Posts tagged ‘PPE’

June 4, 2020

Year of the Plague in 2020 a far from average year – self-isolation diary. Week 11.

What a difference a week makes.

Week 11 and I was taken unwell, phoned 111 and ended up being taken by ambulance to hospital about 25 miles away.

Safety precautions are very tight, thank goodness, with restricted entry by way of a Covid-19 corridor where questions are asked such as what day is it? where was I? but thankfully not the name of the Prime Minister or else someone would be mopping vomit off the floor. A mask was placed over my face and away I was wheeled into the Accident and Emergency Department that was filled with staff but few patients.

I was seen by so many doctors and nurses I lost count of the number and underwent tests and tests and more tests, including one for Covid-19. Not sure I’d believe results from home-testing for it’s an uncomfortable one to do and I was just glad I had a nurse to jamb the swab into the back of my throat before jamming it up my nose. No waiting for x-ray which took a millisecond, as it is digitised I was told, and a CT Scan that took two milliseconds. Efficiency everywhere, moving through more corridors and up or perhaps it was down empty lifts in this ghost hospital.

Abutilon Rhododendron Peony Cactus Poppies Peony Rockii

Until my Covid result came back I was isolated in a single room with a large yellow notice slapped onto the door warning staff to keep alert on entering – always protected by much PPE. It is an uncomfortable moment. It was said to me,  I hope we can make you better. It was meant so caringly by such a kind member of staff  but it brought home, although it didn’t need much bringing home, just how deadly dangerous Coronavirus is. There is no certainty of recovery and everyone who treats this as nothing of consequence, moves into another’s space, insists they won’t cooperate with imposed restrictions needs to get a reality check and fast develop a sense of responsibility towards others.

Unlike pre-Covid days room doors are not left open with staff wandering in and out to pass the time of day and carry out treatment with cheery chat going on in the corridors, doors are kept firmly shut. Aside from being masked and gloved everyone entering puts on a fresh apron outside which is removed before they leave, disposing of it in the room and washing their hands all inside the room before they go. I can now appreciate how quickly supplies of PPE are used up during this pandemic and how dangerous it must be in parts of the world where it is not available.

As the hospital is in tight lockdown no visitors are permitted. Rarely has time passed so slowly. That afternoon and into the evening I watched the hands on the clock opposite my bed turn more slowly than any clock hands have ever turned. The window blinds and all the windows were open which was probably a mistake but it wasn’t cold and I liked having the air to help breathing. Aberdeen skies don’t darken much at this time of year but when the light in the room grew too gloomy to read and I didn’t know where the light switches were I just gazed out at the subdued pink and grey sky from when things began to go quieter at 8pm, 9pm, 10pm, 11pm, 12midnight, 1am, 2am, 3am – wind back – 2.45am seagulls on the roof opposite started calling to one another. At 2.50am a nurse came in to take my temperature and blood pressure. Looked through family pictures on my phone. Closed my eyes and at 3.50 another nurse came in to do more checks and we had a chat about this and that. Beginning to get weary and closed my eyes then around 4am another nurse appeared to do more checks. Eventually fell asleep and woke up with a start and wide awake, looked at the clock – hurrah 7.30am – desperately wanted it to be daytime and not feel so isolated. Waited a while longer until I thought it a reasonable time to phone my husband at home. Picked up the phone. It was only 6.30am. Looked out at the only bit of sky I could see over the roof tops opposite listening to the gulls and a couple of screeching oyster catchers flying by the window.

By 9.30am I heard my Covd19 test was negative. I expected the result to take around 24 hours and was astonished and relieved to have it so quickly even though it seemed like an age. Well done SNHS.

A wonderful doctor came in to talk me through the various test results, what she thought my issue had been and told me that I could go home.

Getting home doesn’t happen quickly in hospitals but anyone who leaves them during this horrible time is very fortunate and by early afternoon I was being wheeled down to an exit by the lovely young nurse who had provided me with washing things, towels, toothbrush and paste, all forgotten by my husband when he did the 50 mile round trip to drop off an overnight bag. The bag contained a pair of pyjamas and my phone charger. I used the prongs of the phone charger to comb my hair in the morning.

It is very good to be home. Very good. I am so grateful for the Scottish NHS. I am so grateful for the staff who were not only professional but friendly and helpful: the delightful local para-medic who spoke to me throughout the long journey to the city at a tense and worrying time, her partner who drove like a demon, cleaner, radiographers, tea woman, Keith the porter who wheeled me through empty corridors, so many people from so many countries around the world – the young Asian nurse who was with me all the time I was in A&E and who was such a delightful, attentive person, a host of other nurses (the one who said she loved my hair), doctors who struggled to make sense of me and my problem and who took time to explain and discuss my test results (I was even phoned at home by another charming woman doctor the day after my release.)

To each and every person at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary I encountered, including the guy in the carpark, who asked if I was okay as I headed out with my bag with the pyjamas and phone charger to a tearful reunion with my husband. Thank you, one and all.

Nearly finished Laxness’ epic, Independent People, a book about sheep – wet sheep – mainly because of my hospital night. I’ll say more about it next time.

Stay safe