The best Christmas gift you can give: Wear a mask, avoid other covid-19

  • Connexions
  • 2020-12-15
  • 1438

Christmas mask .jpg

        Dec. 25 is my favorite day of every year. Since the beginning of my medical training, I have spent every Christmas with my family and, fortunately, never within the walls of a hospital. And while I still retain my uncontained excitement for the holiday I hold sacred, Christmas this year is tainted by feelings of fear and disappointment. 

As a doctor in New York, I have worked in various intensive care units with patients with covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, beginning in March during the height of the pandemic. We watched people die despite our best efforts, in isolation, unable to see their families. And today, ICUs all over the country are flooded with sick patients with covid-19, hospitals are short on staff and cases are only continuing to rise.

Yet, I still see people maskless on the subway or on crowded streets. Some are in denial, choosing to pretend that everything is normal. Others, perhaps, believe that they are invincible, but the virus does not discriminate. And I recognize that we are tired. This year has been physically and emotionally exhausting for everyone, health-care providers in particular. We all are craving quality time with family and friends; we are craving something to rejoice and celebrate. Many of my colleagues have not seen their families in months. We have been deprived of so much interpersonal connection and human touch, hiding behind goggles, face shields, N95 masks and surgical masks. For many of us, those relationships and connections to our patients are the best part of working in health care.

But I’m also scared. I’m scared to expose my parents, my grandmother, or my fiance to the virus. I’m scared on behalf of the families of my future patients with covid-19. I’m scared of what’s going to happen during these next few months if people gather with their extended families for the holidays.

The spirit of Christmas is one that celebrates joy, love, compassion, generosity, kindness and sacrifice. Of course, we aim to demonstrate these virtues all year long, but the holiday season is an important reminder to us that we can be better. We must not falter.

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