The night before my first shift, I couldn’t sleep…

Submitted by Alexandra
Macmillan Associate Clinical Nurse Specialist

I started in my new role as a Macmillan Associate Clinical Nurse Specialist in January 2020, but when the first wave of Covid-19 hit us, I was redeployed to Critical Care in March 2020.

I had previous experience in Neuro Intensive Care and although this was a very unsettling move, I was keen to support my colleagues at the hospital and help care for our patients. I wanted to do my bit.

A clinical skills refresher course was provided by the Trust prior to redeployment, and there was a great sense of comradery during the session I attended.

The nurses attending had varying levels of experience, ranging from newly qualified staff, to recalled nurses in retirement, ward nurses, matrons and other senior members of the nursing team.

It was truly heartening to see nurses from all specialities, within all levels of nursing, coming together to prepare for returning to clinical work- a daunting prospect for those who hadn’t worked clinically for a long time, and for those who were going to be working in an unfamiliar environment with a new team.

The night before my first shift, I couldn’t sleep, and had visions of caring for multiple ventilated patients and being overwhelmed with the workload, but I needn’t have worried. The staff couldn’t have been more supportive and were so patient, answering all my questions.

I returned to my post in June, but was redeployed again in early January 2021 as the next wave hit.

Critical care was even busier this time, but patients were treated with the same level of dignity and respect, and I have lost count of the number of kind and compassionate interactions I witnessed between patients and staff.

On a particularly busy shift, wearing full PPE, I was caring for an elderly patient, who had just lost her son to Covid. She was unable to attend his funeral due to being too unwell in hospital herself. There were no words, but we held hands and simply cried. This lady sadly died a few days later, but I will never forget her.

I would like to thank all the Critical care staff  for their support during these times.

They had their own jobs to do, but with the added pressure of overseeing less experienced staff who were caring for critically unwell patients, with an unknown disease.

I also greatly appreciated our Critical Care Matron, Lucy Pitt, whose weekly updates were honest and uplifting during those uncertain times.

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