The last time we saw Alicia Borja she was being cheered out of A&E after a month long battle with Covid-19.
There wasn’t a dry eye in the house as the senior nurse waved goodbye but what does she recall about that memorable day and what happened to her after that?
Alicia said: “I remember my matron Laura asking if we could do a little detour through A&E before I left saying some colleagues wanted to say goodbye.
“I was completely overwhelmed when the doors opened and the corridors were lined with people clapping and cheering. I burst into tears because it was such a wonderful surprise. I call them my second family.”
If Alicia thought going home meant freedom she hadn’t reckoned with daughters Christzelle and Christa who insisted their mother isolate in her room for another fortnight as a precaution.
“They were stricter than the nurses,” laughs the mother of three, “but I was so happy to be home.
“I’ve had enough of it because I’ve cleaned everything in the house, rearranged everything I can lay my hands on, and watched too much Netflix.
So, no end-of-the world medical thrillers like Contagion or Outbreak?
“I’m not a horror fan. I prefer comedies.”
Alicia initially began feeling unwell ill in the middle of a shift and went home early. She got a call the next day saying she had tested positive.
Three days she was admitted to A&E with a fever and struggling for breath.
She spent more than a week in intensive care before being moved to Elgar ward.
“It was frightening because all the people around me were on ventilators and I didn’t want to be intubated.
“Medical staff were checking me all the time, machines were blinking and beeping and I had all sorts of tubes coming in and out of me so didn’t get much rest.
“I was afraid to go to sleep and did my best to regulate my breathing in time with the CPAP machine because I wanted to everything I could to help myself.
“I kept going by saying ‘this breath is for Christzelle, this breath is Christa and this breath is for Christine’ over and over again.
Alicia says a constant stream of messages from friends and staff kept her going including her daughters who would FaceTime her every day and singing one of her favourite devotional songs.
“I couldn’t speak because of the mask I was wearing but just seeing and hearing them made all the difference. The staff were great as well and one of my colleagues Trish would come in each day hold my hand and tell me everything would be OK.”
Alicia finally returned home after five weeks where her friend and work colleague Franco Palo rang to see how she was. They chatted but when she rang back a couple of days later Franco had fallen sick himself.
Alicia added: “Franco had it a lot worse than me and it was a miracle he pulled though. I was so happy to hear he was discharged.”
So when can colleagues expect to see Alicia again beyond a fleeting visit to Northwick Park several weeks ago when she was interviewed by the BBC?
“I really miss everyone and want to come back to work. My GP has given me the all clear but I’ve got a minor procedure coming up so have to self-isolate again for as a precaution!”
“I hope to be back later in the summer so look forward to seeing everyone then.”