Covid-19 stories: Janet Sheppard | Latest news

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Covid-19 stories: Janet Sheppard

We're asking different members of our #UHDBfamily to share their experiences of the last few months, in their own words, so that we can understand what kind of impact Covid-19 has had on our colleagues.

Janet Sheppard, Macmillan Centre Volunteer and Retired Nurse 

Looking back, it seems as though it was forever that I was sat at home watching the News unfold on the television, day in day out week after week about this dreadful Coronavirus COVID 19 Pandemic

I have been a Volunteer at the RDH in The Macmillan Information Centre for approximately 10 years. A role which I have thoroughly enjoy. Due to this current situation even though I am just under 70. I had to stop volunteering until measures were put in place to protect the Staff and Patients within the Centre.

Before I retired, I was a Registered Specialist Cancer Nurse specialising in Paediatrics - I worked for over 35 years full time as a Nurse.

I remember sitting at home and watching the plea from the Government asking those who were no longer working on the wards and departments to return to work to help out in the current situation.

I had been thinking to myself that surely there must be something I can do to help out.

I thought to myself, how do I go about this, how do I apply to help out wherever possible?

I emailed Gavin Boyle, Chief Executive. This was the start of many e-mails to get me into the role of helping out where needed.

I had an unexpected telephone call from a lady in Recruitment.  It was an Interview to see what I could offer and what areas and roles I would be happy to work in. I remember saying I would be very happy to be a Runner taking anything that was needed to various wards and departments happy to do most things, this  then led onto many e-mails relating to going  back to work on the wards

Eventually on 21 April, I went on the 4 day Induction for HCA held at London Road Community Hospital. I thoroughly enjoyed this, even though everything was completely different to working in Paediatrics, it was all very interesting.

It was a fairly difficult few days in my life prior to my Induction. My Mum had passed away in her care home. I hadn’t been able to go to see her before she passed away. It was a very sad, unusual and difficult time.

I won’t forget my first shift on the ward at London Road. I was understandably apprehensive as I had no idea what I would be facing. As soon as I arrived I was told it was a COVID Ward and I was provided with the correct PPE. My first shift was great and the staff were very welcoming, friendly and supportive.

I worked alongside a very nice Nurse who had been redeployed from the Endoscopy Unit. One of the patients I was looking after had been ventilated in ICU for 3 weeks and was now recovering on the ward. I think he had been on the ward for a few weeks, it was an eye opener to see the recovery stage he was in and going through. He seemed very happy to chat. He was telling me about his life before he was so ill, what had happened in his family life which he was completely unaware. His mobile phone was his life line to remain in touch with his family whilst on the ward. I was very aware of the effort it took him to talk; he appeared exhausted and kept stopping after a few words to catch his breath. I asked him if he would like to rest and I would come back later, his answer was no. He said he wanted to talk and that it’s nice to be able to talk to someone.  He showed me with great delight his new Grandchild born whilst he was on the Ventilator.  His face lit up with happiness showing me the photograph.

I was aware of the exhaustion whilst he tried to put a spoonful of Porridge into his mouth. I asked would he like any help. He said no thank you. He wanted to learn to be able to feed himself again. Until I did this shift and spent such a long time with this Gentleman, I had no idea what the after effects were like for the person who had survived COVID.

I was so grateful to be able to have the time to give the care this patient deserved; to wash and care for him, change his bed linen, listen to his story and provide basic Nursing Care. This is what I had gone into nursing to do way back in the early seventies.

The icing on the cake for me during my first shift was to take part in lining up along the corridor to the door leading out of the ward. Clapping out loud as a patient who had been extremely sick and had spent months in hospital was finally going home.

I didn’t know the gentleman but the whole of the team stood and clapped for him. He was overcome with emotion as he said a huge thank you to everyone.

I tried hard to stop the tears from falling down my face, without success, it was a special moment,   fortunately as I was at the end of the line only one person noticed my tears, she too was crying with joy at such an emotional moment.