originally published March 18, 2020. It has been updated.]