I consider myself lucky, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, to work in an area, where I am passionate about my job, and the difference I can make to peoples’ lives. I feel blessed to work as a community nurse, on the ‘front line’, in an area skirting the tranquility and freshness of rural Northumberland, now even more peaceful. The team is ever supportive of each other, and our patients across our district. One major difference for me at the moment is having to wear PPE to visit patients in their homes. One thing that strikes me is the fear on some of their faces.

One lady said, “it feels like the lottery, who will make it through, and who won’t, for people of my age.” They only have my eyes and posture to judge me by as I enter each home, wearing a paper mask, which is more for their benefit than mine, and I always pull my shoulders back as I enter and smile so my wrinkly eyes speak to them, hopefully exuding positivity and care … although inside I too feel scared!

The coronavirus has changed how people look at a nurse in uniform. The other morning I needed to collect some emergency supplies for a patient from a local chemists. Almost everyone indicated for me to go to the front of the queue, despite their frustration of having to wait what may seem an eternity outside the doors. As the pharmacy assistant came to find out who wanted what, I kept my obligatory two meters away from others, moving into the early-morning sunshine when the cold breeze in the shadow started to chill me to the bone, no one complaining as they waited for, often life-preserving, medications and items. Most chatted occasionally … one man in his seventies asked the group to, “let them know I’ll be back in half an hour,” but ironically didn’t say his name, I suspect finding it too long to stand. When I spoke with the assistant again, I mentioned a few seats might be an idea, as everyone had waited almost half-an-hour, but the suggestion appeared to fall on deaf ears – however the problem should be rectified shortly!

Two of my best friends, who are also nurses, have been confirmed COVID-19 positive over the past three weeks, and when I’m not at work or involved in the community effort in my own town, we sit in our homes across the northeast of England, miles apart, and laugh, cry and put the world to right for hours via keyboard or video, encouraging each other through this difficult time, waiting for the time we can rejoice in our freedom – and have a BIG hug!

The world has changed, perhaps forever, how and where we go from here is not just down to individual endeavours, but a concerted world-wide effort to make the best of a unique and life-changing situation – let us hope we find the right solutions.

Today is tomorrow’s history, and I am honoured to have been invited to share my story with EAHN.