On Feeling Guilty for Not Working

Rebecca Toal by Rebecca Toal Additional Needs

Rebecca Toal

Rebecca Toal

Blessed, busy mum to four beautiful girls, the youngest with complex special needs due to extreme prematurity. We are always looking for ways to ma...

I’m a very ordinary person, mother and wife. My little girl now 9 year old has complex health and educational needs stemming from her prematurity. As she requires 1:1 care, I haven’t been able to work full-time. For the last 3 years I’ve been working as and when I’m able, very part-time. Just enough to keep my skills up to date and my registration valid.

I’m a nurse.

I love caring for my patients and being a nurse.  I love being on the ward and the clinical responsibilities and people’s lives you are touching and afforded the chance to truly make a difference, however small. It is a great privilege. In normal times, I usually take shifts during the day when the girls are at school.

During this COVID-19 pandemic however, I’ve had to make the difficult choice to not accept shifts. Well mainly. I did have what turned out to be only one week in a local hospital. Some nurses were brought in to support the ICU in a COVID IV preparation room with Aseptics.

However, due to limited demand for the drugs for COVID patients, and as I’m only a ‘Bank’ nurse with the Trust (so no fixed contract) I was dropped after a week with some of the other nurses. We expected to have maybe three months in the prep room! I’ll admit is was REALLY nice to get out of the house, get on the motorway, get my ID badge out, and scrubs on! And feel like I was helping the NHS…

I accepted this position as I really wanted to do something clinical, as a nurse, to help during this crisis, without compromising the health of my daughter at home. This is the only non-patient contact job that’s come up for me so far in my Trust.

We are being very cautious and shielding Brielle as she has chronic lung disease and asthma requiring inhalers twice a day, and usually requiring oxygen support if she gets a bad chest infection.

So, you see I’ve been having much guilt staying at home, in comfort and safety, while many of my fellow nurses and other healthcare professionals are on the ‘front line’. Every Thursday night we Clap for the Carers, and I feel bad that I’m not doing ‘my part’.

But where do you draw the line between necessary and unnecessary risks? How can you balance your obligations and role as a mother foremost, but also as a nurse during the biggest health crisis this nation has faced?

I do not know. I wish I had the answers.


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