Updated: Apr 6
Hi, everyone! First things first, I need to introduce myself. My name is Hannah and I am currently an intensive care nurse, working in central London, in what many people are calling in "unprecedented" times. And somehow I have managed to end up on the front-line.
Unless you have been living under a rock, you all should have heard about coronavirus, or COVID-19, which is causing chaos across the globe, sadly including the UK. This amount of people getting sick, and some getting very sick, at once is putting all our resources, particularly our NHS under huge strain. I am sorry to say, it is only getting started. Over the space of a week my intensive care unit (ICU), which normally has a maximum of seven ventilated patients, has gone up to over twenty, meaning we have taken over theatres and recovery. I can guarantee there are other ICUs up and down the country in the same boat.
So what is ICU? An ICU is where we are able to deliver different kinds of organ support for those who are critically unwell. Essentially if there's a hole we put a tube in it, and if there isn't a hole, we make one and put a tube in. With the coronavirus, people who are becoming critically unwell are going into respiratory failure therefore they will need to have a tube put down their throat and attached to a ventilator. The word ventilator is getting thrown around a lot at the moment. Mechanical ventilators in essence breath for the patient. So when you need a ventilator to help you breath you are very sick. You need specialist one to one nursing care, and a multi-disciplinary team of doctors, physiotherapists, dietitians, and pharmacists (to name but a few) planning that care. Can you start to see why this might be a problem if lots of people get sick at once?
The NHS is currently under a great deal of stress, and this is only going to increase. How we provide critical care is going to change over the coming weeks and it will be tough.
My aim is not to scare people. I created this blog to share my experiences in solidarity with my other healthcare colleagues but also to shine a light on what is happening for people who do not work in the health sector. I hope to share with you all both the highs and lows of being an intensive care nurse during these strange times. I also hope to show how vital the small lifestyle changes people are making at the moment and the difference they are making.
I look forward to sharing my experiences with everyone and sometimes spreading a little joy and humour. Keep safe everyone and sending lots of virtual hugs (real ones aren't allowed)!