Red Cross nurse beats coronavirus

Sister Brenda Joshua of Red Cross War Memorial Childrens Hospital.

Brenda Joshua, a Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital nurse, says hope and faith helped her survive her ICU battle with Covid-19.

Sister Joshua, 54, of Athlone, has been a professional nurse
at the hospital for 36 years. She tested positive for the virus in the middle of May and spent 10 days in hospital, three of them in intensive care.

Sister Joshua doesn’t know how she picked up the virus, but says she informed her supervisor immediately after feeling ill and experiencing shortness of breath.

After getting screened and tested, she quarantined herself at home for two days, waiting for her results. When she learnt she was positive, her son went into quarantine with her because he had been in close contact.

“The one thing I want to stress is that when you are weak there and in your bed, whether you’re in hospital or at home, there is always hope,” she says.

Sister Joshua is asthmatic, and she started finding it hard to breathe a few days into her isolation.

Her son called an ambulance that took her to the hospital.

She was given oxygen but did not need to be put on a ventilator.

Those first three days she spent in the hospital’s ICU were the scariest, she says.

“Wondering if I would see my family again, or whether that was the last goodbye when I greeted my son at home, and going through that time was really difficult.”

Sister Joshua believes a positive attitude can help if you’re infected with Covid-19.

“A high level of anxiety is not good for your overall health and listen to the experts and confirmed facts.”

She says she received a warm reception when she returned to work in the middle of last month.

“I had amazing support from everybody, the doctors and everyone from the Red Cross family and I want to thank each and every one for their support.”

Professor Michael Levin, the hospital’s head of allergy, says it’s important during the Covid-19 crisis for people with asthma and allergies to take their regular controller medications with the best possible technique, every day, whether they feel the onset of asthma or allergy symptoms or not.

“People with asthma and allergies who are well controlled are not at higher risk of getting Covid-19 nor of getting severe disease though people with other lung conditions that damage the lung tissue itself, such as emphysema, can be a risk factor for more severe Covid-19 disease,” he says.