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 sequel 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

Advertisements

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

tumblr_static_e2jxg7a4vzswo8kw0g0gwsc84

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

gettyimages-516073467

Change of plans

I’m a planner. I always have been. In fact when I look back, I had my entire life planned out by the age of thirteen, in more detail than was really ever necessary.

I suppose it had a little bit to do with ‘finding myself’ at the time. As any thirteen-year-old does, I was trying to establish my identity. Trying to figure out what made me, me and what on earth I was trying to accomplish in this lifetime.

I remember comprising a documents folder on the family computer entitled ‘My Life’, and filled it with pictures of the things I thought would make my adult life complete. It was a photo-list of goals for that miraculous day I no longer had to to school, and got to be a real person.

I look back now, and I have nothing of what I put in that little photo folder. But that’s mostly because the things I thought I wanted at thirteen have somewhat changed (although, I do think a front garden entirely covered in purple orchids, and mermaid blue hair would have made for an interesting life thats for sure).

The point was however, that no matter how crazy my thirteen year old whims were – I had made a life plan.

From there I became a little older and thankfully, my taste in lifestyle ambitions altered. By the time I was fifteen, I had developed a much more sensible plan that mostly focussed on work and study goals (how boring, right?).

It was about this age that I really started to hone in on the idea of being a nurse. It was something I always thought I would be good at from the time I used my friends t-shirt and her hair tie to make a sling for her broken arm in PE in grade six. The ambulance officers were so impressed at my make-shift first aid appliance that they gave me a whole jar of jellybeans and well, that sold me on the career itself.

I remember so clearly the feeling I got that day, how rewarding it had been to just help out in the rush of the moment. Everyone had made me feel like a hero. I knew I wasn’t, but there was nothing quite like it. The feeling of helping someone out when they needed it most, it was addictive.

So when I was asked in my year nine class three years later what it was that I wanted to do when I got older, I really never gave it a second thought. Nursing had always been at the forefront, and it never really budged.

I researched nursing for almost two weeks straight. I wanted to know everything about it and exactly what I needed to do to get there. I liked the idea of midwifery in particular after talking to my cousin who was one, and it set a plan into motion.

I mapped out everything on a giant poster that required to fold outwards three times to sufficiently store the information. I knew what classes I needed to take in high school the following year, I knew what score I would need in grade twelve to be excepted into university, and I knew exactly what course I would need to take once I got there. Like I said, I’m a planner.

Well, my little five year plan worked to a T. Life seemed to find harmony with my oversized poster and before I knew it, I had graduated as a registered nurse and it was time for phase two. You see, the way it worked at my university was that I needed to complete my Bachelor in Nursing, then work for a year as a RN before I could apply to study a Masters of Midwifery.

With the securing of a Grad Position as an RN, I was ecstatic to only be 12 months away from actually achieving everything I planned. Then life decided differently.

They closed the option to study a Masters in Midwifery at my university halfway through my Grad Year. Now it was only open for people that were already qualified as a midwife. The next closest university that offered the course was at least an hour and half away, and with my shiny new graduate position, I just couldn’t see the long distance travel thing working.

And I remember that moment, because it was the first time that something didn’t go to plan for me. I remember feeling like someone had taken the wind out from my sails, not really knowing what I should do next. I wasn’t used to having to start from scratch. After all, this was my life plan and I’d been following it for the past seven years. Now I needed a new one.

When I went back to the drawing board, there was a lot of options. To study to be a doctor was the first one I fell in love with. So that’s what I set out to do, as most of you will already know. But halfway through this year, I guess I’ve had a change of heart.

I’ve been watching the surgical interns so closely at my work. Trying to see myself as one of them, and I can. But I’m not sure that I would want to once I would find myself in their shoes. If you were to ever ask any one of them whether they loved what they do, they would say no. They are worked so hard and given so little in return.

If I was to become one of them, it’s not the seven long years of study on minimal income that bothers me. It would be studying seven long years to end up in a job that pays less than what I’m earning now, examinations every single weekend to keep up with the internship, being yelled at rudely by the consultant for not having the ability to be in three places at the one time and having hardly any time to myself just to breathe.

The more I thought about it, the more I realised I preferred a quality of life. Realistically, in the next five years, my plan incorporates a family (with any luck). And I just couldn’t have that being a doctor.

So again, my plan changed and I’ve really never felt so fickle in my life!

I decided once I had finished my second degree in nursing that I wanted to be a Nurse Practitioner. Almost like a doctor, but without having to say goodbye to every other aspect of my life in order to achieve it (I think I’m allowed to be a little selfish in that regard).

However in July, when I went to apply to study, I was met with some pretty stiff prerequisites and I must admit I was a little disheartened.

  1. Must be a registered nurse for a minimum of five years – well, I’ve barely scratched the surface of my third, so I have somewhat a way to go.
  2. Must have worked in an advanced role position for a minimum of two years – well, I’ve been acting as a CN, but as you know I missed that train with the permanent position just last month.
  3. Must work in a specialised sector of the healthcare system for a minimum of one year – well, generalised surgical nursing really can’t be classified as a “Specialised” sector, hence the title “general”.

So, here I am. Facing a brick wall head-on, and trying to figure my way over it. It’s been the first time that I’ve felt like even with so many options, I’m stuck in a wading pool waiting for the waves.

I’m in the making of a new plan, but this one is taking it’s time to map out. And there’s no  elaborate poster yet. For now, a nurse practitioner is still the direction I’m going in. But the next two years aren’t looking as on track as I would have really liked them to have been.

Perhaps I’m expecting too much of myself? I mean, most people don’t become nurse practitioners until they are well into their mid-life crisis, and here I am at 23 wanting to click my fingers and have it all fall into place.

Perhaps I was a bit naive in thinking it would happen just because that was my plan. Maybe not getting the CN position was the world’s way of letting me know I need to slow down. Let myself grow, and not force it?

I guess I am slowly learning that things don’t always go to plan, and that it’s okay when they don’t. Because I think that sometimes you have to make adjustments to the plan in order to reevaluate whether you’re following a poster plan, or following your heart.

I’m not used to things not following the plan, but I know I’ll get better at it. Because sometimes, that’s just how it’s going to be. And I’ll learn from that as I go.

All you can do, is just keep moving forward. Chip away at the brick wall, find your way through it. My life plan hasn’t played out exactly like I thought it might have, but thats all part and parcel of what it means to survive in this world.

Plan 2.0 is in the making, and it starts with a move to the brand new hospital next year. But at the end of the day, if life takes me elsewhere, I know I’ll be okay. I land on my feet.

d x

tumblr_inline_mkzw32n5nh1qz4rgp

#59

Today, I did something good. I rolled up my sleeve and ticked #59 off the bucket list. I donated my blood.

Having been a nurse for the last two and a half years, I’ve come to realise the true importance of blood donations. I mean, you see it constantly advertised on the the tv commercials about how the world needs more blood donors to keep up with the demand. So I always knew it was important, but being the one to first-hand witness the life-saving ability of a blood transfusion really put it all into perspective as to just how much.

A part of my job is to be apart of a portfolio within my unit. This means we all have specific roles and aspects of nursing and patient care that we devote our knowledge and effects towards. Mine is Blood Safety. Every month we have a portfolio meeting and we talk about any updates to blood transfusion policies in the hospital setting, and the dramatic increase in demand for blood products world wide. The numbers alone are astounding.

Unfortunately, we need blood more than what we have. And by more, I mean a lot. There just aren’t enough donors, and we’re using more than we are collecting. So when my multi-traumas come in, and need multiple units of blood, it’s really impacting the system.

My portfolio encourages people to donate, attempting to rally the troops and find some sort of way to make a small difference (even if just locally). But having never donated blood myself, I’ve been a bit of a fraud. So it found itself as an item on my bucket list to donate blood.

They say for every donation, your blood saves three lives. And they’re not wrong. Your blood matters more than you realise. I’ve only come to know this by being a nurse, and the countless times I’ve run down to pathology to get a bag of blood to save someone’s life. Your blood really is worth bottling, if you’ve never been exposed to Mad Cow Disease that is!

So, in the attempt to make a difference, I booked in to donate my own liquid gold.

In the days leading up to the donation, the staff from the blood donation clinic rung me almost daily to make sure I didn’t have any questions about my first time donation. In fact, they had contacted me so much that for a moment there I was a little concerned at what I had agreed to give. I had agreed to donate just my blood right? Not a kidney? I was becoming so suspicious, I started double reading through the emails!

When I arrived to the clinic, the girls at the receptionist desk gave me a form to fill out. Despite it’s lengthy composition of five pages worth of questions, I managed to tick and flick all the right answers and made it through the interview to the blood donor circle in less than 10 minutes.

I never realised how in depth the screening was for blood donation, but I guess that makes a lot of sense considering how careful you have to be with blood. Apparently, my blood really was liquid gold. I was good to go!

They asked me whether I had had enough water enough times to make me question whether the two litres was, in fact, enough. So when they offered me another bottle of water, I thought I better. And later regretted my decision.

The lady called my name and I followed her through to the chair. She gave me a soft red blanket to keep my cosy and a sparkly red sticker proudly displaying a happy-faced blood drop who seemed to be congratulating me on my first donation. So far, so good.

Before long, another lady arrived at my side to warn me that she was about to cannulate my arm and if this was going to make me squeamish that I should look away now. Me, thinking to myself , “Hell no, I’m a nurse, this is what I do, go for it”. Also me, thinking to myself two seconds later, “Hell no. That thing is the size of my actual vein, probably not as okay with this as I thought”.

Despite the metal rod hanging out of my arm and a regrettably full bladder, I managed to avoid any queasiness and focussed on spinning the red squeezy brick around in the palm of my hand. This was a harder task than it initially seemed as my blood flow stubbornly slowed to the speed of a Sunday afternoon driver, and I was quite quickly losing any sort of blood flow to my left hand. If I were to describe the scene, it looked a lot like me staring intently at my left hand as if trying to telepathically make it move like I know my brain was instructing it too, slightly panicking as the pins and needles sensation was replaced with an overall iciness.

The girls would smile at me and say, “Just keep turning the red brick around in your hand”. And I would smile back politely, despite the very real and irrational fear that my hand might just drop off altogether.

It took twenty minutes instead of the usual ten to squeeze enough blood out of me to fill four bags, but that was thanks to my snail-like blood delivery system. And in the grand scheme of things, it actually felt over and done with more quickly than I thought, leaving me with a “Is that all it is?” feeling. I also managed to leave with all limbs and organs – so that was a bonus in itself.

When I walked out of the donation room, I was met by a little old lady who told me to help myself to the wall of food that stood behind her. From cookies to chips, meat pies and chocolate – the choice was mine. Replenish, is what she said with a giggle in response to my widening eyes. So much delicious free food, I didn’t even know where to start. I could get used to this blood donating thing, that was for sure.

Fed and watered, I finally was ready to leave feeling rather impressed at myself for not having passed out in the whole process. I waved goodbye to the little old lady who much like a grandmother insisted I have something else, and walked out into the sunshine feeling pleased to have done what I could to help someone else.

 

The most wonderful part is that I have never felt so appreciated in my whole life. The girls there make you feel like you have done something really spectacular, for doing something I originally thought was pretty average. Not one person neglected to congratulate me, or thank me for donating my blood at any stage of the day. They honestly made me feel like a superhero, and I became embarrassed because I really didn’t think I deserved it!

So heres the part where I encourage you to donate too if you can. It takes less than 10 minutes (if your veins are more cooperative than mine, that is), and you can acquire the honour of calling yourself a super hero for the rest of the day – because that’s what you are. In ten minutes you can save the lives of three people alone, and in my books, that it definitely something worth doing.

And if the ‘saving someones life’ plug hasn’t got you convinced, then at least do it for the giant chocolate chip cookie.

#59 – Donate Blood: Check!

d x

tumblr_static_tumblr_static_d604q8cfx60o8cco8ocg8kkwc_640