I’ve Been Thinking About Nurses

By Bernie Bell

It takes a certain kind of person to be a nurse.  They want to help people.

Nurses on Geriatric Wards ( maybe we’re not supposed to use that term now? Maybe I’m supposed to use something more anodyne?) can learn to accept folk dying, now and then.  One of my sisters was a nurse on a geriatric ward for years. She had been nursing since she was sixteen year old and was committed to her work, but in her later years she said that, given the choice, if she could go back and start again, she would have liked to have been – maybe a Florist – something with less responsibility.

And she did love flowers.

I’ll get back to the point of this piece of writing.  I was thinking about how Covid has changed the nurse’s working day and working life.  Many thousands of nurses will be going into work, every day, and working with Covid patients who they can help to regain their health. Some will work with Covid patients who don’t quite completely recover, and who need help  to learn to work with their changed state of health. Some nurses, many nurses, will, daily, deal with death on a large scale.

There is a reluctance among some people to equate the Covid pandemic with situations which arise in wars, but I honestly see parallels. Not just in the last World Wars, but in the more recent conflicts, and in wars, right through the ages.

The people who go off to fight don’t know what will happen  to them, or what is happening to those they’ve left at home. Some have chosen to fight, some had no choice given to them. They will all be involved in scenes and situations which would have been unimaginable to them in their normal life, even as a soldier, in peacetime.

The people who remain at home, don’t know what is happening to those who are away – might not even know where they are.

Both groups of people live in a constant state of tension – trying not to consciously worry about the situation, but it must take its toll on their general state of mind.

After the war is over, how long does it take to regain an equilibrium in your life? If you ever do.

And that’s what I was thinking about in relation to the Covid pandemic.  The changes in our lives during these times, and as the times change, are likely to take some effort, thought and time to adjust to, but we probably will adjust – it’s what humans do – we adjust and adapt and that’s how we have survived. https://theorkneynews.scot/2020/03/28/the-word-of-the-day-is-adapt/

I‘m think more specifically of the medical staff – doctors, nurses and other folk working in hospitals.  What effect will what they have had to work with and through, have on them long term? And what effects might it have on those around them, their families and friends? As with the aftermath of wars, when those who took part don’t and won’t talk about their experiences.

Hopefully, this will be recognized, and help will be there, and help with re-adjusting in the years ahead.

A pay increase right now wouldn’t be a bad idea – but that’s a different matter.

And why am I writing this?  Partly to ask, if you know someone who is working with the reality of more deaths every day than anyone should have to deal with, please be good to them, short term, and in the long term, too.

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