Tuesday night the day before I started back , I went to bed utterly exhausted. More from the mental stress of going back to the front line and what it would really entail. The hype around my return and the worldwide media attention had only added to the mental strain and exhaustion.
I had driven 2 hours from Derby to Boston with all my belongings for the official house move earlier. I had already made a U- turn once remembering last minute that I’d left my ID card back home. Now that I was finally on the road, all the other things I’d forgotten flashed in my head. My medical handbook, a quick reference for when you get stuck in the wards, hand lotion etc.
After the house move and my first trip out of the house to the super market in 2 weeks, I was finally settling into my tiny rented room and I had no energy left. Through the night I had the customary “getting late to work” nightmare, only to wake up a good 20 minutes before my alarm. The two weeks of media interviews had messed with my anxiety levels enough already to get me woken up early most days, in the run up to today. I got ready for work, did a bit of makeup even. It felt like I was going on a first date or something. That’s what the nerves felt like walking up to my hospital. I was toying with my hair, tying it, untying it as if someone was even looking.
To my surprise, the one thing I was most anxious about, the abominable ADMIN work, was resolved fairly quickly and easily. I had all my ID checks, online password settings etc. sorted within an hour and was ready and changed into a pair of scrubs and a surgical face mask ready for the ward. It was the ACU – acute coronary ward. Phew. Not one of the Covid positive wards.
I thought I might walk in and see doctors and nurses running around, bleeps and alarms beeping everywhere – the chaos one expects from watching ER dramas. But in reality, the ward was much the same. Quieter even. The Q word is considered almost blasphemous in hospitals, yet it was exactly that. I had only 2 jobs to do in the morning could go and grab a FREE lunch!
Admittedly, the COVID wards are reputed to be busier but to be in a medical ward which isn’t very busy seems weird. This is just day one, and I have been warned that every day I may find myself in a new ward so this seemingly stress-free day may be an exception to the rule.
I was told that the hospital’s medical areas are well staffed and COVID patients are doing relatively well. It isn’t always the case that patients in the hospital with COVID are excessively poorly. The danger of their condition and circumstances suddenly worsening is what calls for them to have to stay at the hospital. In essence, we are treating those only in real need of medical attention, with the right amount of man power and resources.
One of the doctors we were sitting eating lunch with had just got back from self -isolating after testing positive. Her recount of symptoms was calming to the ears. Just a mild flu like illness. Whether she got lucky or not, it was definitely reassuring to know at least not every case is too serious. The main topic of conversation was accommodation, which I had expected given that I had started a petition to request for discounted hospital accommodation for all health care staff.
So it’s 6.30 pm now, I’m 9.5 hours into my shift with 3 more to go and what I can say is that being in the hospital is the most close to normal I’ve felt in the last WHOLE MONTH! I’ve found an excuse to be off my phone and social media, what with the snail pace WIFI and actual people to TALK to. I’ve devoured a free sandwich , a free pear and A FREE EASTER EGG. Moreover, it was surprising the ease with which I got on with the tasks I had , almost as if the information was part of my muscle memory.
One thing is for sure; the NHS staff have a remarkable sense of keep calm and carry on. Yet to them the world is carrying on. There are new rules – PPE to keep us all safe, more people wearing scrubs and hand wash and hand sanitisers in a few extra places, but actually the world inside these 4 walls is much the same as I left it. If anything the unity has increased. It’s as if the people within our hospitals are more practical and rational about COVID and have taken it in their stride, like soldiers do, to do their duty come what may and cross the CORONA-bridge when they come to it.
So will I, I guess. It’s good to be back.
Bhashas first week back diary appeared in the Daily Mail here
Bhasha has started a petition to try and gain support for 50% accomodation costs for NHS STAFF CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS
FOLLOW DR BHASHA ON YOU TUBE HERE