A CANCER nurse from Clydebank who almost died from Covid has revealed the joy she’s feeling after finally returning to work.

Pauline McIlroy has been an advanced breast clinical nurse specialist at the Beatson for 34 years.

She was diagnosed with Covid-19 last March which left her fighting for her life. She believes her determination to get back to work was what drove her while recovering.

Pauline said: “I love my job; it means so much to me and is a big part of my identity.

“When I was at my sickest point in hospital, and was being put on a ventilator, the thought of being intubated did scare me a bit, but I had faith in the team at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital who were looking after me.

“Panicking a little, I wanted to speak to my husband and daughter, as I knew realistically there was a chance it could be the last time. I also phoned my twin for her to tell my other siblings.”

It was just days before first lockdown last March that Pauline took unwell very suddenly at work.

She said: “It was in the very early days and we knew very little about the virus at that time. I was at work and only felt tired.

“We had been working really hard to re-arrange clinics because of the situation, so I just put it down to that.

“I became very ill, very quickly. Suddenly I had tightness in my chest; I thought I was having a heart attack.”

As well as speaking to her family, Pauline sent a heartfelt text to her team.

She said: “It went along the lines of ‘if I don’t survive this, I want you all to know how proud I’ve been to work with you.’

“I’ve been a nurse since I was 22 and worked at the Beatson since then. I have never wanted to work anywhere else and I felt I had to tell them that.”

Colleagues stepped in with oxygen before Pauline was rushed by ambulance to the hospital just a few miles away where she spent the next 16 days there.

Doctors attempted to take her off it, but their first attempt failed.

Pauline continued: “When they were able to extubate me I was transferred to a respiratory ward, where I spent another week. I was still very weak and couldn’t talk.

“The staff were amazing throughout. While scared, I trusted them completely and they were also so good at keeping my family updated on how I was doing.

“A consultant phoned my husband every day at a set time, which was very reassuring for him.”

Pauline’s recovery has been slow, and only recently has she been able to return to the job she loves at the Beatson.

“I’ve been back about six weeks and on a phased return,” she added.

“It’s taken me so long to get fit again. I couldn’t wait to get back.

“I am so happy to be back, caring for my patients. I owe it to so many people.”