The truth is like a lion

It’s important that I write this blog in the right way so that part of the truth can be known, but I also need to be professional to avoid any breaches in confidentiality. Therefore I will state only fact and avoid opinions or misrepresentations where possible. Confidentiality will be maintained throughout by using pseudonyms.

June 2017

I started my +++ nursing placement after finishing my previous one with all A stars and an invitation to represent my university in London, the idea of which was pushed by the dean of my university.

‘How am I doing on this placement?’ I had asked three separate member of staff once I’d started.

‘You’re doing really well!’ They’d all said, but they’d been avoiding giving me any kind of responsibility and often asked me to just play with the patients. The same staff then sneakily told my mentor a different story. I was also told on a number of occasions that “today won’t be a learning day Mikey, we’re very busy’. 

After three weeks of being ignored, ostracised and criticised for having a brain injury with comments like ‘it might not be normal that you’re so obsessed with nursing. Have you seen a psychiatrist?’ or ‘You struggle a lot with concentration don’t you? You talked to that parent for too long’. 

I was ignored daily and given menial jobs to ‘keep me occupied’

I finally got a chance to have a meeting with my mentor. We sat down and she said:

‘Mikey, staff have raised concerns about your ability to be a nurse’. 

I could have guessed this was where they were going with their behaviour towards me

So I thanked her for her time and left, telling her I would not be back. Well, I wouldn’t come back as a student nurse anyway.

The following 6 months…

..I spent sat around at home watching my other colleagues finish their degrees, now severely doubting my ability to be a nurse. The university had to take the allegations seriously, so they sent me to the most cognitively draining type of nursing there is to see whether the allegations were justified.

September 2016 – present day

For time efficiency I will just be honest about the feedback I have received on this next placement where I will be scrutinised, a placement where nobody knows I have a severe head injury.

  • ‘Mikey’, one of my mentors said, ‘you’re amazing at building rapport with parents you know’. 
  • ‘After I told the matron you wanted to work on ward X when you qualify, she told me that you’re so good can’t you persuade him to stay?’ 
  • ‘Daisy was raving about you, she told me ‘thank god Mikey was working when we had the clinic he was so good”
  • ‘I know you’ll finish your degree when everyone else has already applied for a job, but I can sort something out for you if you want to come back to us here’
  • ‘You’re doing so well, everyone seems to know you here’
  • ‘I don’t usually like students doing these jobs for me but I know I can just leave you to get on with it. You’re such a hard worker’. 

 

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No one can ever know the hurt my experience back in June caused me. And then, stepping onto such a specialised unit, knowing that my university would be waiting to see me fail at the technical side of the job whilst battling (and now hiding) my symptoms, was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. But I also learned to find peace within the storm again.

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I have no anger towards anyone. But I have learned that although nobody should be defined by their health status, there will always be some form of bias/discrimination (unconscious or not) inherent in society. I live with this every day, I understand and empathise with it.

Drop the emphasis on the importance of how you are perceived by others, put your head down and know the truth, don’t let others try to sway your inner being.

I wrote recently that I know I can be a nurse, I don’t have to believe in it.  I’ve suffered appalling treatment and felt so much pain from chasing this dream for the past 6 years.

But just like the fitness to practice panel,  I knew the truth when nobody else did and everyone doubted my story and I know the truth now.

Doubt me or not, I don’t care. But manipulate and try to derail my journey with untruths at your risk, because the truth always stands strong after the dust has settled, and I’ll be standing right next to it, and I’m not scared of making sure everyone can see us both.

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Will

For nearly 10 years now I’ve been trying to become a qualified nurse when in actual fact, I will admit to you today that I do not actually believe I can now become one.

Believe
verb (used without object), believed, believing.

1.

to have confidence in the truth, the existence, or the reliability ofsomething, although without absolute proof that one is right in doing so.
This has to be the cheapest (yet one of the most popular) words used in the English dictionary.
By believing in something you’re inadvertently admitting that it might not be true. Do you believe in the sun? No, you know it to be existential and very real (although perhaps not in the UK). After my most recent betrayal, I lost nearly all faith and hope.
Earlier in the year, once again I found myself being exposed to the sinister side of human nature. As a result I no longer felt I could become a nurse and I forgot who I was.
In my darkest moments I could barely get out of bed. I no longer liked myself, my confidence was non-existent and I didn’t know what I should do about my future.
This is where the word belief serves it’s purpose in the english dictionary for me. I no longer felt I could become a nurse anymore, so I just held onto the belief that I could do it, with no real conviction or understanding of how it could be done.
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But I realised that sadness has a beauty of it’s own and I’ve learned when you stop fighting it and become at peace with it, it disappears.  Unlike ‘happiness’ (which is loud and short-lived), it should be something to celebrate if it’s something that keeps cropping up in your life.
I had to remember why I started
faith
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Everything I do, every spare moment I have is dedicated to getting my head around all the things I was told I ‘should have known by now‘ on previously ‘less supportive’ placements I’ve had, who were unwilling to understand my getting to where I am on half the amount of hours or to accommodate my symptoms whilst learning how to be a nurse.
This is my mentality
Any quiet moment and I’m learning. If the current unit I’m working on can’t teach me about something, I will go elsewhere to other departments in the main hospital and ask someone to teach me. This is where special people come into it, and I realise how lucky I am knowing some of the people I know.
I had to remember who I was
Yes, 80% remain in vegetative states. Yes, 80% never return to employment. But you need to think about these little titbits for them to exist. If you drop the mind and all it’s ‘desires’, then all you’re left with is truth. And the truth is I know I can do this job, regardless of those who have tried to stop me up until now. 
Try and get me arrested with lies, try and fail my nursing placement with lies, try and kill me in a minibus etc (there are so many more lols) But it’s ok, I have no anger towards anyone.
I’m moving forward with no anger or hate for the people who have tried to undercut me using foul play. Instead I’m moving forward with forgiveness for those who haven’t helped me and compassion for all those who have.
Most importantly, I’m moving forward with a willingness to achieve what has become hugely improbable for me over the past 6 years. That’s improbable, not impossible.

I’m not gonna lie to myself, my head is a pretty dark place right now. Then again this was not unforeseen, I knew that my time on my current placement would be my biggest mental challenge I’ve faced for a while.

I’ve been in a coma, what can beat that right?

If only!

It’s getting to the point now where so many people are briefly coming into my life and doing a runner when they see what things are really like and the drama that my brain-injured-aura seems to (unwontedly) attract, that it is starting to hurt a bit.

I suppose I can’t blame them, it is a lot to get your head round, people just want an easy life.

A recent telephone conversation with a tutor from my uni:

‘Let’s be honest with each other. Please say it how it is. Do you really think I can do this now?’ I’d asked. 

‘Mikey, I know you’re in a lot of pain. It’s been such a long time you’ve been trying to do this. But only YOU know the answer’. 

My symptoms make the world a scary place. My experiences has also lead to it being a lonely place.

The exhaustion is relentless, the headaches are piercing, the memory loss and lack of concentration is maddening, the panic and self doubt, long with the obsessions over my insecurities make me sad, the memories of everything bring pain and the nightmares and terrors are horrifying and yet still as common as ever. It’s like living in hell at the moment.

I remember before I’d had my injury, people always liked me wherever I went.

It doesn’t last long now. Or to be more accurate, people don’t last long. I thought I didn’t care, but when you have so few people in your life after all these years, it starts to make you question your motives.

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I sometimes wonder if one day I’ll find someone who actually likes the real me, not just the one with the tattoos and humour that you see at first glance who smells nice (CK one, £20).

I’m sure I will, I know there must be something I’m not quite doing right. I’m not exactly a social butterfly (more like a social mosquito).  But remember, I’m still learning to do everything all over again after my accident, so I might get it wrong on occasions.

Brain injury is such a hard condition to comprehend, most doctor’s don’t understand the complex and vague (yet torturous and very real) torment that comes from surviving one.

I realised something recently, which was that when people see me they often see this:

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Or this:

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Which must be misleading, because I have also had this:

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And when people take a second glance at me, I think they see bits of that last picture.

Life is busy and full of challenges, we all struggle and we all have that in common, that’s why I think I understand the repelling quality which I seem to have on people!

Since my accident, I’ve pursued my nursing with tunnel vision for many reasons, but two important ones are:

1. I love kids, and they never see my brain injury, so I feel normal around them and enjoy making them laugh by being inappropriate in ways other people might not be. 

2. Since my accident I don’t have much to lose. Before you think of suggesting my daughter and family, lock yourself in a room, close your eyes and meditate over it for 100 hours. It’s not an answer that can be explained, only felt. 

Life is full of ups and downs, I think it’s how we deal with the downs which will define our levels of contentment in this crazy ride we call life. So I guess I’ll try my best to make the best of the ‘downs’, whilst not letting it get me ‘down’ (see what I did there?). After all, I’ve been here before. Many times. The pain is getting worse as each year passes, but I won’t give up yet.

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Not bothered.

The brain injury fairy is trying their very best to push me over the edge at the moment. Last week, after I had finished an entire day at work, I couldn’t find my keys. I had forgotten were I put them and they were gone! Not bothered.

Those who know me know that this is an everyday thing for me. My wallet, keys, phone, vape and countless other important objects I need everyday are constantly being misplaced and lost.

Due to my brain injury symptoms, I am unable to work whilst being a student, something most students need to do to survive the three years of training. However, I’ve been doing this for 6 years and I am unable to work due to my symptoms, and now my PIP benefit has been refused! Not bothered. 

I’m not the brink of financial disaster

Soon my capital will run out and I won’t be able to afford to continue my studies with no money coming in. My court case is next year, and this will determine whether I am able to live independently for the rest of my life. If I am unsuccessful in the claim,  I am well and truly financially screwed for life. Not bothered.

There are no two ways about that.

I’ve been showering in the dark for the past week as the bulb that blew out in my bathroom was a fluorescent weirdly shaped coil, it looked like something out the operating rooms in area 51 they use to disect aliens or something.

A few weeks back, whilst driving on the motorway, something fell off the back of somebody’s car and flew right into my windscreen cracking it. Wasn’t bothered. 

Last year, a similar misfortune occurred when someone drove into the side of my car! These two happy events mean that my insurance has gone up from £300 a year to £900. Plus the excess cost, it all adds up when you haven’t earned money in 6 years.  Not bothered. 

Ouch

Work is increasingly dubious, I won’t even bother to write about it. It’s difficult having to hide my symptoms and my true story from people, but necessary, otherwise I’ll really have no chance of ever becoming a nurse. We’ll see what happens with that. Not bothered.

It is what it is

Ysterday the latch on the front door to my flat broke so me, mum and Reese were trapped inside! My landlord declined my calls and eventually turned his phone off. In the end I threw my keys out the window to a neighbour and thankfully she was able to let us back out. Not bothered. 

My concentration defecits at work are a big challenge

.. as are all my other symptoms. Depression and anxiety are always close by at the moment, so I need to keep on top of them. Not bothered. 

The secret to happiness is letting go

None of these events changes anything. We all go through peaks and troughs in life, so it’s best not to let the peaks or the troughs affect your true self. Here’s a demonstration of this:

Mikey you’re the best nurse ever represent our uni for us we’ll pay for you to go! 

Not bothered

Mikey staff have raised concerns about you perhaps nursing is too technical for you

Not bothered

 

 

 

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Whatever happens will happen, but whatever does happen won’t affect my mood or my inner being, one way or the other. Too much seems to happen to me for me to be bothered about anything. It’s all external, it doesn’t have to affect ME.

Time to do what’s right

At the beginning we all thought it would better for me to divulge my health condition to those I work with and be open about the challenges I face.

However, my experiences over the past 3 years; both inside the work arena and out, have shown me that when humans (many of them good humans, but not all) are exposed to your weaknesses, they use them against you and stop at nothing to see you fail.

It was at the end of my second year I realised the only negative comments staff ever gave to me was about my brain injury, even though none of the staff I worked with had come across it before or knew the symptoms.

Next year I will finally (hopefully) know whether I can survive financially for the rest of my life, after 5 long years of ugliness and fighting.

If I lose, I will be in financial turmoil for the rest of my life. The government have also recently decided to take my PIP away, the money that has kept me only just afloat over the years.

My health condition has not only mounted up enemies from all corners of the globe, but it has left me in a myriad of pitiful debt crises.

My divorce is now in it’s final stages, and it should hopefully be finalised by the time Reese starts school in September.

In two weeks time I will be starting work in neonatal intensive care. This will take me up until the new year where I will have one more shot at completing my final placement, which consists of 28 weeks as opposed to the usual 14.

Mikey, you have gotten this far on HALF the number of hours as everyone else.

Staff don’t like special considerations.

How can he be a nurse if he doesn’t even want to work our shifts?

My presence will be even more unprecedented when I arrive.

My exhaustion is as bad as ever

.. it’s gotten worse over time. If I make it to the new year for my final assessed placement, I would have been absent from a hospital ward for nearly a year.

The odds aren’t looking so good now

I have removed myself from facebook and un-followed my uni friends off of Instagram.

I hope they understand this is something I have to do, I need to do the rest of this journey alone. I’m just not strong enough to see them all qualify without me, this will be the third and hardest time, but I really do wish them well.

Whats your email address Mikey? Mw7e11? Wow you’ve been trying this for ages

I’m just ‘a student’ right?

We need to send you somewhere where they don’t know you

I exposed this issue with proof to my university in placement 5,  by telling no one about myself and having a glowing report. For the first time in three years: no mention of my brain injury, except from one staff member who knew.

Now, nobody can know the truth about me. Imagine that. Good things come from not telling people about your true self. Lonely isn’t the word.

I’m not complaining, but by telling people the truth about me I haven’t had a fair shake from the start.

It’s no one’s fault

It’s human nature to look for a problem if it might be there. I have no anger or bad feeling towards anyone, in fact I understand it. Please be grown up enough about this to understand where I’m coming from.

But now it’s different

No one will know about me. We will see at the end of this placement whether my claims have been true, or whether I have been making excuses. You can’t doubt the truth, only if you’re too scared to seek it.

The odds are weighed heavily against my chances of becoming a nurse more than ever now

By being courageous enough to set yourself free from an unfree society whilst adopting a compassionate and loving approach to all the challenges life throws at you, anything is possible. Even happiness.

All you need is to be yourself. With compassion being your drive in life, you’ll always be happy. It’s time to do what’s right, even if it is against the odds. Stay out of my way, because I’m coming for what they say I couldn’t have.
 

Time for a break 

Maybe it was the big meeting I had at uni today which has been the catalyst for neurological exhaustion and an innate sadness of biblical proportions, but I feel like I’ll keel over any minute from a toxic mixture of the two. So not a real blog today, just some words. 

I’ll be taking some time out from the one thing in life I love and live for, and hopefully be qualifying in December 2018. 

Life is full of pain and challenges, but if we let these challenges get the better of us, they will inevitably end up defining us as humans. 

But I can’t be defined. I have enough friends to count on one hand and still have some change from. 

Unfortunately, because of my ability to be myself truly, I seem to expose the darkest forms of behaviour that dwell deep within the human psych, which is usually what people try to hide from the world at all costs. 

My nursing has never felt so far away. 

Judge me if you like, I enjoy it now. Deception and lies are something I face daily, often in its worst forms. 

The saddest thing about betrayal is it never comes from your enemies. 

People like the sound of me at first, but when all is said and done, none of them have what it takes to be in my life, hence the change left over I mentioned earlier. Apart from my parents obviously. 

I want to go to bed now and just go to sleep forever! I’m exhausted and hurt. But at the end of the day, all you fakers out there will never stop me being who I am. I’m unhinged AF and this is just all part of the fun for me. 

Time for a break. 


Ps. Someday the world will know what you did to me, I’ll make sure of it 🙂 

I’m just not ready.

Once you sustain a head injury, your life will change in ways that you couldn’t comprehend until you experience it.

In life it is important to be socially acceptable. Your dress sense, the words you speak and the manner in which you conduct yourself need to be in keeping with the social norms at that given time.

In the 60s, it was platform shoes. If you wore them now though, your friends would laugh at you. And rightly so. Apart from my mate Ashley, who’s a ginger and someone I’d love to see impersonate ginger spice in a lovely pair of union jack platformers, It wouldnt be acceptable. She was the only one I didn’t fancy tbf. #nogingist.

Every single day people discriminate against me in some manner, but because 90% of the time they don’t even know they’re doing it, it makes it a trickier situation to deal with.

I laugh it off, that’s my strategy.

From friends to work colleagues and to anyone with whom you come into contact with: it’s just human nature to be liked and accepted.

I was sat in a university lecture a few months back, whereby the lecturer was explaining the nurse re-validation process, and that nurses should keep hold of any thank-you cards or presents that we receive from patients and their families to help us ‘revalidate’ (a posh way of renewing the nurse licence).

I put my hand up and voiced my opinion, which was that we should not be using thank you cards as something to judge a nurses’ performance.

I also stated that keeping hold of things like that it suggests it is not the norm, but something special which rarely happens, when really it should be part and parcel of doing a good job as a nurse (which it is). I was humble and honest, I offered up my own take on it.

Of course, she didn’t like it. I don’t blame her really, it must feel rubbish when a student nurse has the front to disagree with you, albeit professionally, in front of 500 people.

I made light of my comments by saying (truthfully):

‘I really wouldn’t be any good at keeping cards and things anyway. I’ve never uploaded them onto my practice profile document, my memory is terrible’.

To which, the lead nurse for an adult department at a hospital replied in front of 500 students:

‘Well I can’t do anything for your rubbish memory then can I?’

A few sniggers and snorts followed her compassionate (NHS England 2012) comment, but I let it go, thanking her for the opportunity to enhance my skills in maturity and consequently grow as a person.

Whether unconcious or not: to the people that are different from what you feel to be socially acceptable, it can be hard for them to learn from your dispassionate and insensitively depricating comments just how different they are to you. Not me though, I’ve grown thicker skin.

You never know what’s going on in people’s lives

My last blog I said I can feel my nursing is something that won’t happen this time around. I want to make one thing abundantly clear:

When I die, I will quit. If I am forced off my course this time round, I will happily start it all over again from the beginning.

I must be insane to think i can be a nurse. I am constantly exhausted.

I don’t do it for the thank you cards or for any sort of recognition. 

I do it because I like seeing children laughing and in absolute hysterics within 12 seconds of our encounter, despite losing all their hair from their gruelling chemotherapy treatment. I do it for the spark of magic that comes from the connection we make with children under very trying and heartbreaking circumstances. I do it to eradicate fear, pain and suffering, even if only for a few seconds. I do it (quote):

To make children laugh when they’ve been barely able to raise a smile.

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These comments were from placement 5. This makes it even harder for me to accept that I’m just not ready for placement 6. But it’s true and I accept this graciously, I’m just not ready.

Not yet.