Sharing moments Young adults Bye bye Hotel Mum How you feel at home Semester abroad Language course abroad or work as an au pair? Be prepared for military training Grassrooted Pack smarter, travel better Make an impression Contraception Vegan diet Bye bye Hotel Mum – hello shared flat Big trip, small budget Finanzielle Vorsorge Planning a family Tracking fertility The right time? How men can help Fertility and diet Medical check-up What you need to know about ovulation What to do if you don’t conceive straight away Three electronic fertility and cycle trackers in comparison Planning a family and partnership Pregnancy Examinations during pregnancy Diet and nutrition Is my pregnancy progressing normally? Tips for daily life Important points for travel and holidays Is my pregnancy progressing normally? What items do I need for my baby? Where and how do I want to give birth? What do I need to pack for the hospital? How should I prepare my home for my child? Is my pregnancy progressing normally? How can I best prepare for my baby? How can I best prepare for the birth? Nutrition Parent-child relationship Preparing for breastfeeding | Sanitas Magazine Insurance Stretch marks Sleep Rupture of membranes Baby blues High-risk pregnancy Braxton Hicks & false labour Formalitites Morning sickness Family rooms Our baby Bathing baby – what you need to know How babies hear Infant first-aid kit Baby care Is my baby developing normally? Month-to-month overview of baby development Is my baby developing normally? Month-to-month overview of baby development Baby care Breastfeeding When does a baby start eating? Celebrating and enjoyment Christmas and New Year’s Eve with a twist A philosophical take on pleasure Pleasure can also be found in the soup kitchen in Zurich Tips for a peaceful and stress-free Christmas Living better with cardiac insufficiency Alejandro Iglesias Hana Disch Patrizio Orlando Vaccinations and travel first-aid kit Hay fever Everyday help In pursuit of happiness Seven tips for a happier daily life Kids in lockdown Online addiction Heart attack symptoms in women Be active Active during pregnancy Sport and exercise during pregnancy Antenatal exercise classes Standing properly Healthy eating Green smoothies Vitamin D Good eggs, bad eggs Diet plan Healthy fats Feed your muscles How much sugar should we eat a day? How much fat should we eat a day? Lactose intolerance Healthy diet, strong immune system Low Carb E-numbers and other additives in food Personalised diet Healthy heart Interview with Christophe Wyss Heart-friendly sports How the mind affects the heart Taking blood pressure correctly High blood pressure: what you need to know Healthy teeth Home remedies: relief for sore gums Changing habits Interview Stortpsychologie 10-step guide to changing habits Try, try, try again Fitnessmotivation Running coaching Running ABC Race in Sarnen Factors affecting condition Weekly planner Running shoes Strengthening exercises Running nutrition Complementary sport Warm-up Stretching Functional clothing Fitness tracker Shopping – sportswear Running tips for women Relaxation technique Recovery New lease of life thanks to Sanitas running coaching Running training The first half marathon Training and heart rate Running Ticks Sport after childbirth Postnatal exercise Taking the strain off your shoulders Kangatraining Workout while walking Expert tips Stress and relaxation Moving air Fight stress with yoga What is stress Learn how to relax Dealing with stress What is burnout? “The first step was to create boundaries” Juggling family and a career Reduce stress Stressor factors The most beautiful Swiss saunas Sweating in the sauna Breathing exercises for relaxation The right rest & recovery: debunking myths Mindfulness Sleep Trend sports Fitness boxing Slackline Bouldering Fascia training Stand Up Paddling Keeping fit efficiently Swing with a smile! Vertical workout Hiking Altitude sickness Seven stroller-friendly hikes Needed: a hiking-friendly pushchair There goes the other sole! Tips on hiking with a baby Mountain lakes Planning a family: Fertility and exercise Stair climbing Pumptrack Kids’ back Back exercises Sitting properly at work Forest fun Playing for life Promoting health and fitness Motivation Sledging Curling glossary What do you get if you cross a kite with snow? Snowshoeing Preventing falls Inline skating Swimming Swimming Wings for Life Stretching Bike tips Stretching exercises for cyclists koerper-und-kaelte Healthy teeth thanks to dental hygiene and preventive care Putting wishes into practice Tips for healthy teeth Hometraining Investigating teeth-related myths 10 tips to ease anxiety Hand care How our body regenerates Bauchübungen Keeping fit on holiday Swim training aids Wie viel Sport ist gesund Gathering mushrooms – the right way | Sanitas Magazine Check-ups Dehnübungen in fünf Minuten Gehirntraining Rückenschmerzen Living together today Digital life Online addiction Digital temptation Children and digital media Smartphone neck Our brains love habit Change my habits? You’re joking! Planning a family: Difficulties trying to have a baby Planning a family: Myth vs fact Solidarity study Newcomers Living together tomorrow Digital nomads Giesserei multi-generation house The blind film director Help instead of rent Working on the move Medical practices of the future Our skin – layer by layer Generational discussion: wishes for life Hausarzt und Corona Safe return to work Corona crisis: singing together Corona crisis: Working in intensive care Corona crisis: working in a nursing home Rest and recovery: learning from children Corona crisis: voluntary work for the needy Second opinion Relationships and children Gute Nacht! Drei Fragen, die uns den Schlaf rauben Outing The nature of lying Vorsorge Gute Gesundheitsinformation im Internet Developments for the future App check Aqualert SRC blood donor Codecheck Forest Freedom Freeletics Moment Three sleep apps reviewed PeakFinder Findery Six fitness apps reviewed Internet use High-tech trousers Prostheses Hospital of the future New skin for burns victims Online-Therapien How drugs are developed Generics Sanitas newsletter

Exhausted, but optimistic

When corona patients wake up from a coma, they’re often scared and overwhelmed. Regula Rigort works in the intensive care unit at the Kantonsspital Graubünden and, for the last few weeks, has sought to instil confidence in patients, relatives and colleagues alike.

Text: Katharina Rilling; street art: the rebel bear; photo: Colin D. / Unsplash

Imagine waking up totally disoriented, not knowing where you are and what’s happened. You wonder why there’s no one around when you really need them. Your partner’s not there, nor your daughter or brother. Just people covered from head to toe in protective clothing. Is it possible for them to smile given the circumstances? “I find it really hard wearing a mask and goggles when a patient wakes up from an artificial coma,” says Regula, who is currently working as a nurse in the intensive care unit at the Kantonsspital Graubünden. “We’re totally unrecognisable. This causes extra confusion and doesn’t help the patients.”

Regula has a lot of experience in looking after seriously ill people. She worked in an intensive care unit (ICU) at Zurich University Hospital for 20 years. But she’s never experienced anything like the coronavirus and the way it affects patients, hospitals and relatives. As the healthcare sector was preparing for the worst-case scenario a few weeks ago, Regula, now head of department and services at the Kantonsspital Graubünden, was recruited to work in the hospital’s intensive care unit. “All those who’d had training in intensive care were asked to work in the ICU,” recalls Regula. “I was really impressed at how quickly the hospitals got organised.” Her area of expertise includes hospital hygiene: “We were able to provide a lot of advice. The aim was to make sure that everyone felt safe in the new situation.” In her normal everyday life, one not affected by the coronavirus, Regula is responsible for organising various departments, such as nutrition, social services or speech therapy. And, despite shifts in the intensive care unit, this work has to go on.

Meanwhile, the number of reported cases has plateaued. “Luckily we never reached crisis point. We always had a handle on the situation, even when we had many patients with the virus,” said Regula with relief.

Exhausting work

Coat, face mask, goggles and gloves: On starting their shift, the nursing staff have to dress for their work in the isolation rooms, pandemic ward or the “corona ICU”. Once a nurse enters the room, they don’t leave again for some time, with helpers providing medicines and materials from outside. Now the patients are monitored, examined and looked after, materials and equipment are checked, and laboratory and blood values are analysed.

Every so often, the nurses have to perform a really tiring procedure: turning COVID-19 patients from their back on to their stomach. As the face-down position has proven successful for treatment, the patient usually remains in this position for 16 hours. Four people help to turn them over, with the right positioning taking about half an hour per patient.

It quickly gets hot under the protective clothing and the glasses press down on the bridge of the nose. “An extremely high level of nursing care is required, because patients are so fragile due to the lung failure,” explains Regula. And compared to other patients who have had a heart attack or a stroke for example, COVID-19 patients stay on the ward for a very long time, on average around three to four weeks.

High morale

Although the last few weeks have been stressful, explains Regula, there have also been nice moments: “When a patient whose case looked hopeless suddenly makes a recovery.” Or when previous patients send thank you letters and photos when they’re back home. “It’s great to see people back in their everyday lives, far away from the hospital bed. What I find really hard is the situation with relatives who are banned from visiting by the authorities due to the risk of infection.” Relatives are not allowed on the ward, they can’t sit with their loved ones. They are only allowed in to say goodbye when there is no hope that a patient will recover. “As a result, we’re having to find individual solutions and spend more time looking after the relatives, too. On request, we send photos of the patient with our own smartphones or make contact via FaceTime.” One thing that’s really hard is to organise a fixed medical contact for the relatives. “And this is extremely important, particularly at a time like this, in order to provide them with some stability.”

Regula likes to switch off and run her worries away. Getting out of her uniform, leaving the sterile hospital environment, pulling on trainers and getting outdoors is one of Regula’s key corona survival strategies. “I’ve noticed how the work on the COVID-19 ward is really draining both physically and emotionally. I’m tired a lot of the time. Exhausted.”

However, Regula knows that she’ll regain her energy – and is confident she’d be able to cope even if a second wave of illness were to strike. The only thing she’s worried about is forgetting, because then everything will just go back to the way it was before. We will have learned nothing.