A Keralite nurse in UK tells us why COVID-19 symptoms should not be taken lightly

Rashmi Prakash
Reshmi Prakash

Perhaps no one faces the brunt of COVID-19, the deadly pandemic caused by coronavirus that is raging across the world, more than the healthcare workers.

Despite being pushed to the wall with overcrowding hospitals and having to deal with minimal support, not to mention the lack of sufficient protective gears, these frontline warriors are fighting an invisible enemy that has claimed over 200,000 lives globally.

Reshmi Prakash, a nurse who works at the Broomfield NHS Hospital in Chelmsford, London, recounts the days she tended to COVID-19 patients and the near scare she had after having contracted the virus herself.

A nurse on duty tends to the ailing no matter how sick the patient is.

That is the golden rule of nursing. It does not matter if its COVID-19 or any other disease.

However, the enormity of the pandemic did trouble us. We were overwhelmed. Resources too were scarce. This left the healthcare workers in many places utterly helpless. Though I was not very worried about the virus, we (nursing staff) were asked to be extremely cautious when dealing with the patients. We did, or so we thought.

It was three of four weeks later that some of us started showing COVID-19 symptoms. We all knew what the symptoms were – fever, breathlessness, coughing and sore throat. They should not be taken lightly, especially when you are nurse.

I was on duty when I felt a heaviness in my chest. I had fever too. But I made the mistake of ignoring it. Instead of checking myself in, I took a sick leave and decided to rest at home. Later at night, my condition worsened. That's when I decided to make the right decision – I called 999.

I could by then feel that something was terribly wrong. I feared that I will not make it, but I put up a brave face before my husband and son. I tried to keep them calm. It was not easy. I even found a paper and scribbled on it things that should be done if I fall into an unresponsive state.

The three minutes that it took for the ambulance felt really long. The paramedics took my ECG – my heart rate problematic. I was immediately transferred to the hospital. Within an hour, almost all the tests were done.

If I had been adamant that I was alright and not called the ambulance, I wouldn't have been alive. Do not take your symptoms lightly. Nobody knows your body better than you. If you experience severe suffocation or discomfort in the chest despite taking sufficient rest, please seek help.

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