Kathmandu: For Pratiksha Shah, a nursing in-charge at an isolation center established by Nagarjun Municipality, the sight of women walking around the hospital wearing white coats and stethoscopes wrapped around their necks would fascinate her when she was a child. That fascination grew as she got older and it also worked in tandem with her desire to serve the people. So she decided to be a nurse.
“I have always wanted to be a nurse since I was a little kid,” she says. But little did she know when she started out as a nurse that a time would come when she would have to risk her own well-being while fulfilling her duty.
The pandemic has brought terror to all of us, but unlike many, frontline workers like Shah can’t coop up in their homes. Their service is a necessity. “It definitely is terrifying, but I don’t regret being a nurse,” says Shah, adding that her passion for helping people in need has grown even stronger in this pandemic.
The 28-year-old has been in charge of the isolation center for the past 10 days. Before that, she worked as a nursing instructor at HAMS Nursing College and still continues to do so. One of the main reasons she chose to come out on the field in this second wave of pandemic is that she believes it to be her responsibility, one she accepts wholeheartedly.
Shah has always kept herself in the frontline, helping people in times of need, be it during the 2015 earthquakes or this pandemic. She believes that this is what she was meant to do. She has never been hesitant about her responsibility and does it with full compassion. But sometimes, she feels apprehensive. Not because of her job, but because of how people treat her as a person.
“The incident at Bheri Hospital was a slap in all of our (all the nurses) faces,” she says, her voice brimming with sympathy. Her concern is beyond being infected by the coronavirus. At this point, she is terrified by the people’s reaction. She says that their (the nurse’s) safety lies in people’s hands.
She sees her colleagues on social media, sharing their sadness on how they have helped save so many lives but failed to save their own loved ones. “Even with their loss, they show up the next day, working again, serving people in need,” she adds.
She feels like people have failed to understand a nurse’s struggle in this pandemic, she says. That really saddens her because, from her point of view, nurses have given everything they have towards saving a person’s life.
“I can’t show my tears to my patients, but sometimes it gets really overwhelming,” she says
In the meantime, Shah is fearful of infecting her family. Shah lives with her mother, an asthma patient, and her siblings. Her fear of infecting her mother keeps her up at night. Her father, a government officer posted in Dhading, calls her twice a day, to know if she is doing well, making sure she is following precautions. “No matter what, a parent will always be worried,” she says.
Seeing all those patients and their family members going above and beyond to save their loved one’s lives makes her emotional. “I can’t show my tears to my patients, but sometimes it gets really overwhelming,” she says.
She vows to do everything she can do in her power to save lives, but her anguish always remains. But even with so much struggle and emotional distress on her plate, her faith towards her work and her mother’s support keeps her going, she says. “My mother constantly encourages me to do what I am doing, and that is one of the biggest motivations I can have at this time of crisis,” she says.