The sixth episode of Our Voices focuses on Samantha: a Sri Lankan nurse who came to work in the UK in 2018. She talks lovingly about her grandfather as the person who has been her greatest inspiration as well as detailing the personal health battles which have helped her connect more deeply with her patients.
Samantha begins by revealing that she had wanted to work in the medical field since she was a child. This was no doubt influenced by her earliest memories; Samantha recounts how she suffered with pneumonia during infancy. She contracted the infection twice as a child and her family was told that she would not survive the illness. Doing all they could to look after her, Samantha’s parents sought the help of a doctor who eventually was able to nurse her back to health. Although her memories of this time are mostly vague, she still vividly recalls the discomfort and distress of being placed on a ventilator and fitted with wires during her most tender years.
Samantha’s childhood was not only shaped by her experiences of illness, however. Being brought up by her grandparents, she was able to develop a very close relationship with her grandfather “He was and still is my hero… he said to me: be a kind and gentle human being, always think about others.” Samantha’s grandfather did not just influence her with words, his actions also made an impact: her grandparents would often cook large amounts of food so the hungry and homeless were able to join them for meals.
Not long after coming to the UK, Samantha has had to deal with the devastating effects of the covid crisis. She talks about a cancer patient who showed nothing but gratitude and appreciation to her and the other nurses who provided her care. Unfortunately, the patient contracted covid and was not able to survive and yet she continued to show her gratitude to her caregivers until her final moments. The patient’s gratitude has had a positive effect as her appreciation makes Samantha “willing to work more.”
Samantha has also experienced the direct impact of covid as she ended up contracting the virus herself. Her symptoms were so severe that she was hospitalised and, during that time, it was discovered that she would once again require treatment for pneumonia. It took her over a month to fight off the illness and return to work but she has been able to demonstrate to other sufferers how a “strong and positive” attitude will help them to recover. Just as her grandfather was such an important role model for her, now Samantha is able to be that role model for her patients.
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