To my readers

To my readers,

What an interesting three months it has been. This was definitely not how I expected the year 2020 to pan out, and we are not even half way yet. I started this blog at the peak of a pandemic. My aim was to share my experiences of being an ICU nurse on the front-line. I wanted to show its highs and lows, but also as an act of solidarity with my fellow healthcare colleagues.

I am pleased to say, it is much better. My ICU is back to its normal numbers, but it is clear my colleagues and I are forever changed by our experiences. For better or worse, I have not decided yet.

We still have to wear PPE every shift. It is still hot and sweaty work. Sometimes we need to wear FFP3 masks, full gowns, and face shields. However with our non-coronavirus patients we can wear a surgical mask, apron and gloves (more for their protection than us). And this too is a welcome change. Although, I have a feeling this way of working will be around for a while.

We have less and less coronavirus positive patients, most on their way to recovery. For many it will be a long journey. An admission into ICU can lead to muscle loss, so extensive physiotherapy is needed. For patients recovering from coronavirus, we are already seeing the long term respiratory damage caused by it. It also an extremely traumatic event. Many develop PTSD, and if they do not, their family might. Patients and their families will be feeling the effect of coronavirus long after they recover. As will the healthcare system.

The small lull has been very much welcomed on my ICU. However, with the chance of a second wave looming, we cannot relax just yet. We are preparing for the next peak, getting new beds ready and continuing to train surge staff. We are also reflecting on our practice so we can improve for next time.

I am currently on a week of annual leave. My first good amount of time off since mid-March. It is a time I have needed to recharge my batteries. During this time I have also been thinking about what is next for this blog.

Firstly, I want to say such a huge thank you to everyone who has read it, but also everyone who has supported me by sharing it. I read all your comments and emails, all of which I appreciate hugely. To see it create such an incredible and moving response has made this whole experience a little bit easier. To see my fellow colleagues and the public actively engage in a healthy discussion about the challenges we have faced, is brilliant to see. I hope I achieved the goal that I first set out.

Writing this blog has allowed me to process much of what has happened, and I do not want to stop. And speaking to people, they do not want me to stop either. Therefore The Corona Lisa is going to transition. I will not be writing weekly anymore. There will no longer be a schedule, but I will post as and when. I also hope to write about things that are not coronavirus related, but still share my experiences as an ICU nurse. When the second wave does arrive, because it probably will, I will be sure to keep you all updated.

I know the last week has been particularly difficult for many. What I implore you to do, is to continue to listen to others to educate yourself on other people's experiences. Empathy is what makes us human. It has always been so important in my eyes, but now its more important than ever. As I said before 2020 has been a challenging year, but it is not over. We should not cancel our hopes on it. This year has been so uncomfortable, so painful, so scary, and so raw it may actually be the year we finally grow. The year we finally come together to make change, rather than to tear each other apart. Something we are seeing already. It may, in fact, be the most important year of all.

Say to them,

say to the down-keepers,

the sun-slappers,

the self-soilers,

the harmony-hushers,

'Even if you are not ready for day

it cannot always be night.'

You will be right.

For that is the hard home-run.

Live not for battles won.

Live not for the-end-of-the-song.

Live in the along.

- Gwendolyn Brooks

I want to say I huge thank you again for all your support and I do hope you continue to follow The Corona Lisa.


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