In an emotional plea with a photo taken after a 26-hour shift in a Toronto hospital, the hockey legend called on Canadians to look out for each other and wear face masks or coverings when needed.
“I saw a patient the other day. A rather young person who spent 3 months in ICU due to the effects of Covid 19. Not sure they will ever recover to full functioning,” she wrote. “It reminded me this virus doesn’t spare the young, it can happen to any of us.”
The four-time Olympic gold medallist is in her final year of medical school at the University of Calgary and has been working rotation in Toronto emergency rooms since before the pandemic broke out.
In her post, Wickenheiser detailed the experience of working in a hospital in the months since the pandemic hit.
“My days are long. Like everyone else right now, I juggle a lot of things day to day,” she wrote. “My brain feels like it might explode every day with so much info to learn and what seems like so little time to do it.”
Wickenheiser said that on top of the regular stress is the emerging “banter about masks.” But she reiterated that science says wearing face masks when you can’t socially distance helps prevent the transmission of COVID-19.
“I wear a mask 5 days a week from anywhere from 7 to 20 hours a day depending on my days,” she wrote. “I dislike wearing the mask, it’s annoying and hot at times. But here is the thing, wearing a mask has nothing to do with your personal freedoms being taken away or not.”
She argued that wearing a mask is about not only protecting yourself, but those around you and being a “good citizen.”
“I wear a mask for my parents and loved ones, god forbid I bring anything home with me. I wear one for my patients and anyone I don’t know who may be at increased risk,” she wrote. “I wear it because despite it being a tiny bit annoying, it is an honour to put in all the hours and long days to be learning how to help people in their worst moments.”
Wearing a mask has nothing to do with your personal freedoms being taken away or not. Hayley Wickenheiser
Wickenheiser said she’s seeing people get “pandemic fatigue,” tired of this new reality. She admitted that she and other health-care workers are tired, too, but that we must work together to fight the virus.
“Please wear a mask when appropriate. Please think of others, help stop the spread and save lives,” she wrote.
“We have a long way to go. The only way through is together.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.