Back on the Covid Ward, January 2021 - Day Two

23/01/21 . Blog

GUEST BLOG: Charlie is a nurse on a ward reopened to respond to the overload of the pandemic. Patients are at the stage before critical care although many need oxygen. These are her shift notes.

Woke up at 4am, already dreading the day ahead.

To my relief and amazement there were four regular nurses (meaning they have been there since the ward was set up a couple of months ago) and three deployed like me. To my further relief, I wasn't working alone but was paired with a regular.

Enough PPE this time round. Don't need to keep the same gear on for all twelve and a half hours.

The weird thing is that you don't actually know what your colleagues of the day look like. Masks on as soon as you enter the hospital and on all day. Not that is any chance to talk much but literally everybody looks the same. Disconcerting.

We had eight patients to look after, only three of whom had been there on my last shift. I didn't ask where the others had gone. Some home, although in normal circumstances they wouldn't have, some to critical care, I suppose.

'Always more to do'

Anyway, it was another really heavy day. What I don't get is that it is literally non-stop. It doesn't matter how fast you walk, how quickly you can help someone wash, or give medication, it never stops. There's always more to to. Some need absolutely everything doing for them and constantly need attention but there's no time to give it. The list never ends. And some are quite sick, of course, and all are desperately anxious that they are going to get worse and end up in intensive care and die.

A guy of 28 deteriorated in the afternoon in about an hour. Hopefully, he hasn't needed to be ventilated since I left but it wouldn't surprise me. Think it's best not to ask: be even more upsetting.

I managed to get a real lunch break today albeit at 3:30. The awful thing is that you feel that whatever you've done is not enough. Not done properly enough. Teeth not being cleaned, hair not being brushed. The small but really important things. The best thing I did today was feed someone.

I'm knackered! Feel helpless and frustrated and cross. I don't want to go back but I will, of course.

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You can also read about Charlie's experience during the first wave in Spring 2020. All names have been changed.

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