A year of Covid-19 in SA: Oath the only thing that motivated me, says nurse
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Cape Town – While 2020 was the most toughest year for Tygerberg Hospital nurse Thandeka Makhathini, the nurse’s oath she took years ago has been her motivation during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“2020 has to be the toughest year ever in my career,” said the 35-year-old nurse as she reflected over the pain the pandemic had brought on.
March 5 marks a year since the National Institute for Communicable Diseases confirmed South Africa’s first case of Covid-19. The patient was a 38-year-old man who travelled to Italy with his wife. They were part of a group of 10 people and they arrived back in South Africa on March 1, 2020.
“When we were made aware of the virus it was scary, but as nurses what else could we do? We had to stick to the rules and focus on our nursing channels, which meant even if you had to die, it was an oath that we had taken - something we pride ourselves on,” she said.
Makhathini said although she had made peace with the possibilities of dying while carrying out her job, her family were now also at a greater risk because of her line of work.
“I was scared for my family, that I would expose them to the virus. This was the load on my shoulders - what weighed me down,” she said.
Although none of her family members contracted the virus, Makhathini said the emotional trauma she endured was exhausting.
“I got tired. There were days you would be called in because we were short-staffed and would survive on water, vitamins and energy drinks. We had little rest or sleep,” she said.
As the death toll climbed along with the increase in infections, the nurse said people’s recklessness frustrated her.
“People did not understand this virus and how one can suffer from it. You would walk in the street and see people not wearing any mask or crowded gatherings.
’’But if you say something in my community, you would be perceived as if you think you are ‘better’ than others,” she said.
Now that the vaccine is available, Makhathini said she was excited and had already registered and received her voucher. She said she would be getting the vaccine this week and some of her colleagues have already been vaccinated.
“They show no side effects, they are well. I can’t wait to get mine,” she said.