Yearly Archives: 2018

Initiating the placement visit The Nursing and Midwifery council regulates the practice of all nurses and midwives registered within the UK (NMC, 2015). As a result, they determine the structure of the nurse-training course in order to ensure that all students are ready to enter the register at the end of the programme. The structure of the course unlike many others is half theory and half practice. What this means is that students spend 50% of the course in the university exploring the theoretical aspects of nursing. While, other 50% of the time is spent within placement where the theory that is learnt is put into practice (NMC, 2010). In reality, the prospect of attending placements can be both an exciting and daunting prospect for most students at university especially for those in the first year. This article is aimed at students from all disciplines of nursing. When students receive placement information, the university expects them to undertake an initial placement visit. This visit is normally initiated by a phone call to the placement area by the student. Making phone calls have become very mundane tasks. However, when it comes to making the phone call to book placement visits, the author has observed that students can find the simple task very daunting. The article will consider some steps to take before and during the call to help simplify this task and to keep it as simple as it is intended to be. Before making the phone call Calm down and stay composed. At the end of the day, it is just a phone call. The people in the placement area will probably be used to having students. That means it is very likely that they are willing to help. Be organized. Look at your diary. Make sure you know the days you are expected to be at university. Take note of free days and be flexible about the time you will be available. It may be worth having your diary nearby. There is nothing more annoying than selecting a date and finding out later that you have lectures on that day. Get the phone number. Check the email for this. If it has been omitted, don’t panic. You can call the placement office. Sometimes, the phone numbers on the placement directory may be outdated. Imagine how many student placement areas organized by the placement office. You can search for the website of the placement area online. Call the switchboard and ask to be transferred to the ward or area you require. If you do not know the contact person, just ask to be linked with a mentor or staff member who manages the students. That person will most likely have specific details. Talk to other students. Find out what others are doing. Don’t isolate yourself. It is always nice to interact and get support from others within your cohort. Sometimes there may be others in your class who are posted to the same place as you. You can arrange a group visit to reduce anxiety. They may also have more up to date information about the area if they have already called or visited. During the phone call Relax and stay calm. Remember, it is just a phone call. Placement areas are filled with helpful staff who are aware of your potential anxiety. Don’t panic, if the person sounds a bit distracted. It may be a busy day within the placement area. Staff aim to be professional but being human makes them prone to error. Make your first impression count. First impressions can be daunting when you are on the phone. So use your tone of voice, pitch and calmness to help you maintain your composure. This will help you come across as confident. Write down your questions. This will save you from forgetting any information you want to know about. It may also reduce anxiety by making you more attentive and present during the conversation. Sometimes worrying about forgetting important niggling questions can be stressful. Listen. Try to listen during the conversation with the mentor or staff. Resist the temptation of talking over the person. Let them finish their sentences before you start speaking. It shows respect for the other party. Have a paper and pen to hand. This will help you write down important information during the conversation. For example details like time to attend the visit, who to ask for and so on. Ask if you need to bring in documents. Some placement areas require you to come in with your DBS clearance documents. Others may want you to bring some official identification especially if you are going into a secure service area. Take some time. Take time to recap all the information you have received during the call. This reduces the risk of omitting important information like where to go, what time to arrive, whom to see, etc. it also makes the other party know that you were listening.   In conclusion, after you have scheduled the visit, you may begin to feel less anxious because you have taken control of the situation (NHS Choices). These steps discussed above can be taken before and during the call to the placement area to prepare students for the placement learning opportunity.   References Nursing and Midwifery Council (2015) The Code. Standards of conduct, performance and ethics for nurses and midwives. London: NMC. Nursing and Midwifery council (2010) Standards for pre-registration nursing education. London: NMC NHS Choices Thanks for reading Written by Lauretta Ofulue Photo credit: Pixabay        

Nursing Diaries: Initiating the placement visit

I heard something interesting in the news today. China has banned Christmas Is that even possible? Banning Christmas? Well, this country has certainly defied the norm and banned Christmas. As a Christian, I should shout but in reality, I am not sure that I disagree.   Ever since I arrived the shores of obodo oyibo, Christmas has appeared to have more to do with Santa than Jesus. I have listened and watched the media gear up for Christmas from as early as October. Children are encouraged to be at their best behaviour so that come December the 25th, Santa Claus would visit the bottom of their Christmas trees where he would deposit presents to reward their behaviour.   In fact there is even a big hullabaloo about sighting this Santa Claus fellow on the Christmas eve in the sky. That is made possible by a pre-arranged gimmick by the National space agency (NASA) to convince children about the reality of a man that only exists in our imagination.   In my eyes all I can see and hear beneath all these is not evil but capitalism. Driving sales and profits being the main rationale for the season. You can see how much easier it is for these clever people to achieve their numbers just by focusing all their campaigns on something as popular as Christmas. Therefore, the big companies cash in on the idea. They offer sales, low prices, stock clear-outs and you name it just to make their balance sheets look sparkly for the end of what happens to be most of their financial years’.   It is not actually a bad thing per se. We do live in a society that needs to be viable. Low sales, low profits means that businesses slowly die off. That leads to a chain reaction of events including unemployment, poverty, hunger and homelessness. Next comes crime and problems because people have to survive somehow. The social system of benefits may pick up some of the tabs but with no income coming in, it too will crash. So yes, sales are very good and a positive step towards economic sustainability.   However what we need as Christians is to redirect the focus of Christmas. The motive behind an action determines how we judge it. So basically, we can both be doing the same thing but if we have two different reasons for doing it, we will judge the outcomes differently.  Rather than drive Christmas towards Mr Clause and focus it on capitalism and materialism, we can redirect the focus to be on Christian values that are focused around Jesus Christ. Love, giving, kindness, compassion and so on can be the renewed purpose for patronising these merchants.   As Christian parents we must strive to pull our children towards the true Christmas spirit.   Or else, what will we be teaching our children?   That Christmas is a time of receiving, writing lists, making demands and making endless demands on our overstretched resources. We will be teaching them about filling the Christmas trees with things that we do not really need while we miss the opportunity to teach them to be prudent and kind.   If we can emphasise the truth about Christmas instead of just the capitalist idea of sales, then maybe Christmas would still be about buying things to give in love to those around us instead of only expecting to get from everyone. Christmas should be a super duper love feast because Jesus himself was born on that day for the sole purpose of sharing himself with us entirely and eternally.   We will be more able to then value all that people around us give us not just the material presents that they buy. There are some among us who give up their time to be with us, their attention to help guide us, their love to support us. Do we teach our children to recognise the gifts they bring to enrich our lives with? Do we let the capitalists spend all their time and resources selling the Santa Clause idea to us rather than we as Christians taking the lead on selling the free gift of Jesus at Christmas with the world? Let us think again about what we teach the next generation. Although China may have banned Christmas, let us revive the spirit of Christmas in our hearts and lives. Let us place an embargo on the capitalist, wasteful, self-indulgent idea of Christmas. Let us embrace the Christmas that reminds us to love, to give and to share.  After all as they say, It is more blessed to give than to receive. Thank you for reading. Photo Credit: Pixabay

The Santa Clause

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Childhood memories…. Of us all sitting in the sunshine Playing in the sand and rolling in the mud with reckless abandon. We had way more fun than the children we nuture would ever dream of.   I remember the tales by moonlight we heard or were told On dark hot nights while we waited for NEPA to bring us some light. The National Electric Power Authority that we saw as Never Expect Power Always…NEPA indeed! Something that should have been the people’s right was given as a privilege to us Even though our parents payed huge bills for electric we never used.   I remember the days when children’s programmes only lasted from 4-6pm When we made our games as we went along without asking for too much When it was enough to eat rice on Christmas Day not write long endless lists like tax collectors     I digress though….as usual   Day in day out we had each other for company… We had our fill and never imagined a day would come when we will live apart. But such is life. It happens and we sail away on our dreamboats in pursuit of our inner desires. Sometimes I wonder if it has all been worth it? The longing for old times keeps me up at night .   Life happened and took us on our separate ways. To pastures new we sojourned in search of bread and butter. To the tunes we once listened to I indulge myself until I sail back in time. I hear all the laughter ring in the silence of my heart. It deafens my ears and kindles my constant longing for the good old days.   I realise now that what I long for resides in the good old days. I long for you, my brother, my sister, my parent, my friend I long for the joy you brought into my life. Although I have all, I am impoverished by the constance of your absence   Although you are far from me I still feel your love It warms my heart like a blanket wrapped around my shivering body on a cold winter morning. I refuse to set these sweet memories aside for now I just want to bask in the warmth of that reassuring love.   I now live far away from all the noise and joy of true family and friendship I admit the hurt it causes my heart. Like a spear it cuts through deep To the extent that I cease to make my heart available to form new ties My heart is frozen over with my longing for you.   We are all grown men and women But in my heart we are still the children we once were. I want to roam the streets in reckless abandon in search of everyone But I know you are safe where you reside, far across the world.   Thanks for reading Photo credit Pixabay

Longing for the good old days

I have been thinking a lot about how more challenging it is to raise a Christian child in this day and age. It feels like it was a lot easier for our parents to achieve this in their era. Those of us born in the 70s and 80s, know for a fact that the benchmark for moral standards has shifted adversely. This is now an age where things like nakedness, exposure, foul language and even strong vices are seen as badges. If you think this is a lie, watch the television. No longer do those images and ideologies sting our senses or cause us to squirm.   I agree that technology and so called enlightenment have been the making of the modern world. However the trade off has been the shift in what we all consider good and bad. For example I remember getting told off at work place because I included “In God I trust” in my email signature. I get the evils when I add “By God’s grace within a statement by people who constantly fill the air waves with swearing, F’s and Puffs and all what not! Rather than shrink away, I managed to tell them that I would only stop talking about God if they also stopped swearing! ” Stop swearing please”,  I said But they laughed at me and said I was just being holy holy. How on earth can saying by God’s grace be a crime while saying fucking, bullshit and bloody hell are applauded!   Yeah, that’s the world we live in today. Sadly, it is the one we have to raise our children in. I dare say that some sermons appear over tailored for political correctness. Many preachers no longer want to be astute with their approach to the truth. Instead, they appear to pet the issue and be at the mercy of these ideologies. The good news is that, we can make a difference. We can help our children. Prayer as always is the key. The key to establishing a solid relationship with God lies in the strength of one’s prayer life. Prayers need not be long enough to distract from the purpose of building and establishing this ecclesiastical rapport. Prayer needs to be just enough to to connect with God and stay connected.   So what length of prayer is acceptable? Any! Yes …. So long prayers, short prayers, singing, quiet prayers and not so loud ones will do. The bible reassures us that God hears our thoughts (Psalm 139:23), Hannah’s prayer was silent in her heart and God heard her (1 Samuel 1:10,13),   Prayer does not need to be lengthy. Remember Jesus’ admonition for us to pray with few words and not ramble on (Matthew 6:7). We should also pray without ceasing. Meaning that we should cultivate a habit of prayer so that we are constantly in union with God in our hearts at all times.   Let’s say you an I understand all these concepts, how do we teach this to our little children. Children who would much rather play games, fiddle about with gadgets and have what appear to be the shortest attention spans since the inception of time. They are having more fun than all the children born in all the past eras joined together! It is certainly a huge challenge for the modern parent. My advice would be Keep prayers short. So that they will be interested in praying with you next time. There was nothing more annoying than my mum’s long, slow prayers when I was young. I heard myself say “Our father who at in heaven….. and mean it but by the time we were on the fourth psalm, all I wanted to do was sleep. Make prayers enjoyable. You can ask your child to add their own words. Praise every effort they make. Tell them you like how they pray. You like the way they sound. This will encourage them to pray and build their confidence Pray with your child. This gives you the opportunity to model prayer to your child. Choose simple words and avoid repetition Encourage your child to pray before most activities. Short ejaculatory prayers are effective for teaching children to invite God into every activity. For example, on your way out you can say “may God bless our journey and bring us home safely in Jesus name”. or “Bless my food O Lord God” before meals. Short simple prayers help children learn to include prayers into their daily activities. Be consistent. In consistency lies the power. Consistency helps create the pathway for children to follow. Even though the child seems uninterested, just carry on praying regularly. Thanks for reading Photo credit Pixabay

Raising the Christian child- Long prayers

Some Positives   Did I just admit to myself that there have been some positives? Well, I guess it’s only fair to say so. Considering that I have   spent the past few days moaning about my hair.     Hmmmm…. Photo Credit: Pixabay. If you missed out on other parts of the popular “Dreadlocs or Not” series, you can catch up here.     Everyone has been so supportive. I have moaned about these dreadworms to anyone who has cared to listen. But I keep getting the same answer…. be patient. Let the locks do their thing they say. Everyone’s locks are different.   Even my dad, the King of impatience had something to say about my dreadworms   “Stop comparing yours with mine or others”   I get all that. I do not actually want another person’s dreads. Or am I?   Well I think not…but maybe a little.     Anyway, I am just fussing about how mine will turn out based on the info before me. I don’t want skinny locks but my sections are small. I don’t like the partitions but John says when the locks spring out it won’t matter cos I can style them anyhow I want. So yes, one good thing to come out from my locks has been a lot of love from everyone. I see them all trying to support me. They have helped me reach deep within myself into my shallow bowl of patience. I will say that their kind words have given me strength and reassurance. I feel that in their own way, they have given me more psychological strength and helped me unconsciously add to my bowl of patience. With each passing day despite my frustrations, I feel my bowl of patience grow deeper and stronger.       Another positive has been that since I had my dreadworms installed, I have not had to physically worry about making my hair. I have been more able to get on with life. My work has not suffered and I have been able to spend more time with my family. I have also saved a lot of money as a result.   What I did not bargain for was all the psychological noise that I have been experiencing. I look different, weird. I think that I have to get used to this new look first. When people look at me I keep feeling self conscious. But I don’t think that is to do with the stares. It’s to do with me. Every comment, sigh or glance just reinforces my inner insecurity. To successfully build my inner strength, I have to accept my new look first. I recognise that I will need time to adjust and so I have made plans to help me. I only open up my hair when I feel comfortable. I don’t rely on any validation from anyone.   That’s why I feel that these dreadworms are leading me towards a positive journey of self discovery.       My dreadworms have also made me crawl out of my shell. I have spoken more freely about my feelings than ever before. I feel more resilient because I have let myself use my ever-present support structures to build this resilience. Talking about my silliest feelings with my family and friends has also given them the chance to love me, to be kind to me and to support me. It’s very difficult when you tend to be the one who supports everyone. It has felt quite safe to be vulnerable around them for once!     So this week, my aim will be to focus on positives, love myself more, love my hair more, pray more and accept my dreadworms. I need to rest well, eat well, drink and sleep well. Basically, I have to create a good biological environment for my locks to thrive and do their thing as everyone keeps saying.     I counted John’s dreads and he has 83 locks. He counted mine back and I have 143 locks. I will no longer focus on the fact that 143 means the locks are way too small. But on the fact that it means that I will have very many locks to play with. They will be impressive. I have always had thick hair. I trust it to bulk up when it is ready.   My hair is like a baby. It’s just in its infancy. I can’t expect it to run right now, it has to sit, crawl, stand, wobble, walk, wobble again before it can run!     So lesson 1 on this journey, is Patience. The key to patience is a healthy distraction and that is what I will fill myself up with!   So catchya… as I head off to work!   To be continued   Thank you for reading. Photo credit Pixabay If you missed out on other parts of the popular “Dreadlocs or Not” series, you can catch up here.

Dreadlocs or Not? Some Positives (5)

Every mature student who considers restarting their studies at university knows that it can be a nerve wracking prospect. Gone are the days when we used to submit applications on paper. Technology has replaced the need for long queues and endless procedures. When I decided to train as a nurse, I was not exempted from this confusion.  By the time I made up my mind, it was late in the year. This meant that I had to use the university clearing process. I was interviewed by the university’s clearing department about my experience of the process. It was very straight forward and not as scary as I had made it up to be in my head. I hope you enjoy reading the article. Cheers guys!   Which secondary school did you attend? I attended a secondary school in Nigeria about 20 years ago now. It had been a long time since I had undertaken any health-related subjects like biology. This created a lot of anxiety for me when I decided to change my career and undertake the nurse training program at Northampton University. What course are you studying? Learning disability nursing Why did you choose the course? I decided to undertake the learning disability nursing course following the loss of my son several months earlier. He was born with a life threatening condition known as Propionic-acidaemia. In a nutshell it compromised his body’s ability to bring down his proteins leading to a build-up of toxins in his blood known as ammonia. In the end he developed severe learning disabilities and autism in addition to a host of other complications. My life revolved around his care. I managed his nutrition and medication, maintained stock control for his, equipment, supplies, feeds and drugs. Following his demise, I realised that I had unintentionally acquired lots of skills. Although they were no longer required they were still potentially relevant to others. I found myself supporting other parents like me who had children with learning disabilities. I knew that I could carry on making a difference in their lives. I could not ignore the huge gap that losing my son had created in my life. At a point I became very apprehensive because I had skills that were on the verge of being lost following his death. I had painstakingly acquired them through my journey with my son and becoming deskilled felt like losing the last link to him. Prior to birthing my son and being thrust into the world of caring, I had trained as an economist at university. With several years of experience within the financial services sector, leading and managing teams under my belt, I decided to return to work. No sooner had I returned than I discovered that I had assumed the shape of the proverbial square peg within the round hole that was my old career. I just could not fit in anymore. My life experiences have made me a different person. I wanted more. With the weight of grief and the zeal to help parents combined, I envisioned a new dream. I had lots of lived experience but lacked the professional skills to underpin my practice. As much as I wanted to help I did not want to endanger both people with learning disabilities and their families. This led me to embark on the pursuit of a new career specifically in learning disability nursing. Why did you choose clearing? By the time I decided to join the course, it is a bit late in the year. I did not know if I would meet the University criteria for nursing. However I had my First degree in Economics, my GCSEs and a few certifications. I rang the University and told them about my circumstance. The person I spoke to was very empathetic and helpful. In the end, I took their advice to apply directly through the clearing route on UCAS. What was it like? The clearing process was very straightforward. I admit there were many pages to fill out but nothing unusual for an application. I filled out the forms online and uploaded all the relevant documents. After a few weeks I was contacted and invited for an interview before which I got offered a place on the course. What is the course like? I course is absolutely amazing. The Learning disability nursing cohort is a small group. This creates a personalised experience for me as a student during lectures. Most of the lecturers know us and this helps us build a rapport that makes the course more interesting. What you enjoyed the most? I have enjoyed the ease of forming relationships. It’s really easy to get along with other students in the different branches of nursing. The lectures are delivered through interactive seminars. Our lecturers encourage student input during sessions through discussions. I have also enjoyed using the resources made available to us by the University. I have gained lots of confidence by accessing the different types of support available within the University for Example the Learning development team, Personal academic tutor, Student support and much more. What would you say to someone who might not get the A-level grades they’d hoped for, but still want to go to uni? I will say don’t give up until you ring the university. It’s worth discussing the different options with the admissions team. In my personal experience I found them to be very approachable and easy to talk to. Although the process of filling out forms might feel a bit daunting, the fact that help is just a phone call away makes a big difference.   Here’s the article on the university website. It’s an abridged version. If you know the press like I do, they only use the best bits out of a long interview. Please click on the link to see it yourself. Thanks for reading. Written by Lauretta Ofulue Photo credit; Pixabay

Nursing Diaries: How did the university admission process go?

I have just opened my eyes and its 4:20 am! Well, this has not happened by accident. It’s because I wanted to watch the boxing match everyone has been talking about for days. The hype for this match has been epic!. The WBC heavy weight title fight between Tyson Fury (TF) and Deontay Wilder (DW). For starters, when I watched the last pre-match interview, TF looked really different and in a good way. Trim, fit and awesome. But so did DW too. Trust boxers… each man had been telling us how good he was and how he would wipe the floor with the other. I really wanted to see it unfold firsthand. So I am very excited but rather than break the silence, I would put my thoughts down on paper. Let’s see if you enjoy the match as I am doing right now. Ring Entrance TF makes his entrance first. As I said earlier, he looks trimmer and sharper. He has also chopped off his signature beard. Errrmmm…. I am not too sure making too many changes is such a good idea. I am a gypsy at heart myself but we’ll see. Oh! something else has changed from the last two times I watched TF. The “return of the Mac music is not on cue”.  I am a bit worried now at this point. I just feel like he has jinxed the fight but we’ll see. DW. I was surprised that he was booed at he made his entrance. He is at home for Christ’s sake. We shall see what that is all about soon. Anyway, he enters the ring wearing a cloak with feathers all around the neck, a crown and half of a face mask. If his intention was to be a lion, he certainly missed the designing memo because he looks more like a vulture. He is not making any big body moves. He looks pretty calm considering all his pre match comments. Perhaps he is in the famous Zone that we hear athletes enter during competitions. But there is a thin line between entering the zone of athletics and entering the zone of fear. Hear ! Hear! Rounds 1-3 The first 3 rounds have been for TF so far in my opinion. Wilder has been unable to land any massive punches at this point. I hear DW will normally knock people out within the first 4 rounds. I just feel that if TF can  hold him off until the end of round 4 he will stand a chance… Round 4 DW seems to be coming out a bit more. More of those his famous right hooks beginning to show. But his reach is shorter than TF’s. DW has been very unable so far. He walked in looking like he was in the zone. But with each punch he is unable to land, I wonder if that was fear I saw in his eyes at the start. TF has been so confident, doing his foot walks, throwing punches and really moving around. DW just appears to be chasing him around most times. Round 5 This is our chance. Go TF! Sorry, did I just give away my bias? Come on, to be fair I am British so it’s not surprising. Compadre and all. First few seconds in and  I have seen a few combos from TF. Fatigue appears to be setting in now to on both sides. TF has not been very active in this round. His punches appear to have decelerated. Fewer punches, less movement. He is not as sharp as he was in the first few rounds. To be fair even though I hate to admit it, DW looks stronger in this round. Round 6 OMG I can’t believe the match is still on… I think DW has a plan and TF needs to be aware. TF has won the previous 5 rounds in my books. A flash card on the screen appears to have given round 2 to DW. Seriously, are these referees watching the same fight?  If he wins a few more, then DW will need a knock out to win.  DW is trying to reach but can’t seem to get to the gypsy king. I imagine that an unsuccessful punch would be more exhausting than land an actual punch. TF just locked in a few punch combos and DW had to use some high blocks to save himself. DW just finally landed a successful punch. He probably plans to knock out TF but that may not be a good idea for him because the gypsy king means business. Round 7 Wow. Round 7????? Here we are in round 7, I certainly did not see this coming. I really need a wee but I can’t bear to miss a moment! DW is not even able to land punches TF is controlling the fight. He looks confident and still active. Infact he looks stronger than he did in round 4. Nice right hand by TF now. Wow some nice combos too by DW and TF looked like he was in trouble as a result. In fact he had to lock DW to save himself. These punch combos seem to have boosted DW’s confidence. Psychologically that seems to have brought them back on equal grounds.  We can’t rule out DW. This was such an interesting round that it seemed shorter. Round 8 They have to dig deep now. It’s been a settled round so far. TF physically towers high above DW so much. It’s unbelievable that their height difference is 2″. TF’s confidence, foot walk and body language are all goading  DW. Some nice jab combo from TF at the moment and so far, he seems to be clinching this. TF is a total tease. The round ended with DW landing some nice jabs and TF’s body language appearing to suggest indifference. Round 9 This fight is turning out to be value for money for all TF’s fans. A swelling is quite visible now under DW’s right eye. It’s amazing how confident TF still looks. […]

Wilder vs Fury: WBC Boxing Championship Fight

No way!   I feel absolutely disillusioned with my hair   This was meant to be a good idea. I lock my hair and live happily ever after. But that’s just not the case   Ok for starters, the lady locked my hair in sections that are not box like. The sections look like hand fans at the back and rectangles in front. I cannot understand why the sections in front differ from the ones at the back.   I hate that they are uneven. That’s the whole reason why I did not make the hair myself !   I kept telling her that the locks were small. She insisted that they will expand as the hair began to form the locks.   Then finally…   After drying the hair, she began snipping off the ends of my hair with a pair of scissors.   No warning…no notice…..   Just snip snip snippety snip!   What she did not realise was that with each snip, she tore at my heart.   I was in so much shock that I could not even react.  She did not even offer me an explanation about why she had chosen to cut my hair. Instead she said she could have cut it shorter but would leave the length as it was…   Seriously?   This woman had assumed power over me. She was controlling how long or short my hair would be. Opon reflection now, I realise that she may not have meant it that way but it did not stop me feeling that way. If she had communicated with me beforehand, I am sure I would not have felt so helpless. She probably thought she was helping… exercising her expertise over me. She was probably doing right by my hair but the fact that her decisions about my hair were hers and not arrived at in partnership with me heightened my anxiety. I felt like I was losing control over something as important to me as my hair.   It was my own hair….It sat on my head and would determine my appearance. I do not customarily add any make up on my face to enhance my appearance.   Can you imagine why my hair was so important to me? Reducing the length of it was an absolute no-no. The dry wintery weather had reduced my hair length already so I definitely did not want to add any deliberate snips to the length… at least not without any warning.   Any error with my hair meant that I risked looking absolutely stupid!   She did not even appear to listen to anything I was saying and it was really sad.   So here I am this morning, grieving my hair, horrible sections and petrified by the fact that the locks will be potentially thin dread worms.   Now that’s sad.  It just makes me feel so unlucky. Why do I always have to pass through emotional troughs just to gain new experiences?   That’s why I like to stick with things I know. Things with preset and certain pathways and outcomes are my forte. My anxiety is now heightened because I have absolutely no idea how this would go.   So this past week, I have spent more time in bed.   I keep staring at the mirror and fiddling with the hair.   Stupid sections.   Stupidly skinny dreadworms.    I just wished that I could actually remain in bed till the hair grew long or bulked up. This dreadlock business was turning out to be a very bad move. I could find absolutely no happiness. My self esteem and morale had nose dived.  I had the hair tied in a scarf to work. I could not even bear to let anyone else see the hair in case they reinforced my fears.   “Hey the hair is so beautiful”, said John, my ray of sunshine   “Well I don’t like it”, I said trying to stop us from having yet another session about my hair.   “What’s up with the dread worms today? He asked.   “The sections are horrible, they are skinny, she cut my hair…..   “I don’t know why you are saying all this”, he said cutting me   short.   “The hair is fine just leave it alone!” he snapped and I fell silent and withdrew back into my thoughts.   That’s it! I can’t even have a moan. I just feel stuck with this hair.   Why can’t I just remove it?   Well that will be £55 gone for starters. But worse than that, my hair has been cut short. I am not sure at this point which would depress me more. Unravelling the dreadworms and beholding my new short hair or persevering with these stupid locks. I would also feel like a failure if I gave up on the hair after only a week. I needed to see this through at least till the 6-week mark that the stylist set me. Who knows, I might feel differently by then.even though I seriously doubt it.   As for the world, they have no clue how I feel inside. There is nothing worse than someone I am paying my hard earned money to making my hair in the way they think is best not in the way I want. It just makes me feel bullied. Then, when I try to say how I feel, people around me make me feel like a complaint minister.   So what do I do? Just suck it up. But do I really have to?   “Babe, come on let me take you out”, John said cutting through my thoughts like a knife.   “Stop thinking about this hair. I am so sorry if I sounded harsh but this hair really suits you. I wish you could see what I see”, he said.   With that I smiled at least week one was over.   To be continued.   Photo Credit Pixabay Thank you for reading. If you missed out on other parts of the popular “Dreadlocs or Not” series, you can catch up here.    

Dreadlocs or Not? All gone a bit…wrong! (4)

Today I am reflecting on the significance of the poppy to me. Before I came to live in Europe, I had never spared a thought about the world war 1. Not because I did not care but mainly because its significance was never impressed upon me as a person. Sadly in Africa, history is poor. It is the responsibility of a nation to hand down significant historical stories about various issues to each coming generation. Sadly, we are impoverished as a people by a government who do not feel the need to tell us stories about our past. To impress on us the need to keep in remembrance, the sacrifices made for us by generations past that have enabled us partake in this future of peace alongside the rest of the world. Recently, it emerged that Prince Charles made a trip to Nigeria in commemoration of the Armistice Centenary. Why go to Africa, I thought. Surely we were not involved in the world war 1? No sooner had I blurted out my surprise than I was corrected by my friends. Nigerians took part they said. In fact, one of my friends disclosed that his father had enlisted but never got to travel because the war ended before he could. He said it solely, with somewhat of a grief. To the extent that he described his father’s exclusion from the war as unfortunate. It was as though, the singular fact that his father did not fight in the war reduced his emotional connection to the on going commemorations that were taking place all around the world. After hearing this, I found it a bit sad that as a nation, we had mostly been deprived of our connection with the current events as a result of the omission of our historical stories from most of our lives. And so I had to find a way to connect with the wider story of war, conflict, sacrifice and now peace. In death lay the connection with this story. These veterans who we remember today fought in a physical battle. For many, their participation was voluntary but for others, they simply had no choice. There was a battle and they had to play their own part in it. Some found the prospect to be exciting while others were petrified. We all are faced with different battles in life for which we too struggle, fight, sacrifice and hope to find peace from in the end. Some of these battles are physiological (within our bodies), others are social. Some are psychological while others are cultural. I could go on and on listing the possible forms and shapes that our battles may take but the fact remains that we are constantly at war with one thing or another from within or without. For the war Veterans, the poppy emerged to commemorate their sacrifice and be for us a sign that helped us keep them in remembrance. This was rightful. Once a Canadian physician named Lieutenant Colonel John Macrae wrote a poem called In Flanders fields where he spoke about the poppy. In it he referred to poppies that grew over the graves of fallen soldiers during the war after personally burying his close friend in battle. poppies happen to grow from seeds. These seeds die to the ground before growing out beautifully. This in a way is significant in that it gives us hope about the future. That having toiled and struggled, suffered and died, like the seed, we will rise again in splendour and beauty. In his poem, Macrae wrote from the perspective of the dead, urging us the living to carry on holding the touch and fighting on till victory. Part of the poem also asks us never to forget the sacrifice of them who once were but now have fallen so that we might live. For when we forget, the poem suggests that they will not sleep so sweetly in their graves. Today, I remember many who have died fighting different wars. Some for my sake, some for the sake of others. Some even fought their own battles gallantly till the end for themselves. We remember you today and always. We hope that we too will keep on trying our best in this life to leave the world better than we met it. Not only in terms of conflict resolution but also in terms of the way we interact with the physical world- our environment. On a final note, I salute all the veterans war, current service men and even those currently enlisting. I acknowledge the sacrifices you have, are and still make for us to enjoy the freedom that has become normal. I also remember those families left behind to bear the sacrifice of losing their loved ones- those service men and women who paid the ultimate price with their lives. Thank you for reading Please see other posts Photo credit Pixabay

Reflecting on the Armistice Centenary

The Dread worms   Yeah so yesterday night I finally did it! I locked my hair!     But since I woke up today, I have been prettified….   These are not dreadlocks?!?!  They look like worms coming out of my skull.   Dread worms!   Is it me or am I missing something?   These dreadlocks look as skinny as the ones I hear people call sister locks..come on!   I told the lady that I wanted fat locks. Why do I have these as my end product?   Sometimes I wonder why I let my brain talk me into deviating from things I know.   You might argue that it is a necessary part of growing up but it still sucks!   I hear it takes time for the locks to bulk up.   Sadly, when John got his own locks, he had extensions in them so they looked fat and healthy.   These my own locks look hungry and malnourished.   Ok maybe that’s a bit harsh because they are shiny and somehow lovely.   But what if these worms don’t bulk up? I know that I am just fussing but I can’t help myself.   I can’t even express these fears because I had been going on an on about wanting dreadlocks ever since.   This is literally day 1 of my dreadlocks journey and I am not coping well at all.   Sincerely, I feel like washing them off. Perhaps the fact that these locks are temporary is a bad thing.   I keep feeling like I can abandon ship like nowish and maybe that’s not helping me confront this new reality.   “Sweetheart, these are dreadworms”, I blurted out  to John. I finally said it out loud. It felt good to admit it to someone else   instead of just bottling it up.   “Hahahahahha…like literally, you describe things so aptly”, he was looking at my hair as he spoke and could not stop laughing.   Then I think he looked at my face because he stopped laughing abruptly.   “It’s not funny. You were not supposed to agree with me silly?!” I said   “Sorry boo, they just looked like worms and to call them dread worms was just perfect”, he said again trying not to laugh.   I pouted my lips.   “I don’t think you can even relate with the way I am feeling right now”, I said angrily.   “Seriously?”, he said pretending to be amazed as he pulled at his glorious back length locks.   “You know I am the Rasta man!” he said mockingly.   “Sharrap!”,  I said sarcastically, “says the man who masked his short locks with long extensions!”, I sniped.   “Yeah, fair enough, but you remember my hair was short”, he replied, pretending to sulk.   “But did you not come home with a sample lock after the initial appointment, even that one was fatter than this”, I said in   frustration.   “That’s true, he said, but don’t forget that he used the crotchet method. It was permanent right from day one”, he added.   That was very true. Now I began wondering why I had allowed the locktician lady talk me into the twisting method.   She had said, it would give me time to see how I felt because it was temporary.  I could wash it off if it wasn’t for me. That   sounded like a good idea at the time. However, she did not warn me that the output would differ from the locks I was used to   seeing people wear on the street!   She did say I needed to be patient and “let the hair do its thing”. What thing.? This hair stood no chance. These worms!   “See if it’s any consolation, I remember this lady in my office some years ago”, he said cupping my face into his arms and   cutting through my thoughts. “She appeared one day with dreadworms”, he said smiling   “You should so trademark this your terminology”, he digressed beginning to giggle.   “Leave me John”, I said pulling away and laughing.   This guy was just too funny. Trademark? Who says that?   “See…. that made you smile”, he said “that’s my beautiful girl”.   “So wetin happen to the dreadworms colleague”, I asked   “Ehen, so she can to work with the dread….”worms” I said cutting in, “continue the gist jare!”, I said still laughing.   It looked different … and skinny. That was like 3 years ago. You know when I worked with Cooper and Holistic Associates?” I   nodded in agreement.   “Well, I ran into her last year and her locks were as big as mine and very long… intact they were beautiful?   “Really?” I asked   “Yeah” , he said smiling.   “I hope you are not just saying that to console me?” I asked   “When have I ever deceived you?” he asked   “Well…. don’t get me started” I replied smiling.   “You know what I mean boo, be serious”, he said.   “For real, her hair is long and glorious. I think you just need to give this hair time, it’s just day one. Patience is one of your   strongest virtues”, he said   With that we burst into laughter. We both knew there was absolutely no truth in that. I hated waiting…even for the bus.   But somehow, what he said made me happy. Someone with my kind of skinny locks later got huge one. Cool!   I hoped my OH was not deceiving me because, if he was, he had won.   To be continued   Photo credit Pixabay   Thank you for reading. If you missed out on other parts of the popular “Dreadlocs or Not” series, you can catch up here.

Dreadlocs or Not? The Dreadworms (3)

Finding a locktician  My OH was aware that I had come up with a new life saving plan for my hair. I was going to lock it! Yay! He really welcomed the idea. He had worn his locks for the past 8years and was quite keen to have a partner in crime. I always thought he was a boring guy with it though. He only either spread the locks on his shoulders or he packed it in a bun. Anyway, he decided to help look for a suitable person to lock my hair. One day he came home and handed me a card “Sweetheart, I don find who go help you do this your hair”. Well, he ran into a lady at the fuel station. she was handing out her complimentary cards to people. A locktician she was… “Make sure say you call am to book the appointment o!”, he warned because he knew that I was the queen of procrastination. “Yeah, yeah”,  I replied collecting the card from him. Sister locks specialist…. it read. Hmmm… which one is this again? Sister what? Please… please… I beg! I wanted dread locks not sister or brother locks. The tomboy in me hated the sister locks straight away.  “I bet it would be too subtle and girly girly”, I said “Look at this begger who has a choice”, John said. “Stupid girl! Don’t talk yourself out of calling her now!”,  he added mockingly We laughed and I tucked the card away somewhere. 3 days later passed… “Have you made the appointment?”  “Erm…no …”, I said, “I have been too busy”. “Seriously? Too busy to make a call?” he asked looking surprised. “Ok let me call her now”, I retorted feeling irritated. Talk about pest! To be continued Photo credit Pixabay. Thank you for reading. If you missed out on other parts of the popular “Dreadlocs or Not” series, you can catch up here.

Dreadlocs or not? Finding a loctician (2)

Trust me, I had said no for too long. I was too scared to enter an adventure where there was no way out. Let’s say I am the kind of girl who likes to enjoy all the options and not have to choose. If I had known that being grown up was all about making decisions, I would have stayed young.  Choices? I hated them. Why do we have to choose? Why can’t we have everything? While choices gave people freedom, they constricted my ability to have everything available. How could one ever choose one thing over the other? Every option had pros and cons. Why could people not just have all the options so that they could enjoy the pros and not have to worry about the cons. So what has this got to do with my day Yes in the dreadlocks journey? Well, Let’s just say… it was a choice I had to make. Choosing to have my hair locked means that I would be choosing to have one hair style. I would be “choosing” long streaks of hair on my head instead of having the varied options and versatility I enjoy with my fro.  See what I mean? With my Afro, I do not  have to choose one look  I can Weave it, Plait it, Pack it in a bun Add some extensions or simply wear it as it is….as an Afro! With the dreadlocks, I will lose these options. However, that said, I find myself feeling frustrated most times. I have no time to make my hair as often as I need to. Now in my second year at university, I find myself prioritising my studies over my hair, as you would expect. To be fair, with student life on full gear. I was combing away the glory from my hair. I literally went from long hair to short hair because I was combing it so often in less than a month. I was not happy with my hair at all. I even contemplated chopping off the hair for the sake of peace. Until… I reconsidered my decision about the wearing  dreadlocks. Since I was willing to snip off the hair for the sake of convenience, this seemed like a more viable option. I heard that all I needed was a locktician say every 6-8 weeks to relock and absolutely nothing apart from oil my hair in between. I heard that locking my hair will allow the hair grow as nature intended I would miss my Afro though, but I heard that with time when the dreadlocks had grown, I style it in different ways.  So it would not even be monotonous after all. That was right up my street. Trust me. I think this was a seriously good idea. But how on earth would I lock my hair. Who would do it for me?    To be continued. Photo credit Pixabay Thank you for reading. If you missed out on other parts of the popular “Dreadlocs or Not” series, you can catch up here.

Dreadlocs or Not? A leap into the unknown (1)

I wish that university were all about attending lectures, meeting new people and attending different school social events. Sadly wishes are not horses in real life therefore I cannot have such a free ride through the university education. Assessments happen at university to give students the opportunity to evidence the fact that they have understood every learning outcome proposed by the module leader at the start of the programme. When I first began the nursing programme, I realised after a few lectures that I would have many assessments. Some were examinations, essays and even practical. There never seemed to be enough time to study. We had lectures nearly four times a week initially. As a mature student I still had my family, work and personal commitments to balance against that. I also had to be prepared for the lectures. There was no use attending a class without adequate preparation. That just made it difficult to get the best out of the interactive sessions on offer. In no time, I began to struggle. I fell behind on schoolwork and I knew I could not meet up with the demands of university unless I made some changes. It became apparent that I had to make sacrifices, compromises and tough choices if I wanted to succeed. Below are a few tips that helped me along the way Acknowledge your struggle It is quite normal to feel lost as a student. From the perspective of being a parent-student, it feels more daunting. As a parent, there is the assumption that you will always know what to do when things get tough. However, this is not always the case. It is alright to acknowledge that you cannot always have the answers. Fighting the feeling by refusing to confront the reality of school becoming overwhelming can be like struggling in quicksand. It almost always ends one way- with you sinking deeper and deeper. Realising that you will remain at a loss unless things change is always a good first step.   Talk to other students It really helps when you ask other students about their experience of university. Sometimes it can make your feelings less alienating. It was such a relief to hear that other students in my cohort were experiencing the same challenges as me. It provided the opportunity for us to share ideas. I learnt from them what was working and felt more confident about trying to make my studies work. Attend university support events While it seems obvious, in reality, support events organised by the university can sometimes feel like an additional task to add to an already over squeezed time. However, I found them to be very helpful. At University of Northampton, there are many sessions offered to students by the learning development/library team. They teach time management, timetabling, note-making, rest and self-reward yourself to sustain your interest and motivation. Come up with a plan. Sometimes, plans are easier to view when they are written down. Something called “being organised” happens when you write out all you have to do. It really makes sense. By the time you know all that needs doing and balance that against the time you have available to achieve them, it becomes a bit easier to come up with a plan. Such a plan may be as simple as prioritising your activities, changing work shift patterns, cutting down on housework, parties, accepting more help from family and friends. These little strategies can make a big difference to your ability to cope better with the demands of university. Create time for study Spreading out activities through the week instead of cramping them all up into a day gets them done at a slow and less exhausting pace. Doing too much in a day can be overwhelming and tiring. However, spreading activities through the week can free up time within the day for studies. For example, many mature students find that they sometimes try to do all their housework and have no time to study. They find that by undertaking a little housework at a time or delegating tasks to others they free up time that can be used to rest or study.   Study smart Being a smart studier is not just about having big brains. It is also about learning to make the best out of the pockets of time you spend studying. There is really no use reading for hours when you are not clear about what the focus of the study would be. Being more specific about what needs doing ensures that you maximise every available study time that you create. Having a timetable or essay plan can be helpful. Referring to learning outcomes for each topic also helps to focus your study. The learning outcomes are the module leader’s way of telling you what you should be learning within the subject. It is also their way of telling you what will be assessed. Academic study has to be specific to be effective. Use your reading lists When you first start the course after a long study break, getting to grips with how to use the physical library, electronic library or how to get relevant study materials can be daunting. Referring to the reading list provided for the module you are studying can help save time. The reference lists within relevant books in the reading lists can also provide books with higher likelihood of relevance to your study. Make an appointment with the academic librarians If you are really struggling, make an appointment to see the academic librarian. They are happy to give direction and answer questions related to using the online library, essay writing and other academic skills. They have flexible appointments that can be either Skype or face to face. Every little always helps When you are a student sometimes you need some more non- academic help along the way. It can be in form of kind offers of assistance from family and friends to help take some of the strain off. A good […]

Nursing Diaries: Lessons from my first year

Waterside With the start of the new session came the long awaited move to waterside. It was to be the meet to all our learning expectations- from state of the art lecture solutions, to equipment and even ambience. It also promised to be a grand site in terms of space and facilities.   We made our way to the new parking facility in town. I could not help but notice the ease of transferring from my vehicle into the park and ride bus. It was an amazingly well thought out arrangement by the university. The bus stop shared the same fence as the parking lot. That reduced the bus-catching anxiety I had been experiencing during the summer holidays each time I thought about waterside.   Once at uni, the wifi initially seemed to have a mind of its own. New site hiccups! Some of the equipment in the lecture halls had not been completely set up. I felt like I was part of the new university history that was unfolding. It was nice to witness when some of the lecturers tore off the plastic from the brand new white boards in the classrooms. We all sat in silence like children waiting for lollies to be distributed.   Each floor in our building, The learning hub, belonged to various faculties, all the different floors had their own libraries and lecture halls. So no longer did we have to go to the library, the library had come to us! It was such a clever and more convenient solution to borrowing books. Waterside was exciting.   Then came the turn of our lecturers. They appeared curious about how to weigh our expectations because they kept asking us what we thought about the new campus?   So here is my answer…   In just a few words, I can only describe it as breath taking.   But why use a few words to describe such a masterpiece?   To find such beauty interwoven within a busy bustling town centre filled with various attractions is unbelievable.   I decided to explore the campus and ventured out on foot. During the walk I witnessed the natural artistry provided by the proximity of the school to the popular river Nene. Splashes of colours were provided by the greens trees, grasses, grey stones, droopy trees that touch the lake surrounding the school ever caressingly. It evoked an ecstatic feeling within me of being lost in the beauty of nature.   I walked past another view of the university as I entered from the lock where I witnessed architectural grandeur and craftsmanship. A solid wood-like bridge took me through different shades of green and brown coloured leaves accented by a touch of the autumn. Although, I was walking across it with my own two feet, the refreshing feeling of being amidst nature made me feel like I was sailing across river Nene with the bridge as a sort of immobile mode of transport. The breeze on my skin, refreshed my endless walk around the new campus as i explored the views on display.   The buildings towered around delicately all fitting into the jigsaw puzzle of serenity that the school had so painstakingly designed. There were the creative and learning hubs all towering above. They had a classy business like feel that reminded one of their rightful place within the campus as hubs that would warehouse lots of faculties and departments. With time, no longer would university of Northampton be a school of many campuses because finally most departments were to coexist alongside one another in the new campus. There were also shops, a post office, coffee bars and little pockets of relaxation spread around the buildings to keep students refreshed in different ways.   The ambience and calm as one walked around proposed a lot of support for learning, assimilation and reflection. Things advertised by the university as what waterside was all about.   At the end of my walk, I reconsidered my initial reservations about the omission of the car park from the new campus. What my leisurely walk had revealed to me was the wisdom in that decision by the university. Within the first week of resumption, I felt like I had walked more than I had managed to do in the past couple of months. That was definitely good for me.   I also discovered that the commute by bus from the well designed free car parking had enabled me take in the beautiful city of Northampton where I had been learning for the past year and never even had the time to explore. I have now finally seen the rich town whose beauty testifies to its age, culture and history. Thank you for reading You can click here to see my views about the university on BBC Look east England. Read the article on the university website Written by Lauretta Ofulue

Nursing Diaries: The new campus by the Waterside

The LOES! Seriously, is that even a thing? Well, let’s make it a thing just for today. I cannot even take any credit for being nice to the lady I gave a coin to make up her change on the bus today. She was so grateful. The funny part was that when she sat back down in her chair, she found the elusive pound at the bottom of her big bag. As you will expect, she came back to give me the coin. But I declined it. “Take it as a gift from me to you,” I said. “Oh bless,” She said replacing her initial hesitation with gratitude. But still I cannot take any glory for that act. I was just paying it back as they say. Having experienced such kindness from a stranger myself in the past. I was desperate to replicate that feeling towards someone else even in the smallest of ways. How many times have I been dug out of a deep end by people- strangers. I don’t know about you but I never seem to find so called close friends to care enough to be as selfless as I have experienced from many a stranger. With my feeling of disappointment sometimes, I use it as a gauge to measure my own self. Could it be that I too have not been a friend indeed when they were in need? Could it even be that I have expressed ingratitude in the past when they did smaller things albeit unknowingly? Could it be that I have implied that I prefer to be left as an island of my own wanting no help from others? Or maybe my attitude has sometimes left me vulnerable. I can be boastful and proud of my achievements sometimes. A flaw I find difficult to apologise about. But a flaw that may be the culprit for the price of alienation I now detest. But alas the other part of the story lies with them. I cannot take all the blame no matter how magnanimous I can be in heart. It takes two to tango.   Somehow strangers always step up to the plate. I like it and can never find them to say enough thank yous. So I hope that by paying back the kindness towards another stranger I too can somehow say my piece. Actions they say speak louder than words. Although, I have not done enough to match all the kindness I have ever received, I hope that one day soon I too may be worthy to join the league of extraordinary strangers. Photo credits go to Cool guys whose pictures helped bring this story to life 😉 Picture 1 Picture 2 Picture 3 Picture 4

The League of Extraordinary Strangers (The LOES)

I was asked to write an article recently titled “Understanding me”. It was a positive request borne out of the curiosity of particular groups of health care staff who cared for our son Otito. I have published it because we hope that it can give others who care for families and their children with complex health needs insights into how confusing it can be for those families. Families place a great deal of trust in health care professionals (HCPs). Sometimes, for legal reasons, HCPs take step back from families who need their crucial input when making crucial decisions about the care of their loved ones. This is the era of human rights and they don’t want to be seen as pushy. If you read the article further, you will see our case study as a family and how it would have made a huge difference to us if our HCPs steered us in the right direction rather than handing the reigns over to us. We had absolutely no clue what we were doing. Why were they asking us to decide? After all, they were the professionals.   I later got to learn that parents are the best professionals with regards to the care of their loved ones. When this statement is made, what is taken for granted is that professionalism comes from experience. Yes today, I can say, I am… or rather we as a family were experts with regards to all things pertaining to Otito. However, at the start we were absolutely clueless. It was very scary for us as a family to find ourselves being left to make decisions about if Otito needed to have various key procedures or not… you know, that thing called consent. I hope you find this article useful. Well. without any further ado, lets begin the article ….   UNDERSTANDING ME   When our son Otito was born, little did we know about what lay ahead. He had been diagnosed with a metabolic condition called propionic acidaemia and it made his body unable to break down his proteins properly. It made him very sick because his body built up dangerous toxins called ammonia instead. As a mother, I felt extremely overwhelmed by the whole situation.   What went well? After he was born, he needed to have a dialysis to clean his blood and reduce the Ammonia levels. He was only 3 days old. I think that the medical staff realised that we were extremely anxious. Most of the staff were very patient with us and answered most of our questions. One particular nurse asked us to take photos to show him when he was older. I thought that was a positive statement because seeing him with all the tubes and machines made me constantly feel that he was going to die. I could not imagine how someone so little would survive all the poking and prodding from all the staff. It was not what I had envisioned his first few days of life to be. I kept being told by staff that it was for the best.   I said very little at the time but I was very impressed at how members of staff were sensitive to my unexpressed feelings. They explained every process to me. Most of the staff went beyond looking after my son and extended some of the care and attention to me. This made me feel very happy and valued. I had delivered him through a caesarean section. One morning, a nurse on duty asked me how I was feeling. Upon realising that I did not have a natural birth, my hospital hotel room was changed to one with a lift access to ease the stress of using the stairs. I felt very well supported and more able to contemplate a life with a sick child.   What did not go well? Subsequent months made us realise the extent of our son’s ill health. I thought that the staff did not do enough as the months progressed to prepare us for what to expect. Otito struggled to keep up with his calories on a daily basis. He needed to consume a fixed minimum amount of calories daily to provide his body with enough energy. The problem with the inability of his body to use proteins was not limited to his diet. When his body attempted to use his own body’s proteins, it also encountered the same problem. His body also built up toxins instead of converting the proteins into energy. Not keeping up with this daily minimum calories made him very unwell.   His consultant suggested that he needed a gastrostomy to help him maintain the minimum calorie requirement. I had never heard of a gastrostomy before. As a result, I could not contemplate a life for my son with a hole in his stomach. All I could see every time I was told about this device was the big hole that will be on his stomach and so I declined.   What was important to me? As a parent, information was very important to me. I found it very hard to build trust with health care professionals easily because I had been let down a few times within the first few months as a carer to my son. I was very protective. I just kept being told about what my son needed and at the same time, I was told that the decision was up to me. It was an intimidating position to be in. Here I was as a novice mum to a sick child (with a condition I could not pronounce) being made responsible for something as important as his nutrition.   I was very scared of getting it wrong. I saw the idea of accepting the gastrostomy as synonymous with accepting defeat. I did not want to give up on my son’s ability to feed. I was properly informed about the fact that it was his medical condition worsening his appetite. The more I tried […]

Understanding me … not just me but our needs as a family with a sick child.

One day, Tolu and her sister came home from school. It had been a very hot day and they were very very thirsty. They went into the fridge in the kitchen to get some water to drink. When they got there, they did not find the plastic bottles of sealed water that their mum always bought for them. They found some bottles of water in the fridge that had no names on them. These bottles were plain. Tolu and Dami ran to their mother who was by the beach on the other side of the house. “Good afternoon ma” the girls chorused “Ekabo” their mum replied in their native Yoruba language. “Please ma we did not find any of our usual bottled water in the fridge and we are really thirsty” they said looking surprised. “Oh my darling girls” their mum said ” our borehole tap water is now working. “What is a bore hole ma?” the girls asked their mother. That was when their mum explained to the girls what the borehole tap water was. It is also called pipe- borne water. This is because the water that comes from the tap, passes through pipes. Now, because the water can be very far below the ground, a machine is used to pump the water from the ground into a tank. The water then comes from the tank into the house through the pipes that are cleverly connected to the tank. in the end, when you open the tap, the water then pours out of the tap from the pipes. The water that come from the bore hole is usually very clean and good for drinking because it comes from the water table. The girls were very happy after their mum had reassured them about the water in the fridge and so they ran back into the house to have a refreshing glass of tap water. Thank you for reading. Photo credit: Pixabay

The Borehole Tap

Unlike most branches of nursing, people with learning disabilities are not sick, neither are they in need of treatment to get well. They are just very wonderful and brave people like you and I making the best of their lives despite the physical or intellectual challenges they may have. It is fair to say that as a result, people with learning disabilities can be found within all walks of life. As a Learning Disability Nursing student, I am certainly kept busy. Monday – lectures and seminars Within a typical week I do many things, but of course I have lectures throughout the week. These are always a relaxed opportunity to learn from very experienced staff. The sessions can vary in terms of structure, content and length. They comprise mainly seminar style sessions where lecturers deliver presentations that educate us about the theoretical underpinnings required for effective practice. It is also always fun at the University and interact with other members of the cohort. They are a lively bunch of people who spice up the classes with discussions and laughter! Lectures provide the chance for us to share our experiences and interact amongst one another during sessions in a respectful way. This cross-pollination of ideas gives us the chance to expand our learning by gaining from other people’s experiences. During lectures, we are able to provide feedback about aspects of theory that are difficult to implement within the different settings we find ourselves during placements. The lecturers in turn use their knowledge and experiences to support us by providing us with helpful strategies to help us improve. Tuesday – simulation exercises and life-saving skills The University of Northampton has simulation suites where we are taught the hands-on, practical aspects of nursing. For example, we learn how to give injections and perform basic life support for adults and children using dummies. We are also taught how to carry out observations like temperature, blood pressure and check heart rates. I find these sessions extremely useful because they provide me with the chance to practice these essential skills safely. The idea of learning and practicing with dummies feels less unnerving. I would not possibly have acquired the skills by performing them first on human beings rather than dummies because of the trial and error element that can occur when acquiring new skills. Wednesday & Thursday – placements The most interesting part of the week comes during the placement. Learning disability nursing students have the privilege of being placed within very varied settings. The nature of each setting depends on where the needs of people with learning disabilities are being met. Today, I found myself sitting in the park accompanying clients alongside members of staff. And guess what we were doing? Soaking up the sunshine after another intense but rewarding day! Earlier on, I had supported the clients with their personal care as well as their nutritional and medication needs. Within the activities involved in meeting these different needs, came the chance to learn from experienced staff and to practice performing them to the high standards I was taught at university based on the regulatory expectations. Friday – developing communications skills The hard work of personalising the care I provide based on the patient’s wishes takes a lot of psychological input. Listening to and communicating with clients are both exhausting and rewarding exercises. However, nothing beats getting it just as right as the client desires. These are skills that come with the practice and exposure of being within a setting, because they cannot be simulated. Luckily, the theoretical skills provided during today’s University session keeps my communication toolbox well equipped. On different days, I perform different roles within my placement. This is in addition to the ones I mentioned earlier and may involve accompanying clients to appointments, keeping them entertained and supporting clients to perform activities that are important to them. The good news is that within the placement area, I am assigned a mentor who supports and structures my learning experience. There is also a University-linked tutor who visits the practice periodically to direct my learning and make sure all is going well. My personal academic tutor is also on hand to provide guidance. As a result I feel well supported and never pressured. The weekend – time for some ‘R & R’ Finally, my days off have become all the more precious now because of my busy schedule. I end my week relaxing with family and friends. I learnt about the value of time management, rest and reward during a session organised by the learning and development team at the University. As much as the pressures of family life and endless responsibilities weigh heavily on me as a mature student, ensuring that I strike the right balance means that I am able to fully recharge myself physically, mentally and psychologically. I enjoy watching movies, listening to music and dancing in my spare time. After all, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy! You can click this here to read the post on my uni website For more about the LD Nursing course at University of Northampton, see their website. To follow my nursing diary please click here. Written by Lauretta Ofulue

Nursing Diaries- A week in the life of a Learning Disability nursing student

Lauretta decided to use her personal experience of being mother to a child called Otito who had a learning disability (LD) to good use helping parents in a similar situation by coming to University of Northampton this year and training to become an LD nurse. She blogs about why this branch of nursing is a profession you might want to consider… Being there for people I became a student nurse out of a desire to carry on supporting people with learning disabilities and their families. Someone asked me: why Learning Disability nursing? Well, my answer was quite simple. I want to be there for that mum, dad or person who is living with very complex health needs. I want to give a voice to those people in society who are easily overlooked because they understand the world in a different way. I want to help others understand and uphold the rights of people with learning disabilities and their families. I see the care I will provide as a privilege. Families who have loved ones with learning disabilities are very protective of them because of their vulnerability. Becoming a Learning Disability nurse means that I will be trained specifically to look after people with learning disabilities. I believe it to be a position of trust that gives a family the confidence to delegate the care of their loved one to someone else who will understand the unique needs of their loved one and their family as a whole. I believe strongly that the fact that a person cannot understand or express their needs in the usual fashion does not diminish their opinion. I want to support and encourage them to make their own choices and help others learn to make adjustments to accommodate their needs. The course so far The learning environment at the University of Northampton is very friendly. There is an atmosphere of real interaction that the lecturers create during the seminars. Students are encouraged to contribute during sessions and the camaraderie among us is excellent! We are able to interact with other members of the cohort irrespective of their discipline. From the onset, the philosophy of “being brilliant” nurses is instilled in us – the sessions provide the opportunity for students to exercise their tolerance, respect and professionalism while contributing or addressing one another during sessions. I have made many friends both within learning disability nursing and the wider nursing cohort. This is also helpful because our relationships provide the opportunity to cross-pollinate ideas, ask questions and sometimes just chat. The lectures are excellent. They give us the opportunity to acquire the theoretical knowledge that forms the basis for the things we see in practice. It answers many of the questions about why procedures are performed. The lecturers give us essays and assignments that encourage us to search the literature further for evidence. The interactive nature of the sessions means that we learn more. When other students ask questions, we are able to expand our understanding through contributions from different members of the cohort. It improves our critical thinking as nurses which is an essential skill all nurses have to possess. As nurses, we are taught to question what we do so that we can use the best and most up to date evidence when delivering care to our patients. We have simulation sessions. They are very helpful because they provide us with the opportunity to practice on dummies. This remote practice allows us to learn without worrying about hurting an actual person. It gives us the confidence to undertake supervised procedures while in practice. Nursing placements The nursing programme includes attendance of placement learning opportunities in different institutions. These include the NHS, schools as well as other private and voluntary sectors. There is an excellent preparatory week to ease us gradually into placement. Students are told what to expect and allowed to ask questions about their concerns. There is also the student support team who attend the sessions to reassure students and offer support. They provide links to various types of support including academic, financial and psychological support. During placements, the University links us in with lecturers who follow us in practice to provide support. They are friendly, helpful and easy to talk to. They also provide technical support for our online practice portfolio. Challenges met and tackled Mostly, this was time management. As a mature student, it can be very difficult to manage the work, life balance. At the start of the course, the University offered support for this through the learning development team and it was very helpful. We were taught about how simple things like time tabling, making notes and maximising the times we spent reading made a difference to our study. I also learnt the importance of rest, leisure and self-reward. Removal of the nursing bursary It was very sad when the announcement was made about the bursary withdrawal. However, my reason for joining the course was not material. I really wanted to earn a living by making a difference in another person’s life. As far as I was concerned, it was a little hurdle to overcome. I did not let it stop me. I came in to the course with a lot of lived experience as a parent-carer and I hoped that it would make a difference to caring for others. After my son passed away, I began supporting other families who had loved ones with learning disabilities. However, I knew that what I lacked was the theory to underpin my practice. Coming to university means that I can gain the skills needed to back up the knowledge I possess as a result of my lived experience. I also hope that my lived experience allows me to empathise easily with those that I care for in future because I too understand how it feels to be on the receiving end of care. My hope is to help transform the care that people with learning disabilities and their families get. Should I become […]

Nursing Diaries- Why I decided to become a Learning Disability nurse

Hi, my name is Sweetie and I am pleased to meet you all. It’s so much fun to be in this photo shoot outside the house and covered in leaves.. Mark took me out with mummy and I think it was really thoughtful! Haha…I imagined this would be the teddy’s vote of thanks for all the attention he got today. If you are like me, you have one silent member of the family sitting around the home. Teddy bears and soft toys? How could we ever survive our kids without them. Well this one is called “Sweetie”. Well, I will tell you how she came to be found outdoors covered in leaves and looking like a samurai. We went stone picking. Stone picking is a lovely fun family activity. These are the items you need: 1. A plastic bag for collecting the stones 2. Your fingers for picking the stones😀 3. A footpath or safe road with stones lying around 4. Lots of imagination- to save you picking clustered sand instead of stones 5. Lots of energy for fun. Oh! Did I forget to say-some good weather if you are in luck? It’s a nice activity that costs absolutely nothing but promises to be lots of fun for all the family. It can get your children all excited and give you the opportunity to spend some quality time with the kids. A note of warning though- It can get very messy because some of the most beautiful stones tend to hide in the mud🤡😂😂 But please don’t let that stop you. Stone picking must be an art. It is the process by which you let boredom push you out of your sulky corner into the streets in search of pebbles. It sounds funny but in all honesty that is simply what it is. Nothing more…nothing less. After collecting the stones, you will need some time to get them washed. I usually soak them with some soap and bleach to kill any germs and make them safe for handling. You can let them drip into an old towel and in no time, you would be ready for some fun with the kids. Today, we chose to arrange the stones into different shapes. It was so much fun. It allowed Mark use his imagination.To all the kids out there, keep having fun!! Enjoy the rest of your day. Thank you for reading

Teddy’s day out (Activity)

  Hello all you hope whisperers. Yes! I said it. Today I decided to bring you something a bit different. A little boy I know asked me what I did as my hobby. I told him that I did very many things but the one I liked most was writing. He asked me to show him something I had written so that he could read. Well, as you may have guessed, I had absolutely nothing that would interest a 6 year old. That’s why I wrote this story. At least this way, I would have something to present to this child. I enjoyed writing it. I have been overwhelmed by the response it received. He shared it with friends at school. His class teacher even asked if I could come and read it to the little ones. They knew nothing about wells, dry season, rainy season and the things that make us remember and miss Africa. It’s an absolute honour to share my culture. I hope you enjoy it and share it with your kids too. And the story begins… One day in a little village called Ketawa. There lived a man known as Yusinga. He was the Chief in Ketawa. Ketawa had only one chief and his job was to lead the village. He was a very wise chief and when the people did not know what to do, they came to him to help them solve their problems. It was very hot in Yusinga and the people were very thirsty. For many days it did not rain. Normally when it rained, the people put out their buckets and collected rain water from the roof tops. But in the dry season when it did not rain, the people would begin to suffer because there would be no other way to get water. The nearest stream was too far away. Even when they got to the stream the people of Idumika the next village would fight them because they claimed the stream as their own. The people of Ketawa were peaceful people who did not like to fight. So they would go back home and go thirsty for many days. They needed water to make their food and water to wash their hands. They also needed water to bathe themselves and help them feel cool. Water was so important but every time the rain went away in the dry season, the people suffered. One day, the chief came up with an idea to help his people have water everyday. He asked the people in the village to dig the ground in search of water. Many people thought that it was strange to look for water below the ground. But the chief was very sure that there was water beneath the ground they were standing. His clever son who learnt to read when the missionaries came to Ketawa had read it in a book. They dug out lots of earth. They dug deep and deep into the ground. They dug and dug for days until they found water below the ground. From that day on, there was always water in the well because the water below the ground came from the water table. In the rainy season, the wells were shallow because rain water that penetrated the earth made the water table rise. However, in the dry season, the water in the well was very deep because the heat made the water evaporate. To fetch water from the deep wells, the people tied very thick long ropes to buckets. When they put the buckets down into the well with the long ropes, they collected water from the well and pulled it up to the top. It was very very hard work. The little children were not allowed to fetch the water from the well because it was not safe. In the dry season, the people did not go thirsty because they still had water in the well. They used longer ropes to lower their buckets deeper into the ground in search of water. The people were very happy and took turns to collect water from the well. They lived happily ever after. Thank you for reading. Photo credit Pixabay

The Wise Chief of Ketawa (Children’s Story)

I tell you the things I see in my mind’s eye when they are shut. I do so because I think that they make you see into me. They give you a glimpse of my true self. But when things unfold I realise that I should have been more silent. Those words should have sat within my fragile self like an egg within its shell.   I see you when I lose all control. You come to me to remind me of who I am. As I set my eyes on you all animosity fades. The bitterness I feel melts away as your presence warms my heart. The hardness that freezes my heart over is thawed by the warmth of your love.   I kiss your forehead in my mind’s eye. Within the earth I find you. I see through the roughage that enshrouds you. I recognise you even with your disguise. My spirit finds you within the tempest of my anguish.   It’s okay… It’s okay. You whisper through your hard lips of clay. I see into your spirit and the view is clear to me. As I look right into the hidden beauty encased, I hear you loudly and clearly.   It’s okay… It’s truly okay. I miss the times we used to share just you and me together. I remember them and I smile   Now you think that I am crazy. All because I act like I do. I am not crazy. I am just a boy in love. I love you more than love itself. Maybe that too is a crime… my crime. But I will not be found guilty.   There was once a time When I would not have minded where this love would lead. But now I do. Your words reveal how lonely my love for you is. In the heat of anger truth often unfolds. Within the arrows of cruel words lie the darts of reality.   I will not emburden you with the weight of a love it appears I alone hold true I take it right back into the depths of me. I will carry this love-cross alone. I see now that the love I shared with you was meant for me. The last piece of love I offered you within it lay my sanity.   Thank you for reading.

Love Shroud

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This is a story about a man and his wife…. One day the wife was in their bedroom knitting a sweater for their grandchild. She had woken up very early and completed all the tasks that needed doing around their small bungalow. She made herself a cup of tea and sat by the window knitting. Well, soon, the lovely sunlight lost its rays to a thick cloud that began to form in the sky. The weather man had predicted a possibility of light showers. The woman was not disturbed. She was going to enjoy the different levels of light that were dimming and brightening the room. As long as she could see her crotchet needle, her senses would do the rest. Knitting was a hobby she had enjoyed for many years and she joked sometimes about being able to knit with her eyes closed. The only light she needed was at the start when she made the first knot. She prayed silently that her husband would be engrossed with whatever he was doing. Often times, he came in to commence his switch on activity around the house as soon as he saw the slightest darkness. She hated the lights in the daytime. Nothing beats natural light to her. However, he did it with such love and affection mostly teasing her about preserving her eyes so that she could see him when they were old and grey. Her frown and vehement requests to the contrary were always replaced by his good intentions. No No No he always said. You need the light! Well, as she sat there knitting and listening to the birdsong by her window, she could smell the green grass as her neighbour mowed the adjacent lawn. She knew she should shut the windows to avoid a bout of hay fever but she didn’t. She was sitting at a position that you only got once in a lifetime. She felt so comfortable and did not want to move from the spot where she was sitting. She had struck the perfect balance between cushion softness, hand angling and crotchet needle holding. She could feel her glasses hang off her nose at that perfect angle where it felt like it would fall off but stayed put because of the tilt she had achieved with her head. It was just a perfect knitting morning. Then suddenly, just as she dreaded, he entered the room. “Click” He switched on the light before she could even find her voice. It was too late. She exhaled the deep breath with which she meant to say “don’t turn on the light!”. Well it was done now. No use wasting her breath. As he left the room, he shut the door which she had left slightly ajar. Now the room was quiet. So quiet, she could hear her thoughts. “What’s wrong with this man?” she wondered.”I was listening to the music”. He did not even bother to ask her if she wanted the door shut. He assumed that just because she was knitting, she wanted peace and quiet. Well she did, but not in the literal sense. She wanted just enough sounds to keep her mind from drifting. She wanted the sounds from the lounge to filter in and hang above the loudness of her quiet thoughts. He just assumed… After an hour of knitting, the arrival of hunger in her belly made her jump without thinking. She needed food! Who would have thought that knitting would be such hard work? Well maybe if she did not muster all the mental strength to keep herself from drowning in her loudly quiet thoughts. As she walked into the lounge, she saw that he had set up the flower pot on the large desk in the living room. On the top of the table beneath the vase were lots of old newspapers. He had formed a bed with them and taped them down with some masking tape. He was busy painting the vase. She walked up to him and saw that he was painting the long vase with a brush with bristles as thin as her nail vanish brush. “This brush is too small” she said “I am not in a hurry’ he replied “It’s not about how long it would take to paint, its about how it would look in the end” she said “Well, I am not complaining” he replied irritatingly “Oh dear, who said you were complaining”, she retorted. “Well, you are disturbing me”, he said “What! I was only trying to help”, she replied, sounding hurt. “Well no one asked for your help”, he said “That’s really a horrible thing to say” she replied “Well, I know what I am doing!”, he said still focussing on his painting. She looked at him. She could feel herself beginning to fume. If only she could get him to listen. He always took a brash stand if he felt threatened and it always offended her. “See, I did not say that you did not know what you were doing. We all know what we are doing. However, that does not mean that there are not many ways of doing the things we know. Perhaps considering those alternatives broaden our view about how to do the things we know how to do. It can even make us question them and give us other alternatives”, she said. “Well, I know what I am doing. I don’t know why you are here disturbing me. Considering that when I came into the room and saw you knitting, I only supported and helped you. Why can’t you do the same for me?”he said. “Helped me? She said sounding alarmed. “No you did no such thing. You assumed that you helped me but you stressed me. In fact that’s why I am here to find something to eat. You switched on the light which you know I hate in the day. You shut the door and left me to drown in my thoughts. Now I […]

The man and his wife- A Story about listening

As ridiculous as it might sound, it does take a lot of courage to let go of stuff… When I say stuff, I mean things that you have, own and acquire over time. You buy some, you get given some, you steal some (not steal steal, but take when no one is watching), or you just have some. In the end, you find that you have all this stuff cluttered around you. Well for some, they are not just clutter, they are their belongings. I had a recent encounter when I stayed at a hotel on a short family break. When I walked in, my first impression was that of serenity. It was quiet both literally and paradoxically. It was a room with a luxurious looking double bed, a table from which protruded a tv stand that held what appeared to be a 40 inch flat screen. There were also some soft lightings on the ceiling. The room was free of clutter. I felt so relaxed as soon as I beheld the simple furnishings. That was when I began to imagine a world free of clutter. In fact it was an impossibility for me even though the idea was very alluring. You see, when I planned my living space, that was the idea before life happened. The entry of wife, kids, new family and friends meant that I lost that serenity. Suddenly one gift or purchase after another left my life overflowing with stuff. My walls became important display spaces for nearly every milestone on earth. I hung up pictures and paintings on every space and set up a gallery of memories with them. I agree they were lovely but that did not stop them being noisy. Please let’s not talk about the fridge. That doubled as a magnet holder and reminder. The silly capitalists with their endless sales and adverts have left my closets overflowing with shoes, clothes and other things that I can only categorise as bric-a-brac. My house now feels like that of the old lady who lived in a shoe only I am a man and my problem is not that I have too many children just that I have too much stuff. Rather than spending all this money escaping to hotels just to experience the peace and tranquility of a clutter free space, perhaps I should just declutter my stuff. That my friend, is easier said than done. Where would I start from? Each stuff that I possess contains a memory of the moment that brought it to life. I think it’s now a bit like autism if you ask me. These things are an extension of me. I can’t throw them away. I used to be able to donate them to charity. Tie them in the respective charity bags and hand them to prospective new owners. Then it did not feel like they were being thrown away. They were re-homed. I experienced the peace of knowing that they were not just being incinerated. Well that all ended when I read in a group type thing forum that they did not always end up in good condition by the time they got to the supposed charities. As a result, they got disposed off. So now, I am back to where I started. I feel like I am officially a hoarder. When I manage to relinquish ownership of stuff  I buy even more. I do not buy new stuff any more because I literally have no space for a new addition. It’s good because I save money…but not really though if I still spend it on these secret escapes. I have toyed with the idea of acquiring a new home for stuff  but you and I know that it will only worsen the problem. So yes, unlike most, I cannot have a spring clean.   Thank you for reading Photo credit Pixabay

It’s no use having a spring clean

My dear boy, All I can really say is that I miss you like crazy…. Since you left me there has been a wide hole that nothing has been able to fill. This is our first summer without you. It is so quiet that the silence of your absence in our lives is deafening. I knew you were a big character when you were here in my life and I am thankful to God that I never wasted any moment we shared. I have found myself wishing for many things but maybe she is right. I met her, I told her all my feelings. She was neutral and her neutrality gave me a safety net to express my innermost and darkest pains. Many deep rooted feelings that clutched at my heart and filled it with grief. After I spoke with her, I felt lighter and the grief seemed to have vamoosed… It was a feeling of relief, weightlessness. No longer did I bear the weight of the grief that I dragged around. I grew wings after I met her. I believed I could fly. So I began testing the wings I grew as a result of my encounter with her. No sooner had I planned and begun executing my first flight than I realised that my moves seemed to revolve back around my loss. She drew my attention to it when we met again. “Are you sure that you are not now filling the void with all these plans?”, she asked to my irritation. “NO!!!!”, I screamed. How could she even possibly feel that. It just felt like she was rubbishing the progress I felt that I was making. “You are moving too fast, you are too decisive, perhaps you need to think things through a little bit more before you commit to it”, her scrawny voice said. “OMG now she is sounding like my mother”, I thought. Sometimes I wonder why she cannot just be happy for me. Why all these irritating comments. She was becoming so negative to occupy the position I placed her in my life. I sat in silence and considered her words. Was she right? Could there be any sense in her words? She was after all on my side. You know since I was a child, I always did everything very fast. I never took too much time to make decisions or reach conclusions. The only thing that ever moved slowly in my life was pregnancy. It was the only thing I could not rush or create shortcuts for. But perhaps decisions that had to be taken post- grief needed like she said to be considered carefully. It is always a bad idea to make decisions when under stress. Grief is a very stressful time. My question today though is: How long is long enough? Will this ever be over? Will life ever be the same? The good news is that with my faith I know that I serve a good God who makes everything ok in the end. When I got home, I shook off scary whispers. I did not want anything to hold me back. For the first time in ages, I felt like I could move on. It has been so hard these past few weeks since Otito my angelboy passed away but when I woke up I thought that it was finally time to confront the big question “what next?”. What was I going to do with the rest of my life. Before becoming a parent carer, I had dreams of becoming a manager one day. A manager of businesses, people, data and all that. Bagging a degree in Economics from a prestigious university gave me a good start. Within a few years, I was climbing up the ladder. Life was good. It’s fair to say that I was living the dream. Well all that changed when I moved to England. The career dream stalled a bit-the perks of relocation. In no time, I settled nicely into a humble role at the bottom of the organisational ladder in the company that I joined (to be fair bottom sounds a bit harsh, make that the start of the ladder). Happy days… a quick maternity break and hey presto! My luck changed forever. I did not plan to have a sick child but it happened anyway. Not long afterwards I assumed the role as parent carer to my bundle of joy. I did find the obvious fact that I needed to dedicate all my time to this role very challenging for a long time. It demanded a bit more than just caring for any other child. In the end when my psychology had taken enough battering, I threw in the towel and embraced my new destiny. It was a role that I began to learn to love and enjoy. I poured my heart and soul into making everything right for my boy. I did my best to juggle his care with making our family work despite stresses. I even found some stability within the chaos. Sincerely there were times when I longed for the good old life. I even tried to venture back at different times but that too was logistically impossible. My boy was too special for any mainstream child minder to accept him for more than an hour. That’s how I saw it and as you can imagine no employer would have me for just an hour. I too could not bear the thought of putting him in danger by allowing any untrained person close to his complex health needs. In no time it was astadavista baby  to any job! As soon as he passed away I felt lost. Anyone would have thought that I would have smiled at the prospect of finally being able to go back to work. Well, that would have been the case if it was not death that had brought my previous role (as carer) to an end. Days turned into weeks, and still I did […]

So what’s next?

My fears… sometimes they lurk within the recesses of my mind. My fears… sometimes they sit silently and I feel they are gone My fears…. sometimes they whisper doubts into my ears. My fears… sometimes I ignore them in vain because they relocate behind my ear lobes and serenade my worries. My fears… sometimes events similar to the ones that caused them occur. My fears… sometimes they  jump out of the recesses of my mind. My fears… sometimes they pally up with new fears like new acquaintances do in a locked room. My fears… sometimes they wrestle me into a helpless battle to determine which fear to prioritise My fears… sometimes I succumb to them because I am exhausted. My fears… sometimes they make me cry because they make me do things that surprise me. My fears… sometimes, like now, I realise that they are an extension of me and my uncertainties. My fears… make me who I am. My fears… cannot be denied. My fears… are mine and not yours. My fears… sometimes they make me feel that everything is about me when it should be about you. My fears… sometimes they stop me from accepting that I am wrong. My fears… make you see me as I truly am…a human being. Thank you.

My Fears

Hello everyone. I gave a talk about blood transfusion in February 2017. It was a parents’ perspective on the whole process. It was an honour to be invited to present my views in a gathering of intellectuals. This is one of the talks closest to my heart. You see, coincidentally, after the talk on Thursday the 2nd of February 2017 at the Birmingham Metropole, Otito haemorrhaged and subsequently crashed on Sunday the 5th of February 2017. It was really weird for us as a family. He bled out because his pancreas failed. I have never seen so much blood being given to one little person in my entire life sincerely. It was surreal. There I was talking to this group of people about why blood transfusion was amazing, life saving and all without realising what was lurking in the corner.  He must have received nearly 20 bags of different types of blood products (without exaggerating) over the course of the 2 weeks that he spent in the intensive care. The fact that he still passed away in the end made it difficult for me to talk about the experience. Well, today, more than one year later, I feel really able to share with you my story about why blood transfusion is wonderful. I know there are very many varied opinions about if this should be done – especially from religious, traditional and cultural points of view. I acknowledge them but I must put forward my case in support of blood transfusion. Had it not existed, not only would I have missed out on sharing the life of my little warrior for as long as we did in the end but I would have lost him on that very Sunday that he haemorrhaged. I know it sounds silly and he never woke up anyway but you see, having the option of transfusing blood bought the doctors more time to try to save my son. It also gave me the opportunity to gradually come to terms with the possibility of a life without him. If I had not had those 2 weeks to read him his favourite stories, sing him his favourite songs, play his favourite music compilation to him, I would never have been able to accept his depature. Thanks to all the hardworking people who work tirelessly to make this process happen. Thanks to those who establish systems that make the process safe. You are all heroes and as a parent, I am extremely grateful. So please I hope that you enjoy the piece. At the end, I also added a link to the feedback and comments from the day. Enjoy! BLOOD TRANSFUSION TALK Paediatric and Neonatal Transfusion programme My near initiation as it were into being a blood transfusion recipient was actually a few years ago after a caesarean section. I remember being told that my blood count was very low and being prepared about the likelihood of getting one. My first feeling was that of horror. You see, I grew up in sub-Saharan Africa where anything blood related is viewed rather superstitiously. Blood represented life. Important traditional contracts or covenants are sealed in blood. Blood could not be mixed without care. During marriages blood lines were traced even up to four generations to prevent incest. Royalty, warriors and servants were identified through blood lines. Discussions around blood were not done lightly. Although a lot of civilisation has watered down many deep rooted traditional beliefs, myths and superstition, we still retain many fragments of the old African traditions and cultures. I felt that the blood discussion was best avoided. The thought of having my blood mixed with that of a total stranger was disturbing. Despite my education and knowledge, I had always been unable to see the need for it. I also had bad memories of seeing blood transfusions go badly and this fuelled my anxiety too. It was quite customary locally to blame subsequent infections or health complications arising post-transfusion on the “blood transfusion”. The mostly inadequate and weak health system could not provide any alternative answers and so locals demonised the whole blood transfusion process further fuelling the general aversion for blood transfusion. As there was absolutely no confidence in most of the systems responsible for blood transfusion, relatives became the culprits and producers of blood in areas where blood banks were empty. Sadly, this led to the discovery of blood related diseases in such kind volunteers further leading to a sense of grief and misconception about blood transfusion. The local adage “what you don’t know won’t kill you” fuelled this rumour. You can now imagine my horror at the mention of a blood transfusion. My thoughts were fixated on the lack of existence of any available relatives to provide blood for me. I would still not have wanted a stranger’s blood in my veins. Luckily, I escaped without needing a blood transfusion on that occasion because my blood count improved with medication. Well a few days later, the son for which I had the caesarean section (Otito) was diagnosed with an inherited metabolic condition called Propionic Acidaemia which compromises his body’s ability to breakdown proteins. As I was dealing with that news, I got a call from the “heel prick” people to say that my son also had the sickle cell gene. Well, without boring you with the details, somewhere along the line, there was talk about blood transfusion again only this time no amount of prayer, positivity or optimism could will it away. After a few months of life and having had several hospitalisations, he had to have a central venous line – a portacath. It improved his quality of life drastically however, the consequence of that was that his blood had to be discarded each time a blood sample was taken. He also became more prone to line infections leading to even more sampling. Together with his sickle cell trait, he became a frequent candidate for blood transfusion. In the last year he suffered […]

NHS Blood Transfusion Talk : A Parent’s perspective on Blood Transfusion

I opened Otito’s box this weekend. It is a box where I stored away the clothes, toys and personal effects he used in the weeks preceding his death. I suddenly realised that the batteries were still in the toys and had to go through the torture of rummaging the box to sort out his toys. The thought that I would have felt worse if the toys got ruined powered me through the prospect. I built myself up for it all week. I was very aware that seeing Otito’s stuff was always my greatest trigger. For this reason, I kept on putting off the simple task. On Sunday, without even thinking about it after church, I just went for it. On one hand, i think that feeling very uplifted after what had been a lovely church service gave me the boost that I needed. From one trouser to the next, I sorted through. After that I brought out one toy after the other. Initially, I avoided setting any of the buttons off to avoid hearing the sounds of what were once the soundtracks of our lives. In my usual clumsy way I dropped one of the toys on top of the heap and that set off the cacophony I was desperately avoiding. To my utmost surprise, the feelings I began to experience were anything but raw grief. I began to smile as one sound after the next took me back to my boy. To times when his little fingers set those same sounds off. Times long gone came flashing before my eyes. My grief was real but suddenly it felt kinder to me. It was not pulling at my heart but somehow, it felt like a dull ache. The sounds warmed my heart and I even found myself smiling through tears that seemed more like tears of joy at the time. In less than a few minutes, the familiar sounds cajoled the boys from the different parts of the house where they were otherwise busily lost in their own worlds. The sounds lured them and as Mark walked into the room followed by Karl, I began to struggle to switch off the toys. I wished that I was alone in the house as I would have loved to indulge myself. Mark began singing along and It became a bitter sweet moment for us all. There was a serenity within it all as Mark sang that I cannot really explain. We were all together yet lost deeply within our individual thoughts. We began smiling at one another and enjoying the toy sounds while selfishly holding on to our individual thoughts. “These are Otito’s toys mum. What are you doing?”, Mark asked me rather protectively. ” I am just taking the batteries out”, I said. So we spent the Sunday afternoon thinking about Otito. We also watched some videos from when Otito was a baby playing with Mark. It was just nice to see our boy again. I had forgotten how happy he used to be amidst all the pain. I am so grateful for all the lovely videos we ever made and still make. It is so funny how much we forget over time and how quickly grief and pain replace every joyful memory when they strike. It is such a blessing to be able to revisit some old but beautiful memories. Thank you for reading If you enjoyed this, you will find more articles like this here Photo credit: Pixabay

Death at my door (DAMD): Smiles