'I just want it to be over': How one nurse's sacrifice has left her apart from her daughter

Kirsty Donaldson would never describe herself as a hero.

As far as she's concerned she's just another nurse doing her bit in the fight against Covid-19.

Kirsty has known since she was three that nursing was the only job she wanted.

But she never expected it to be anything like this.

As a member of Walsall's Rapid Response Team, Kirsty works with GPs, social workers, physiotherapists and mental health nurses to keep sick patients out of hospital.

Kirsty wouldn't call herself a hero despite a huge sacrifice.

Demand has almost doubled since the crisis began and many of the people she visits in their homes have been affected by Covid.

Kirsty sees up to five patients every shift and despite the apron, gloves and mask she wears, the risk of catching the virus is always present.

Nearly two months ago, when the lockdown began, she took the heartbreaking decision to send her eight-year-old daughter away to her grandparents.

Kirsty's partner is also a key worker and the couple decided her safety had to come first.

They have managed a couple of socially-distanced walks in the park but its now been seven weeks since they hugged, kissed or shared a bedtime.

At the end of each draining shift, Kirsty returns to a family home that now feels horribly empty.

It's a sacrifice she's made to protect her daughter and her patients and Kirsty is the first to point out that many other NHS staff are doing the same.

As we spend a day on the road with her, she doesn't falter, explaining that the support of her close-knit team and the help of a psychologist provided by the Trust are enough to get her through.

It's only at the very end of her shift, when she finds a couple of moments to call her daughter, that the strain finally shows.

"I miss you," whispers her eight-year-old from her grandmother's kitchen.

Somehow her mum manages to hold it together until the end of the call.

And then in the small car, dubbed the white ambulance because of its 999 number plate, bought as a joke by her husband in happier times, Kirsty sits and sobs.

"Its not having her there to say goodnight to", she says.

"I never thought in my whole career I would experience anything like this."

She wipes away the tears, fiercely, before adding: "I just want it to be over."

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