Of life without funnels

960 688 Eva A. Sánchez Martos


The first thing that brought us this pandemic was barriers.

Professionals lost their non-verbal language and patients were limited by barriers that made it difficult for them to interact with their relatives and everything around them.

We started to hear the sick people say to us “I know you by the eyes” even though we all bore the name in big letters with a sticker on the uniform.



There have been strong people who have understood the need for these barriers but not everyone was prepared and there were patients who had a sense of being rejected by others and manifested it with out-of-tone attitudes and comments.

Others felt lonely and constantly made small demands: now I have pain, now I seem to have a fever, now it seems I am… Ultimately they were talking about social isolation.

But the vast majority of patients acted taking care of us.

This is one of the phenomena that has occurred during the pandemic: seeing how a patient made decisions and attitudes to avoid infecting professionals. Although sometimes the emotion or feelings overflowed and the barriers were broken. Cristina, one of the nursing students, explained how a patient in front of good news hugged her with emotion and then when she realized it she apologized for hours. Cris went to the shower and for two days she was suffering in case she got infected.



The lack of protection resources has been a constant throughout these days and in all care services. Let’s say for lack of foresight, let’s say for bureaucratic barriers, let’s say for economic interests of the companies they manufactured or the exponential increase in demand.

You could see, in the queue of a supermarket, a young man with a high-protection mask and you, who were caring for patients, had one, to change every 21 days.

The first week in the new Hospital of the Verdi building we were warned that Monica's grandmother, one of the students, aged 94, was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia and a positive PCR for coronavirus. We all lived the grandmother’s medical statement as if it were the relative we have at home and we don’t want to infect. All the professionals were afraid, not so much of suffering from the disease, as of passing it on to our families.

One day a 40-year-old patient developed a fever of 37,2º and had an anxiety attack because she had tenths of a fever. I remember her cry of fear and despair and I remember my helplessness at not being able to hug her and tell her “calm down, everything will be fine”. I didn’t hug her because the uniform wouldn’t allow me, I wasn’t sure enough, but I told her I would have liked to hug her. I shook his hand. We looked into each other's eyes and I said "calm down, it's normal, it's not two tenths anymore". "You will succeed and we are here to help you." It was for. Fear of going back. Fear of going through everything he had seen happen to other patients during their stay in the emergency room. For to die. If fear and anguish is present in the eyes of patients, death accompanies us in every room. If there was an infected person there was also a story of a family member or friend suffering elsewhere.

One morning death came as a surprise. At 8am some parents, admitted with us, received the news that their only child, 35, had died in the ICU. All the staff turned to help. Whether with active listening, with medication, accelerating PCR tests to make it easier for them to be discharged. But then common sense suddenly stopped us. Why is it running? The son could not be buried until five days later because the funeral home and the cemetery were out of reach. Parents could not receive condolences from family and friends because meetings of more than two people from the same family could not be held. The discharge was to go home and find that the son was not there. If at that time we had had enough social services they could have been seen by video conference with the nearest family.

Patients died without the family and relatives could not mourn. In the coming months we will see what consequences it will have on those of us who are alive.

Monica's grandmother drowned more, she could hardly talk to her granddaughter on the phone and when she spoke it was to tell her not to go to work in the hospital because that illness was very bad. The team feeling was very strong and if one of us suffered the others would do it with her. The nurses plugged her cell phone into her umbilical cord with the family and all of us.

Another thing we have seen among patients is empathy and a willingness to help. Either respecting the rules of isolation, or helping the roommate.

This is the case of Juan. An old man used to spending the day away from home, walking or with friends and who was now forced to stay in a room. He was not distracted by television. The window had nothing to do, no one was walking down the street, everyone was confined. I didn't understand phones. Juan was not eating. We talked to the daughter and she gave us information about the life routine the patient had before confinement. We couldn’t let him out and he looked like a caged animal. Until he was lucky that chance brought him to the German, a man used to dealing with his mother-in-law, a man with patience, who wanted to help and did so with Juan. She adopted him and in 48 hours she ate, showered and was happier. They left high one after the other and were left to see each other again on the street. Of course, when all this had happened.



Another situation that occurred was the friendship between some of the patients living in the rooms. In this way, it was the case that two women created a "confinement diary" on the Internet where each day they explained how they felt and talked about their expectations every day. Others would take care of each other and ask you for medication for your partner or pick up trays if one of them couldn’t.

The presence of television in the rooms brought us another problem. We saw how the junk programs of some televisions altered coexistence by giving erroneous or unclear information that made some patients distrust each other or ask us for PCR when it was not their turn by protocol of action. We had to give a lot of explanations to make it clear that the journalists were not doctors and that the protocols were dictated to them by the hospital’s professional committee. We began to insist to patients that it was best to watch documentaries or movies. That it didn't help at all to be thinking about the disease all day. That what they said on TV or on the internet was not always up to date because we were going faster making decisions than they knew they had made.

Another phenomenon was the appearance of people with hidden additions who were not listed in any clinical course. It reminded me a lot of Dr. Hause, when I found out that patients were lying. We had additions to pills. Some already told you what they wanted from the start, others didn’t have enough of a daily dose and needed one every eight hours and another to rescue. Those who were diagnosed and monitored by the Care and Follow-up Centers (CAS) were provided with the chronic treatments of their referring doctor and did not present any problems.


Since it is a very contagious disease we had rooms occupied by members of the same family. We had double rooms occupied by her in which she improved and he took longer. When you opened the door to ask the temperature you saw how they suffered for each other. She told you "she still has a fever" and he replied "today I have two tenths less".
There were parents who had negative PCR but were expecting their child from the pediatric ICU and he was still a carrier. The adult was not discharged to facilitate the child's recovery with the father.

Monica's grandmother was a little better. In the call his granddaughter told him he was drowning less, he didn’t feel like eating and he wanted to die so he wouldn’t suffer anymore. The granddaughter tried to encourage her to eat, but she had nothing but her voice through a phone.

We experienced situations that could not be saved in a photograph or described in a blog, let alone for someone like me who is not dedicated to the art of writing. But still I will try to give you a description of a fact that happened and that describes very well what was lived within these places of isolation.

One morning we opened the door to a patient's room, as we do every day. And as we said to her every day: “- Good morning, Carmen! Encouragement that today is one day less to return home! ”. She answered us very sadly that that day was not just any day but it was her 75th birthday. That he had planned to celebrate it with his daughter that day by having a family meal. But still she couldn’t do it because she was isolated and because she didn’t know how many family members were left alive either.

We knew that the patient had had a really bad time, that there had been moments she feared for her life. Alba, one of the nurses, reminded her of when she placed a nasogastric tube to eat without being able to remove her high-concentration oxygen mask.

We decided that the anniversary would be an opportunity to lift everyone’s spirits and be able to look ahead.

Andrea, one of our future nurses, came up with two cupcakes and two plastic knives, a birthday cake, a little celebration for Carmen. At snack time we went to the door of the room and sang her “happy birthday” and recorded it for her to send to her daughter. Patients in the other rooms opened the doors and congratulated her, "Congratulations, I don't know who you were but I'm your roommate," "for many years." Everyone applauded. Carme got excited. For a few moments we were all a replacement family or friends.






We represented what Carmen didn’t have at the time. Similarly, patients in a vital situation in recent days have also had a professional who, for a few moments, we replaced family and friends so that they would not be alone.

All these experiences wear down very psychologically the person behind the professional. There were people who committed suicide and who couldn't take it anymore tried. For this reason, the Hospital set up a psychological support service at all times.

All of the healthcare professionals and patients have witnessed a multitude of experiences that we may have had throughout our lives but have now lived them all together in a few days.
In the coming months we will be able to see how strong we are all. It may be necessary to explain this to others. In this way the blog is open to anyone who, anonymously or not, wants to tell the experiences that came to their hearts. They will be posted as they are sent to the blog post.

Ah! By the way! Francisca, Monica 's grandmother, recovered, went home and continues to make cupcakes for her grandchildren.

Eva A. Sánchez Martos
Eva A. Sánchez Martos

Degree in Nursing from the UAB. I have a Masters in Cardiology and another in Vascular Surgery from the UB. I have trained as a researcher in II.SICarlos III and have led many research projects such as the EMIRTHAD study on therapeutic non-compliance. For thirty years I have been improving as a nurse. Twenty years ago I helped the birth of Home Hospitalization in Parc Taulí.

All entries by: Eva A. Sánchez Martos
1 comment
  • Maria Jose

    THANK YOU, THANK YOU… INFINITE THANK YOU !!!!. How much effort and how much impotence you have had to suffer. In this vital crisis we were all in your hands, our lives have depended on that huge overexertion that you have made the paramedics.
    Some paramedics who have faced this horror without the support and sanity of the administration that has left you without the protection you need…. All this cannot remain like this, we must fight to give health the place it deserves and that we never have to see our hospitals again as we have seen them. OUR HEROES ARE NOT IMMORTAL !!!

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