Home vs Hospital

Many people are struggling through these difficult times because we can’t leave our houses unless absolutely necessary. But imagine being stuck in one room for 3 weeks! That has been my experience, and I would like to share some thoughts with you about it.

A few weeks ago I was admitted to hospital because of a chronic illness. It was odd and strange because the hospital was eerie and everyone was wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at all times. I couldn’t see any of my family except my dad, who has stayed with me for the three weeks. He wasn’t allowed to leave so as not to catch or spread anything within the hospital. In fact, the only time either of us was allowed out of the room was if I had a scan or operation. Even then we had to wear masks which were hot, uncomfortable and difficult to breathe in. The nurses were constantly saying how difficult it was to work in all the PPE they had to wear but were also always positive and upbeat with their patients. This had a calming effect and was very reassuring at a time when I felt very scared and low. The effort they made was amazing because due to the PPE you had to look for more clues to see how they felt, as their smiles were always hidden.

I can see that lockdown at home is very difficult too because it can lead to issues with mental health. Working from home may not be ideal and it’s hard not being able to see family and friends face to face. But there are ways to cope, such as doing art and crafts, sitting outside in the garden, cooking/baking, going for daily walks or runs. Even just the simplicity of being able to go into a different room is something that not everybody can enjoy.

Life in the hospital during lockdown is very different. I wasn’t able to do any of the above; I had light and fresh air coming in through a window but it’s not the same as being able to sit in the garden in the sunshine or go out for a walk down the street. It’s tough for everyone, including the nurses who can’t even get to emergencies as quickly as they would like as they have to spend time putting on new PPE first. For me, it was a shock to see how different lockdown in a hospital is compared to everywhere else. It woke me up to the severity of the situation at hand. It also made me feel for those locked down at home who have mental health issues, and restrictions on the things they can do. It is just devastating.

What I have learned from my experience is to take every day as it comes, don’t take anything for granted. Make yourself busy, distract yourself with things you enjoy.

Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery but today is a gift: that’s why they call it the present!

This story was contributed by Abi Gough, a student at St Thomas More in Gateshead.