This is not a drill. The COVID-19 pandemic is real.

The pandemic is real. We are at the start of a major surge, and it is worse than the first wave. We should all be back in quarantine, but none of our leaders are strong enough to say it.

I may look happy, but in reality I’m angry, exhausted, and burned out. I’m angry at the government for not taking swifter action and more caution. I’m angry at the people who are not taking the pandemic seriously. I’m angry at watching my friends and coworkers getting sick, not taking care of themselves, and having to choose who lives and dies. Very few truly understand the toll that COVID-19 has taken on healthcare workers — it is killing us.

While many of you are staying safe at home, seeing friends, going out to dinner and bars, sometimes wearing masks, and not taking the pandemic seriously, healthcare workers show up every single day not knowing what to expect. We do this because we care for our patients and we are the only ones who can help them. We fear contracting COVID-19 and spreading it to our loved ones, but we still don our PPE and see every patient, no matter what. We are exhausted from too little sleep and from being overworked, but we try to work with a smile when our mental health is suffering.

I am immunosuppressed, and I still show up to work, no matter what, no questions asked. If I get COVID-19, I will most likely get very sick and could potentially die. Every day in the back of my mind I wonder, “Will today be the day I get COVID-19?” I’ve already had two COVID-19 scares, and with the last one, I told a loved one what my dying wishes would be. That’s not something that I thought I’d ever have to do or put on another person at the age of 32. I’m afraid, as are many others who I know.

Please be mindful of us as we fight this pandemic. We need your help. Wear your mask. Social distance. Wash your hands. Stay at home. Care for others and be mindful of their risks. Be smart and be careful.

University of Colorado Family Medicine Resident. I specialize in primary care innovations, diet & lifestyle medicine, and the gut microbiota.