Karen Nagalingam

Karen Nagalingam is a senior lecturer at the University of Hertfordshire and an acute kidney nurse specialist at the Lister Hospital in Stevenage. After suffering a bout of suspected COVID-19 Karen re-joined the frontline.

The illness came on very suddenly, the same day the Prime Minister got ill in fact. I had severe fatigue, a burning sensation in my chest and a cough. I felt very unwell and it was many weeks before I could go back to work.

I was redeployed when I returned to the hospital because of the pandemic and asked to help dialyse acutely ill patients in the critical care unit, which meant I had to up-skill very quickly. It’s been a challenging but greatly rewarding experience. I’ve been put out of my comfort zone and learnt so much in such a short space of time.

We now wear personal protective equipment to protect patients and ourselves, which can make it difficult talking to communicate with them and colleagues. One day I received a handover by a final-year student nurse from the University of Hertfordshire, who was just finishing their first day on critical care. If he hadn’t told me, I wouldn’t have known it was his first day. His handover was very clear and professional; I was very impressed!