The Scottish nurse who is being treated for Ebola at a north London hospital has written a detailed and moving diary of her experiences helping to combat the disease in west Africa.
Pauline Cafferkey, 39, who was named as the infected nurse today, has recorded a diary covering her 4-week stay in Sierra Leone in The Scotsman. Cafferkey is an associate public health nurse at Blantyre Health Centre, Lanarkshire. She was one of 30 NHS medical professionals who flew out to the country’s capital, Freetown, in November.
Cafferkey contracted the deadly disease and was flown home on Sunday, before being transferred in “military style quarantine” to a specialist unit in London.
In her diary, Cafferkey writes about tending to the sick as well as more positive moments, such as being “heartened by the number of survivors.”
Here are some of the highlights:
In week 1 Cafferkey talks about “the smell of chlorine” and mentions that she and her team, a group of 14 working for an NGO, are “well catered for and housed in a wee shack on the beach.” She also observes the beauty of the landscape.
But soon the real dangers of the job emerge: “I was ill the other day, either from over-hydration as not enough salts in my body or heat exhaustion…I vomited out of the minibus window on the way home — luckily I managed to avoid any splash back and being decapitated.”
Throughout week 2 Cafferkey says that tackling Ebola feels like a more normal part of her life. She writes: “The dreams that I do remember always seem to have an Ebola theme, it seems to be all consuming.” Sadly, the nurse recalls looking after and encountering individuals and whole families who don’t make it. At some points her words are graphic, underlining the brutality of the situation in the developing world.
By week 4, Cafferkey is looking forward to Christmas, although in Sierra Leone the government banned celebrations to prevent the spread of the virus.
Cafferkey ends on a high note. “We seem to be getting lots of discharges, which is fantastic,” she writes.
Cafferkey, who was flown to London’s Royal Free Hospital this morning, is said to be “doing as well as expected,” the BBC reports.
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