I am Senior Assistant Editor with the Forbes India magazine in Mumbai. A journalist for over a decade, I am also the author of Ramakant Achrekar: Master Blaster’s Master, a biography of the great cricket coach, and Vinod Kambli: The Lost Hero, a biography of the former India cricketer. Apart from my love for news and writing, I am passionate about cricket, movies and music
As patients on ventilators battle the coronavirus, Aneta Rebimus whispers affirmations to them, that their health is improving, they will be discharged soon. The 48-year-old is on her feet from early morning to late night, attending to emergencies and other health care needs of Covid-19-positive patients at the intensive care unit (ICU) of SevenHills Hospital—the Sir HN Reliance Foundation Hospital-managed Covid-19 facility—in Marol, Mumbai. “Most of these patients are critical, with low oxygen levels. Even if they are sedated and cannot hear us, we talk to them. We tell them we are in touch with their relatives who cannot visit them,” says Rebimus, who is manager and educator for ICU. “We even make video calls with the families of those who can speak to make them feel better and assuage their fears. We give them the psychological support and boost their morale.” Rebimus has been a nurse for 28 years, but the coronavirus pandemic has meant being in the line of fire for over two months with the risk of contracting the virus herself. “This is an infectious disease and we have to take care of ourselves too. Our samples are taken every week. Every Sunday, we worry about the results and try to convince each other that nothing will happen to us since we don’t have any symptoms. We support and encourage each other while we stay away from our families,” she says. Also, carrying out duties in the personal protection equipment (PPE) for hours is daunting. “It’s the first time in our lives that we are wearing a PPE kit that covers the entire body. It’s made of plastic and we sweat profusely because of that. We also wear helmets and end up with marks on our faces. We cannot see or read at times because of the vapour, but we cannot touch our faces either… it’s challenging,” says Rebimus. Yet, there is a silver lining. She feels elated when patients with weak vital parameters—whose chances of recovery were slim—go home healthy and fine. It fills her heart with pride when they acknowledge the staff’s efforts and say they won’t forget them. Having a family that pushes her to stay committed to her job gives Rebimus the motivation to work tirelessly. Her husband, father-in-law and 23-year-old daughter, who works as a human resources (HR) professional with Accenture, tell her to look after the patients and not worry about home. “In fact, my husband wouldn’t cook anything till now. But now he can cook everything… sometimes, though, he asks me for recipes. I’ve told him I won’t step into the kitchen once I am back… he’ll have to cook for me,” she says with a laugh. Even in these difficult times, Rebimus has kept her sanity intact. She takes care of her physical and mental health by walking for an hour, doing yoga and Zumba every day. That apart, she says the HR team keeps them entertained at their hotel accommodation with tasks such as doing suryanamaskars or dance sessions. While this may be the non-medicinal dose that keeps her going, Rebimus is aware of where her focus should be. “I have to serve my patients. This is the profession that I have chosen and I have to be like Florence Nightingale for them. I just need prayers and words of encouragement. We are determined to break this chain of coronavirus,” she says. This is part of a daily series on how Covid-19 has upended the lives of essential workers across the country.