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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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..

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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.

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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.

We all did it

Well the summer of 2018 seems to be getting better by the day for young (ish) Mikey. Right this second I’m cooking something and felt the urge to scribble a little something on here.

I’m so grateful

I found heaven before I got to where I am today. Heaven is there for all of us, the only thing standing in the way is our minds. For example, before I qualified as a nurse I’d already found what mattered most in life and decided that being a nurse (although a dream of mine and something which I felt was very important to me) would be a bonus if I could get it after all these years, but life is still incredible regardless of our occupation.

Living in the moment

I’m sure you’ve all heard ‘spiritualists’ preach of this. I thought I was ‘living in the moment’ for years, but I wasn’t.

Today at the beach, I felt the sheer joy of the water lapping against my legs. The cold thrust me to the present moment, the feeling of the sun on my back was amazing. The view was unbelievably beautiful, I felt so grateful to be part of watching the sun spill over the ocean in front of me. I watched the sun reflect off the surface of the water and knew that I’d found the gateway to my ‘heaven’ long before I qualified as a nurse. 

Oh btw. This really isn’t ‘hippy’.

This is for all of us. It doesn’t matter what catastrophic events are happening in your life. If you have only this moment on the ‘beach’, what else matters?

I know real pain and suffering

But I also know that ‘heaven’ is there right in front of me whenever I choose to cast my mind aside and live in the moment. You probably think I’m a hippy nutcase, and you’d be right. But just for the lols, give it a try. Whatever faith or religion you follow, this moment is what is real for all of us. It requires no belief to live in the now.

What a summer this is

If you just humour me and try living like this for a few months you will see something magical start to happen in your life. Your wildest dreams will come true and even if they didn’t, you’d still experience the feeling of true bliss. Bliss is better than happiness.

Happiness by it’s very nature becomes ‘unhappiness’ very soon. No one can be happy all the time, it;s impossible.

My dream seemed to be getting further away, with my symptoms getting worse by the day. But I still lived these days ‘on the beach’, or going for walks, being with nature or (worst case scenario) where I had no access to natural beauty, I anchored myself to the present moment wherever I was. I listened to my breath and observed my thoughts.

Where is the magic then?

Here it is:

After 7 years of studying, I achieved my dream of becoming a fully qualified nurse. On the very same day, after so many years of financial difficulty because I am no longer able to work full time as a result of the brain injury, I secured financial security for the rest of my life.

On the very same day. I can’t emphasise that  enough.

Two days ago, I had my first job interview in 8 years. Yesterday, I found out that I  did very well in that interview and I had secured my first job as a fully qualified nurse.

Everything I went through prepared me for what I asked for

So now  I can do the job I’ve dreamed of doing all my life, at my leisure.

Please take from this blog what I have learned the hard way over the years. Anything is possible, yes this is true. But nothing is more possible that  finding your own heaven right now.

 

Thank all of you for being part of this journey so far. I value every single person who has come into my life, I just wish I could thank you all personally (but i’d forget someone. My memory is shit).

You’re all the reason I did this. From Tess,  Frans (who lives in Holland), to Wendy (my godmother in London) or my family and close friends, you’re all the reason I’m here and am now able to help so many people.

But I do want to say a special thank you to a very special group of people. Each one of them mean the world to me and I’ve learned something from every one of them in my own way. Without this particular group of people perhaps I wouldn’t have qualified for another few more years! They are not more important than anyone else, I just feel I haven’t mentioned them as much as I perhaps wanted to.

So thank you SC014, we all did it!

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It’s been a ride

Its important for me to remember that my journey of trying to become a qualified children’s nurse has been far more important than the destination.

Firstly, I completed my access course and secured a place at university, to which there were only 60 places with over 300 applicants. 5 Months into my training, I went on my honeymoon and my life changed, we had severe car crash after a dolphin swim.

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Barely escaping with my life, and after apparently shielding Dani from being hurt in the crash, I returned home from hospital to a hero’s welcome after losing nearly 3 stone in weight.

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But Dani had found out she was pregnant whilst I was in a coma. 9 months later my daughter was born. After nearly two days of labour, she was delivered by emergency caesarean. She was not breathing, she had a punctured lung and sepsis and the doctors said she could die.

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But thankfully she survived. I suffered a nervous breakdown when she was born and retreated into a dark traumatic place for some time. I went for intense rehab in Cambridge for 4 months to get myself ready for my return to nursing studies and I started back again the following September. After three months, tragedy struck. My mother in law died suddenly and tragically.

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Because of the consistent trauma in our lives, my marriage broke down and I moved out of the marital home. Some time after this, I divorced from my wife. It was around this time that trauma struck again: whilst I was living out a suitcase my grandma deteriorated and died soon after. I was only on my second nursing placement at this point.

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I rented a room in a house with a couple and their young daughter after my Grandma died. Everything seemed fine in my new home, but unbeknownst to me the couple had had an ulterior motive: they knew about my accident and my big court case and potential payout. The pretended to like me and extorted me without my knowing until one day I was physically attacked by the woman who was in a drunken rage. Again unbeknownst to me she was an alcoholic and drug abuser.

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She phoned the police and told them and my university I had attacked her and that I need valium for aggression and that I shouldn’t be around children.

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After undergoing an interview under caution at the police station the police realised she had been lying to try and get me to pay them off if they admitted that it was in fact me had been the victim. Marie Stockley then told my university that I had been abusive towards their 8 year old daughter and I was suspended and sent to a fitness to practice panel. During this period I found inner peace and I awoke.

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The charges were finally dropped by the police and the panel.

I returned to placement 4 and did so well the dean of my university insisted that I represent the uni at a prestigious event at Westminster Abbey. Unfortunately my symptoms were too much for me to handle at this point and I had to decline.

 Then I started my final nursing placement.

But staff had known about my head injury and it didn’t take long for their judgement to sink in. The staff didn’t appear to want to help me and I left the placement after 4 weeks and watched my student-colleagues of 3 years graduate ahead of me.

My university decided to send me to the most cognitively demanding speciality in nursing: neonatal intensive care. This would show if the concerns staff had previously raised were correct. I insisted that no one there should know about my condition and see what happens. I passed with 4 A*s and a letter from my mentor to the university saying she had not once noticed a memory slip or lack of concentration.

But my time of NNU drained me. Not for the first time, I had burned out and become exhausted.

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My consultant neurologist had said I needed to take time out of my programme. But time was already running out. I ignored his advice and returned to start my final placement which would be 7 months long. After spending an entire christmas in bed, I resumed my training on the 2nd of January this year.

I have left out many events that have happened in between that are very significant, but I need to write this for me and keep it relatively ‘brief’.

I have known sadness of epic proportions when my wife found a boyfriend shortly after I moved into my flat. I know the pain of always needing to tell my daughter “I can only see you twice this week’ or “I can’t take you to the party because of my head’.

Reese told me once: ‘I like being unwell because then you look after me like the children at work’. 

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Today is the official last official day of my final nursing placement. The bursary has gone and I will not be granted anymore money. I am in a mountain of debt and I am going to court on Monday if I am unable to settle with them today.

My journey has changed me. I have understood that the only way you can achieve your goals in life is to fight with peace, understanding, forgiveness and compassion. I have no anger towards Marie Stockley, the lawyers, my ex wife, the staff who didn’t give me a chance on my placement(s) or anyone else who has put up a brick wall for me to try and break down over the years. I only have understanding and peace towards them.

I’ll finish with this scenario:

Poole Hospital – TBI ward 2011

I was half asleep and in pain. I was scared and wanted to get back to my nursing and my friends. A nurse entered:

‘Mikey, your love for nursing is great, but it’s time to think of another career choice now’

 

 

 

It just can’t be done. I’m so sorry.

 

 

 

 

..and would you believe it. 7 years later (two days ago) I became a qualified children’s nurse!

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I know anything is possible for anyone. Never let anyone tell you something cannot be done. You just need to be crazy enough to have the audacity to be willing to be pushed past your limits and go through hell to achieve it.

Thank all of you

Quitting Lion

 

The journey

I’ll never forget the day I was told to consider another career choice, because being a nurse is not realistic for me anymore. I was in hospital and the nurse had woken me up to come in give me that piece of joyful news. I’ll also always remember the last time I saw my consultant, who has done nothing but try to get me to where I am from the moment he first met me in hospital 6 years ago.

This was back when I was dribbling all over the place and nobody knew if or how well I would recover from a severe head injury.

The first thought I had back then, laying in my bed feeling like I had died and come back to life, was ‘when can I get back to my nursing?’ He’s known from day one that has been my only focus. After I was unsuccessful in returning to my studies (twice), I knew I’d need a miracle of epic proportions. And I got it.

7 months ago the same consultant told me that he never thought I’d get this far.

It was though my own experience I learned most about sepsis. This is the same for; petechial haemorrhages, frontal and parietal lobe haematomas, subarachnoid haemorrhages, diffuse axonal injury and even hypopituitarism and diabetes insipidous. I even became interested in the types of medication I had been pumped full of. Years later, reading my medical reports, I noticed that my kidney cells had been abnormal at the time I was extubated. To this day it always helped me to remember this was because I was given high doses of vancomycin, which can do permanent damage to the kidneys.

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The doctors in Mexico said they did not know how I would be when I woke up from my coma. Being intubated and needing a ventilator for the two weeks I spent in my coma should have been enough cause for concern, let alone what I would do with myself if I recovered enough to have another chance at life.

Luckily I got that chance, at a price.

I’m writing these words because soon I will know if all those people who either told me I could not be a nurse, or who had tried to stop me (or worse) will be proved right. 99% of my suffering could have been avoided if I had only chosen not to pursue this dream of mine, which originally began 10 years ago.

I haven’t written much lately

Because I speak less now days. You find the truth in silence, words can never do justice to the truth.

But when I go to court in three weeks, and my suffering is being questioned in front of a high court judge in London, I will know if I have finally done enough to achieve the ‘impossible’.

But I’ve learned that nothing is impossible. I truly know this to be fact, and when this story is shared others will too. 9 months after I was discharged from hospital, when my ex wife was giving birth, a doctor in Poole hospital approached me.

Mikey, the first time I met you will always stay with me forever. You were the sickest patient I had ever seen and have ever seen to this day.

I wanted to thank everyone who has ever read this blog and given their time to sending me personal (or public) messages of support. As I wrote 4 years ago, I knew this was going to be a journey. Perhaps I had no idea just what was really in store for me, but I’m glad that although there are some people who read this blog who I have not seen in many years, it has meant a lot being able to share my story with you guys.

The next time you hear from me will be the blog I have been waiting 7 years to write, for better or worse. When my story becomes public and I’m asked about it, I’ll always remember those who supported me, in any way at all.

I have chased my dream. The journey has made it all worthwhile, whatever the outcome. I’ve learned that sometimes the journey is more important than the destination itself.

 

The journey

I’ll never forget the day I was told to consider another career choice, because being a nurse is not realistic for me anymore. I was in hospital and the nurse had woken me up to come in give me that piece of joyful news. I’ll also always remember the last time I saw my consultant, who has done nothing but try to get me to where I am from the moment he first met me in hospital 6 years ago.

This was back when I was dribbling all over the place and nobody knew if or how well I would recover from a severe head injury.

The first thought I had back then, laying in my bed feeling like I had died and come back to life, was ‘when can I get back to my nursing?’ He’s known from day one that has been my only focus. After I was unsuccessful in returning to my studies (twice), I knew I’d need a miracle of epic proportions. And I got it.

7 months ago the same consultant told me that he never thought I’d get this far.

It was though my own experience I learned most about sepsis. This is the same for; petechial haemorrhages, frontal and parietal lobe haematomas, subarachnoid haemorrhages, diffuse axonal injury and even hypopituitarism and diabetes insipidous. I even became interested in the types of medication I had been pumped full of. Years later, reading my medical reports, I noticed that my kidney cells had been abnormal at the time I was extubated. To this day it always helped me to remember this was because I was given high doses of vancomycin, which can do permanent damage to the kidneys.

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The doctors in Mexico said they did not know how I would be when I woke up from my coma. Being intubated and needing a ventilator for the two weeks I spent in my coma should have been enough cause for concern, let alone what I would do with myself if I recovered enough to have another chance at life.

Luckily I got that chance, at a price.

I’m writing these words because soon I will know if all those people who either told me I could not be a nurse, or who had tried to stop me (or worse) will be proved right. 99% of my suffering could have been avoided if I had only chosen not to pursue this dream of mine, which originally began 10 years ago.

I haven’t written much lately

Because I speak less now days. You find the truth in silence, words can never do justice to the truth.

But when I go to court in three weeks, and my suffering is being questioned in front of a high court judge in London, I will know if I have finally done enough to achieve the ‘impossible’.

But I’ve learned that nothing is impossible. I truly know this to be fact, and when this story is shared others will too. 9 months after I was discharged from hospital, when my ex wife was giving birth, a doctor in Poole hospital approached me.

Mikey, the first time I met you will always stay with me forever. You were the sickest patient I had ever seen and have ever seen to this day.

I wanted to thank everyone who has ever read this blog and given their time to sending me personal (or public) messages of support. As I wrote 4 years ago, I knew this was going to be a journey. Perhaps I had no idea just what was really in store for me, but I’m glad that although there are some people who read this blog who I have not seen in many years, it has meant a lot being able to share my story with you guys.

The next time you hear from me will be the blog I have been waiting 7 years to write, for better or worse. When my story becomes public and I’m asked about it, I’ll always remember those who supported me, in any way at all.

I have chased my dream. The journey has made it all worthwhile, whatever the outcome. I’ve learned that sometimes the journey is more important than the destination itself.