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Student nurse tests postive to Covid19…
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Written by: Student Nurse Kayleigh
Helping to save lives on the frontline is what nursing staff aim to do best. It is our job, our passion – it keeps our minds critically thinking and our step count high because we are always on our feet. The satisfaction of helping patients become healthy and well, during what can be a difficult and emotional time, is something that can not be described, only felt.
But with this comes sacrifices. Not seeing family or partners. Missing out on celebrations like birthdays, Christmas Day, long weekends. For nursing students, having to attend placement unpaid on a full-time roster, with little to no income to support expenses such as parking.
But the biggest sacrifice of all – OUR OWN HEALTH.
For each day we are caring for patients, our own health is on the line. In times like this, especially where COVID-19 is highly infectious, control measures like Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) are implemented to minimise exposure to and spread of, the virus. However, despite our best and strict efforts, coming in contact is still possible.
How do I know? Because I tested Positive to COVID-19.
After returning an initial negative swab on Monday as a precautionary measure whilst on placement, I began to notice some changes within my body. I started to ache and easily became fatigued. My sinuses were ‘stuffy’, and my sense of smell and taste were absent.
As a health professional, we can become complacent with our own symptoms sometimes, so I thought I was just experiencing a cold from the change in weather and working long and busy days. But my intuition knew something was off. To have a peace of mind, I drove down to my local community testing hub and got swabbed.
For the following 2-3 days, I waited for a text message, but 4 days later I received a phone call. It was the Department of Health and Human Services notifying me I, in fact, had COVID-19 and not Influenza.
The shock through my body lasted a minute or two.
I was wearing Level 4 PPE (N95 mask, gown, gloves, glasses, hairnets, face shield) at ALL times and I followed all infectious control practices strictly. I am a 25-year-old, healthy and fit woman. I eat well, and I exercise daily. I do not have any medical conditions or take any pharmaceutical medications, however, still managed to contract the virus. One thing I learnt at this moment? COVID-19 does not discriminate.
Currently, I am in hotel isolation in inner Melbourne like many other healthcare workers who are unable to isolate at home due to various reasons. I would be lying if I said this experience has not had its challenges – it has been tough. Being away from loved ones for an extended period of time is never easy. But I know it is only temporary and by far the best option to keep everyone safe and the risk of community transmission minimised.
I never thought this could happen to me but here I am, very thankful I am considered a ‘Mild’ case and not in ICU on a ventilator or requiring oxygen supplementation, which is very well possible with the severity of COVID-19. I am not out of the woods just yet, however – I still have 12 more days left in isolation and another swab on day 11 to ‘pass’.
It is scary, vulnerable and lonely having a positive diagnosis and the stigma surrounding nurses, doctors and other healthcare workers are existent. But I endeavour to share my experience to normalise it. Kindness, compassion and love are what we all need during this time. So, I urge the public to please wear a mask and please stay home. We are going to work for you, so please stay home for us.
I thank the frontline medical staff and nursing students for their early morning starts, late shifts, over-time and all they have sacrificed to care for every patient, including those who are COVID-19 positive. I am so appreciative and grateful.
Health is paramount – please do not take it for granted. Do. The. Right. Thing.
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