On International Nurses Day, The Kashmir Monitor brings you the first-hand experience of the nurses in the valley at the frontline of the battle against COVID-19.
Nurse at GB hospital:
It was mid-April when I tested positive for COVID-19 for the fourth time. Till now, the virus had not affected me so much. As soon I recovered, I bounced back to duty with the smile of a wounded and not defeated soldier. However, this time, it brought with itself a giant wave of sorrow. I bent under the weight of this unending agony and kept on requesting people for their heartfelt duas.
I work as a senior nursing officer at GB Pant Children Hospital and contracted Covid-19 while performing my duty at the ICU. I had developed moderate symptoms and recovered. Unfortunately, the virus turned severe in my wife’s case. She is a lactating mother. Her condition deteriorated with each passing day and saturation levels crashed to 88. She was hospitalized and had to put on Remdesivir.
On one hand, I was cradling my newborn and on the other attending to my wife. It was emotionally and physically very challenging. I felt my existence turning into something meaningless.
Ten days passed like this and they felt like TEN long years. Her situation was not any better. On the fifteenth day, however, she showed some major signs of improvement. We finally got her home. It’s still a long road till she recuperates completely but the dark clouds have floated away.
I am back to my duty gown and attending to patients like yesterday never happened. I barely have time to breathe, let alone reflect on the past. But the show must go on and I cannot abandon the suffering humanity that demands my attention. So I soldier on………….
Nurse at Super Specialty Hospital:
I am a junior nursing officer posted at the Cardiology Department of Government Super Specialty Hospital, Srinagar. I attend to patients with cardiac emergencies like heart attacks requiring immediate treatment. Most of the time, I am in direct contact with the ailing who can be COVID positive. But I cannot wait for the test reports in their cases. Such emergencies need to be dealt with promptly else their survival chances become negligible.
I know I am more vulnerable. But saving lives is more important for me than anything else. In fact, I contracted the virus last month in April. I was so febrile that I got seizures. My temperature levels had shot up to 105 degrees along with every classic symptom of COVID like body ache, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, loss of smell, and appetite. However, the only silver lining was my saturation levels which stood at 90. Thankfully, the SPO2 did not waver and allowed me to manage myself at home.
At home, I was all alone that time. I sent my parents and brother to a relative’s place. My father is highly immune-compromised. He suffers from Lacunar stroke, a type of ischemic stroke that occurs when blood flow to one of the small arteries deep within the brain becomes blocked. So I had to manage my meals and medication on my own. I was both patient and a caregiver. There were times when I felt overwhelmed. I cried quietly and then consoled myself. I always told myself—I was born to lift the spirits of ailing and I have to be in my shoes again.
On day 13 of testing positive, I repeated the tests and came out negative. Within an hour, I was back in my surgical gown and giving CPR to a patient quavering with the jolt of a heart attack. The patient was resuscitated after some time. Today, as I see him feebly smiling on the hospital bed, I say a silent prayer of gratitude. I haven’t yet regained my strength but all this pain was worth it…..
(The identity of two nurses has been withheld on their request)
…..as told to Hirra Azmat