Lockdown Diaries: My quest for freedom

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn the light on.

JK Rowling

The virus is not gone. It’s still here. In the United Kingdom, we’re in our second lockdown. Life has not been the same this year. And, it’s not pretty. Thank God we have Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations to brighten our troubled souls.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com
Photo by Pavel Danilyuk on Pexels.com

In my last post I mentioned how the virus pandemic made me realise the fickleness of life. It opened my eyes to things that are more important to me. Things like my family and friends. My health and wellness. And, freedom to live my life to the full.

Freedom, for me, means building a comfortable, safe and peaceful environment I will call home. It means freedom from enslaving debt. Freedom from shackling bills. Freedom from the stress that comes with all this consumerist lifestyle. No peace of mind.

Whilst I’m extremely grateful for the way this country has embraced, nourished and cherished me, I miss my native country Zimbabwe everyday. Don’t get me wrong, I’m eternally grateful for the way the UK welcomed me and gave me a place to call home. I found the love of my life in this country. I guess this will always be home too.

I’ve been away from Zimbabwe for many years now and my heart yearns to return to my beautiful homeland. My heart bleeds for freedom from consumerism. Freedom from the daily grind required to finance this lifestyle. I miss Zimbabwe and the pain is, at times, unbearable.

Sometimes I’m desperate to return, other times I’m hopeless. Sometimes the fear that I might fail to free myself grips me. The tears of desperation and hopelessness overwhelm me. But, I quickly remind myself that “all things work together for good….”. This strengthens me. It gives me hope. Hope that it is possible despite the seemingly unassailable challenges.

I long for the Zimbabwean air and atmosphere. The simplicity of life. The vibrant community spirit. The great sense of humour. The loud hearty laughter. The friendly smiles even in the midst of troubles. The resilience of a people who have experienced relentless hardship. The courage of an amazing people. I miss all this and more.

You’ll know the people that feed your soul….because you’ll feel good after spending time with them….

Latika Teotia
Photo by Blue Ox Studio on Pexels.com

Returning to Zimbabwe offers me a chance to experience the freedom I long for. My freedom. A chance to live the simple life I dream of. A chance to live my life to the full. A chance to be with my family and friends. That’s freedom.

My idea of a simple life is to be as self-sufficient as I possibly can. To be self-reliant on essentials like food, energy and water.

A simple life, for me, means needing less and a good-sized home with big bright spacious rooms. It means the opportunity to do some urban homesteading. The freedom to live my life as I choose. I’m choosing to be self-reliant and live on less.

Photo by Max Fischer on Pexels.com

I believe choice is a powerful tool in the hands of the wise. It can be used to hewn out the life you desire.

RashiElla

I believe choice is a powerful tool in the hands of the wise. It can be used to hewn out the life you desire. I’m choosing to slow down. I’m choosing calm and tranquil. I’m choosing to live as sustainably as I can. I’m choosing to live in tune with my environment and nature.

Returning to Zimbabwe is a significant choice for me. It’s a change and a challenge I’m willing to take on.

Yes, I understand it’s not all rosy. I acknowledge that there are real difficulties and hardships out there. I’m prepared to live ‘off-grid like’, by using alternative sources of energy and water.

I’m motivated by the prospect of freedom. Freedom to spend more time with family and friends. I believe life should be enjoyed not endured. With freedom I get to do things that mean more to me. I get to live my life to the full.

I believe life is for living. Life is what you make of it. Design the life you would like to live today. Do not leave it a day longer or you’ll regret putting it off.

Live life to the full.

One Day in April: Reflections of a nurse during the virus pandemic

“It is only in our darkest hours that we may discover the true strength of the brilliant light within ourselves that can never, ever, be dimmed”

Doe Zantamata

Sooo….what a roller-coaster of a year 2020 has been so far. Phew! The past months have not only been unusual but also particularly difficult for most people – more so front-line workers like myself. Very strange and unusual times we’re living in.

What with the virus wreaking havoc across the nations. These are unprecedented times. Indeed distressing and deeply saddening times.

I’ve not written anything on this blog in a long time. Since March to be precise. Life has been hectic. Our world has been suddenly changed by the virus pandemic. As I said, I’m a front-line worker. A nurse in a big bustling hospital. I’m in direct contact with the virus.

Do I feel scared? Of course I’m terrified. So is the vast majority if not everyone.

A lot of lives have been lost and some changed in a big way. Much pain has been felt. The pain of losing loved ones. The feeling of helplessness. Not being physically present to hold the hands of loved ones in such time of need was heartbreaking. Not being there in those last days, those last moments was extremely upsetting and painful. They died alone and scared.

Sunday 19.04.20

Today I worked on the Critical Care Unit commonly known as ITU. I’m not a trained ITU nurse….so how did I end up here? Well, it’s actually the second time in 2 weeks that I’ve had to be re-deployed to this unit. It’s common practice nowadays to find yourself working on wards or settings you never would have dreamed of working before the pandemic.

The last time I worked on ITU I developed nasty blisters on my feet. I had to take some time off to allow the horrible blisters to heal. In fact I’ve just returned to work. This is my second shift.

ITU is a very surreal place – unlike any other ward in the hospital. Patients are intubated and paralyzed whilst receiving treatment. The patients are too sick and require additional oxygen and assistance to breathe.

With my white coverall on top of my royal blue scrubs, tightly-fitted 3M face mask, visor, net hair cover, overshoes and up to 3 pairs of gloves – I’m ready to deliver some duty of care. I’m assigned a patient to look after. A male patient in his 70’s – intubated and paralyzed.

My mentor (a regular ITU nurse) quickly explains and demonstrates what I’m expected to do for the patient and disappears to receive and attend to yet another patient who’s just been brought in. Hours go by tending to my paralyzed and intubated patient.

I give regular verbal reassurances and explain every nursing intervention despite knowing fully well that I would not get any verbal response or acknowledgement. As I grimly watch and monitor the life support system machines and tubes connected to the patient, I know his life hangs in the balance – his chances of leaving this unit alive are very slim.

The ‘personal protective equipment’ (PPE) is becoming very uncomfortable. I’m literally boiling and sweating buckets. My break time is only an hour on a 12-hour shift. This is a most welcome relief. A chance to peel off the uncomfortably hot and sweaty PPE. Grab a bite to eat and a refreshing drink. One quick check at messages and notifications on my mobile phone before handing it back for safe keeping and rushing back to the unit.

Donning and doffing PPE is a lengthy and mostly frustrating process. Once on, the heat, the sweat and claustrophobia all kick in. Once PPE is on, I avoid having a drink because I dread the subsequent bladder works and the frustrating process of donning and doffing PPE that comes with it all. So I hold off drinking until home time – some 5/6 hours away.

Dehydrated and sweaty, I dutifully carry out the call of duty for hours more.

End of shift. Handover done. I eagerly peel off the horrible PPE and immediately it feels like the best thing ever. I quickly grab my bag and coat and head for the exit. Once out of the hospital building, a blast of fresh air against my hot sweaty skin feels like heaven.

I allow myself to take deep breaths of the fresh air, filling my ‘fresh-air deprived’ lungs. “Nothing could be better than this” I muse to myself. I head for my car. The vast car park is unusually quiet and empty. Sitting in my car feels good as I chug down some bottled water. With my dehydrated body now resuscitated I feel a rush of life surge through me. The gentle music soothes my tired and troubled soul as I head home.

Once home, I follow a now regular routine. Strip off my clothes and shoes on entering our home and straight to the shower. The shower feels good on my hot and sticky skin. Refreshing and almost life-giving. As I wash my face it feels rough and uneven. Thanks to the tightly-fitting 3M mask and visor/face shield – their imprints a testimony and reminder of my very close contact with the virus.

How has living through the pandemic changed me?

I’m glad things appear to be improving in terms of new infections and deaths rate. Still, we remember those who lost their lives to this monster virus. Loved ones, neighbours and colleagues.

Personally, I have learned a few things about life. I now perceive life somewhat differently to what I did before the virus pandemic. Yes, the virus pandemic has certainly changed the things I value in life. Life is precious. Family and friends are precious and should be prioritized. Being healthy and fit should be prioritized.

I now look for the good in everything. I look at what I have in my life and I appreciate it. No matter how small or insignificant it may appear. I will work with what I have to get to where I would like to be. I will learn to be content and grateful for what life has given me. I will enjoy life today – with what I have today.

I also realize that self-reliance and preparedness is the ultimate freedom. The ability to prepare for life’s mishaps and live independent of systems and ways that are fallible. Systems and ways that collapse in the face of sustained disaster leaving you vulnerable. Freedom is now my goal. I will find it and live it.

Live life to the full