Practice nurse working in COVID_19. A reflection on nursing in a Pandemic by Tess Larkin

Today resite prevails as the coronavirus surge has eased. A historical Journey. A journey through the Unknown. A journey with an unknown virus That circulated impregnated Destroyed human life. A journey of survival of the fittest For the preservation of human life and spirit. As a practice nurse! I have witnessed and validated The physical pain The fears The emotional pain The suffering The tensions The grief experienced. In service on the frontline. My hair tilted high My mouth and nose concealed With a blue mask As my body is concealed in a gown! Not unlike the shroud granny wore Not unlike the Egyptian mummy An image which ignites old memories for me. Memories of my yearly travels to Cairo Museum, Cherished memories. Today I’m not a mummy! I’m a walking talking carer in service during the COVID_19. The constant vigilance The triage of patients The encouragement of social distance An enemy to administer professional care. I am a carer I am an educator I am advisor I am an administrator of nursing duties. I am in service to others as a nurse, with dedication and commitment to health promotion and the preservation of human life. At present patients enter the locked surgery I greet them my eyes like an alien peering over a mask. My voice muffled An elevated pitch to be heard. Firstly I greet patients and say Please sanitise your hands. On entering my treatment room! The ritual continues The washing of my hands The application of gloves. These are the hands that have been washed to the bone! The knuckles, palms, fingers Scrubbed like granny’s kitchen table. These hands bare their own Stigmata . Gowned mask ed gloved ready to attend to patients’ needs. My deep brown eyes As they peer with hidden anxieties. Daily I put on my colourful glass frames This spontaneously daily decorative routine Subconsciously engaged in to distract temporarily from the reality of the virus. Virtual hugs I’ve dispensed liberally As I attend to patients! On hearing the real live stories! Relatives who died in the nursing homes. Family unable to visit. The window facilitated their only contact As the person died surrounded by gowned staff. There was no way to have a funeral with loved ones. Iv heard the fears anxieties in relation to the Virus! Teenagers disclosed anxieties! Re exams, their future, isolation from friends, will school open? Pregnant woman shared anxieties Re their unborn child, pending visit to labour ward alone. Patients over 70 shared anxieties Re missing grandchildren , Concerned if they got infected. Some children’s worries were Missing contact with grandparents, missing friends And socialisation through play. Missing school. Other patients had fears of extended family abroad Concerns re not able to visit relatives in hospital. I the course of my work as a practice nurse I’ve witnessed and validated The fragility of human life in a crisis. I’ve witnessed the trials and tribulations in relation to COVID. I’ve witnessed the strength of individuals. The acceleration and regeneration of the human spirit. I’ve validated how patients praised Dr Tony Holohan And how Ireland cared People felt safe . Today respite has allowed me to reflect on my journey as a nurse. To enable me to give thanks To the patients who have taught me humility. I feel privileged to have nursed and witnessed the sacred stories. As I reflect I thank God to have contributed as a nurse In the battle to conquer COVID_ 19 And help in the preservation of human life.

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