In the beginning, I genuinely thought it was another ‘flu’, and wasn’t worried at all. I had volunteered to help with swabbing people for covid in a drive through pod set up onsite at the hospital. Then a week later, whilst on shift, I was receiving a new admission, COVID. That’s when I started to realise how serious this is. I was briefed by a senior intensivist, my matron, band sevens and infection control nurses. The poor patient was terrified, and rightfully so. He ended up being intubated. From then on, each day the number of COVID patients doubled until our unit was fully COVID, and we ended up opening a second ITU.
I worked on the covid units for two months consistently. The first night shift that our second ‘COVID’ ITU opened, I was nursing a 40yr old patient with no past medical history, deteriorating rapidly. He went into cardiac arrest gives times that night, before he eventually passed away. The phone call to his family was devastating. I put our phone on loudspeaker and to his ear so all of his family could say their last goodbyes. I was crying under all of my PPE because it felt so wrong. We always try to have family present in someone’s last moments, and COVID stripped them of that, and it’s was the first of many.
My colleagues and I have been terrified of catching it, spreading it, being asymptomatic carriers etc. I cried after every covid shift. I cried every day for nearly three months. I struggled to sleep. I lost all appetite. I have watched some of the documentaries following COVID hospitals, and I feel so overwhelmed and just cry every time. I don’t know why it triggers me so much, but it makes me feel so empty and devastated all at once.
In my career, I’ve never felt so useless, no matter what you do, you can’t stop it, or fight it. It doesn’t matter how desperately or how hard you give CPR, or how many times you check a blood gas. You constantly assess, and escalate, and ventilator settings are tweaked, patients are proned, the filter clots multiple times, give fluid blouses etc. There were and still are so many losses.
You feel an internal moment of desperation, praying in your head for some sign, miracle, or a new train of thought that can do just the littlest thing to help. You become so separate for people to survive because COVID has taken so many. We have lost some colleagues along the way, and the level of frustration and anger just builds.
I am angry, hurt, tired and unknowing. I’m scared of a second wave. I’m scared of losing my family, and I’m scared of getting COVID myself. I’m so deflated. However, what right do I have to feel this way when so many people have been lost to this.