Keep on keeping on

I don’t have a problem being honest about how I feel and I’ll be the first to admit to you that since I’ve qualified as a nurse I feel like I’ve bitten off more than I can chew.

If a person has had a serious head injury, their GCS will be less than 8

Mine was 5. Joy.

A severe head injury is when someone remains in Post-traumatic amnesia (PTA) for 6 hours or more

PTA is like having dementia. It’s horrifying and gives me nightmares to this day. I was in PTA for over a month.

Speech difficulties. Finding words. Fatigue. Headaches. Memory. Emotional impairment. Constant anxiety.

In the past when people have got wind of my symptoms, they’ve judged me and labelled me instantly. They put me in a box and swallowed the key.

I really can’t blame people for judging me either. Sometimes I really do sound like an idiot. An idiot on drugs.

Mum, dad and my sister took Reese to see the Christmas lights in Bournemouth last night. I really wanted to go but I was too tired.

I’ve seen Reese for 4 hours today. She’s just been taken back to her mum because my fatigue is playing up.

I won’t see her until next Sunday now, And I don’t mean to harp on about anything but I’m sad and a bit angry about that.

I always miss her

I’ve never even had her overnight on my own because of my night terrors. She’s nearly 6!

I’m constantly watching her face drop into disappointment when I tell her that I have to go now because ‘daddy needs to rest’.

After all these years that still remains a tricky one

On the rare occasion I do get invited out to social events, I usually have to say no. I’m not being negative it’s just frustrating sometimes when I really do WANT to socialise!

People often judge me as being boring or unsociable which is (albeit understandably) just not true

At work I literally feel like a bumbling clown hiding this secret that no one has any idea about. Like an undercover agent or something.

Eat your heart out James Bond

On work training days, I often clam up in front of the people who assess me making myself look as incompetent as the day is long.

Sometimes it just feels like my thoughts are wading through a thick swamp!

I know what I need to do, but my brain just takes such a long time to do it. I watch people’s faces as their already-made-up minds watch me make a complete nob out of myself. But I really don’t care about others’ opinions of me.

You’ve got to embrace what you are

I’m not ashamed of who I am anymore. Perhaps the nursing is the last bit of the ‘old Mikey’ that I’m clinging on to.

Either way I refuse to hide what I am now by trying to pretend I’m something else. What good will that do?

I did that for years when I was married. No thanks!

But Make no mistake, you won’t find a more grateful person than me. I’m so lucky for everything and everyone around me.

Although I might not get to see my daughter as nearly as much as I’d like, the very mention of her name is enough to keep me going.

I look forward to the day I can look after her myself for more than 4 hours

And that day will come. After all, all this would be a lot more difficult from a wheelchair. Or a coffin.

And sure, my days are tiring and filled with constant challenges that feel way out of my league

But when you have a severe brain injury life itself is out of your league. So I’ll continue to put one foot in front of the other and just keep on keeping on.

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So here I am, sat here with a cup of tea and 8 days until I officially graduate.

I keep telling myself that whatever happens from this point onwards doesn’t matter.

Some of the ‘usual’ readers of this blog will know what kept me motivated.

Hidden illnesses

..whether that be head injuries, chronic fatigue, mental health issues to whatever.

Or for just being different …

…or being told you can’t do something, for whatever reason. Or perhaps just getting setback after setback and your goal is getting further and further away.

Learn to embrace aloneness

When I was being faced with an assault charge some time ago, I locked myself away for a whole month before my hearing.

I didn’t see friends or family for the majority of this time. Other than my family, nobody at my uni believed that I was innocent.

And a miracle happened

During that month I saw the truth which can be found hidden in the sound of silence which is inside every one of us.

Just being alone made me see the truth and that gave me the courage do tackle any obstacle coming my way.

In some Zen monasteries, when people arrive to start their journey of enlightenment, the monks will insist that they stay in a room on their own for 3 weeks before any ‘training’ can begin.

I was lonely for years. The ‘old mikey’ was so popular and outgoing that the new Mikey, in contrast, was a let down. And for a long time I hated him.

Society teaches us to ‘keep busy’ during stressful times

I was suckered into this for years. But as time was passing by and more and more friends were slowly dropping out my life because the ‘new Mikey’ wasn’t as fun or outgoing as the old one, I started to question this little theory.

After my head injury, aside from one, all my friends disappeared. I sat in hospital wondering why everyone’s phone was Suddenly turned off.

And All those who had come to my stag do only a few months before? They did a Harry Houdini

After I split with my wife, where were all the friends I had made while I was with her?

First they had gossiped, then they disappeared

For years I punished myself with alcohol (And sometimes a lot worse)

Drugs. Shock horror. Yes, this blog just got real

But when you’ve been at a point where you don’t care if you live or die you realise it’s important to be honest, maybe to throw other people a lifeline.

The answers we need are are in front of us. Not inside a bottle. Not in someone else’s head.

Learning to ‘go it alone’ and be comfortable with this was the thing that saved me.

From substances, alcohol, spiralling out of control and ultimately giving up on life

Being alone is the last thing I wanted. But circumstances meant that I learned to embrace it. Putting yourself first is something society tells us is bad. But unless you do you will have no hope of finding any sort of calm or happiness.

You’d be surprised by what could save you if you gave it a chance.

So not for the first time in my life I find myself in the same position Once again;

A day off sick from work

Unable to get out of bed until 4pm yesterday

When I tried to do normal things again today I ended up feeling wiped out

I’m meant to be having Reese now as I haven’t seen her in a while.

But I feel drained

I miss her but I have an early shift at the hospital tomorrow.

Nobody said once I was qualified it would be a happily ever after story

Yet here I am, wondering to myself if my health will let me down and not quite be enough for me to work as a nurse.

Just have to do what I can

It’s so hard for me to formulate sentences sometimes, At times I really struggle with word finding.

And of course most people are eager to speak, so I find myself rarely finishing what I wanted to say

At work, even with people I’ve known for years, sometimes I have to gaze quickly at their name tag, because when I first start somewhere new the cognitive process in my head seem to work at half half the speed as it normally does.

These processes aren’t that fast at the best of times

I talk to myself often. That’s just me making sense of things.

Sometimes I look like I’m flapping, but I’m not. It’s just me trying to make sense of the sludgey and acutely slow paced thoughts that are attacking my head all at once

It all has to be hidden, right?

The world is fast paced and overwhelming for people with a head injury, even just being in public is tough, let alone working on a busy hospital ward.

The important thing for us is not to feel ashamed of how we’re feeling, brain injury or not.

I’m not fast paced anymore

I can’t do a million things at once

Sometimes my communication is bad, slow and unfiltered

Unless I say someone’s name every day I’ll prob need to look at their badge quite a bit. The trick is to do it without them noticing

It’s frustrating and isolating at times but it is what it is and I’m happy to have the chance.

Now it’s time to formulate a plan to get myself feeling better, although I’m not sure what just yet.

Poem

This blog will not be shared on Facebook or anywhere else.

But I guess if you guys really are watching me you’ll see this too, right?

The only thing that stops me from taking myself out of this life is the promise that one day this life could be better for others.

People are so ugly towards each other. I’m 28 years young, but I’m tired.

There is no winner

I’m tired of ugliness. I’m tired of hatred. I’m tired of people doing bad things. I feel no fear anymore, just sadness.

’22 year old overdose has been admitted to A+E. She survived but will need care for months’

People today will say ‘she didn’t try hard enough’. This makes me want to leave.

We are all different. I am different. ‘Difference’ is fear for society. Society is terrified of difference.

I’ll never stop being myself, no matter how much people ridicule me. And I’ll never stop standing up for people like me. People who are misunderstood!

After my jolly knock to the head I don’t feel fear like you do. I live through my heart and with compassion to all beings, humans or animals, and this world is full of thinkers, not people who live through the heart or with compassion.

When I see others suffer, I suffer greatly. Maybe that’s my insecurity.

Doesn’t mean I’ll change though. Not for one second 🙂

Keep on keeping on. Because it’s the right thing to do.

A blog to say thank you!

11am, Poole hospital, 2012

A knock at my hospital door woke me up, I couldn’t go more than 3 hours without a sleep at this point.

Damn brain haemorrhages

An older nurse walked in.

‘Hi, my name is Jackie. You’re the student nurse right?’

She seemed to bark that phrase more than speak it. I could barely raise my head.

I wasn’t tied to the bed like I was in Mexico, so that was a plus

I told her that I was ‘the’ student nurse in question.

‘When can I go back to uni?’ I asked timidly.

‘That’s what I wanted to talk to you about’ she’d said.

This ought to be good

‘As amazing as we think you are about your passion for nursing, I’m here today to tell you that it will no longer be possible for you to study nursing’

The words hit me like a ton of bricks

‘Your determination is admirable. There are so many more jobs you would be great at! Just not the nursing anymore’

I was never angry at this

I learned to Never let your inner being be affected by by your circumstances.

As the years passed by I didn’t seem to be getting anywhere with my dream.

Most people doubted me. Very few encouraged me.

Taoism teaches that you should be watchful of your ‘dreams’, as they can become detrimental to your being.

I’ve watered this dream since I was 18. I’m now 28. But finally my dream seems to have blossomed.

For years I was dissuaded. For years I pushed my body, my symptoms exacerbated. Once or twice I thought Jacky might’ve had a point.

Nah

A severe head injury and 7 years later, it happened. Thank you to everyone who’s read this blog and kept in touch, thank you to those in other countries who lit a candle for me in a coma. Thank you for your prayers and well wishes. We all did it together.

Thank you to all of you for supporting me!

But I couldn’t have done it without the support. So thank you so much to those who deserve it (and also to those who don’t, no hate here) 🙂

I’ve so many more challenges ahead of me. I’ll have to stay so disciplined and focus on so much, it won’t be easy but as always, I’ll give it my best!

Baby steps

I’ve finished my first week as a nurse!

It feels amazing

But I won’t lie, I’m worried about how tired I’m feeling right now.

I don’t have neuro fatigue, it’s exhaustion. They are two very different symptoms. So no headache or vertigo is a plus

I can’t tell you how great it is to be part of something again, I just love being around good nurses and being able to help people out where I can.

And yet I feel worried!

Ridiculous I know, but I really do enjoy it so much, the idea of not being able to do it because of my symptoms is not a nice idea.

Everything I do outside of my job is finely tuned to such a point which enables me to be able to do my job

Regardless of how I feel, every night I’m in bed at half 7. My doctor has agreed that I take a zopiclone before my first shift, melatonin for my second (to prevent the zopiclone from becoming less effective) and a zopiclone for my third. With Amitryptaline every night. Valium 3x weekly.

My diet, my lifestyle and even the time I allow myself to see my daughter is thought out and finely tuned

So now I need to plan my second week and tweak the regiment A tad to stop myself feeling so tired.

So yes, the fear of failing because of my symptoms has always been there, and maybe it always will

But it motivates me to keep to the plan and stay as disciplined as possible.

Even if it means it’s practically impossible to have relationships outside my family

But it’s the choice I’ve made and it’s what I’ve fought for for so many years. Nursing with a head injury for me is Just like the SAS: it’s hard to get in, but it’s even harder to stay in.

First week of work in 7 years done! Baby steps..!

I have been unemployed for 7 years now. But In two days I will start my first job after sustaining my brain injury, which was back in 2012. It’s been one hell of a journey, and as I’ve said before, I’ve found a lot of irony in saying that this journey, as unbelievable as it may sounded to others, was far more important than the destination.

Waking up from a coma in the UK when your last memory was being on your honeymoon  was certainly a good place to start

I started again from the very beginning. I learned to do everything again; from walking to eating food without choking on it to even remembering something that your mum told you only 5 minutes before.

I tried to come back to nursing too early. A year after a head injury is nothing! And boy I learned that the hard way.

My daughter was finally born. It was a traumatic birth and very touch and go. 9 months after my accident, the birth pushed me over the edge and the delights of severe PTSD started to plague my life. Poor management of PTSD was the main reason I had to leave my course after returning to it only a year after my accident.

 

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But when I did finally return to my nursing studies, things started to go very wrong indeed.

First, we lost my mother in law (excuse the picture quality)

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Shortly after we lost Julie under very tragic circumstances, my marriage fell apart. Whether it was meant to be or not, when you truly loved someone it is a tough old nut to crack. But sometimes in life you just have to do things for the best whether you like them or not.

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Around the time I was living out a suitcase, staying in hotels all round Bournemouth and whilst barely managing to keep my head afloat during my second nursing placement, we watched my grandma pass away.

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We also lost my ex wife’s grandad, AKA Pop.

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So after the split up I moved into accommodation which belonged a couple and rented a room off of them whilst I finished my nursing placement. This turned out to be a mistake.

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She turned out to be a frequent drug user and alcoholic. After she decided to attack me one night, she thought it’d be a good idea to call the police and make up false allegations. Her and her partner were fortunately overruled by their niece, who saw the whole thing and told the police the truth, despite coercion form her family. I waited all through christmas to be interviewed under caution at the local popo station.

If she’d have lied to the police as she was asked to do by her aunt, I would never have been allowed to work with kids again

But alas, there is nothing worse than a scorned woman seeking revenge. After she tried and failed to get me locked up she told my uni that I was aggressive around children, which of course they took seriously. After 3 months of fighting I finally proved my innocence and moved on with my training.

We’re only at placement three now

I’ve seen lots of people die over the years.

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I’ve felt the pain of being separated from my daughter

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(This one hurt quite a bit).

But I’m starting to feel too drowsy now from the meds, so I’ll leave the story there. I’d be here all night if I intended to include everything that has been going on. And for legal reasons I can’t disclose certain parts of it anyway.

I guess the reason I wanted to sum these last few years up in a blog is because I think it’s important not to give up on your dreams. During your darkest moments when you can’t even remember why you’re still even fighting, you need to remember who you are and why you started.

All the things you’re going through is just life preparing you for what you asked for

Use the pain and use the hurt you go through everyday to give you that edge. I was told I could never be a nurse and with all the other challenges that kept presenting themselves over so many years, I was starting to believe it…

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…but the trick is to never let that be the final answer.

Remember, this is your life…

 

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…and you have to live it the way you want to live it, not how others say you should live it. I would go through it all time and time gain just to get a chance to do what Robin Williams is doing in the picture below. And ridiculously enough, they want to pay me to do it!

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