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..!

Advertisements

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.

 

IMG_0720

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)

img_0588

 

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.

img_0589

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.

grandma

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

img_0584

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.

img_5916

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.

img_0587

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

img_0509

(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…

dean.jpg

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

Remember, this is your life…

 

NMC

…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!

patch-laugh

The cinema Part 2

The feedback from you all after having read my previous blog which ended with a question from me to you, I must say, didn’t really surprise me and I was intrigued with some of your comments and answers.

The style I wrote the blog left you with no choice. Only an idiot would stop going to the cinema. Right?

In order for me to have any hope of striking a chord with anyone who reads what I have to say, blogs like my last one are essential. You cannot explain the unexplainable in one swift and easy-to-read blog of 700 words.

You have to be part of the journey to understand where I’m coming from

And believe it or not you all are. The purpose of my last blog wasn’t because I wanted confirmation that I had made the right decision. It was a ‘I am living. F*** everything else’.

img_3094

The reason I have 0 interest in what anyone thinks of me is something that no number of blogs can help me to explain! 

Nothingness

After all, the western world has taught us that we are all individuals with a ‘personality’.

In ancient Greece, when the local amateur dramatics people got together and acted out different plays they often wore masks to disguise who they really were. These masks were called ‘personas’. That’s where the word ‘personality’ comes from.

All we think about ourselves is borrowed knowledge. If you make a joke, you’re labeled ‘funny’. If you’re quiet you’re labeled as ‘shy’. The fact is we are all just part of the same empty consciousness.

Yet our ‘persona’s’ often characterise ‘who we are’

In all of us, behind all the nonsense we have been taught growing up, there is nothingness. We are all nothingness. Therefore, terms like ‘evil’, ‘greed’, ‘suffering’ and ‘horrible’ aren’t really real, its just out perceptions of what we think is real based on how people act.

tao tao

I dont believe there is such a thing as an ‘evil person’.

..but I know that people can perform evil acts to others. I have experienced evil acts first hand many times in recent years, as I’m sure you have too.

I hope some of these blogs are comprehensible and not just seen as the ravings of a fucking nutcase.

Don’t worry what other people think of you. It’ s none of your business. It’s also nonsense, its your persona they have an issue with, not you. Try and remember that when people are being rude or nasty to you or your friends.

If I listened to all those who said I couldn’t become a nurse, or those who stood in my way, I wouldn’t be writing this to you now. Embrace the haters, they’re essential to your journey.

If you want to catch a glimpse of whats real, it goes far beyond ‘being shy’, ‘being awkward’ or in my case ‘having an awful memory and shit filter’ etc . Just be you.

In my eyes, you should go to your cinema and fuck everything else. After your feedback I know that’s what you all feel is right too.

empty.jpg

A question for you

Humour me for a moment. If you’re reading, try to put yourself in this position. Try your best to imagine this is you in your life. Your friends, co workers and family. This will only really work if you do this.  So:

If you’re a female:

This might sound weird but just humour me:

It’s summer. You’ve just had your birthday celebrations and then you come on your period. Instead of it lasting the usual week or so, it’s not going. You’ve been suffering for 3 months straight with bad period pains every day and night during this time. You haven’t eaten or slept properly during this entire time.

Or if you’re a male:

Let’s keep it simple. Someone has booted you in the bollocks. That feeling of pain and sickness which usually last for minutes has not left you for a month. Again, you’ve had no sleep and have felt constantly sick for 30 days and nights.

So, female or male, this next bit is for everyone:

Both your pains are different. They are both unique but neither can be understood by the other if you were to try to explain. The doctors are baffled by both your ailments and  you’ve been told that there are only a few things that will help to alleviate the pain: lying down in a dark room or laughing.

Times goes by. It is the worst pain you have ever felt

Your friends are starting to lose patience with you. Work has given you as much time off as you’re entitled to and considering no doctors can help you or even see your ailment as a recognised medical problem, your boss is not legally entitled to give you anymore time off.

‘OMG, I’m sick of hearing about this pain of theirs. Every time I invite him/her out they say they can’t because they’re ‘lying down’ or ‘going to the cinema’. What sort of people do this?

Your friends and co workers talk behind your back and you slowly become alienated. Nobody believes what you’re experiencing is real. But people aren’t telling you this outright, it is becoming more obvious as time goes on. Your mental health is suffering, you start taking antidepressants.

Your life is falling apart. You wish people could only understand what your pain felt like every day then everything would be ok!

You lose your job. You need to move into rented accommodation and you cannot claim benefits because your condition does not really exist.

But then..

..one day, you find that when you laugh, the pain feels less intense. So, you start to visit the cinema to watch your favourite comedies that are guaranteed to make you laugh.

It works!

When you’re laughing, your severe period pains or painful bollocks sensation dissipates, it fades away! You feel such intense relief that there is some form of let up from the pain you have felt for so long that you know you can never stop laughing. In fact, you start to feel intense love and happiness again for the first time since your pain began.

Just as you are starting to rebuild your life and find your new ‘normal’, this happens….

…your partner decides to leave you. Your partner takes your children with them, leaving you this note on your fridge:

I’m sick of how everything is about YOU now. How can you complain about your ‘pain’ and then spend all your time at the cinema? 

Damn. You loved this person. You trusted that even they, when nobody else would, would stick by you no matter what and believe in you.

IMG_3165

Conclusion to my little story:

The cinema helped you. Laughing helped. But when you laughed, people would raise their eyebrows. When you visited the cinema, despite your intense happiness of being there, people would make comments and question the validity of your claim that you’re  in ‘pain’. Your partner even left you and all your friends turned their backs on you because of the cinema.

Now, a question from me. I genuinely would like to hear what people would do in this situation.

Would you stop going to the cinema or laughing because the people lost faith in you when they saw you doing this? Remember, there is no way for anyone else to know the validity of your pain. 

 

This doesn’t even scratch the surface, but I’m trying. Let’s end this blog with a picture of me visiting my cinema.

img_2019

 

People are born and people die, this isn’t a new fact of life. Sometimes people suffer towards the end of their life, or their life is (in our opinion) ending before we want it to.

root.jpg

As children’s nurses, the law of averages (and common sense) means we often get to witness this suffering and see lives ending at much earlier ages than we would expect.

I try to live as though tomorrow is not guaranteed, which it isn’t.

When I speak like this, most people brush it away or put it down to the usual ‘spiritual’ nonsense people spout from quotes they read off the internet. In the eyes of society, it seems by saying ‘tomorrow is not certain‘ you are labelled as being negative, as you’re alluding to the biggest taboo topic of all (dying).

In the UK and USA (or, the ‘west’) people are in one big rush. One huge desire to live because we only have one life and we don’t have time to stop.

We are taught that anything ‘bad’, such as being different, being alone, breaking up from your spouse or even death, are taboo subjects and if you ever find yourself experiencing any of these taboo subjects people will often tell you to ‘keep busy’, ‘take your mind off it’, ‘have a drink’ or ‘get a takeaway’. Pretty much anything if it means avoiding the issue, whatever it may be.

We’re told these are good coping mechanisms when experiencing the catastrophes of life.

Have you noticed nobody ever tells you to sit in a room on your own with your eyes closed and face the issue?

Hardly ever, because that means you’d have to face these ‘taboo’ thoughts. No, we must push them deep down and never talk about them. They’re not appropriate. 

In the East (India, Tibet etc) they believe in reincarnation. Everyone in the east is so laid back they horizontal, because they think that if there is no time on THIS life, there will be time in the next.

time

Life is short and precious and you don’t need to be a children’s nurse to see that.

I think when we push these ‘taboo’ topics deep down, or we ignore the ‘elephant in the room’ so to speak, this can lead to a build up of illogical behaviour (which leads us to label these behaviours e.g ‘anxiety, depression’) that we then spend lots of money on trying to get rid of (through therapy, self help guides etc).

No regrets

Sometime in 2008

Mum, dad, I don’t know how or when, and I know I’ve promised you I’ll get my life together before and you probably don’t beleive me when I say it, but one day I’ll be the best nurse in England”

Ok, I was 18 and had an ego the size of Neptune when I said this, but I knew I’d found something in nursing that I could never let go of no matter what

Nursing lets me be who I am and feel a type of connection with it’s others that goes far deeper than description on a blog.

But then life happened…

Back in the UK, A few weeks after this picture was taken, I was lying in hospital when a nurse looking after me told me I would no longer be able to work as a nurse (I know I’ve said this before but it is important for the point I am making).

It’s admirable, but not practical. I’m sure there are lots of things you’d be good at.

This was just the start. A few years back I was accused of assault. A police investigation oncovered the truth, but the malicious actions of certain individuals meant that the university decided to put me in front of a panel.

We don’t know whether you have the capability to handle life as a nurse. The board will see you in two months and a decision will be made.

The truth prevailed with that one in the end.

Last year

Final placement time.

‘Mikey. Staff have raised concerns about you. You forget stuff all the time and your obsession with nursing is not realistic. Have you seen a therapist?’

I left the ward devestated. Was this it?

Uni sent me to neonates to see if these comments were true. I left with 4 A*s. I won’t use the D word. But Unconscious bias can be hurtful.

No regrets

I never forgot why I started and what I set out to do. I was different and decided to embrace it. Everyone doubted me but I kept my goal in the present moment and over 10 years after I set out to achieve my impossible dream, it happened.

This blog is not about ego. It’s proof that ANYTHING is possible even when your back is against the wall, your life is a mess and your goal seems so

Smile at people who call you crazy or think you foolish.

Accept and move on from the lies people will create to hurt you.

I’m on the move and can’t look back

The power of attraction is incredible, but life will challenge you to see if you have what it takes to achieve what you wish for.

But this journey has taught me that happiness isn’t in a dream or aspiration.

It’s there anytime I want it. Life lessons can be tough, but there is a gift in every one of them.

Silence is beautiful.

Now my joy comes from living in the present moment. Anything else is just a bonus. Like I’ve written before, sometimes the journey is more important than the destination.

Now let’s end this blog with a picture of me working a shift with makeup on. I lost a bet to a 10 year old patient and told her she could dare me to do anything and I’d do it. Rookie mistake.

Feeling ‘Lonely’ is shit. ‘Aloneness’ is beautiful.

I have learned that living with a hidden health condition, whether that be from brain injury, chronic pain to mental health issues, can be lonely if you don’t learn to meditate over it.

Only YOU know

People forget, or they just don’t believe you. This is part and parcel of brain injury life, but it’s not exclusive solely to my condition, and there is a way around it.

The hardest part is spending less time with my daughter

That’s my biggest challenge with fatigue. Many of the nurse-parents out there will tell you that looking after children at work is a rest compared to looking after your own children.

img_7990

At work, we spend a few minutes with children at a time, usually during medical interventions or for communication of their care plan. It’s their parents who do all the hard work!

Each day I see her I dread saying goodbye to my daughter

It literally kills me. I can only really spend 4-5 hours at a push with her at a time. After hour two, my fatigue hits me like a freight train. On the weekend when I have her for longer, I have the support of my parents, it’s just too exhausting on my own!

Only I know this, nobody else can know.

IMG_3165

I posted this because this is the reality I live with everyday, but also because there is truth to the words of the person who said it. It’s true, I am a qualified children’s nurse, so why the difficulty with looking after my own daughter?

This blog isn’t for sympathy. There are probably millions of people who experience this everyday. It’s true when people say you can’t help feeling a bit guilty for your shortcomings when it comes to your kids, but I think this problem is as simple as this..

guilt.jpg

In fact, I’ve realised that whatever trait or emotion you possess or experience at any given time can be eradicated if you want it to be. But only if you know how to meditate.

Angry at someone who was rude to you? Drop it.

Feeling depressed? Drop it

Feeling lonely? (This used to be a biggie for me) Drop it.

Feeling anxious? Drop it.

Feeling scared? Drop it (I had the most practice with this one)

This probably sounds ridiculous to those who haven’t meditated, but it really is as simple as that.

By sitting down with your eyes closed and training the mind to witness your thoughts and then drop them each time, you can achieve anything you want to, because you CHOOSE what bothers you and what doesn’t

I choose to let nothing bother me. Life is too rich and short for that and I’m too busy soaking up what I can from each moment.

Meditation instead of medication

True, I’ve been practicing for some years now, but meditation is so powerful that the structure of the brain changes in as little as 8 weeks, which is handy for me, my brain is fucked.

When I’m let loose in public I often get a lot of funny looks from people about how blunt I am. The filter is better nowadays, but being true to myself is fundamental. If I was not true to myself I’d drive myself crazy ruminating over it!

Love it or hate it, I am never rude to people, just honest. But it’s true when I say that being so honest causes a lot more issues (primarily for other people) than it solves.

spade

I am not lonely. I am my own man, full of imperfections, but I try my best. There is a difference between feeling ‘lonely’ and ‘aloneness’. Aloneness has a beauty to it, because being alone is the perfect meditation.