Sarah Browne in full PPE gearMy secret superpower? Hmmm, let me tell you.

In normal times I’m a paediatric nurse in the National Children’s Hospital in Tallaght. My usual place of work is the paediatric high dependency unit (PHDU). During this nasty global pandemic the management decided that there was enough capacity for our sick children in the other children’s hospitals in Dublin (Crumlin and Temple Street) and moved the majority of our staff to the other hospitals to help out there. Thankfully, there doesn’t seem to be the same impact of the virus on children as adults and the other hospitals are working well below capacity (at the moment anyways) so they’re not too busy.

To help out our colleagues on the ‘adult side’, our PHDU and other children’s ward spaces are being used for adult patients. I chose to stay at Tallaght and I’ve been helping to care for adult patients who have are well enough to be moved from ICU after being intubated (or ‘tubed’) and get them ready for transfer to the wards, before going home.  It’s been extremely challenging!

To help prepare us for our new role, we have had to undertake some enhanced training in ICU with the specialist nursing staff. We were working with patients who were intubated because of covid-19 which, sadly, included some of our own colleagues which was emotionally so very hard. We had to get used to different mediation doses and forms – most children’s medicines come as liquids, so it was a lot of looking in cupboards staring at unfamiliar packages looking for tablets! I think we’ve managed well so far. We also had to get to grips with all the different paperwork – it seems like our usual little patients don’t generate as much paperwork as adults do! Our fundamental nursing skills are the same and I’d like to hope that we are all doing a good job in caring for these much bigger patients, we are certainly doing our very best! It’s so satisfying to see someone wheeled into to our unit in their bed, weak and exhausted after many days in ICU, to see them improve greatly, to be able to eat, drink and walk again and then  been taken in a wheelchair to the wards where before they go home, to live a full, long, healthy life.

So, my secret superpowers? I believe that my superpowers have all come from my many years in guiding and are not such a secret. Firstly, teamwork and that everyone’s role is important whatever that may be. I have had to work in many different teams and with people with different teaching/working styles to mine, as I have in guiding, working on different teams for events and activities. I have had to be adaptable and open to change, sometimes with little or no notice – a skill gained after so many brigin and guide camps where things don’t always go to that carefully timed schedule you spent so long planning! Not forgetting friendship and support, I have a supportive family and friends at home and many friends from around the world who I have met through guiding. We are all going through similar things and are there to talk to, share experiences and tips and support each other.

As hard as things are at the moment, it is worth remembering that this will all just be temporary and life will get back to some form or normality, our new normal soon. However, we all must continue to do our best to stop the spread of the virus by keeping to social distancing rules, only making journeys that are necessary and above all washing our hands regularly.

I’ll end with a quote from Lord Baden-Powell: -

“I have over and over again explained that the purpose of the Boy Scout and Girl Guide Movement is to build men and women as citizens endowed with the three H's namely, Health, Happiness and Helpfulness. The man or woman who succeeds in developing these three attributes has secured the main steps to success this Life.”

Here's to all the heroes xx