From the Front Lines in Nigeria: “It Feels Like My Life is on Hold”

"COVID-19 derailed a lot of plans and the world is never going to be the same."

Our frontline health workers are the first responders in the fight against the coronavirus. These health professionals will also be our guides and community allies on the road to our full recovery as a healthy nation. Thrive Global is sharing their inspiring stories.

I am a registered nurse based in Lagos, Nigeria and have been in the profession for a decade. 

I was meant to resume at the N.H.S. in the U.K. on April 6, but the lockdown happened simultaneously both in Nigeria and the U.K. Thinking about the whole change in plans was depressing, but I got the notice of my local government (Etiosa) needing medical volunteers to care for COVID-19 patients and I applied for it.

The psychological stress was there, fear that I would get infected, especially with the news all over the world of how frontline healthcare workers were coming down with the virus; but I had to be courageous and go ahead with resumption at the isolation center.

My first day in the “hot zone” was a bit scary, but I summoned up the courage to carry out my duty. It wasn’t until I met three young children that it dawned on me that I could not even carry them to comfort them, because I was in full PPE. That mentally broke me.

The PPE is made from nylon and is unbreathable. That means no air is getting to your skin inside the PPE. It feels like you are trapped with all your body heat. Nigeria is hot, so on a sunny day it’s 10 times worse. No matter how cold the AC is, you won’t feel it; you are sweaty and uncomfortable. 

I tried bonding with the children as much as I could. But at the end of my shift that day, I really wept and prayed so hard for God to take away the virus.

We had our first discharge from the hot zone after two weeks — we were all excited — and subsequently many more patients were discharged.

As time went on, I became a bit more calm and less scared, though the uncertainties were there.

I have been here for six weeks now. Kudos to our organization as we were even made to have group therapy sessions with the psychologist to give everyone the avenue to vent, express how they feel, their insecurities, uncertainties and worry. Everyone verbalized feeling better.

It feels like my life is on hold. COVID-19 derailed a lot of plans, and the world is never going to be the same. Even though I can’t envision what life would be like in the aftermath of this virus, I am looking forward to the new normal.

Click here for information about how Thrive Global is supporting our healthcare workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic, and find out how you can support the cause by donating to #FirstRespondersFirst.

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