Aimee Benn is a critical care nurse, working in the intensive care unit at Wigan Hospital.

“On one night shift, a Covid patient being prepared to be put into a coma on a ventilator was so frightened. He didn’t want to ring his wife and wake her. He didn’t wake up. ”

Long hacks on Ruby help alleviate some of Aimee’s work stresses

“I’ve worked at Wigan Hospital for the last three years. Prior to that, I worked on a medical ward.

I’ve always wanted to be a critical care nurse and I love doing everything I can for my patient and providing one on one care.

I’m a staff nurse and as part of working in the intensive care unit (ICU) we have to do an extra year’s training at university alongside working in hospital. It’s very intense and I passed last year — I’m so glad I don’t have to do any more assignments.

Our ICU is nurse-led, so we make decisions for our patients and work alongside the doctors and other medical professionals to give the best care we can and get people back to a normal life.

When Covid started it was scary. I don’t like change and fear the unknown. On one night shift, a Covid patient being prepared to be put into a coma on a ventilator was so frightened.

He didn’t want to ring his wife and wake her, despite us encouraging him to. He didn’t wake up.

On the same night shift we ‘flipped the unit’, which means we escalated to a higher capacity of beds for patients. From that moment Covid patients were constantly being admitted.

It was very loud, with lots of alarms sounding, and very busy. I suffer with anxiety and I had a panic attack on the ward while wearing my big mask and all my PPE. I think I was overwhelmed. All the patients were in comas, otherwise I’d have woken them up.

Now we’re into our third wave and we are now nursing patients on a one-two or one-three basis. This time last year we thought it would be a few months and then Covid would be over, but here we are.

Medical staff are working three-times as hard and it’s draining. A lot of us have had enough. I’m hoping it’s going to calm down as more people are vaccinated.

‘I’m used to people passing away now’

The hardest thing has been watching young people die. I have been with patients when relatives couldn’t, speaking with heartbroken family on the phone as they scream ‘why’ in tears.

I’ve held an iPad for a family who couldn’t visit as their father lay dying. I’ve read upsetting emails and pictures to patients that their family have sent in to keep in touch.

I’m very much used to people passing away now. Unfortunately it comes with the job, but there were a few people we lost during the first wave that will really scar me. Patients deteriorate so quickly, even when you think they’re improving.

I’ve struggled to watch the news, when I laugh too much I cry. Initially I bottled a lot of things up and I ended up in a mess.

Since speaking to our wellbeing team at the hospital, as well as my friends, I now encourage people to just let it out and have a good cry.

My horse, Ruby, has got used to me doing just that!

I contracted Covid just after Christmas. Although my experience with it wasn’t too bad in the grand scheme of things, I felt awful and never want to feel like it again.

As well as working overtime and dealing with the pandemic, my boyfriend and I are renovating our first home. We purchased it in June 2020 and are finally at the decorating stage.

We’ve been doing all sorts — even digging up the floors and laying new concrete. Although stressful at times, it’s been a welcomed distraction from work and we hope to move in at Easter.

‘Ruby is my world’

Ruby is my world. She’s 25, an Irish sport horse, and I’ve had her on full loan for about 10 years. We enjoy lots of hacking, as we’re spoilt for great places to ride and this has been my safe haven and chill time during the pandemic.

I also like to show her in veteran classes. She still loves to jump and have a good gallop — a lot of the time I have no brakes and am more like a passenger.

Without having Ruby to see to and some nice rides to go on, I don’t think I’d be the person I am today. I would be totally lost without her.”