As the coronavirus pandemic continues to run rife in the UK, we’re back in lockdown again. We’ve all been instructed to follow the same rules (more or less) - but how that actually looks from person-to-person is surprisingly unique. With so many different living, working, and personal situations at play, each week Cosmopolitan invites a different reader to share a glimpse into their life over a 24-hour period….
Janine* is a 27-year-old NHS nurse living in the north of England and working in a children's ward. She has been working in the front line of healthcare all throughout the pandemic, and we followed her on the day she received her first coronavirus vaccine last month - which she was very relieved to get.
6.20am: I wake up to the sound of my alarm in the pitch black, I hate these dark mornings and can’t wait for the days to get longer! I drag myself out of bed, brush my teeth and get ready for the day. My morning routine is very quick as I like as much time in bed as possible. No time for breakfast but I’ll grab a coffee before handover.
I quickly do my twice weekly at home COVID test, which comes back negative. I found them a bit uncomfortable at first but now I'm so used to them; it's something lots of NHS staff are now doing and it gives me a lot of reassurance that I’m going to work without putting my patients at risk.
6.50am: I set off to walk to work, wrapped in a million layers. The streets are pretty dead at this time during lockdown with most people working from home, but I usually see the same familiar faces walking their dogs or going for a run.
It’s the day of my first COVID vaccine. I’m feeling excited that this is the first step towards hopefully some normally for the country at some point soon! Im also amazed everyday at how well the NHS have been rolling out the vaccine and proud of all the NHS staff that have pulled together to administer so many vaccines to people every day!
7.15am: I get to the hospital and put my mask on. I hate this point as I know it will be 13 hours before I get to take it off again, apart from on my break. My poor skin is suffering but I haven’t worn makeup to work in months which has helped. Luckily throughout the pandemic my hospital has had good access to PPE and I’ve never felt at risk caring for patients who may have COVID. We have lots of regular training and updates on any changed in our practice.
I go straight into the staff room and say hello to the other nurses who are on shift today. I get changed, make a coffee and get ready for handover. I actually feel really lucky that I work as a nurse and have been able to come to work like normal throughout the pandemic. A lot of my friends who have office jobs or been furloughed have struggled working from home and not seeing people every day. It’s kept my routine the same and I’ve got to spend time with my friends every day at work!
8am: We come out of handover and are allocated our patients for the day. I go and make sure they’re all okay (they’re usually still asleep) and see what medications they are due today, as well as any scans or operations they may be having.
I work as a children’s nurse in a big children’s hospital. Luckily throughout the pandemic things have been okay on my ward and most care has gone on like normal. As we know, children are the group least affected by COVID and rarely get very unwell, so I feel very grateful. However, since last March myself and other colleagues have of course been very anxious working in a hospital, in a situation none of us have been in before. There is always the constant worry of adult wards and ICU getting overwhelmed, as well as being fearful of catching COVID ourselves and having to be off work, leaving the ward short staffed.
I remember back in March last year I cared for my first patient who was unwell with symptoms of COVID. I was really anxious about the virus and scared I was going to catch it. All you saw at this point was horror stories on the news of nurses in other countries getting sick, and I was terrified it could happen to me.
11.30am: After a busy morning of doctor’s round, administering drugs and carrying out care on my patients who range between 6 months and 16 years old, it's time for my first break. I have a very early lunch; you get used to having meals at weird times as a nurse – I can eat a curry at 6am on night shift!
2pm: My vaccine appointment is booked for half 2 so it's time to make my way there. The staff vaccines are being done at a hospital a different side of town, so I have to take the staff bus to get there. It's nice to get 15 minutes to myself to sit down. I’m feeling surprisingly nervous! I am not scared of injections at all, I get the flu jab every year and give my patients injections everyday, so it’s a weird feeling. I think I’m nervous because it’s a new vaccine and I’m worried in case I have any side effects. The flu jab usually gives me a headache a few hours afterwards which is totally normally, but a bit annoying when you're still on shift.
2.50pm: All done! I come out of the vaccine centre and head straight back on the bus back to work. It was a really easy process. I was given some paperwork to fill in with my details and then just waited in the queue with other nurses, doctors, physios and other members of staff (socially distanced of course!). I was then called into a bay by the next available vaccinator. I had a lovely pharmacist as my vaccinator. He went through a few questions, like if I had been unwell recently, if I'd any allergies, if I was on any medications or if I was pregnant. He then gave me the vaccine in my upper left arm, while we chatted away about the weather. It was done in seconds and I genuinely didn't even feel a scratch. I then had to hang around for 5 minutes in case I had any adverse reaction (I didn't!).
3.30pm: Back to work and back to the business! My arm is aching a bit but there is no time to think about that as my patients need looking after. A highlight for me today has been seeing a little boy, who I regularly look after, walk for the first time in months after being really unwell and having a big operation.
The children and families I look after have really struggled throughout lockdown. Some of them are in hospital for a long time and since the beginning of the pandemic visiting policy has been really strict. Only one parent is allowed to be with the child while they’re in hospital and there’s been strictly no siblings or extended family allowed to visit. These rules are really important as they’re to keep everyone safe, but it's still very hard for parents with sick children not to have any support around them.
5.30pm: Time for a second break - a quick cup of tea and snack before the busiest time of day! Between 6pm and 8pm is always the busiest; we often have a lot of admissions coming in at this time so we have to juggle beds to fit them all in, as well as giving the other patients their evening drugs and getting them ready for bed before the night shift comes in.
My arm is aching a bit from the vaccine at this point, and I’m feeling a bit tired, but nothing I cant handle!
8.30pm: I finished work at 8 and my lovely boyfriend picked me up. He’s made us spaghetti bolognese for dinner, which is great because it saves me cooking at this time and also means there’s leftovers for my lunch tomorrow.
My boyfriend works as a teacher, so he is also out the house every day teaching the kids who are still in school. For us, throughout the pandemic we have been very lucky that aside from the anxiety about COVID, things have felt very normal for us. We have both still been going to work as usual and neither of us live near our families, so we're used to not seeing them very often anyway.
9pm: It's time for a quick shower and an early night, as it's another early morning for me tomorrow with another long day at work. I go to bed feeling a sense of relief that I’ve had my vaccine, and have my second one booked in for 12 weeks time. I hope this is the start of the journey back to normality for us all.
*Name has been changed
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