Local Nurse Shares Her Reality – Fears, Wishes & Story – From The Frontlines Of COVID-19
Tracy is a 25-year-old nurse from Miri, Sarawak that is stationed on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic that is COVID-19. And by “front lines”, we mean in direct contact with the virus in the hospital wards. For months now, she and her team have worked hard to help treat and nurse those with the virus back to health. She shares her story – and that of those around her to shed light on why the #stayathome and #kitajagakita campaigns are so important.
When I first heard about the outbreak, I was quite worried. For one, I knew that I had to be on standby. In the event that the outbreak was to grow – or grow at a rapid rate – we would have to be prepared. Being on standby effectively meant that we had to look out for changes to work hours, leave cancellations and the possible lack of staffing. Since the outbreak happened here locally, I’ve been stationed as a staff nurse in the isolation ward, personally handling positive cases for COVID-19.
As nurses, we work in 3 different shift hours – thankfully, I adapt well to irregular sleeping and eating patterns but ever since the outbreak, I’ve had to cancel my plans for the year and my annual leaves have been postponed. I cannot travel home and with lesser days off, rest time has been cut as well. My colleagues and I braved our tears, knowing that we would miss important events, like children’s’ birthdays and the joy of hugging our families.
Sometimes, we wonder if we will be allowed to feel again – as individuals. While the world is in panic, we are in the middle of what the world is panicking about. People get the virus through contact, anywhere and at any time.
The world seems to hate us being outside, with my fellow healthcare workers facing backlash from people who do not want nurses near them; they fear how we could potentially spread germs. They do not know how we’ve lost count of the number of times we wash our hands – our near-raw skin is the only indication that we do it more than our bodies can handle, but we do it anyway.
The only thing that is separating the virus from us are our PPE (personal protective equipment). I have to wear my N95 mask, my face shield, goggles, headgear, gown and shoe cover. I need to change these every time I see my patients, and we see them multiple times a day – to serve their medications, checking their blood pressures & temperatures, etc. The N95 masks leave scars on our faces, we cannot breathe properly but we keep them on for the duration of our 8 to 12-hour shifts.
We’re always asked, “Is there a cure for this virus?”. Our answer is, “Not yet. Right now, it’s a fight within yourself, your immune system.” And this is a reminder as to why it’s important to stay at home. Even if you can fight this virus, there are people who are unable to, for example, the elderly and children because of their low immune system. Take the virus seriously.
I am in fear every day, I cannot lie about that. With each passing day, the number of cases are rising along with the number of deaths. To think that I am actually facing the virus every day… I fear that I might not get to say my last goodbyes to my family and friends. I fear that I might not get to see my parents’ faces for one last time and tell them how thankful I am for them. My mother, when we call, cries and shares how she wishes that I can go back home as soon as possible.
Some of my colleagues are mothers. They have children and babies that are a few months old back home but they even hold them in their arms. But, it is in our nature as nurses to serve the people, and we do our best to assure our patients that we are there for them. Even though times are hard right now, I know it is even harder for the patients who have contracted the virus. I wish for this outbreak to be over and for everything to return back to normal.
I wish for people not to think of staying at home/being quarantined as a burden but as a way of helping us in saving lives and slowly putting this outbreak to an end. We watched as the world was engulfed in panic, wiping out the resources and food. We barely have time to feed ourselves. The situation is worrying but trying to “balik kampung” even when interstate movements aren’t allowed is risking everyone around you. Trust needs to be put in the authorities and experts; they know what they are doing and are giving their best to serve you.
We urge everyone to stay at home so we can stay at work for them. We urge everyone to remain calm because we are here for them.