My COVID experience: coming back from retirement

My name is Monika Lear and I worked at Derriford Hospital for 17 years. In 2000 I started as a Health Care Assistant, got seconded and trained as a nurse. I qualified in 2005 and worked in HDU before transferring to Penrose. I relocated to the Freedom Unit in 2009 and eventually to the Satellite Dialysis Unit at Plymbridge Road, where I felt that I could increase my knowledge. 

In August 2017 I retired from nursing, as I wanted to have more time with my husband, who is 16 years older than me.

On retirement I had been asked if I would be able to help if there is a national problem….. Fast forward two and half years, and then I got the letter. My first instinct was to help, of course, but I also had to think about my husband, who is 73. We talked about it, and he highlighted that he is a very healthy 73 year old and not on any medication. Besides, if he could catch Corona, who would know where it is from? It could be from doing the shopping. 

So I started the training all over again. There have been some changes, but I only left under three years ago, so it wasn’t difficult. It was more intense, more details, some I remembered well. 

My contract was reviewed and I officially started on the 15th April 2020. My first call came on 05 May, to work on Stannon Ward. I enjoyed it. I enquired about the Dialysis Unit, as this was the place I last worked at and they were happy to have me back. So I decided to do two shifts on Stannon and two shifts at the Dialysis Unit. When Stannon transferred to Norfolk Ward they didn’t need the extra staff, so I’m now working three shifts a week at the Dialysis Unit. It all feels somehow surreal, like being on a very long holiday.

I know the rules, pattern and routine, at the Dialysis Unit, so there was not much training needed. Few things have changed and seeing some of the patients I knew is great. The staff have given me a warm welcome and supported me by giving me the training required, when it comes to line and prime the machines, needling, connecting and disconnecting the patients. I feel that I am helpful to them. To have a positive attitude is important. We will all get through this. 

Monika Lear

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