Health Care Workers Around the World Are Sharing Bruised, Exhausted Selfies After Hard Days Treating COVID-19 Patients

Nurses, doctors and other health care workers around the world are sharing photos of their bruised faces after spending hours at hospitals wearing protective masks and goggles treating patients with COVID-19.

As the pandemic has rapidly intensified the daily lives of workers in healthcare facilities around the world, doctors and nurses have urged other people to stay at home to limit the spread of the coronavirus. At the same time, the health care workers themselves have been pushed to the frontline of an outbreak that has already claimed nearly 14,000 lives, putting themselves in harm’s way both physically and mentally.

On social media, health care workers have been sharing anecdotes about their experience, as well as photos of their tired faces, marked by the protective gear they wear in hopes of not getting infected.

In the United Kingdom, anesthetic registrar Natalie Silvey posted an image of her reddened face after a hard day’s work on Twitter Saturday.

“This is the face of someone who just spent nine hours in personal protective equipment moving critically ill COVID-19 patients around London. I feel broken – and we are only at the start. I am begging people, please please do social distancing and self isolation,” Silvey wrote.

This is the face of someone who just spent 9 hours in personal protective equipment moving critically ill Covid19 patients around London.

I feel broken – and we are only at the start. I am begging people, please please do social distancing and self isolation #covid19

— Natalie Silvey (@silv24) March 21, 2020

Critical nurse Emma Sterba responded to Silvey with her own selfie, writing, “I feel your pain.”

I feel your pain this was me last night on shift as a critical nurse when I went on my lunch hour after wearing a mask and all the gear and do you know what I wouldn’t be doing anything else!

— Emma Sterba (🅂🅃🄴🅁🄱🅉) (@84sterbz) March 21, 2020

In Italy, images of healthcare workers Nicola Sgarbi, Martina Benedetti, and Alessia Bonari went viral as the three shared photos of their exhausted faces.

View this post on Instagram

Sono i un’infermiera e in questo momento mi trovo ad affrontare questa emergenza sanitaria. Ho paura anche io, ma non di andare a fare la spesa, ho paura di andare a lavoro. Ho paura perché la mascherina potrebbe non aderire bene al viso, o potrei essermi toccata accidentalmente con i guanti sporchi, o magari le lenti non mi coprono nel tutto gli occhi e qualcosa potrebbe essere passato. Sono stanca fisicamente perché i dispositivi di protezione fanno male, il camice fa sudare e una volta vestita non posso più andare in bagno o bere per sei ore. Sono stanca psicologicamente, e come me lo sono tutti i miei colleghi che da settimane si trovano nella mia stessa condizione, ma questo non ci impedirà di svolgere il nostro lavoro come abbiamo sempre fatto. Continuerò a curare e prendermi cura dei miei pazienti, perché sono fiera e innamorata del mio lavoro. Quello che chiedo a chiunque stia leggendo questo post è di non vanificare lo sforzo che stiamo facendo, di essere altruisti, di stare in casa e così proteggere chi è più fragile. Noi giovani non siamo immuni al coronavirus, anche noi ci possiamo ammalare, o peggio ancora possiamo far ammalare. Non mi posso permettere il lusso di tornarmene a casa mia in quarantena, devo andare a lavoro e fare la mia parte. Voi fate la vostra, ve lo chiedo per favore.

A post shared by Alessia Bonari (@alessiabonari_) on

In the United States, a nurse used her selfie to make a political statement.

This is what you look like after wearing an N95 mask all day. We don’t have enough of anything. We need @SenSanders more than ever now. Help us help you. #SandersSisters #NursesForBernie

— genithecrankynurse (@genithecrankyn1) March 19, 2020

Others have joined in on sharing and as cases are expected to rise throughout much of the world, many call for their fellow citizens to practice social distancing and self-isolation.

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If you were to wear an N95 mask properly for about 5-8 minutes in a patient’s room to let’s say take your patient to the bathroom safely, administer medications, or do an assessment, you’d probably have marks similar to these on your face⁣ ⁣ Not only are you left with these temporary marks, but you quickly experience difficulty breathing after the first few minutes of applying the mask. You also start to heat up from the layers of gown, gloves, and eye shield⁣ ⁣ …so here’s a massive thank you to the ICU nurses, intensivists, and RTs who are wearing this PPE for an upwards of 30-40 minutes, if not longer, during invasive (aerosol-generating) bedside procedures. Whether they’re dealing with an extubation or are all hands on deck during a code, they deserve a huge shout out for the physical exhaustion they endure when providing the safest & best care possible to their patients 💛⁣ ⁣ ⁣ ⁣ *Disclaimer – this photo was taken at home after wearing one of my Dad’s masks that he uses for work (he works in settings with fresh paint, dust, sanding, and welding)

A post shared by Barbara | Registered Nurse (@yournursingeducator) on

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Contributor: Tara Law