In the third episode of the podcast “Our Voices” we hear from Angel, a Filipino respiratory nurse who came to work in the UK two and a half years ago. She describes how a love for the Royal Family and an appreciation for James Bond movies convinced her that the UK was the place to be.
Angel grew up in a family of healthcare professionals: her grandparents encouraged her mother to become a nurse in order to pursue her dream of living in the USA and Angel’s aunt also became a doctor. Having a similar desire to start a life in a new country, Angel decided to follow in her family’s footsteps and pursued a career in nursing, although it did not come naturally to her at first: “I didn’t like it initially… for the first three years it was a difficult thing, adjusting… But, eventually, I just learned to love it.”
Angel did not experience such struggles when it came to living in London. She had some time to explore before starting work and so she took the opportunity to visit the famous places: “On the first day I was literally in love with the place.”
Despite her admiration for Princess Diana and her crush on Prince William being the initial attractions for her to life in the UK, she describes the friendliness and politeness of the local people making an instant impression on her once she arrived. She was particularly surprised when a local offered to help her with her luggage as she was climbing the stairs of the subway.
Life at work, however, posed more of a challenge. Angel describes developing a strong bond with a patient only three months after arriving in the UK. The patient was a long-term hospital resident who seemed to be caring for Angel almost as much as Angel was caring for her. She would constantly offer Angel advice and encouragement: “I was drawn to her… she had a place in my heart.”
But tragedy was to occur as Angel had to leave the UK in order to attend her grandmother’s funeral in the Philippines. When she returned, she discovered that her favourite patient had also passed away. Angel describes how she is generally able to avoid developing too strong of an emotional bond with her patients but the death of this woman was an event of great sadness. Describing what she learnt from her patient she says “never give up on kindness and goodness… If you spread positivity it will definitely come back.”
These lessons are of particular importance to her now as she goes through the struggle of dealing with life in the healthcare professions during a global pandemic. Unable to visit her family and having to face high levels of death on a daily basis, Angel talks about how important it is to achieve “balance, positivity and self-love”. It is through this approach that she and all of us will find a way to get through these most challenging of times.