As a physiotherapist redeployed to the COVID wards during the pandemic, I realised very quickly how important it was to have coping mechanisms. My favourite one was to focus on and talk about the rare but hugely significant positive moments we were all experiencing as well as the sad ones.
One afternoon there was a rare moment of calm and quiet on the ward - all the patients were stable and comfortable which was lovely as a lot of the time a lot of patients were very sick and deteriorating quickly. The radio was playing in the background, amongst all the sadness and chaos it was a comfort to have some background noise. I will never forget what happened next. A song came on the radio, flowers by sweet female attitude, a real club classic song! A patient with dementia, not his real name but let’s call him Len, then stood up and began to dance joyfully, waving his hands in the air and tapping his feet! It was beautiful. I asked Len if he liked the song and he shouted, “It’s my favourite song!”
At that moment another patient got out of bed and joined him in dancing in the bay. With agreement from the other patients we turned the music up and I remember looking around at my colleagues, who were dotted around ward working hard, and even through our PPE, our goggles, our surgical gowns, and our facemasks we all made an unspoken agreement that we just had to join in. I put down my chart and we danced and we sang and watched as the ward did the same. The patients in their hospital pyjamas, and the staff in our PPE. Some who were too poorly to stand, danced from their beds. And it was the best feeling.
That moment melted my heart. We all forgot the horrendous situation we were in, we forgot the heartbreak and the sadness, the grief, the fear, and the exhaustion we were all feeling. I remember looking around the ward and thinking, although the COVID ward was a very scary place to be, I didn't want to be anywhere else and I wouldn't have it any other way.
Author Notes: Claire Stainton