After the swim, and while the kids were watching Frozen, over a few glasses of wine Juliet relayed some of her experience on the ward in Sierra Leone. It was sobering.
“Each day brought new cases, people didn’t stop coming. Men and women; young and old, wealthy and poor; black and white. If you were breathing, you were at risk. Everyday, became about ensuring you were protected. It was the only thing keeping you from becoming infected, so you’d get paranoid. We developed a ritual about putting on our PPE gear. Put it on, check for gaps and holes, then check again. Then get someone else to check for you.
All through out the day you would check for holes and bare skin. It was like being in a sauna.
It was worse when they brought in small children, it made me think of Sophie and Daniel…
You could have two children come within a couple of days of each other, about the same age and progression of the virus. You’d treat them in the exact same way with fluids, the high protein peanut paste and you’d still loose them. And there was no telling which one might pull through. Sometimes the ones you thought were sure to die, pulled through. Others, who should have had a fighting chance, died. It was heartbreaking.
And the smell. Burning bodies, chlorine and death. Nothing gets rid of it. It permeates the very air you breathe. It gets into your clothes, your hair and your skin. I had to burn all my clothes before I left and when I finally got home I soaked in the bath for hours, I thought seriously about shaving my head.
In the end you just get numb. Numb to all the death. You turn into a robot just to get through the day.”
I would have believed her, except for the tears rolling silently down her face.