Devon Nicole Oechsle is an ER nurse on the front lines fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Her husband, Jason, is a firefighter medic who is also putting himself at enormous risk to help those in need.
Devon recently went viral for her heartbreaking post on Facebook in which she explained that they decided to send their young daughter, Ellie, to live with a friend. And while she received an incredible amount of support and appreciation for the sacrifices she is making, there was also backlash. Horrible, uncalled-for backlash.
Along with this teary picture of herself, Devon writes, "This is my current situation. Jason and I just had to have a very hard conversation to send Ellie away tonight for maybe a month... to stay with my amazing friend Anita, who did not even hesitate to keep her for us. And Ellie loves 'Miss Nita.'
"This is the face of someone who feels punished for trying to be the 'good guy.' My job as an ER nurse is just that, my job, I don't ever feel like it's anything crazy or special or deserving of accolades. Jason feels the same way as a ff/medic.
"But, our jobs are important right now and unlike many, we are still required to work. And that work carries a high risk of being infected, or spreading this damn virus. I have already been in contact with +covid patients, and the last thing we want to do is have Ellie surrounded by the potential virus we could carry home.
"So, I feel punished for having to be the 'good guy.' I have to send my 3.5-year-old child away. I won't get to visit her. I won't get to hug her. I won't get to tuck her in at night. We have FaceTime, and that's it. For up to a month, or who knows how long...and many of my coworkers have had to do the same.
Devon ends her post with an entreaty: "So, if you've read this far and you are having to stay home with your kids all day, consider it a blessing and absolutely NOTHING less. And for heaven's sake, everyone, STAY. AT. HOME. The sooner this crap is over the quicker my kid can come home."
Devon's post reached viral status very quickly, drumming up hundreds of thousands of reactions, shares, and comments. Most were extremely appreciative of the immense sacrifice Devon and her husband made to be able to continue to help on the front lines.
But hidden among all the well wishes were instances of vitriol and criticism. Some people thought (and even deigned to post!) that Devon was a bad mother for choosing her job over her child, that they would never "let their job come first" over the wellbeing of their kid.
Obviously, these people are lunatics who would probably crumble if they were faced with a fraction of the pressure or sense of duty or stress that comes along with the jobs that Devon and Jason perform on a daily basis.
Still, these comments sting and Devon felt she had to address them. In an edit to her original post, she writes, "Since this has gone viral somehow, let me just set one thing straight. Don't you DARE come at me for 'getting rid of my child' and saying, 'You made a choice, there were other options,' and, 'No job is worth sending my kid to a stranger to raise.'
"1. Sure would be a crappy day for you if all the staff in your ER weren't there because they all quit their jobs to stay at home with their kids.
"2. Tell me what other options I had since you are so in my shoes?
"3. She is 15 minutes down the road, staying with someone she loves and who loves her. We didn't just wake up and decide to leave her with a stranger! All the keyboard warriors can just sit down."
While I'm glad that Devon had the wherewithal to tell them off, she should never have had to in the first place. The mere idea that anyone is even a smidge less than completely in awe of our healthcare workers and all that they are doing right now (and all the time!) is baffling to me.
Thank your healthcare workers. Realize that if they weren't doing what they're doing, no one would be. They are working harder and sacrificing more than most people probably ever will. Devon and her husband did the right thing, a thing that was a very hard to do, and they should be receiving nothing but sympathy and support.