Registered Practical Nurse
I’ve worked at Providence for the past 17 years and have worked in both the hospital side and the Houses of Providence. Providence is like family to me – it may be a heavy job and it may be hectic, but the people I work with are team players and they have a sense of humour.
When COVID started, I was scared of getting it, so scared that I couldn’t sleep. I cried every night and went to work anxious and afraid.
On December 20th, I felt fine, headed to work and completed a routine weekly COVID test. That day, one of my colleagues noticed that I was walking slower than usual. I thought it might have been because I slept late and was overworked. After my shift, I went home and had a long sleep. I knew something wasn’t right. I woke up the next day and checked my results – they were positive. I isolated myself right away. I have no idea where I got it from.
Something changed in me and I wasn’t as scared anymore.
I stayed in my own room, away from my husband, children and parents. They dropped off food at my door and video called me as much as possible. I had a hard time breathing. In the morning, I felt okay, but when I went to bed, I would have chills and cough all night. Even though I lost my sense of taste, I tried my best to eat and hydrate myself. It was close to Christmas and we normally celebrate a lot. This was the loneliest Christmas holiday I’ve ever had.
I was scared so I prayed. I was worried that I didn’t finish my plans in life yet. During this time, I read a book that said that you could never finish your plans in life. You will accomplish some of your plans and goals, but not everything. You just have to do the best you can in every moment, every day. God gave me strength to go on and continue to do what I need to do as a nurse. I got through it.
When I heard about a COVID-19 unit opening at Providence, I wanted to join the team. Something changed in me and I wasn’t as scared anymore. I returned to work and put on a brave front. I was treating people who have had the same experience as me. I know how they are feeling, why they can’t eat that much and how it affects their sleep. Some of them get lonely because they can’t be with their family. I know that feeling. It’s why I stay with them and talk to them. I’m glad I can help them get through it.
I used to be so active and danced a lot. I can’t do that right now. I have joint pain when I move. I always find myself catching my breath. It’s not the same as before I got COVID-19. I hope to be active again. As soon as the gym opens and I am fully vaccinated, I will join Zumba classes every day.
Michelle Diego is a Registered Practical Nurse at Providence Healthcare.
As told to Natalie Leung. Photos by Yuri Markarov. This interview has been edited and condensed.