Panting…….. gasping for air. Increased work of breathing. A rasping, hackling cough. Sweat pouring from every pore of skin. Temperature spike of 40.1°C. The monitor beeping frantically that the oxygen reading is low. A snarp opening of the plastic cover, leads to the quick rustling of the PPE gown. Is it the googles first before the gloves or is it the other way round? Who can remember?!! The full gear is donned on as the automatic door swings open with a forceful swoosh!! “Good evening Mr Doe. My name is Blessing, the doctor in charge of your care and I’d like to evaluate you now”.
Since the first wave in March 2020, Ireland, like the rest of the world, has felt the onslaught of the COVID-19’s pandemic. This led to a ripple effect that threatened to cripple the healthcare system.
Not enough supportive Ventilator therapy, increased burden on the capacity of the Critical care units. Making the painful decision on who, out of the many, gets the last ICU bed or ventilator support. Coming to terms with palliating a patient because resuscitative management would do more harm than good and of course, the increased number of deaths. Families unable to kiss or hug their loved-ones good-bye. The expression of dread as someone realises they are breathing their final breath. Multiple attempts of CPR proving futile…
What about the more personal things? No more friendly hugs or shaking hands as forms of greeting. No more slight coughs to clear your throat. Dry sandpaper skin from constant alcohol hand gel and irritating skin rashes on the face due to the facial protection (mask and eye gear) have become the norm. Hospital scrubs Monday through to Friday (although, I guess the effort of choosing something to wear to work, is one less thing to worry about). Increased working hours. Annual leave on hold (not like you could go anywhere tbh). Unable to visit parents and loved ones. In fact, some healthcare workers resorted to moving out of their homes and into hotels or other rented accommodation to protect their families.
It is enough to fill anyone with despair and bitterness. Indeed, the uncertainty of the times was disconcerting, But despite it all, the comradery of every healthcare worker was truly uplifting. As easy as it to look backward, I believe we must shift our focus forward. It is important to continue with the safety precautions and comply with the lockdown measures. I urge everyone to keep hope alive. For a better and safer tomorrow. 2020 may have been a write-off but let’s make 2021 a great year. For the vision of a brighter and safer tomorrow is for an appointed time. Wait for it, because it will surely come. It will not tarry.
Dr. Blessing Okpaje (TU Member)
When the Covid-19 started in the late 2019 into early 2020, it was a scary time for all frontline workers as we only knew a little about the deadly virus then. Everyone was really frightened as we did not know exactly how to combat the virus. The horrible news and the sight of death pervaded everywhere was very gloomy. It was a very confusing situation for the frontline workers, especially with all the conspiracy theories surrounding the virus, its existence, the symptoms, transmission, airborne and non-airborne were so contradicting. These unsure hypothesis did not help, but rather compounded the confusion and perplexity that gripped the frontline workers.
There was a day at work when we were so overwhelmed and anxious, I called for a brief prayer and to my surprise the other nurses obliged. After the prayer we were all encouraged and moved on treating and taking care of all the patients as they came. Indeed many of the nurses in my ward were sick of the virus but to the glory of God we did not lose anyone hitherto.
Covid-19 is still very much thriving. The Republic of Ireland is in the middle of the 3rd wave at the moment, and there are over 3000 death so far. Consequently, the country is in the level 5 lockdown at the moment. Furthermore, – the highest level of restrictions imposed by the government. It is therefore important to cooperate with the government so that the desired results could be achieved.
My advice to everyone is to continue to observe the Covid-19 guidelines and hygiene precautions as directed by the Government and it’s agencies. The sudden emergence and rapid spread of the new variants have added another layer of challenge to an already troubling situation. Therefore adhering strictly to the guidelines below is still the best line of defence against this virus.
· Using of face mask in public places and where needed.
· Washing of hands frequently.
· Maintaining social distancing at all times.
· Avoiding crowded places etc.
I would like to encourage you not to give-up or give-in, believing that the Covid-19 pandemic will surely come to an end sooner. Do no let us capitulate.
Roseline Yemisi Akeredolu (RGN).
(TU Board Member)
The covid 19 pandemic has been hard for everyone and has changed a lot of things. one remarkable change is the way we do healthcare as a whole and the way we as providers give care to our patients. Everyone is under a lot of pressure. For example, the capacity of my department is significantly reduced while still trying to accomodate the same volume of patients as before the pandemic. It is a lose lose situation.
Personally as a covid survivor, I am extremely blessed to be alive and well. it does make me more sympathetic, maybe more emotionally involved when I have to care for someone suffering from covid.
one of the hardest parts is trying to work a 12-13hr shift with a mask on! guys! It’s not like wearing a mask and leisurely walking around the shop, you are physically exerting yourself trying to look after very sick people, because I tell you people still come to hospital with other health conditions that are potentially very serious and need urgent attention. The surgical mask is not as bad but the FFP2 is on a different level.. Whichever mask you have on needs to be tested for proper seal, so it’s not this mouth only or chin mask I see people wearing!
separation and social isolation is another very detrimental part of the pandemic. Humans are social beings and to be physically separated from a loved one especially is so hard. we know this too shall pass. we all have to come together and fight this virus even though we are apart. so let’s fight together separated!
Tina Amen (RGN)
(TU Board Member)