My Story

Nel

26

France

Great support from colleagues

I am a healthcare assistant in one of the busy hospitals in Paris.
I usually work with frail patients, but I have been redeployed to look after Covid 19 patients. I didn't mind, I have chosen this job because I want to make a difference. And because I live on my own and don't have children, I felt that this was probably safer for me to take up this role than some of my colleagues who have underlying conditions.
My only risk factor is that my family come from Senegal originally and we now know that the BAME community is disproportionally affected by Coronavirus.

During my 3rd week on the Covid ward, I have caught it. It wasn't from being careless, as I have had all the protective equipment that I needed, and I was very careful not to touch my face with my hands.
But I still caught this nasty virus. I have never felt this tired in my life!
Living alone meant that I didn't have to worry about infecting anyone, but it also meant that I had nobody to look after me. My parents live 4h away, so they couldn't come and help and my flat is a small studio flat under the rooftops in Paris, so there would not be enough room for them to come anyway.
I was very lucky to have very kind neighbours who did all my shopping and most of the cooking for me. They left it all on my doorstep, so I could collect it without risking infecting them.
All I had to do was to keep clean and to do the dishes, but this felt unbelievably hard. I had no energy at all. Just getting out of bed felt like I was getting ready to run a race. Luckily this only lasted for about 5-6 days and I started to feel better. After 10 days I even managed to do a bit of cleaning in the flat. And by the 15th day, I could walk up and down the stairs.
I was able to get back to work after 20 days, and I was very lucky that my colleagues gave me the jobs that didn't require much physical energy. I am usually the young/sporty one, but I felt so weak after this episode that I had to take it easy.

Paris is often anonymous, I greet my neighbours, but we don't really chat, so I was really touched when one of them came to leave a note under my door to check if everything was ok. Their number was on there, and when I sent them a text to explain, they offered to help. I think that this crisis has bought everyone a lot closer, and I feel that this is a good thing.

At the hospital the teams have been pulling together as well and all the usual fights over break times, holiday rotas have disappeared. and now when I look after my patients who have Covid-19, I can tell them that I understand. Of course, I have not had it bad enough to require hospital admission, but I can empathise and this connection is so important between patients and healthcare professionals. This shows that behind all of the PPE we are human.