OPINION | Be sad, be mad, be bored, but stay HOME

This column is an opinion from Dr. Tito Daodu, a pediatric surgery fellow at the Alberta Children's Hospital.

Late last week, I woke up with a cough.

My heart immediately sank.

I can't count the number of times I have woken up with a cough in my life. But that morning was different because I knew that coughing would not only prevent me from going to work, it would also require self-isolation, and likely trigger a test for COVID-19.

As a health-care worker and senior surgical fellow, I could not absolutely say "no" to the question of whether I had contact with someone with COVID-19. After my initial screening for symptoms and risk factors, I was directed to go to Calgary's drive-through testing location.

It was a totally surreal experience: nervously sitting in a drive-through, waiting to get deep swabs of my nostrils, as I watched health-care workers move from car to car in protective equipment.

I started to self-isolate as I waited for my test results, feeling crushed by the fact that a simple cough could take me away from the front lines of the work I am so passionate about.

After just a few days of isolation, I'm already itching to do something different. Fortunately, my test came back negative, but I'm continuing to isolate as the guidelines recommend.

It's frustrating being at home. But I also know that these precautions are the absolute right thing to do. 

Tough choices

Over the past few weeks, I, like everyone else, have faced a lot of tough choices and major disappointments resulting from the restrictions that have necessarily been placed on the entire population amidst this global crisis.

As people lose jobs, socially distance, and cancel essential events, it's easy to feel as if the world is coming to an end. In some ways, it is. Life as we know it can't carry on as it used to, and the ripple effects of what we are experiencing now will continue to affect us even after this crisis is over.

But for us to reach the point where coronavirus is a distant memory, we have to act aggressively now. There is no recovery without treatment. And the cure for this pandemic is not just good hygiene and refraining from touching your face, it is also about flattening the curve by keeping people apart.

Jim Brown/CBC

It may feel alarmist. It may even seem totally stupid.

I have heard from countless friends who are incredulous about the situation, but one of my colleagues said it best: "Lots of people are losing a lot. But they would give it up in a second if they realized the alternative was the death of their loved ones."

I have personally had to deal with the cancellation of trips, conferences and job interviews.

I am currently dealing with the prospect of having to postpone my June wedding, which, with a guest list of over 400 people from all over the world and three days' worth of events, amounts to little less than a small international conference.

I have cried

It's been disappointing and, at times, devastating to have to cancel so many things that bring joy and togetherness.

I have cried with many friends who are getting married before me and already have had to postpone. I have felt sorry for myself. I have grieved with my friends who are losing their jobs. And in all of this, I would still not call our public health response an over-reaction. 

I'm sad. I'm mad. I'm bored. And I'm at home instead of going in to work to help with the crisis response, because I would only make it worse if I made even one of my co-workers sick.

It's OK to feel fed up, tired or disappointed, but refusing to socially distance or self-isolate is not just foolish, it is selfish!

I am saddened when I read reports of people who refuse to follow the recommendations put out by our public health authorities. People who care more about their personal freedom than the health of an entire population. People who do not consider the impact of infecting the elderly and immune-compromised.

Each one of us is now collectively responsible for preventing the spread of COVID-19 and our system from being overwhelmed.

We have seen the heartbreaking example of Italy, where the death toll has now surpassed China.

We should all just stay home.

I don't know how long we will have to do this, but we will regret it if we don't.

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