I believe this pandemic has woken up our values as human beings, and I see no better representation of those values than the people in my surroundings every day as a primary care physician. My colleagues and healthcare workers are people with an unwavering commitment to their communities. When others choose to curl up and hide, they come to work and serve on the medical front lines alongside me. 

My staff and nurses have kept me on a solid foundation in spite of how rocky the ride might have been at times. Daily, I witness their happy, upbeat, and optimistic vibes. But I also know that some days, deep down, they are struggling to find positivity. 

The Heroes

These are people who have embodied positive psychology in spite of the supreme pathology consuming our new normal of living and working during a pandemic.

Not only do they inspire me to show up each day to meet them on the battlefield, but they still find time to run after me, reminding me that I forgot to put on my protective goggles. My colleagues show up for every moment with more than sheer courage; they show up with grace and gratitude. 

However, it would be expected from medical professionals to be great caretakers. They spend a few to several years learning and working towards certifications and licenses that would prepare them for exactly what to do when caring for patients. The training is extensive, expensive, and is necessary for them to understand all the components of taking care of others. 

The Unsung Heros

Lately, I have been noticing another type of caregiver. One without formal training or years of education, and specific medical training. These caregivers are the new unsung heroes of today’s fight against COVID-19. They are the ones who accompany my regular patients. And they deserve our appreciation alongside my medical staff. 

Inspirational Family Members and Friends

It is a nurse’s job to be strong and be there for patients, but it is also worth mentioning the caregivers who are family members of my patients. Recently, the caregivers who inspire me the most are those who have stepped up to help others, regardless of how vulnerable they might feel in their own positions. 

Sometimes I have to stop myself to remember to savor what I’m witnessing around me. We truly are in a unique time in our lives. And to see so much dedication, selflessness and commitment from the loved ones of those who are sick, is marvelous and inspiring. 

The caregivers of patients I encounter on a daily basis are the unsung heroes of the pandemic. My encounters with family members and friends who take on the role of caregivers remind me of one of my top favorite quotes from Mark Twain:  “The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer someone else up.” 

I have witnessed many occasions when de facto caregivers, whether it’s a husband, wife, son, daughter, brother, sister, or friend, are spiraling into pure exhaustion, but they continue to commit to care for their family members. When I am at a patient’s bedside, and I compliment patients on their company, I almost immediately see a dazzling smile on the face of both the patient and the caregiver. This is a subject I talk about at length in my book, Teaming Up Against Cancer: Simple, Powerful Ways to Beat the Odds and Take Your Life Back. With the support of these loving caregivers, our patients continue to get care and love once they leave our office. 

I see these unsung caregivers walk a fine line between channeling their own fears and honoring their family responsibilities. You know the ones…

  • Those who not only talk, but walk the walk of caring for others. 
  • Those who add value to someone else’s life daily. 
  • Those individuals who do the things others don’t want to do. 
  • Those who put their own interest on the side while serving the interest of another human being.

In Conclusion

It’s easy to forget that caregivers come in many forms. When the time comes for you to help your loved one, be brave, and be strong. We are all in this together, so let’s show that we care through words and actions, and not leave all the caretaking to nurses and medical professionals. When we all care for each other, we will all get better faster than you can imagine. Tweet me @ReyzanShali with your questions and concerns about the caregivers you know.