A heart problem in February 2020, the pandemic starting soon after and delays in treatment all added up to Abigail and her family struggling to get by.
“My mum says that I always wanted to be a nurse, right from a young age,” remembers Abigail. Whilst at school in Nigeria, Abigail worked hard towards becoming a nurse, “I’ve always liked helping people and I’ve always had compassion for the people I care for.”
She qualified as a nurse in Nigeria in 1996 and later moved to the UK where she work as a staff nurse in nursing homes, managing one of them too. Since 2015 Abigail has been working for the NHS in a Stroke Unit.
“I love looking after the patients and seeing them recover,” she says “I’m always excited to see patients get better, I get a lot of job satisfaction from that. It inspires me to give the highest standard of care I can.”
In February 2020 on the train to work, Abigail started feeling unwell, “My heart was having palpitations,” she remembers “I could feel myself coming in and out of consciousness, but I couldn’t call for help.”
She managed to get to work but still felt unwell. Abigail’s colleague examined her and discovered a very low heart rate. Abigail saw a doctor immediately and was signed off work.
Unfortunately the Covid-19 pandemic hit the UK soon after and Abigail faced delays in getting tests and treatment for her heart condition which was diagnosed as brachycardia with occasional presyncopal episodes.
During the months off work waiting for tests and treatment, Abigail’s sick pay was reduced, leaving her and the family struggling to buy food.
Abigail has four children, aged 5 – 17 as well as caring responsibilities for her elderly mother who lives with the family. Her mother has recently been diagnosed with dementia. Abigail’s husband was training to be a Security Officer and completed this just as the pandemic started, but couldn’t secure any work as opportunities ceased.
“Those months were very very difficult,” remembers Abigail “Colleagues and friends could sometimes help with food donations but they themselves had their families to think about, but they did what they could and I was so grateful.”
Abigail received some help from the Royal College of Nurses who suggested she contact Cavell Nurses’ Trust too. We were able to provide a rapid grant to Abigail.
“The support from Cavell Nurses’ Trust has really helped the whole family. It relieved a lot of stress for me, I was able to not worry about buying food for the children and could pay bills that were in arrears. My daughter needed items for studying at school and now I could buy them.”
Abigail has been able to return to work part time as she is still managing her heart condition.
“I am really excited to see my colleagues again and to be making a difference,” she says “I have to do clinical supervision away from patients at the moment as I’m still too vulnerable to be caring for Covid patients. But I’m just so pleased to be back.”
“I am really impressed that there is a charity like Cavell Nurses’ Trust out there helping nurses in need. I’m hoping that when I’m back at work full time and can afford it, I will make a donation to the charity.
“As nurses we work really hard and sometimes we come across our own issues and problems and it’s not easy to know where to get support.”
Abigail is pleased that people are coming forward to fundraise and donate to support nursing colleagues.
“I would encourage more people to get involved and help Cavell Nurses’ Trust and I will encourage my colleagues to support them too.”