What has the holiday break brought? Well. No 13 hour day shifts with consistent use of a face mask, adopting possibly 2 to 3 dozen plastic aprons which make you sweat profusely. As do the single use gloves, again each pair worn by the multiple dozens and when taken off after a long intervention come off with a few teaspoon fulls of sweat inside.

I’ve read a fair bit of research, comments, reflections by ‘experts’ over the months since February/March time. Very confusing to be honest. And sometimes askew and barking up the wrong tree it feels. So now? I am beginning to reflect on both myself and my colleagues symptoms and general well being after all these months. Symptoms are an insight to reality. Research is a two headed monster. And the math re: numbers of positives, number of deaths, number of cases, number of asymptomatic/symptomatic resulting positive/false negatives or false positives and %s of anything considered relevant to push at the masses are politically led, skewed or misconstrued. We are amongst so many different ‘germs’ on the ward that our immune systems are working like a hamster in it’s wheel. And exhaustion lowers immune responses. So. Slippery slope scenario.

So my symptoms now? Especially after 9 days mask free. A reflective study of actually escaped or experienced and overcome.

Comparison. At work? Headaches, dry/itchy throat, voice box scratchy sounding or deep, rich and a possible ‘use it as a voice over and make dollars’ level, short tempered and, sometimes downright angry, focus fluctuation, feverish sweats overnight, and absolute exhaustion and tiredness on my days off work. Sleeping during the day for hours. A 4 hour overnight overall sleeping experience with consistent waking. Through anxiety? Dreams? Little spikes in my immune system trying to combat the days acquired fungal, bacterial, viral monsters? Who knows. But my dreams are vivid vicious monsters. Something has crossed my blood/brain barrier and caused havoc!

I have always expounded that a higher content of carbon dioxide breathed back in (and faster and deeper breaths to get more oxygen down into my lovely lungs) brings in more of those ‘germs’ alongside CO2 also. Why? Because they both sit there, germs and CO2, in my masks. The risk of hypercapnia and it’s presence having a destructive nature by floating in it’s toxic acidic nature in my bloodstream and creating havoc to my lovely cells, tissues, organs ability to fight off the world and it’s weapons of mass destruction. The masks, although giving ‘who knows’ what time period of efficacy, protect my patients more than myself. So very important. The surgeons who have worn these masks for decades don’t wear them to specifically stop the patient on the table infecting them. It’s to also stop the surgeon possibly infecting the patient. Ergo. Wear them. Just change them regularly. Very regularly in fact when on the ward.

Now, after 9 days mask free? All the biological, psychological symptoms have quelled. You could also say sociological because I am in a different environment. Now? Normality in a deep breath as a procedure is to just do it because ‘Hey! I can!’ Yogic, not lifesaving needful. No restrictive mask which makes me breathe in deeply because ‘Hey! I must!’ As an aside regarding psychological affects with symptoms? Pain is a symptom. I remember when I had hernia pain for 2 years and my mood levels associated with the consistent gnawing in the muscle/abdomen region. I was, again, short tempered. A real blast to be with…….NOT. Also, depression reared it’s ugly head. No escape was there from the Pain Beast? Symptoms of an overwhelming negative nature do indeed destroy well being. Psychologically at the moment I feel calmer. My breathing is much improved. I have walked without deep breathlessness up steep hills, steps, inclines. Yes! My muscles ask me ‘What’s going on?’ But generally, my body is tapping me on the shoulder and saying ‘Thanks for giving me a break! My little cells, tissues, organs needed it quite badly.

But…….please still wear a mask out there in the presence of strangers who think up close and personal is not a problem…….it is! And always, always think good practice through. Wash your hands, don’t touch your face/eyes/hair and safe distance.

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