When I graduated in January, they played the song ‘Goliath’ by Laleh when we entered the church. If at that time we would have known just how well this song would portray our work in this pandemic, many of us would have been intimidated. In February, I started my first day as a nurse at the infection clinic I chose to work at. Of course, I couldn’t have guessed that my job in the first month would swing so quickly from treating regular infectious patients to being part of a frontline ward for covid-19 infected patients. As a newly graduated nurse, you get an introduction to the ward by an experienced nurse. Right at the end of my introduction period, covid-19 began to get a proper spread, in particular in Stockholm. Soon after I started working without a supervisor, the whole ward was full of covid-19 patients.
It went incredibly fast. Everyone was at a loss and no one had a proper solution. Since that moment, protection gear and anxiety became part of my everyday life. Concerns about not being able to do enough, but also concerns about the changes and guidelines around protective equipment. To be able to prioritize is of course nothing new in healthcare. Also having to give priority to patients who are in a way in an equally bad condition, is also nothing new. But it still hurts just as much to have to leave a patient who is anxious and gasps for air, to run away to the next patient who is also terrified because of shortness of breath. During the training, there was a lot of focus on how you, as a nurse, can give relief, cure, and comfort in the best way. The theory barely had the time to become reality. It feels so strange to come into the room of a scared, palliative patient, in full protective gear, and not be able to hold his hand, or have skin contact with that person. When wearing protective gear, it’s so much harder to make them feel protected and be compassionate. Most of the time, these patients are seriously ill with covid-19, and the majority of them are elderly people with hearing problems.
In such a moment communication becomes difficult and you have to find ways to get through to a person. For example, I got a completely different eye-moving pattern because it was the only thing you could see when wearing protective clothing. Also, the exceptional situation with relatives being in a difficult situation was a real challenge. Since many patients were unable to communicate, we healthcare professionals were the only connection between the family and the patient. This, of course, as a result of the visiting prohibition. That in itself has resulted in more suffering and it made patients feel even more alone. Health-related ethical and moral values have really taken a toll. While it has been a tough start as a new nurse, it also has been extremely instructive. I can not be more grateful for how well I have been treated by both patients, relatives, and also amazing colleagues. It is thanks to them that I’m able to fight Goliath.