Chia Yee recounts her experience as a nurse in the medical team, treating a COVID-19 patient back to recovery.
Photo by Ng Sor Luan and corresponding article by Straits Times (31 Mar 2020)
3 weeks ago, Chia Yee’s unit had an admission of a confirmed COVID-19 case.
The 55-year-old patient, known as Ben, spent 13 days in the intensive care unit (ICU) at the local hospital where Chia Yee works. She recounts her experience as one of the nurses in the medical team who nursed him back to health. His account of the story is first told here on March 31, 2020.
When this patient was first admitted, he looked completely fine. But just a few hours later, his oxygen levels deteriorated, and the medical team decided to insert a breathing tube to save his life. The next few hours were intense; they had to quickly prepare for line insertions, monitoring equipment and the necessary medication.
According to the article, doctors say that 80% of the patients infected by the coronavirus suffer only mild symptoms. Only 5% of the cases turn out to be as severe as Ben's, who literally had to fight for his life.
Ben, who had no travel history to any affected country, had suffered acute respiratory distress syndrome, a severe lung condition and a common cause of death in critically ill COVID-19 patients.
“Initially, I was very scared and worried,” Chia Yee admitted. “As a healthcare worker, there were thoughts on the possibility of infecting my family and friends. But God assured me that He is in control of everything - all I needed was to trust in Him. My role was not to cower in fear, but to respond with courage while taking care of the patient.”
On the night Chia Yee was with her patient, he looked way more sick compared to the first time she saw him. “I wondered if he was anxious about all that was happening. At that moment, he was completely unconscious, relying on the ventilator for life support and sedated by a high dosage of drugs,” she recalled.
“I felt the Holy Spirit prompt me to pray for him.”
Donned in her full protective gear with her goggles and mask, Chia Yee prayed out loudly. There, by the hospital bed, she prayed that Ben would experience God’s peace and presence. She prayed against pain and discomfort, and for healing from this coronavirus. “I didn’t even know if he had heard my prayer. But even if he didn’t, I knew that I had obeyed God,” said Chia Yee.
Nine days later, his condition finally improved and the breathing tube was removed.
“When he regained his ability to talk, I took time to be a listening ear to share his feelings about his condition. I shared with him that I had prayed for him when he was in that critical state. He remained silent for a while and looked speechless,” Chia Yee continued.
“He then told me about his experiences on the breathing tube… how it was a nightmare with all the hallucinations he had experienced due to the prolonged sedation. This ranged from being in an unfamiliar environment, flashing words in a foreign language and even seeing extraterrestrial species around his room.” At the end of it, he thanked Chia Yee for praying for him.
A week later, he was discharged, free from the virus. Praise God! Last Tuesday, Chia Yee’s patient appeared on the Straits Times where he shared about his experience in ICU.
In the article, he said, "I cried also when a nurse told me she prayed for me even though she doesn't know me." Chia Yee realised she was the nurse.
He was very grateful to the medical team of doctors and nurses, who went above and beyond to care for him back to health. He recounted how the nurses helped him piece together what happened to him while he was unconscious. Touched by their gestures during his stay, he recounted how they would call him by his name, helped him comb his hair and even got him a disposable shaver.
Photo by Ong Chia Yee
Amidst her struggles and insecurities at work, Chia Yee felt very encouraged to hear all these. It was just a simple act of obedience, a little prayer on her part, but she didn’t know how much it would matter to him! Her heart was filled with joy knowing that God had used her to make an impact on Ben's life.
Chia Yee realized, “God's purpose for me at work was very simple - to love and serve my patients in their distress. It was not to get promotions or recognition, but to show God’s love to patients just like Ben. My greatest reward is living a life that brings glory to the God I love.”
For the healthcare workers in Impact Life Church and in Singapore, thank you for being so selfless and constantly serving on the frontlines. It is a privilege to reflect God’s love and be His literal hands and feet to the sick. When we are faithful in what God has called us to do, He will use it for His glory.
If you know a healthcare worker, please encourage them and keep praying for them. It takes so much courage and strength daily to do what they do!
Let us not panic in these times, but fix our eyes on God. Along with people like Chia Yee on the frontlines, we don’t have to let fear cripple us! Faith and fear are choices we make. As Christians, we have God’s peace in us that surpasses all understanding.
Let’s keep practicing social responsibility, take precautions, but most of all, let’s find opportunities to reflect the love of God. Let’s be deep in God so we can make a deep impact. Our world now needs God more than ever. God is in control of this pandemic and He will see us through this!