Covid nurse: 'I thought I wasn't going to make it'

Devi Nurjandoa is a 58-year-old rehabilitation therapist and nurse who has worked in the NHS for more than 15 years.

The mother-of-two, who was born in Mauritius and lives in south London, caught Covid at the beginning of April. She spent almost two months in hospital.

She is acutely aware from personal experience and many reports, that people from ethnic minorities are at greater risk of being exposed to the virus, linked to the jobs they do as well as where they live.

But she says if people from these backgrounds stopped working, her department and much of the hospital would probably grind to a halt.

'Very low oxygen levels'

Mrs Nurjandoa said: "There is not a lot we can change. People cannot stop working – we cannot simply shut the hospital down."

Before coronavirus hit, she was fit and well and constantly on her feet. Now life has changed completely and she cannot do the job she loves.

"It started with a mild cough and I thought it would get better. But soon after I had my coronavirus test, I woke to find an ambulance crew in my room.

"In the background I could hear one of them saying my oxygen levels were very low at 38% on air – when this figure is normally in the 90s – and my blood pressure was low too.

"From my experience as a nurse, I genuinely thought I was not going to make it," she told the BBC.

She was admitted to Croydon University Hospital, put into an induced coma and looked after in intensive care.

Two weeks later, she woke up to find she was in a hospital bed with no family allowed by her side.

'I pray to go back to work'

She soon realised she couldn't feel the tips of her fingers and was told she had had a stroke during her illness.

Mrs Nurjandoa is now back at home and spends much of her day indoors. She says she really misses her job and wants to get back to how things were.

Fatigue affects her most, and she still has numbness in her fingers and pain in her shoulder.

"Some days I try to go for a walk and I just cannot do it because I am so tired. My brain says it wants to do something but my body will not do it," she says.

"When I see colleagues struggling in to work I feel I am doing the wrong thing by being at home.

"Every day I just pray I will go back to work," she said.

As well as wanting to thank all the doctors and nurses and other healthcare staff who looked after her, Mrs Nurjandoa has one other suggestion.

She urged ministers to think about how to support front-line NHS staff this winter.

After her experience, she says everyone in the NHS needs good protective equipment and ideally there need to be more staff to help reduce the pressures of working in a pandemic, because healthcare workers from all backgrounds are working extremely hard.

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