Brave young Ashbourne nurse who fought Covid-19 pens moving poem

A brave young nurse from Ashbourne who contracted Covid- 19 while serving on the frontline of one of the country’s busiest hospitals has written a moving poem describing the harrowing reality of caring for patients who are forced to die alone.

Rebecca Elliot (23) a nurse in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda who qualified just 18 months ago says the period of time recovering in a self isolation unit separated from her family was ‘the scariest and loneliest time of her life.’

It was during this time that the frontline worker put pen to paper and wrote the poignant piece that has gone viral on a post on ‘Support for Nurses, Midwives and Frontline Staff in Ireland’ Facebook page.

In the touching reflection Rebecca highlights the contrasting worries of the general public versus those of healthcare workers that ‘face life and death everyday’ battling the crisis.

She wrote:

“It’s 7am and as I put on my scrubs, I worry about lives, yet some worry about pubs.

Going on the Meath nurse describes the heartbreak of being by a patient’s side as they pass away without any family members present.

“I hold your grannies hand, her lips turning blue, as she looks up into my face, masked by goggles and an FFP2.

“On the phone I tell her daughter, mams life has come to an end, now time to plan a funeral, to which only 10 can attend.”

Rebecca admits being ‘shocked and devastated’ when she tested positive for the deadly virus and says the guilt she feels exposing her loved ones to the virus ‘breaks her heart every day.’

She said:

“I just couldn’t stop crying when I got the news.

“I live at home with my mam and dad and I had to tell them and I had to ring my boyfriend to say I was positive and there was a possibility he could have it too.

“I was really scared that they were going to get it.

“There was an option for me to go to the Self Isolation Unit the City West Hotel and Convention Centre and I made a hard decision to go away from my family and ride it out.

“It was an absolute nightmare.

“I had extremely high temperatures that I could not keep down and no matter what age you are, you want your mam when you are sick.

“You had no communication with anybody, it was horrendously lonely.

Rebecca with boyfriend Shane Grimes

“My family rang me every day but it was hard to talk to them, I got very emotional and when they said goodbye I would get really upset, mentally it was very tough.

“I had a temperature of 39 and 40 a lot of time and it would not come down no matter what I did.

“My body was really fighting this infection and it was so exhausted it was nearly just going to give up.

“I had really bad insomnia and one night at about 3am there was so much going on in my head I said I’m going to put it down on paper and see what comes out.

“I never thought that anyone else would ever see it but then I said maybe other people feel the same way as I do and they might read it and take some comfort so I posted it online. I couldn't believe the reaction I got.

“I can’t read it now without crying.”

The dedicated healthcare professional describes the agonising reality of the Covid crisis resulting in patients dying alone.

“People pass away all of the time in hospital but it’s hard knowing that they don’t have family holding their hands when they pass away.

Rebecca with mum Liz and dad Chris.

“They don’t know you, you are a stranger but in the last moments of their life, you are their friend, you are their family.

“You then have to call their loved one and tell them they are gone that’s very hard.

“It’s a phone call I hate giving, I’m only 23 and I’ve had to make that call one too many times.”

“I’m only 18 months qualified and started out on a surgical ward so this is completely out of our comfort zone, we transformed from a surgical ward to a covid ward overnight.”

“I never dreamt that I’d have to deal with this. I remember the first covid patient we had, the fear of going into the room, it was like you are going into a room with a zombie you are so afraid something is going to get you, it’s like a haunted house half the time.”

The young nurse says the ‘traumatic experience has changed her life.’

“I face life and death everyday at work and I always like to think that I had a good outlook on life but now I feel I appreciate the small things even more.

“A kiss from my boyfriend or a hug from my family. It’s just not the same anymore. I could not have gotten through this without them.

“My boyfriend of almost four years has been so understanding through all of this.

“He knows that every time we see each other there’s a high chance he could catch a deadly virus.

“The guilt I feel on a day to day basis when I see my family is enough to break my heart.

“I am looking forward to going back to work but I am terrified because I don’t know what to expect.

“Will I get it again, will I carry it and bring it back to my family?

“I’ve gone through this once before but can I do it again, it’s scary. “

Rebecca’s poem.

“It’s 7am and as I put on my scrubs,

I worry about lives,

Yet some worry about pubs..

Will they reopen,

Or will they stay closed?

I fight on the frontline,

No doubt I’m exposed

To a monster so deadly,

Like a sniper at war,

Killing thousands a day,

It’s hard to ignore.

We put on our armour

To look after our patients

Fighting for breath,

No exaggeration.

I hold your grannies hand,

Her lips turning blue,

As She looks up into my face,

Masked by goggles and an FFP2.

Her life has come to an end,

It’s the last breath she’s taken,

Covid... the cause of a sleep to which she will never awaken.

On the phone I tell her daughter,

“Mams life has come to an end”

Now time to plan a funeral,

To which only 10 can attend

A tickle in my throat,

A pain in my head,

3 weeks later,

I’m confined to my bed.

My phone lights up,

Ringing and ringing..

A strangers voice on the line,

“Is this miss Elliott?”

“Yes, speaking?”

I was given the news,

Somewhat unexpected...

The swab result came back,

With “Covid detected”

Now my family must distance,

At least 2 meters away.

So to keep them all safe,

Locked in room, I must stay.

But I am not the first,

And I won’t be the last...

But one thing is for sure..

I will kick Covid’s ass.