I had a plan for today’s blog but this picture appeared in my family WhatsApp feed overnight so I changed my mind. Today I am (metaphorically) stepping out of my bubble to talk about someone else. (And, profanity alert – here be swearing. I don’t mean to offend.)
This is my niece, Kayleigh. She’s a support worker in a large hospital in Sheffield. Until this week she worked in the Out Patient Department. But Covid 19 means there are no out patients so this week she was re-assigned to ward duty. It’s a ward full of Covid patients, hence the full face mask and other PPE you can’t see in the photo. This is the face of the NHS in the UK (and it’s a lovely face – she doesn’t get her eyes from my side of the family).
Kayleigh is also the mother of two children, a boy of 4 and a girl nearly 3, who, in their short lives, have spent a lot of time in hospital with respiratory issues. They’ve just got through their first winter without having a hospital stay or a course of steroids. You can imagine how worried Kayleigh is, coming into daily contact with some of the sickest people in the world, then going home to possibly put her family at risk. ‘Scared’, is the word she used. Still, she tries to remain positive, not wanting to upset people.
What she does want to do is tell people not to be dicks. She has watched, aghast, as some blatantly ignore hand washing advice and social distancing rules. Until now she has been quiet, a new girl on the block not wanting to sound like a moaning Minnie. But she won’t be for long. She’s a strong-willed person and, like any mother, will fight her corner to keep her children safe, even if it means ‘grassing’ on those not following the rules. And those rules apply to everyone. Unless you have to leave the house, don’t. Unless you have to buy food or essential medicines, stay home. If you have to go out, stay 2 metres away from others. Use hand sanitiser. Wash your hands. It’s not hard. No one needs a degree in quantum physics to do any of the above. It’s not f*cking rocket science. It’s respect: respect for your fellow citizens; respect for those still working in this crisis and putting their own safety at risk.
It’s Easter this weekend and we, like many, would normally go away. I’m disappointed we can’t. Some in NZ are ignoring the rules, reports on last night’s news of people travelling from cities to their holiday homes in the middle of the night to avoid Police, putting a strain on local services and running the risk of passing this virus to the local community. Dickheads to a one.
On the ward this week Kayleigh witnessed her first death, an old man who died alone because his family couldn’t be by his side. The doctors were so busy it took them hours to come and confirm the death. It upset her and made her think of her grandad, my dad, and how it could be him (he’s currently behaving himself and staying in isolation so we hope not). As she told me, a catch in her voice, I wanted to hug her. I hope someone is. The NHS is doing their best but are so busy at the moment that support for their workers is basically yeah, sorry, but get on with it.
As I have already mentioned on these pages, I consider all frontline health staff to be heroes. I’m proud that my niece is one of them. And my best friend, Julie, in Wellington. If anything happens to either of them, or their families, I will be devastated. If it is because some idiots think they are so important they don’t have to follow the rules, I will be more angry than I’ve ever been.
I’m missing my social contacts. I hate being stuck inside. But I want to see my niece and her family the next time I visit England, and I want to be able to go for a coffee or a wine with my best friend when we are all allowed out again.
So, wherever you are in the world, appreciate the efforts being made by your health service and its workers. Stay the f*ck at home. And don’t be a dick.