The U.S. Surgeon General credits the new surge in COVID cases to “pandemic fatigue,” but it’s nothing compared to what healthcare workers on the frontlines are going through. TIME recently reported that nurses are experiencing burnout, but it often goes unseen. A nurse recently employed a social media trend to draw attention to the behind the scenes fatigue.
An ICU nurse posted her own “how it started/how it’s going” photo on Twitter, and long story short, it’s not going that great. The before photo of Kathryn, an ICU nurse in Nashville, was taken in the middle of April right after she completed nursing school. The after photo revealed just how much literal sweat and tears healthcare workers put in while treating people during the pandemic.
How it started How it's going pic.twitter.com/cg32Tu7v0B
— kathedrals?? (@kathryniveyy) November 22, 2020
Some people refuse to wear masks for even 10 minutes in the grocery store because it’s “not comfortable,” but it’s nothing compared to the safety measures Kathryn and other nurses have take on a daily basis. Kathryn’s photo displayed a sweaty face and facial marks from her PPE. “I mean just the physical effects of wearing all that PPE (personal protective equipment) for so long,” she told CTVNews. “We’re dehydrated all the time because we’re sweating so much and because with the masks on, you can’t drink until you leave the floor or go into the break room to take your mask off and drink.”
Kathryn posted the photo because she wanted to draw attention to what nurses deal with on a daily basis. “It’s exhausting,” Kathryn told CTVNews. “People don’t see it. They don’t. They don’t see what we see. They don’t see the reality of this every day.”
Ultimately, Katherine wants people to take the pandemic seriously. “There’s still no definitive treatment for this disease and so to see my patients, these people that I provide care for, suffer so intensely and then see other people acting like that’s not happening, or like they couldn’t cause that to happen to someone else, is infuriating,” she told CTVNews.
Katherine stressed that the best way to ease the burden on tired nurses is to take care of yourself. “There isn’t any cavalry coming to relieve us or take our place if we fall, and things are only going to get worse,” she told Scary Mommy. “We will do everything we can for as long as we can to help as many as we can, but the public has to do their part to limit the spread of covid or the healthcare system and the people who work in healthcare will collapse under the weight of it.”
The nurse received a lot of positive support on Twitter. Katherine also encouraged other nurses to share photos of their haggard looks and mask marks. “Healthcare workers, drop your covid unit pictures and stories in this thread. People need to see the reality of what this disease does and we may not be able to film inside the hospitals, but we can show people what it’s done to us. They have to see,” she Tweeted.