My dad, my hero, is on the front lines

Haleigh Porter and her father, Fulton Porter, on vacation in Martha’s Vineyard. Photo courtesy Haleigh Porter

Living in a society where nothing feels certain can be scary. What’s even more scary is knowingly putting your health at risk for the lives of others.

This is something my dad has done every day for the last 27 years working as a physician. I have always been extremely proud of my dad. Since I was a kid, it always excited me to tell people that my dad, Fulton Porter, is a doctor.

To me, that was equivalent to being a superhero. I thought it was so cool that every day he loved going to work and while there he could possibly save a life.

Since I can remember my dad has always worked long hours. There have been times when he worked seven days a week and sometimes returning home in the wee hours of the morning after being on call two days out of the week.

For us, this was what was considered to be normal.

While I have experienced this kind of work for my dad for most of my life, nothing could prepare my family or my father for the rigor and pure stress of the virus that is COVID-19.

While my dad still works the same hours, everything else has changed. For starters, my dad now wears scrubs under his doctor’s coat, something I’ve never seen him do.  Every night he washes his scrubs in preparation for the following morning. My dad also isolates himself in our basement. He works, eats and showers in our basement. My dad showers immediately upon his arrival home from the hospital, sometimes we barely get in a “hello” before he races to the shower.

Not only has our family routine changed, but I have seen my dad physically change. He is drained every night he gets home. He stresses hygiene more than he ever has before and during his off days he takes a two-mile run, a practice that helps strengthen his lungs.

Living with a health care worker has given me a front-row seat to some of the effects of COVID-19. I understand the frustration of doctors around the world who are mad, sad and confused because our government is not providing accurate information nor giving proper instruction to doctors, civilians and beyond. I can hear my dad’s phone ringing off the hook because friends, family and associates are calling him nonstop looking for advice or maybe even a prognosis. My friend’s cousin’s cousin asked to speak with my dad because they haven’t been able to see a doctor.  It is stressful, it is exhausting, but it reminds me why I’m so proud of him.

Everyday essential workers (EMT’s, firefighters, doctors/nurses, food industry workers, morticians, etc.) risk their lives and the lives of their family members to tend to the needs and demands of the public. Please do not let their sacrifice be in vain. Stay inside.