#5: Philippines 2018 (Helping Children Smile Medical Mission)

First of all – I have to make an apology for taking such a long time to write this blog! There’s been a whole lot of work, and a new tiny-pawed furry addition to the family since finally landing back in Australia last month, so my hands have been kept somewhat hostage…but more on that in my next blog!

Second of all – Philippines!

I’ve been really struggling to find the right word to describe my trip to the Philippines. In reply to most people, I use the word amazing with a gushing enthusiasm and a widen-eyed conviction of the word. But even then, I know this is still an understatement. Because it was just so much more than that.

For those that have been following Life, She Wrote, you will have known that this year’s addition to Bucket List #5 came with it’s own special purpose – but for those that are new to the story, you can read about it here.

Having looked forward to trip since finding out I would be apart of it back in September, I couldn’t believe it had come round so quickly. The end of February was nearing as we all met up at a hotel near the airport in preparation for the three flights ahead of us the next morning. I had met most people prior to trip, but there were a few I hadn’t and it was nice to sit down with everyone, putting faces to names over wine, cheese and Thai.

It was still dark when our early-morning alarms sounded at 4am and we eagerly threw on our team t-shirts (bright blue and not easily missed in a crowd), making our way to the airport. With thirty-something luggage bags in tow carrying various pieces of equipment and monitors, we hustled into the group check-in and busily set about labelling and weighing bags. If I thought the amount of bags we had then and there was extravagant, I had another thing coming for me when we finally did arrive in Vigan (but that’s getting ahead of myself).

The first leg of the trip was flying into Sydney, where we met up with the two surgeons and two anaesthetists, and one other member of the team. Choosing to go it alone at the Duty Free, I managed to get myself utterly lost between terminals an hour later – but I’ll blame that on the airlines changing the terminal departure and those big electronic boards displaying way too many flights to Manilla (was there really that many people departing to Manilla?). Nevertheless, we all boarded on time and I was quite happy not to be left sitting back at terminal 34 on my lonesome.

Touching down in Manilla was a relatively smooth process. We quickly caught a bus to the hotel, with our priorities set on food, sleep and a quick 7-Eleven pitstop. I don’t remember falling asleep that night, I just figured I must have switched out as soon as my head hit that pillow and woken up 6 hours later.

After a traditional buffet breakfast we checked out and made our way back to the Manilla airport to catch our next flight to Laoag. It was a quick flight, landing beside one of the smallest airports I’ve ever seen. The little brick building, covered in pink flowering vines, could be walked end-to-end in less than five minutes.  But with a large sign welcoming Helping Children Smile to the Philippines, we felt right at home.

We collected ourselves, and our many pieces of luggage, into a large coach bus which carted us on a two hour journey to Vigan – our final stop for the trip and the location of the hospital we would be performing surgery at. We stopped midway at a small village supplier for afternoon tea where we we lucky enough to try some local food. Any food at this point was a god-send after having only had a pork bun since breakfast!

We arrived at our hotel in Vigan late that afternoon and quickly changed before heading into town to see the hospital. Having never been on a mission before, I wasn’t really sure what to expect – but the hospital appeared in relatively good condition in comparison to pictures I’d seen from previous mission trips. We toured the theatre rooms, recovery and the shed-like room that would be our ward. Everyone seemed pretty happy with it’s prospects and so we went to check on the luggage. Well in addition to the bags we had brought over, there was at least a dozen more to fill three ward rooms full. How we could have ever needed this much, I’ll never quite know – but it was our way to ensuring we never had to place any cost upon the hospital by only using our own equipment and supplies.

It was still light out when we ventured back to the hotel, so we snuck in a quick swim in the pool and laughed hysterically at those game enough to take on the waterslide that ended at least a metre above the water. There were plenty bruises and red marks all round to tell the tale of that endevour.

 

The next six days were a bit of a blur. But after setting up our recovery room on Monday, we were straight to work with two surgeries that afternoon. Back home, recovery spans across almost a whole floor catering for well over twenty patients. In Vigan, the recovery room was no more than 4 metres by 4 metres, perhaps smaller. It had two small beds either side of the room, with a cupboard in the corner and a cabinet full of drugs at the tail-end. We commandeered two small tables and set them up between each bed, tetras-packing them with our equipment. And we made-do. Theatre was much the same, simplistic, but functional – and from all accounts, better than expected.

It was such a rush to see it all play out, and then to be a part of it. Carrying the children in their hands, the anaesthetic nurse would rush out of the OT into our small recovery placing the child onto one of the beds. In a swift rush, the pulse oximeter and oxygen mask would be connected and we would intently monitor their small airways until they woke.

Waking up from the anaesthetic in the Philippines was a little rougher than at home, and so as soon as our little ones opened their eyes, we would whisk them off the trolleys and into our arms to rock and soothe. Their were plenty of wrigglers and plenty of tears, but that all got a little better as soon as mum arrived to hold there hands. After a quick dose of pain relief and a drink of water, we let them return to the ward.

Upstairs in the ward, it became a noisy collection of people after the third day. Families consisting of parents, siblings, uncles and aunties would squeeze into the same bed offering support to the children, becoming the ultimate nursing team. We would leave instructions for the parents in regards to pain relief; how much and how often, each night and return each morning to do a quick round and see how they had progressed.

The children were beautiful. And again, this too feels to be a rather large understatement. I fell in love with them the moment I met them. Their tiny faces that lit up the moment you gave them a smile, or handed them something as little as a toy car, had my heart bursting at it’s seams. These children were just so grateful for the things that many children here take for granted, and I couldn’t help but be in awe of their strength despite their circumstances.

Before each surgery we would adorn them with a little material cape made by volunteers here in Australia, and help them believe in superheroes. We would place little coins called ‘lucky money’ in their hands when they went to sleep, and would make sure they woke up with the lucky money still there. It was these little things that made surgery feel a little less frightening, and helped them feel a little more brave.

 

The differences to the their lips and palates were remarkable, and being a part of a process that changed each of their lives in the most unbelievable way has undoubtedly changed my perspective on my own world immensely.

After six days, we had performed over thirty operations. The hospital had kindly provided food each day and made every sacrifice possible to ensure our operations went smoothly. We were truly spoilt to have been able to work in Vigan, and were treated to dinner each night in the small town by different members of the Vigan Rotary Club.

On our last few days, we had enough downtime to do some exploring throughout the Provence of Vigan, a budding city on the tourist hot-spot list. From Dancing Fountain Shows to historical 17th Century walkways, monumental buildings to heritage listed sites – we were privileged to see so much in such a short time frame. And as we drunk a San Miguel (apple flavoured, for me) Beer at sunset on the beach, I think each one of us counted ourselves as lucky to have been on this trip.

After a heart wrenching clinic morning, checking up on the kids after their surgeries and waving goodbye to the children that had changed our lives perhaps even more so than we had changed theirs, we packed our bags and set off on the long journey home.

There aren’t enough words to describe the fullness of my heart, or the awe I have in the strength of these little ones and their parents. I am so proud to have been able to work alongside some of the most amazing clinicians and to have had the opportunity to utilise my own nursing career in a corner of the world that really needed it.

This trip has taught me that there is so much kindness, courage and generosity still to be shared in this world, and that it sometimes comes most from those who have far less than you.

For more information about the Helping Children Smile Organisation, or to donate to the cause for next year’s mission, click here. I cannot express how much of a difference surgery for these children makes in simple tasks such as eating and speaking, nor the happiness it brings to a part of the world who truely appreciate it.

For more details about visiting Vigan and Manilla, where to go and what to do – head over to The Travel Log!

And to have a sneak peak at the trip, the children we operated on and the places we managed to visit after-hours all in colour motion, you can head to my YouTube Channel!

This has been the most rewarding bucket list ‘check’ yet, and I really do hope to go again next year!

#5: Travel to a new place every year – check!

d x

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Christmas Day: Scrubbed + Gloved

It’s been a big two weeks for me over Christmas this year, and almost feel as if they have sailed right by me in the blink of an eye. Does this only get worse the older I get? Please comfort my heart and say no! Any faster and we might find ourselves skipping straight to January entirely next year.

Having had the last two years off from work over my favourite holiday season, it was well and truely my turn to pull on the Christmas-owl scrubs and latex gloves, and hit the ground running on the surgical floor this year. I worked eight days straight over Christmas and felt it pinch at my heart a little at first. For a girl who adores everything covered in tinsel and sparkling fairy lights, it was hard to be inside the walls of the hospital and not with family.

But the reward of bursting in the ward’s doors with jingling reindeer ears on Christmas day morning and putting a smile on the patient’s faces there was more than I could ever have deserved for dreading in the first place. In fact, if I’m honest, I rather enjoyed spending Christmas day at work (and that’s not just the one too many rum balls clouding my memory!).

It was as if everyone brought in a bit of Christmas in with them, and shared it with those that thought they wouldn’t feel it this year. It was a day full of so many smiles, and so much warmth. It was as if we all came together to spread a special sort of cheer as far and wide across the ward as we could. I can’t really explain it any more than that, but it was like nothing else and there was this underlying understanding of the immense need for kindness.

I walked out of the hospital on Christmas afternoon with a heart so thankful for being able to bring a little happiness into the hearts of the patients I cared for. It made me realise how much I really love being a nurse. Despite the exploding stomas, the leaking drains, and the confused little old men who magically harness the strength of ten horses as they take a swing at you – I wouldn’t have chosen to do anything else.

And I’ve come to realise that you have to learn to love all these moments in your life. Even the ones spent in the hospital on Christmas day. Because it’s not about what you’re doing on days like this, or any normal day of the year for that matter – it’s about what you turn it into and what you take away from it.

I think this next year is going to be about enjoying the little things. About be present in every moment, and truely aware of the beauty that surrounds me. I already know its there, but in 2018, I want to feel it. I want to turn it into a happiness others can share in.

For me, I think this means finding peace of mind. All too often, I find myself worrying and getting stressed over the smallest of things. I let it shape how I feel, I let dictate how I act and the words that I construct. I don’t want to spend any more moments from here on feeling frustrated by the all the things I can’t change and the circumstances I once thought were less than ideal. I don’t want to feel clouded over in my mind, blind to good things. I want want my happy-heart moments to be present in every day I breathe.

Working this year over Christmas taught me a lot about what really matters. It’s not about things going to plan, or having the picture perfect day. It’s not about being task-orientated to point that the to-do lists takeover, or being organised at every turn. It’s about learning to laugh at the things that didn’t go to plan, and the days where it rained on your picnic. It’s about putting the to-do list on hold to lookup and smile at downpour instead. And I plan to bring this new-turn-old-proverb-epiphany into the New Year.

I hope everybody had such a wonderful Christmas and enjoyed it thoroughly however it was spent. Stay safe and loved as we turn our eyes to 2018, I have a feeling it’s going to be a big year!

d x

Helping abroad

Well, it’s official – I’m going to the Philippines next year!

For those that have been following, you might remember me mentioning becoming the newest member of the Helping Children Smile Organisation about two months ago (if not, read about it here). You might also remember me applying for next year’s mission trip in February to perform free surgery for the children over there with cleft palates – and lo and behold, one phone call last week confirmed I was successful!

In all honesty, being so new to the team, I wasn’t really sure whether I was in with much of a chance of being selected in the first place. It’s a huge trip with so many applicants each round, and I had only been there for all of five minutes. But encouraged by a couple of the girls at last month’s meeting, and with the CN application ordeal fresh in my memory – I figured there was no harm in showing my interest. This is my year of conquering fear, after all.

I’d originally put in an expression of interest for the ‘admin’ position – similar to a being a go-for. Someone who would help with the admissions, file paperwork and run errands. While it wasn’t exactly a position that would utilise my nursing skills as such, it would have been the perfect position to get a taste for the trip, in the hope to return the following year in a more surgical position.

So when I received a cryptic phone call asking whether I would have any interest in being a recovery nurse for the trip, I couldn’t help but feel the excitement bubble. Apparently, my experience in surgical nursing and airway management in neonates in my nursing internship made me a little more eligible than a go-for. One week later, I was officially asked to accompany the 2018 Mission Trip as the newest recovery nurse to the team.

I had to use every ounce of self-control to not squeal  down the line, but the smile that breached ear to ear said enough. It was as if it had all been falling in place since the moment I spotted the infamous post of Facebook. If there was ever a moment where I have felt like something was just meant to be – this was it, this was that moment.

I now have a lot to organise, including applying for a temporary permit to work in the Philippines – which is a whole other level of paperwork in itself. But I’m no way complaining. This is certainly going to be one amazing experience. And at the risk of sounding a little too much like my Father, there really is no substitute for doing something like this.

I’m so excited to use my nursing career for something so meaningful, in a place that really needs it. It’s been on the Bucket List for a long time, and finally #52 has found it’s promising ‘check’ – so stay tuned for that one. I’m already looking for forward to blogging this amazing adventure next February!

d x

A nurse’s wish

How we treat each other is important.

We may look or speak differently, we may like different things. We may fill our glasses to the brim, or leave them permanently half-full, but the simple fact we all have in common, is that we are human.

We are all just trying to live life the best way we know how, and what separates us shouldn’t define how we treat each other.

But you see, as humans we have somehow lost this concept beneath the opinions and judgement, and we have fumbled with the objective of being kind. Undoubtedly, I think many of us have at some point in our lives been made to feel as if all the kindness in the world had already been used up. Or at least, I know I have.

As a nurse, feeling like people have forgotten how to be kind is sometimes all too common. We understand the heartache that is encased between the walls of our hospitals, we have seen life cease and felt broken at the loss of the ones we have nursed. You may not see the tears, but our own love ones do the moment we set foot inside the door at home and let it overpower us in a way you’ll never quite understand. We grasp the concept that while we see broken people and sickness every day, that you have not and that it is frightening to watch a love one, or be the one, to battle through it. We get it. It’s scary.

But just because that scares you, and just because it becomes difficult to express your emotions in times like these, please do not make us the enemy. We have only ever come to work to care for others. And I promise you that there is no one who woke up in the morning and thought, how could I make my patient’s feel terrible today?

We became nurses, doctors and members of the healthcare system because we wanted to help and because we cared. We didn’t do it because we thought it would be an easy job, because its not. And whether you’re a patient or a family member, it has never been okay to abuse us as if it is, and as if we haven’t given our all to make a difference in your life.

Last week, I looked after a lady who had underwent a rather large surgery on her bowel. These kind of surgeries are always tricky in their recovery and pose an increased risk for complications. Unfortunately, this lady experienced at least three of the complications we predicted, prolonging her stay with us in hospital.

After two weeks in hospital, the drugs we had been giving her had begun to take their toll. Along with not being able to eat proper food just yet, she had lost a considerable amount of weight becoming the shadow of the woman she was on admission.

But yet, she continued to smile. Through her bad days, she laughed deliberately as if to convince herself that sadness was unachievable. And I admired her for it.

Her eldest son came to visit her for the first time on day 10 of her recovery. He had not been there at the day of surgery, and had not visited his mother for months prior. Nevertheless, he had decided to visit and that had made day 10 more bearable for his mother than he would ever know. 

However, when he walked into the hospital ward, he brought with him anger. From the moment he announced his arrival at the nurse’s station, he made it very clear that there was nothing I could have ever done in his mother’s care that would have been good enough.

My smiles and polite welcomes were met with a hostility and doubt in my ability. He was aggressive, and quick to speak negatively in reply to my answers. He frowned so much it seemed that his face had altogether forgotten how to smile. There was seemingly no muscle memory for happiness.

He demanded rather than asking, and he expected people to part in the corridor for him. He was threatening and lumped his weight around as if to beat his chest in a gorilla-like claim to the jungle throne. He was the kind of person I struggled to warm to, but then he never made it easy.

I spent the next four days being berated by this man. Nothing I had done to help his mother was enough. He was rude, and arrogant towards me as if trying to pull me up on something I may have overlooked or not done. He became somewhat child-like in his exasperation, trying to make the entire hospital bend to his will and becoming furious when he felt we did not.

He didn’t like the way the tape was stuck down to his mother’s drains – it made him feel uncomfortable. He didn’t like that there wasn’t enough cutlery on the bedside table and thought there should have been a separate spoon for each container on the dinner tray. He didn’t like that there wasn’t a supplies caddy in each patient’s room and requested that 55 pads be brought to his mother’s room immediately ‘just in case’. The list was relentless.

His final complaint came on day four. He had not liked seeing his mother in a hospital gown stating that it had made him feel uncomfortable for her to not look like his mother. As it was explained, there were prominent medical reasons as to why she could no longer be dressed in her own night clothes that pertained to the protection of the central lines now used to deliver life-prolonging medication. For most people, this would suffice as an explanation. But for this man, it became the pump his anger fuelled on.

In reply to my explanation, his volatile nature exploded. In the hallway, he aggressively placed his face centimetres away from mine whilst repeatedly quoting his chosen sentence without intermission. It was an intimidating tactic that I was sure was meant to shake me to my boots, but I held strong, fuelled by my own internal anger that someone could be treating me this way when all I had done was try to care for his mother in the very best way I could.

He continued his childish tantrum for over an hour, aiming to pull me down with his cruel words. When finally asked to refrain from being rude his reply formed as a taunt a school child might have used, stating that while I thought he was rude, he thought I was unhelpful and a poor excuse for a nurse, concluding the argument with “So, checkmate!”.

I couldn’t help but shake my head in disbelief that a grown man could let anger control him so profoundly that this was the most appropriate retort he could find. And so I left it at that, no longer seeing the point in any further conversation with this man.

But that didn’t stop him from calling back to the ward once he had left to further harass me, telling the administration officer that he was my husband in the attempt to be put through directly to my dect phone. It was an onslaught of never-ending aggressive intimidation, as if he thought he could make me break to his will.

And all over a hospital gown? I was speechless at the stupidity of it all, and how it had escalated to needing security to scan incoming phone calls.

But while I sit here and struggle to comprehend how it became the biggest event of the day, I have enough clarity of thought to understand where this outburst stems from. Having never seen his mother so sick before, having not been there for the operation in the first place, and having so little medical knowledge, there is a certain fear that envelopes him. It’s like a vine slowing climbing through his entire body, outgrowing logical reasoning. He can’t think beyond the fear, and all it threatens to take from him. The fear leaves him with no control over the situation, and that becomes frightening for a man who quite obviously has little experience with being in such a state. So he resorts to anger, and I became the punching bag.

It’s not an excuse, but I have to believe that in a different circumstance he could practice human interaction with a little more humanity and kindness than he bestowed upon me. His words, though I know to be untrue, have still had an impact on me. They’ve left me to question how I could spend so much time caring for someone, only to have it thrown back in my face as not being good enough? How is there people out there in the world who think treating others this way to get what you want is okay? When did the world become a place where we hurt the ones who have only ever endeavoured to do good?

And sadly, this man isn’t the only one to have ever treated me in this way over the last three years I have been a nurse.

The bottom line is that we have lost an element of kindness I think we used to have. And the very fact that we are human means that we are going to let our emotions dictate our actions, so I will always understand why. But please, before you cave to the fear, think about the journey others are facing.  Try to harness a little kindness first, see it from someone else’s point of view before you open your mouth. How you treat others has more of an impact on them than you could ever really know.

I am a nurse. My whole life is centred on caring. I only have your best interests at heart. So please, be kind. This is my nurse’s wish.

d x


 

Sleepless and clueless. 

Over the years, I have come to really question how it seems to be my special ability for attracting the worst luck when it comes to cars. Or anything with wheels for that matter. 

However, despite all the things that have happened to my little cars, none of them compare to the events that unfolded last Wednesday morning…

Last week, on a cloudy Wednesday morning, I made my way out of the hospital after a very long and gruelling 10 hour shift. We had spent the last three hours of the shift run off our feet, trying desperately to keep certain death-willing patients alive and delirium-encumbered patients in the confines of their own beds. 

When the morning staff started to trundle in, we were starting to see the end of the tunnel. When we realised that somehow we were three staff short for the morning shift, that light started to fade quickly. 

With one casual nurse calling in late, one sick leave not replaced and one new baby grad who mixed up his shifts and performed the worlds most unfortunately timed ‘no-show’ – it was shaping up to look somewhat close to a nightmare. 

There were buzzers going off everywhere, and all sorts of bodily fluids not being caught in time as we desperately called everyone we could think of to rescue us from the craziness threatening to envelope us. 

It was an hour past my home time and I vividly  remember thinking of all the things I would happily give just to lay down horizontally, rather than shower the man in bed 3.1 who inappropriately thought I was everything else but a nurse. 

In the end, I think I stumbled down the stairs out the front of the hospital about an hour and half after my roster promised I would be in bed, and by this time I was entirely questioning whether it would be deemed appropriate to sleep all day in my car right there in the carpark. 

Suffice to say, I never got the chance. 

Hoping to brave it home with windows down and cold water to splash on my face, I made a beeline for the drivers door and clambered inside. Turning on the car, I sighed as I placed the gear stick into first. Levelling the accelerator, the car lurched forward… and that’s when I heard the almighty ‘clunk‘. 

The whole car fell to the left on a slant. I had barely made it half a meter, but the noise was enough to make me realise something had already gone very wrong. 

I grumbled ‘What now!?’ under my breath and launched myself out of the car. It’d been a long night, but I had no idea just how much longer it was going to get. 

Venturing around to the back of the car on the right side, I found my culprit. There in the middle of the car park I stood, sleepy-eyed and in utter disbelief as I looked at a wheel hub now blantently bare without a wheel. 

Someone had stole my back wheel. The whole wheel. Nuts and tyre too boot. Gone without a trace. Poof, into oblivion. Abracadabra. This is not a drill. 

I must have stood by that wheel hub for at least the next ten minutes in a state of fatigued-confusion, not really knowing who to even call in such a situation. Police? Insurance? Dad?… Ghost Busters? 

After all, who in tarnation steals someone else’s wheel!? 

I was absolutely wordless as I crouched down next to the back of my car now noticing a referdex jammed tightly under the brake, which I can only assume was used to prop the car up before I attempted to drive off. The disc that I assumed usually housed a wheel had been dragged along the bitumen along with my suspension. 

If having my wheel stolen hadn’t been unfortunate enough, skull-dragging the rear end of my car along the ground definitely hadn’t helped. 

I decided on calling my mechanic. The boys there have looked after me since I was 16, and knowing my unparalleled history in car misfortune, they were quick to come to my rescue. 

A long 15 hours since first arriving to work the night before, I finally watched my car hoist aboard a large tow truck. Half-asleep in the passenger seat of my Mr.’s car, we followed the tow truck back to my mechanic’s. 

My poor little car (‘Rocket’ as I’ve belovingly named him) needed four new alloys, a new tyre, a new set of brakes and some repairing to the wheel disc. I was sent home to sleep while they fitted Rocket out with the new adjustments. 

I snuck in two hours sleep before my phone woke me from my slumber, and the rough husky voice of my mechanic let me know my little car was ready to pick up. 

Four-hundred and ten dollars later (because my mechanic boys are just way too good to me!), I hopped in the drivers seat for the second time that day and shook my head one last time in disbelief at the way my day had turned out. 

And then out of nowhere I began to simply laugh at the ridiculousness of it. How these things happen to me, I’ll never quite know! But I’ll tell you something for nothing, they sure make for a good story in the tea room. 

I guess in this ever-maddening world, these things happen. They don’t have reason, nor logic. And they most certainly aren’t concerned with bad timing or whether you’ve been awake for a close 24 hours. They just happen. 

So you have to take what comes, and deal with it the best you can. Besides, the world has a funny way of making it up to you when the bad things cuddle a little too close. My newly won four-course dinner next Tuesday night at a fancy restaurant will entirely vouch for that! 

So count on the better things finding their way to you, it’ll never stay all bad forever. 

As for now, I have taken to checking all four wheels before leaving any car park, and parking a little too close to the gutters because if you’re planning on taking up another wheel for your collection, I’m sure not making it easy!

Happy Sunday everyone. Here’s hoping you always have four wheels to drive you home, and the strength to know that no matter how your day has started, the better will eventually fall together!

d x 

#4

Well, it’s official! I did it! I got the job! You are now looking at the newest CN to join the ranks in the surgical unit heading for the new hospital at the end of next month. If the ear-to-ear smile doesn’t give it away, then I’m not sure what would.

I couldn’t be more thrilled.

Admittedly it took me a lot to even apply for the position (read 2017: The Fear), but the whole process has made me realise just how important it is, and has always been, to never stop pursuing your goals  – even when they may prove difficult.

Truthfully, I have my father and my Mr. to entirely thank for pushing me to the brink of frustration. I had never doubted myself more than in the weeks leading up to the application deadline, and could not have fathomed the possibility that I would be successful.

Since finding out the inverted of that, I haven’t stopped thinking about just how lucky I was to have the two greatest men in my life believe in me strongly enough to [lovingly] peer-pressure me into clicking the ‘submit’ button. If it had not been for them, I may have  thrown away this opportunity altogether.

I’ve come to recognise that while we can be strong on our own, true strength is found in numbers. Only in the sense that in your weakness someone else will be there to loan the strength you need. It’s not that you couldn’t fight your battle alone, it’s that there’s comfort in knowing you don’t have to. To have someone else believe you can is sometimes the only ammunition we need.

I am more than humbled to be given such an amazing opportunity at the age of 23, and am knowingly entering a new chapter of my life with more gratefulness than I thought was possible.

Finally, I get to wear my shiny new CN shoes…and keep them. I am ready.

#4 – Make Clinical Nurse at work: Check!

d x

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2017: The Fear

A few days ago, at the dawn of a new year, I was flicking through the tv channels and stumbled upon a movie I hadn’t seen in a very long time. In the early 2000s, a Cinderella Story was nothing short of a rite of passage for any of us girls growing up at the time. But granted that this was not a era of Disney-watching memories for everyone, let me fill you in a little on the plot…

It was a classic teen heart-throb movie staring the all-too charming Chad Michael Murray and doe-eyed Hilary Duff, that made pink converse sneakers and a extravagant white dresses somewhat of a thing. The storyline imitated the fairytale of Cinderella as it’s title may have blatantly eluded to, and unravelled a new-age technological romance between the orphaned nerdy girl in high school and the handsome quarterback.

It was a feel-good movie that made every girl spend the next 5 years hoping Chad Michael Murray might just fall in love with them someday, myself included. One Tree Hill only exacerbated the fantasy.
But rewatching the movie a few days ago, something really sunk in. It was a quote that underpinned the entire movie, and gave motive to each of its characters. Something I would have never taken in as a child, but now watching it some 13 years later, it’s weighted differently.

Never let the fear of striking out, stop you from playing the game…

Whether it was by chance or not, this was something that I really needed to hear. And when I realised it’s relevancy to my life this year, I couldn’t help but to think that perhaps this was life showing me what 2017 needs to be about – having a little more faith in myself.

Not getting a CN position last year really shook my self-esteem. In a way, I viewed it as a failure. It was the first time I had worked really hard for something, and not had it handed to me in return. I wasn’t used to the feeling. 

I started doubting my ability and caring what others thought of me more than I ever should have allowed myself to. Even though I knew logically not to, I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmingly lost. 

At the end of November they announced that three more positions for CN’s would be advertised and many people asked me if I would re-apply.

The initial answer ‘no way‘ fell from my lips straight away. A large part of me felt that if they had wanted me, they would have given me the job last time, so why would I bother applying again? It was hard to shake the misconception that they obviously didn’t think I could do it.

I battled with the concept that if were to apply, the chances are that they would turn me down again. The original job wasn’t given to me because I’m a relatively new nurse with less than three years experience. And I just couldn’t see how three months onwards, it would be any different.

I was frustrated with my Mr. and my family who encouraged me repeatedly to re-apply. “What have you got to lose?” they would say. Everything felt like my answer. I didn’t want to ‘fail’ again, I didn’t want people to know that I ‘failed’ twice. I didn’t want to go through the rejection again, I didn’t want to deal with the embarressment. In my head, I could only imagine my boss looking at my application and thinking ‘Why on earth would she apply again?‘.

They didn’t want me the first time, it was hard to come back from that.

Then I heard it, the quote from the teenage heart-throb movie, and I suddenly realised I was letting fear dictate not only a terrible predicament of self-doubt, but dictate that I wasn’t worthy to keep chasing my goals.

I was letting the fear stop me from pursuing something I have been working really hard for, for the past year. This is another chance to put myself out there for something great, and I was prepared to let it slip by just to avoid the rejection.

But the more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve come to realise that rejection is a part of life. I haven’t had a lot of it in mine so far, and I’m so grateful for that, but it’s something that I’m just going to have to learn how to take it in my stride.

Because I’m not always going to have the things I want handed to me. I think that there is going to be plenty more moments where someone says no, and I need to learn to be okay with that.

Three months down the track and I’ve finally realised that didn’t fail when I didn’t get the CN position last time. There were simply more experienced nurses than me. It doesn’t make me a bad nurse, or not capable of being a a CN. It’s taken me a long time to truely recognise that, or at the very least believe it.

So I applied again. And then I cried out of pure emotional exhaustion. I pushed through the fear, and that alone has been frightening. I feel vulnerable, and it’s a strange feeling coming from the usually confident, head-strong girl that I am.

There is a rather large chance that I still won’t get the position, but I don’t really think that’s the point anymore. This year for me, is about not letting the fear hinder and having a little more faith in myself. 

It may have taken Cinderella to teach me this, but I don’t plan on letting anyone bruise my self-worth ever again.

Be brave, be strong and be fearless in pursuit of what sets your heart on fire.

This is 2017. Do something you’ve always been a little too fearful to conquer before. 

Happy new year.

d x

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