Shohida Khatun Shika, a Covid-19 ICU nurse, tells Dhaka Tribune about how she keeps going amid the doom and gloom of a raging pandemic
Shohida Khatun Shikha, a 32-year-old nurse at Kurmitola General Hospital, was having all kinds of negative thoughts when her maternal leave ended and she had to return to work in August.
A cocktail of fear and excitement was all she could feel when the time came for returning to work. She was excited to do her part to treat Covid-19 patients. But at the same time, she was scared to death at the mere thought of infecting her family.
However, she put on her protective gear because she knew it was no time to step back.
“When I put my PPE on for the first time, I felt like I was burying myself in a grave,” Shohida told Dhaka Tribune, adding that she later told herself this was the best time to use her skills as a nurse.
Being a mother of two and a nurse at the ICU of a Covid-19 designated hospital, Shohida barely gets time to sit back and relax.
“My elder son always wants to stay close to me when I return home after work. Since I started working as a Covid-19 ICU nurse, I told him not to come close to me as I could be a carrier of the virus,” said Shohida.
Shohida starts her day at around six in the morning when she has to make breakfast for her husband and, if time permits, she takes a nap after he leaves. Then she gets her son ready for school, feeds her toddler and leaves for work.
Shohida has a six-day work week and usually works six hours per day. However, when she has a night shift, she has to work 12 hours straight.
Her daily routine has changed during the pandemic. Before the pandemic, she used to snuggle with her children after coming home, but now she tries to stay in a different room.
“My heart aches when I breastfeed my daughter with a facemask on. I want to keep her in my arms but as a health worker I know what I have to do to keep my little girl safe,” she told Dhaka Tribune.
Shohida earns around Tk29,000 per month, but she barely gets to save any money as she needs to support her family in the village.
“My brother is just settling down with his business. I still have to support him and my parents,” she says.
Shohida built a house for her parents in her village in Bogra. All the naysayers in her village who used to tell her parents to marry her off instead of sending her to nursing school, say nothing but appreciative things now.
Shohida got admission in Rangpur Nursing College in 2004 and has not had to look back since then. In 2008, she got herself a job at Apollo Hospital as a nurse.
There was a major shift in Shohida’s life when she left Bangladesh on a government scholarship in 2012 to work at Sinai Hospital in Oman. Her first baby was born in Oman.
However, in 2016, she thought she should sacrifice the opportunity and get back to her family in Bangladesh rather than living away from them.
“It was a tough decision to make, but I figured I could make a good career in nursing in Bangladesh,” Shohida told Dhaka Tribune.
The next few years of her life went by in the blink of an eye. She went for a BSc degree in nursing at Grameen Caledonian College of Nursing and at the same time continued her job at National Heart Foundation Hospital.
“I was juggling work, study and family. However, everything ended up well because my husband supported me,” she told the correspondent.
In 2018, Shohida got a spot at Kurmitola Hospital.
At this point of her life, all Shohida wants is to have a long healthy life to spend with her family, as she suffers from hypertension, high cholesterol and kidney disease.
“I want to become an inspiration to the next generation of women who want to become nurses in spite of all the hurdles,” she said.