Reflection shared during the parish May Novena to Our Lady 

My name is Kathleen Agnew, also known as Kate to my work colleagues and friends. I’m the lead nurse for theatres in N.I. I would like to share some of my experience from the last year and how my faith has helped me through a very challenging time.

 

27th February 2020 – First case of coronavirus confirmed in N.I. Prior to this we had been watching the horrific news from Wuhan and then Italy, praying it would bypass N.I. Plans were being put in place to prepare for a pandemic that we knew very little about. I thought, would there be enough ventilators, enough oxygen? What about PPE? Would our staff be safe? Would there be adequate protection? Every morning I prayed that our staff would be safe and that we wouldn’t lose anyone.

 

19th March 2020 – First death in N.I. due to Covid. Four days later, the country went into lockdown. Soon, deaths of staff occurred and I recall going to the office and putting my head on the desk and weeping.

 

I count myself very lucky to be part of All Saints’ Folk Group. Although we had to stop singing, our WhatsApp group would be a source of emotional, psychological and very importantly, spiritual support, reminding me that God was always by my side. I didn’t always get the time to reply to messages but the Scriptures, thoughts and prayers would support me through the most challenging time of my nursing career. Looking back over my texts:

 

“Very challenging week in work, so many really sad cases. Praying for all these poor families who have lost loved ones. Heart breaking. So thankful for all that is good in my life. Thanks for your prayers, everyone.”

 

“Do not fear, God is enough. Let nothing trouble you, let nothing frighten you; all things are passing; God never changes, patience obtains all things. He who possesses God lacks nothing. God alone suffices.”

 

“Psalm 91- My refuge and fortress, my God in whom I trust. He will rescue you from the destroying plague, he will shelter you with his pinions, and under his wings you may take refuge, his faithfulness is a protecting shield.”

 

“Coronavirus has taken over my life.”

 

“Great support from staff. God is good.”

 

“Busy day – staff have been amazing.”

 

“We’re all surrounding each other in prayer.”

 

“Psalm 46 – Be still and know that I am God. I am the God that healeth thee. In thee O God I put my trust.”

 

The staff and my friends were so caring, loving and kind. We supported each other through teamwork, enthusiasm and communication. The sea of rainbows from nieces, nephews, children and grandchildren support all of us.

 

Beginning of surge two, it was a very challenging week with very ill patients in theatre.

 

On December 14 I tested positive for Covid. I had been so careful. I rested but I felt so scared. I had a high temperature which wouldn’t fall, difficulty breathing at times, as well as no taste or smell. I had fatigue, brain fog, guilt and pain.  I wondered, would I end up on a ventilator with my own staff looking after me? Would I survive? What about my husband, would I give it to him. He had a heart attack the year before. I didn’t want to leave my son. I was supported by my friends and family. Fr Delargy kept ringing me with support. I was very unwell, but thank God I recovered. “I want to thank you, for all that you’ve done for me, for everything that I see I want to thank you. I want to thank you for giving a life to me.

 

Here are the lessons I learned:

 

  • Be grateful for everyone and everything around us.
  • It is a privileged job, to be a nurse.
  • Take time for people. Your time is one of your greatest gifts.
  • Be self-aware. Take time to reflect on your life.
  • Show and tell people you care and love them.
  • Be kind, you don’t know how people are feeling.
  • Be very thankful for the gift of life.