“When the news was all about Coronavirus coming from China, Italy, or the USA. I started to worry about it coming to Brazil. A lot of colleagues and other Doctors told me to calm down and not worry but how could I calm down. It was all over the news. Brazil is a third world country. Things will get worse if the pandemic hits the country. But people here said things like, “God is Brazilian, he would not harm us.”
I am Emanuelle, a pediatrician from São Paulo, Brazil. I live with my family – my husband and three kids, and I work as a Pediatric in a very poor area of Brazil.
The first COVID-19 case was reported at the end of February and then the numbers started to rise. People who never traveled abroad started to get infected. This was because they worked in the Periphery at someone’s home who had traveled abroad.
I have three children myself, and I work for kids’ health and wellbeing. But I am not ashamed of saying this out loud - “I am scared. I am afraid of contaminating myself and then contaminating other health workers or my family.”
One day I came back from work and asked my husband to separate for the time being. He took our children and left for 20 days. Those 20 days were one of the hardest periods that I have lived as a woman, as a mother, as a wife, and as a healthcare worker.
Working with kids in the Emergency Room made me realize that they are afraid and scared to see us all covered in PPE gears. They feel that we will harm them, and they cry a lot. I was very disheartened by seeing this. Later, I saw a picture on Instagram by a Respiratory Therapist from the USA. He had a picture of himself smiling pinned to his PPE. This was to calm down the distressed patients. I absolutely loved the idea. My daughters love The Little Mermaid so I put a picture of the mermaid on my PPE gear. Whenever I walk into the Emergency Ward, I say to the kids that “I am a little mermaid who has come here to care of them”. They look at the picture and feel calm. This small gesture has calmed their mothers too. After seeing this a lot of my colleagues have started doing this. It brings me happiness that somehow I have helped in comforting the situation.
One of the Doctors I knew got infected and died with COVID-19. He was an Intensive Care Physician and was only 32 years old with a good health history. It was hard for me to sink that in. It makes me scared to hear such news about health care workers getting infected with the virus. However, the surprising bit is that some people still do not believe that there is anything like Coronavirus. They still feel that it is just another flu. I want to say to them that Coronavirus is serious. It is not just another flu. I am helping the patients heal, and I know how serious this is.
My youngest daughter is 3, and she was very homesick – missing her Mama. Looking at this my husband stepped up and said, “We all are very scared. But we are a family and we will stick by you until this all ends.” They all came back home. It is the greatest gift for me to have my family by my side. I am still worried and nervous but I ensure I protect myself with all the right precautions. We are taking every day as a new day. I am strong, and I have a purpose. I know when I am out there fighting all day, I am going to go back home to my family. This gives me a lot of strength and energy to go on.
I have faith in people. I have faith in the actions of health care workers. Please be calm. This time shall pass.”
You Humanity pays respect and gratitude to Emanuelle for going above and beyond to contribute towards Humanity.
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