By Blade Manders
Imagine this; life is pretty good, you’re working an amazing job, caring for some of the most incredible and vulnerable people and then one day, on the drive home from what can only be described as a pretty unremarkable night shift, you hear a story on the news about a virus.
Like you do with most things you see or hear on the radio, news or Facebook, you think nothing of it.
Only, news of this virus spreads fast and hot, with numbers increasing daily; it isn’t long before this virus makes world headline news “Coronavirus has now been classed as a global pandemic.”
That is when everything changed. Over the past two years, I have been tested.
COVID-19 destroyed my goal of becoming a nurse in Scotland at one of the largest tertiary hospitals in Europe; it made me question my integrity. It made me fearful, not only for my patients but also for my family, some of whom are immune-compromised. Working through this virus has had its good days and its bad.
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I have always considered myself a fairly resilient person. Still, nothing prepares you for the fearful look in some people’s eyes as you explain the process of a PCR swab and direct that person to wait in isolation until their results come back.
Nothing prepares you for the screams of young children as you put a swab up their nose.
Nothing prepares you for the grim reality of just how bad this virus has affected people. I have held the hands of people awaiting COVID results, sick themselves, while their husband is on the ground floor of the hospital receiving chemotherapy. As they shed a tear, you shed a tear, because it’s an unspoken understanding of knowing what they are thinking.
Working through this pandemic as a nurse has been one of the hardest things I have ever done each day; I peel the mask off my face, grimacing as I feel the forming pressure sores ache, I am constantly reminded of the sacrifices I have had to make with my career to be where I am today, always having to acknowledge the opportunities I’ve missed.
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Working not only in the COVID testing clinics, but also in the wards has been taxing on my relationships.
Many people are worried to see me, fearing I have COVID, but on the same token, I fear seeing my family because I worry about the effects it will have on them if I did have it.
I’ve gone on a few dates throughout this experience, primarily due to lockdowns and, I guess, the stigma around healthcare workers at the moment.
We’re seen as both the heroes and the villains. I even get a little fearful just going to the shops in uniform. It’s safe to say my relationships and social life have been affected by COVID.
I am angry that COVID-19 took opportunities away from me; I am angry that people are too scared even to leave their house, fearful they may contract the virus, but… I am thankful I have a supporting team and an amazing family that helps me get by each and every day.
Blade Manders is a Registered Nurse and Health Promotion and LGBTQIA+ advocate on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland.
If you feel distressed reading the story, you can reach out to support services.
For 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14
For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.