Things I am grateful for
I am grateful for the recognition and support healthcare professionals felt across the state when COVID came.
I am grateful that our country’s place at the ‘bottom of the world’ gave us time to prepare and to our nation that supported free healthcare without judgement.
I am grateful to a government and a healthcare service that ensured we had appropriate PPE and courageously vowed that no staff member would work without it.
I am grateful to our CEO for presenting to the emergency department to pass on her thanks to staff and for the selflessness she showed in not wanting to wear PPE so we could preserve it for our frontline workers.
I am grateful for a government that made many unpopular decisions to support multiple lockdowns. I truly believe these decisions saved our healthcare system.
I am grateful we had the opportunity to be innovative and develop processes to guide our changing models of care.
I am grateful for the word ‘resilience’ because it best describes the teams who continued to come to work, without complaint.
I am grateful to our staff who bent and flexed again and again to meet the needs of our patients without complaint or question. To them, I will be forever grateful.
I am grateful for the first-time experience of everyone being equal. Disciplines, salaries, levels, role descriptions all became irrelevant. It didn’t matter if you were the cleaner, clerk, doctor or nurse. We all became a set of eyes, completely covered in PPE, and we were all so grateful for the kindness, empathy and unspoken understanding we found in each other’s eyes.
I am grateful to people whom I would not have met had it not been for the pandemic. I loved the teamwork and collaboration with everyone who worked to maintain safety, support and best practice for our patients, while taking the time to understand the risk and stress of navigating such uncharted territory.
I am grateful for the many calls and check-ins and the kindness of strangers who showed their support in the form of meals for our teams.
I am grateful to our friends who cooked for us and to my neighbours for our ‘hole’ in the fence and our many drinks as they listened to me bang on.
I am grateful to my family who played second fiddle to my career and passion. To my husband who let me dig up our backyard for no other reason than to have a distraction from COVID, who home-schooled, cooked and managed the feelings, frustrations and mental health challenges of our beautiful girls so I could focus on work.
Bittersweet things I am grateful for
I am grateful for the kindness and compassion our nurses showed in holding the hands of our patients when their families were absent, making sure no-one died alone or without dignity. This was both a privilege created by the pandemic and a burden they will carry forever.
I am grateful for the amazing nurses who stayed the course but I grieve for those who left because the risk to their personal health was too great. Or the burden of care was too immense. Or the fear was so debilitating. They are lost to the nursing profession and I don’t know that we will ever recover.
I am grateful for the privilege of offering care and comfort to people who were broken by COVID, but I hate that I can’t get the sound of a grieving mother out of my mind. She had lost her only daughter and when I stepped into the room to offer support, I was instantly paralysed. I will never forget her lying on the floor sobbing, overwhelmed by her immeasurable loss. As a mother I could feel her guttural pain and could take no comfort in knowing that, had her healthy, young, beautiful daughter been vaccinated, this moment may have been very different.
I am grateful for the role I had but I hated the heavy responsibility to get things right and having to ask so much of our staff who were not yet able to get vaccinated, knowing healthcare workers around the world were dying because COVID did not discriminate.
I am grateful but sad when I remember watching Andrea Bocelli singing in an empty church in Italy as it was livestreamed in the empty streets. I remember the devasting deaths this beautiful country suffered. For the first time, I felt completely overwhelmed by the significance of the decisions I would make and their impact on our COVID story if I got them wrong.
I felt grateful to be an Australian, but devastated for our international colleagues who, just because of where they lived, had neither the time nor prior knowledge that we Australian nurses had. I was unable to contain my sense of loss and immense trepidation about what was coming our way. I am grateful to Andrea Bocelli for giving me permission, that afternoon, to sit in the rubble and cry.
To all my friends and colleagues, I am in awe of your resilience and will be forever grateful that you turned up every day.
I am grateful for your trust even when I was worried I might have it wrong. I knew my role and responsibility was to protect and value you—but what if I couldn’t? No-one comes to work for this!
As nurses, we never afford ourselves the opportunity to be vulnerable. It is not a comfortable space for us. But COVID made us deeply aware of our own and each other’s vulnerability, and I am grateful for the many moments we shared.
It is an odd feeling knowing that the most amazing highlight of my nursing career—and one that I didn’t sign up for—was also the most devastating, challenging and frightening thing I have ever done. I am proud to be part of this history and I shall remember forever this period with gratitude, if for no other reason than to pay homage to all those who weren’t so lucky.