Sr. Cristina Antolín Tomás
Prioress of the Congregation of Saint Dominic

This is my first time working as a doctor in Spain. Every day I heard on the news: many deaths, contaminated doctors, overwhelmed medical staff…my heart was pounding. Why didn’t they call me when I had sent a CV as a volunteer to the College of Doctors? And finally, one day the phone rang… It was great news that filled me with joy, the next day I had to go to the emergency department of a hospital in Madrid. I went early in the morning thinking that I was going there to get the programme, but there was such a great need … that I ended up going home at 8 o’clock in the evening.

That is how I spent this month as a volunteer. A huge amount of work, but a great satisfaction to be able to be of service. During those days I had a lot of experiences. A lot of pain shared with the patients for the state of gravity in which they arrived, for the breathing difficulties they had, and which made them anxious, for the loneliness they felt, since they had to stay alone. There was a lot of suffering among those close to them for not being able to be at their side, for not being able to make a gesture of tenderness, for having to say goodbye, not knowing whether it was for a few days or for the whole of their lives. These are very hard situations.

As well as consulting, examining, diagnosing patients, and giving them the necessary treatment, the most beautiful thing was being able to be at their side and at the side of their families, to act as an intermediary, to be in contact with the families in order to transmit faith, hope, security and serenity to them. A word of encouragement, a handshake (even with gloves on), a look full of tenderness, a smile, although hidden under the mask, was all I could give them, and through this, transmit peace, transmit God to them… in these moments of vulnerability, people are so receptive, so « hungry »… Really, how much we transmit, but also how much you receive!! Your entrails tremble at the sight of so much sadness, at hearing so many tears, but what joy you feel when you end it by saying «Everything is fine, you are going home, continue to take care of yourself, you are healed… » What joy you feel when the family says « Thank you » with tears in their eyes, wishes you a lot of encouragement and brings you a bar of chocolate to regain your strength!

Beautiful moments that I will never forget, people who are engraved in my mind and in my heart, families with whom I have kept in touch and … that I will see again when it is all over. A very special experience for which I thank God.

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