Yearly Archives: 2019

One thing I know for sure is that it takes a lot of self-will to look after ones self.   …Trust me!   This self-love business is actually no joke I tell you. Healthy eating, exercise, self-kindness and acceptance and so on.   They are all easier said than done.   Recently, I decided to be more intentional about the application of these concepts to my everyday life. I had been in this self-love game for the past 4 years.   Eating well… going on daily walks… accepting myself for who I am…and… being kinder to myself.   But right now, I just feel like it has become so boring. Like, I am used to it all. It has all become so predictable, so normal.   To prove to you that I am right, my scales have begun to stall. Like my weight has just simply frozen. It is not going up or down despite my efforts to take it down south. It’s like every cell in my body can feel the ubiquitous nature of this whole business.   On a positive note…   They do say that maintaining your current weight is an achievement in itself. But I say, that you only feel that achievement if that is your aim for yourself.   I have now officially decided to spice things up. Increase my workouts, eat better and hopefully moan a bit less about….stuff.   When I decided to implement them, my spirit was all fired up but I could feel every ounce of me protesting. I did not want to do the extra exercise, or make the smarter eating choices. I was literally shaking from being deprived of my cravings and angry about leaving my comfort zone.   But I can do this! I have got this!   I just have to stay strong. The end always justifies the means. I am an achiever. We all are. We are more than mere conquerors. Nothing good comes easily. No pain no gain. There will be light at the end of the tunnel. God is in control.   Loving ourselves is an act of loving God. Looking after us is an act of respect because our bodies are temples where the Holy Spirit dwells.   We only have one life and one body to live it in. We must do everything within our power to make the right choices to suit our physical bodies. No one would love you better than you will.   No one will love me better than I will… hmmm….     I should be my priority. The love I attract will depend a lot on the way I lovingly uphold myself. I am special in the eyes of God and so I believe that he will strengthen my desire to care better for my self because this is a good plan and his plan for me is of good and not of evil.   Do you know that..   He came into this world so that you can live your life more abundantly?   Looking after youbetter is a way of enabling the power of that abundance of Ife to simply be activated within you.   Praise the name of the Lord for grace and strength. We are weak because it is in our nature as mortal men to be weak… to be victims of our own whims and decisions. Therefore let us look to God for strength because through him we are able to do all things.   I know that God will exceed the expectations you have set in this and all areas of your life … Amen.   Just stay on track!   Thank you for reading.   Photo Credit: Pixabay

From size NO to size YES: The flesh is weak

To whom much is given, much is expected!   I have now been officially given the chance to fight for my Licence. I feel like the final countdown has begun. But the expectation is massive. I feel inundated with tasks. The game has been raised but I am still the same. So how on earth can I cope?   In my head, I am officially undertaking “The climb” and trust me it feels scary.   Recently, my OH impressed something important in my life. It was like a gift…his words to me.   “You have to trust yourself”he began, “If you are in doubt of your abilities my child, then look at your history, within it lies your track record. You have always in the past felt numbed by challenges. But they never stopped you. In fact you always proved that the hottest part of the day brought out the adder. You have never really thrived without stress. It is like the pumping adrenaline has always propelled you. You have thought way more clearly under pressure than you ever have in calm situations. But my child, you have always started with what I see as stage fright. You were built for this challenge. Your whole decision to train for this licence has led to this year- this final countdown and road to success. I trust you my darling. You have never failed before and I know you will not start now. Just look inside of you for that strength”.   As he finished what sounded like a knight’s battle speech (a bit like something Archilles would have told the soldiers in troy),I sighed. All I could think of was ‘Psyching! babe don’t let these sweet words deceive you o!. Year 3 is not a joke o. Look at all the tasks and hurdles that lie ahead.I almost began to cry. I am coming to this man for support and he is here telling me all this.   Support…the word rang out like a keyword in my head. Support…   Isn’t that what he was doing? What was I even expecting him to say? Confirm my fears and then give me permission to quit, hang my boot and run? These feelings were like fight, flight or freeze response. I had encountered what my brain perceived as danger and I was in panic mode.   Girl, that is quite normal…   The worst thing to do right now would be to brush my feelings under the carpet. Talking about them was a good way of confronting them head on. There are hardly any confrontational experiences that are exciting. Self-confrontation was no exception. If anything, they were worse because one could not escape oneself.   I have got this…   I said to myself, reciting it endlessly like a mantra.   It is the climb….my climb.   No one climbs a mountain with one step from bottom to top. It is inconceivable to approach a mountain climb that way. It would make it impossible. That is exactly what I felt like I was erroneously doing.   But look at all the tasks that lie ahead…   Making my license aspiration about all the tasks that lay ahead was like focussing on the summit and looking only at all the height above, then contemplating climbing that height in one step.   Mountains are climbed with many steps…   Many strategic steps.   So first, we look at the whole mountain- the task Next, we work out a strategy- A plan. Within that plan, we tactfully break the whole process down into manageable steps that our feet can carry us through. We then accept that although it would not always be easy that would not make the process impossible.   In addition, we have to build in rests into our plan, to enable us rejuvenate ourselves when we are weak. We also need play, to keep us motivated. Lifelines will be good for times when we are struggling as well as being prepared to stay safe because we do not know what lies ahead. Finally, we ensure that our eyes are focussed on the top and avoid any distractions that may derail us from the summit.   Thinking about things this way, I immediately began to feel less anxious. It made sense.   This final road might be plied with herculean tasks but that does not make it an impossible road to travel….   I needed to get a calendar and spread out those tasks into steps with timelines to give me visual cues. The cues would serve as a map, a guide through my year. I was equal to this task. The university would not set me the challenge if they felt I was incapable.   Sometimes when we are in doubt of ourselves, we look outwards to find cues that help rekindle our self believe….   If my OH, my family and friends and even the university thought that I could do this, they could not all be wrong.   I would need to be extremely disciplined to keep myself on track.   One right step at a time and I would get there. By the grace of God like OH said, I had done similar stressful things before so I would do it again. He was not deceiving me with those words. The evidence lay buried deep within my history and I was about to add to that history.   So do you know what? Bring it on…Here I come…I am all fired up!   Not really!!!! Hahahah…   The good news though, is that I am more positive than I was at the start of this write up. That is a good thing.   So yeah, have you ever been in this position with anything in your life? Tell me what got you through it? How did you cope? I can think of very many ways to cope if I was not so anxious. Thankfully, I have you all for support. Please […]

Nursing Diaries: The Climb (Final Countdown)

Loosing an article that I have written is a bit like losing a piece of me….   I pour myself into each article that I write. I don’t even know why I write sometimes. It is just an extension of my personality that I feel fortunate to possess the ability to express.   Sometimes I wish that all I did with my life was – write. I could do that you see, but maybe I haven’t yet figured out how to make it worthwhile.   Words have form and shape to me whether they are said out loud or written. That’s why I can’t stand it when people swear.   It’s not just about being polite but I literally see blood being splattered every time people prefix their statements with … bloody.   The worst is the F word.   I work around with images of coitus as the person speaks and vomits it within every statement. It’s hard to explain how upsetting it is to condone the psychological images people build into simple conversations.   So back to the article I lost which I was telling you about…..   So I said I love writing, remember?   Well, I can never really understand it when someone tells me that they are unable to write. I guess it is the same way that I can write that they can’t write. In my head, I just feel that if you can have an opinion and possess cognitive ability, then you should be able to write.   Right?   I guess I am wrong though because it may not be so easy.  Let’s use my husband as a case study. He never likes talking or over exerting himself.   A sort of cool dude.   So one day I asked him why he had constantly refused to come out of his shell.   “Well, there is no shell to come out of”,he said.   “How can you climb out of a shell if you yourself are the shell? Imagine if I asked you to be quiet and sit still how will you feel?”   “No way!”I screamed. “That’s impossible”.   “Aha!, do you see how you feel right this minute that you contemplated my “sit still” request?”,he asked   “Yes”,I said   “That’s exactly how I feel when you ask me to be as vibrant as you are”.   Hmmm…   That gave me some perspective. I have stopped asking that of him or anyone for that matter. People must all be allowed to exist and express themselves in the way that suits them.   So….Yes!   I digressed again as I always do.   I was telling you about how I wrote a juicy article this afternoon and somehow lost it. Well, that reminded me about when I lost another article in the past.   It was my portfolio assigment at university.   Oh that one was horrible.   I was set an assignment with 3 sets of tasks.   One was a 2500 word essay, a 15minute narrated powerpoint and another 2500 essay with appraisal forms.   I toiled to produce that portfolio.   I also decided in my very finite wisdom not to write any draft in a book first but to type it straight into my laptop. That was me finally succumbing to pressure. Everyone seemed to laugh at my out dated style of always writing in books before typing up my work.   I wanted to save time and it did feel good to type the work directly. Sadly, as my luck turned out, on the day I decided to save the final copy of the essay, I made a booboo.   Listen to this…   Instead of control C (Copy), I pressed control A (Select all), hit the back space (Delete) and clicked on control S (save). Then in splits of seconds, 2 months of toil vanished.   Seriously, who does that?   I had not even saved any other copy elsewhere.   Oh…   I even had a draft in my flash drive but guess what? I could not find it!   The submission date was 2 weeks away.  I also had an anatomy and physiology exam tucked in between the submission date and me. It was such a horrible time.   I went to the lake and cried.  I spent the next 2 days crying. I felt so exhausted. Where was I going to start? I had even lost my reference list because it was all in the same document. After the 2 days of crying, I managed to shrink the submission date by 2 days.   Next morning, while brushing my teeth, I looked in the mirror at my red eyes and thought   ….hey girl, you can’t just fail!   That was how I summoned the courage, plucked the strength and started all over again.   To this day, I feel that the new essay I produced was better than the first one. I learnt so much about myself doing that portfolio.   I learnt that I was resilient, a fighter and that I could not just accept defeat. I became very creative and my speed was super.   Who needs an easy life when we can use pressure and stress as free fuel eh?   Last minute essays are bad for you especially if you have not previously done any reading. But you knew that already didn’t you?   So although that ended well…   Let’s come back again to the juicy article I wrote this afternoon and managed to lose   That’s a different matter. An essay is academic and can have a happy ending when it is lost. But can an article enjoy the same fate?   An article is metalking without moving my lips.   Reporting what has happened or what I am thinking via a piece of paper/ media- whichever way you want to describe it. It’s very hard to get the second take of the article to be as emotive as the first one …I think. I have lost a piece of […]

Nursing Diaries: Losing a piece of work

Oh dear tell me about it! Way before the start of this placement, I had caught the blues. Like seriously, I was so nervous about going into this placement one would have thought that I was in year 1. I had been to a fantastic placement before this one. I remember wishing that it was the final placement. I had bonded with but staff and patients. I felt like I had found my rhythm there. Then the next thing I knew, bam! it was over. 14weeks flew by so quickly it was unreal. Now harsh realities were kicking in. I was previously in a forensic setting, now I was going into an acquired brain injury setting. I did not know what to expect. I was more worried about the mentor than I cared to admit. Would my mentor be ok? Will it be a he or a she? Will we gel? Guess what, this was the placement that counted towards my final classification. A lot was just riding on it. We simply had to get along if I had any dream of passing. After the first day, I was even more anxious because my mentor was not available. So after all that anxiety, I did not get any questions answered. I was still like the proverbial chicken perching on one foot. Only by the time I got home both  the foot I was perching with and the one I had in the air were hurting. I knew that I had to be patient and let the days flow. So here are some of the things that helped me Disconnect from old placement relationships: Although it is difficult, it is important as a student nurse to learn how to disconnect psychologically and emotionally for the old placement. This would help you to be a blank slate ready to take on all the challenges and joys of the new placement. Nursing itself is all about building relationships. However, in my opinion, less is being taught about disconnecting from old relationships. It is alright to long for old relationships. But acknowledge these feelings and move on. Avoid comparison: This is a bit difficult to achieve after a fantastic experience. It just feels like every other placement will not rival the last one. However, it is important to judge each placement area on their own merit. Avoid comparisons. Things are not always the way that they seem. Just because a placement area is all I.T savvy and paperless does not mean that the new one filled with endless paperwork is not as good. Help yourself begin to see the benefits of being in the new placement by avoiding comparison. Give yourself time to get to know everyone: Time is always key. Remember that it took you all those weeks to build all the relationships in the old placement which you now long for. With time, you will start to get used to the rhythm of the new placement. When getting to know everyone, include staff not just patients. Remember, in the new area, they may have their culture, language and communication style. Expect that when coming to join a new team, there may be a few niggles. It’s all part of the adjustment process. Don’t write people off if they annoy you. Things may improve if you give it a chance. Read care plans: Within the first few weeks of arriving a new placement, make it a point of duty to begin to read patients’ care plans. This would give you in-depth evidence based information peculiar to the patients. It will inform you about the prescribed methods of care that have been agreed with the patients. Following the plans will also reduce friction between you and the patients when you start assisting with their care. Ask questions; Don’t forget that you are there to learn. Ask as many questions as you have. It is better than just trying and making mistakes especially if you are not sure. Build rapport with staff so that they can guide you. Be open to correction: Don’t take things personal when you are corrected. Take all criticism positively. Ignore negativity directed at you. Remember that some people communicate badly. They mean well but it may just come out wrongly. Learn to take the positives and fling away the negatives. Smile: Smile always. A smile gives you a positive aura and draws people to you. a smile gives you a welcoming attitude. A smile cheers you up when things get though.   I did all these things and now, in week 2, I am having a great time. By the time my mentor arrived, I had managed to overcome my initially skeptical attitude. So these tips actually work! Thank you for reading. Photo Credit: Pixabay You may also find other articles in this series useful. Please click here

Nursing Diaries: 7 ways to overcome the placement blues

Learning disability nursing is a branch of nursing that tends to be understated. People with learning disabilities are as deserving of our compassionate care as the rest of our patients. Having a learning disability means that a person has a difficulty learning, understanding and acquiring  new skills. These may be social, intellectual and daily skills (MENCAP). As a result they may be slower and need lots of help and support with daily tasks. This does not mean that they cannot learn. The existence of this learning impairment means that a different approach needs to be used when delivering care and support to them. We are told in all the texts to avoid labelling people because every person is unique. The fact that people have learning disabilities does not mean that they are all the same. It does not also mean that a one size fits all approach will be suitable when delivering their care. Nurses need to be mindful during nurse-patient interaction because care delivery must be tailored to suit each patient as a unique individual. Patience, compassion and support should underlie every interaction that nurses enter with each patient especially when they have a unique way of interacting based on the existence of a learning disability. I was privileged to work on an end of life care ward for people with learning disabilities and mental health. It was surreal to see the elderly experience very life limiting conditions. The learning disabilities they possessed exacerbated the ability of staff to understand their needs. It also affected the extent of tailoring required to keep the care delivered person centred. The level of complexity experienced by the patients due to their severe physical health decline meant that lots of activities needed to be performed to keep the patients safe and comfortable. As a result, there was a high risk of adopting a blind approach to individualising care. Many of the patients had sensory needs, speech impairments, physical disabilities and mobility needs. The tasks had to be performed in a timely manner to maximise their health outcomes. It appeared as though attempting to personalise care could have made the tasks more cumbersome. It was difficult to support the individual wishes of patients because at times, especially when their mental states declined, it was sometimes nearly impossible to uphold their wishes. The nurses often experienced dilemmas when attempting to meet the patient’s unique demands. It was difficult to determine if it was really a patient’s desire to be cared for in a certain way when they were not very coherent? Did they fully understand the implications of some of their requests? Were these requests in their best interest? For example balancing the need to support the oral fluid intake of a dysphagic patient when they were declining water. I was a student nurse with minimal experience within a setting as such. I felt paralysed as I contemplated the enormity of the tasks I was to perform alongside staff. I wondered why my university had decided to send me there. As far as I was concerned, it was too early in my nursing programme to be there. I had only theoretical skills from all we had been taught at university. Surely, a slow admittance into this reality would have been better for me. I had never seen as massive a trolley as I beheld in the clinic room. How on earth was I to know where all the medicines were? Perhaps a ward with fewer patients, less hustle and bustle would have been best. As I came into the placement daily, I was very withdrawn. The more I allowed my inner fears hold me back, the more I sunk psychologically. I soon began to experience the fight, flight or freeze response. I was sweaty, thirsty and could feel the micturition bells ringing as soon as I arrived at the start of my shift. Luckily, one of the staff noticed my demeanor. With a warm smile, she took me under her wing. I spent the first few days on the side shadowing staff as they delivered this challenging care. I saw that how looking beyond the disease and finding the person shrouded by illness transformed the care. They were able to wait patiently for patients to communicate and valued the smallest non-verbal movements made by each patient. I saw first hand how all I had learnt at university came to life in practice. I learnt the importance of seeking consent before procedures and respecting patients’ personal spaces. I saw the theory of communication was brought to life. I remembered how McCabe and Timmins (2006) emphasised a lot in their text about how non-verbal communication was as important as verbal communication. For these patients, it was very true. Many of them were non-verbal and for some who could speak, they had varying levels of cognitive abilities, which impacted on their speech quality and content. In addition, I learnt to value every form of communication including when patients withdrew from communication. Frustration, exhaustion or satiety sometimes explained why patients withdrew from communication. It was important to be mindful of these reasons while accepting patients right to decline interaction, participation or stimulation. The unintentional nature of some forms of communication does not undermine their relevance as communication especially for patients with learning disabilities. I learnt not only to decipher these aspects but to practice different evidence based communication and care delivery techniques. Today, I am thankful for the opportunity I had within the setting that scared me at first. I now know first-hand that the practice learning opportunity is truly a valuable part of the nurse training. However, it is important that student nurses should take charge of their learning. Participating in care delivery under supervision is one of the ways to overcome the psychological barriers that may keep students from practicing their ability to care for patients. The demands on services can sometimes mean that students feel pressured to perform activities of care for patients when they do not feel ready. However, care must be taken by students not to allow fear stop the student from seeking out […]

Nursing diaries : Student Nursing fears

I spent my day in silence. It was not even a planned silence. My boys went out of the house and suddenly, I did not turn on the TV or radio. I just enjoyed listening to the clock tick and the fridge making its own continuous noise on the side- the joys of open plan living. I have always hated clocks because of their constant ticking but today it did not seem to matter. I really needed the silence to help me organise myself. It had been a long year for me. I re-started higher education nearly a year ago. I made the decision to retrain as a nurse and it had been so hectic and demanding that I had absolutely no time to think or grieve…. Well, here I was on a day off work simply because my bag had been stolen the day before. It’s unbelievable how traumatising the experience was for me. I spent the day in a secure setting and left my bag on the side in a CCTV secure room. By the time I returned, the bag was not there. The speed with which it was whisked meant that I initially thought that it was a joke. Honestly. However,  a few minutes  into the search, I realised that it was not a joke. The bag was simply…gone! Panic! I had a lot in that baag. My keys… like all my keys. My lucky pen and my late son’s squidgy. I took it from his side when he died and had carried it on my person ever since. Even if I could replace everything I lost with the bag, how on earth will I replicate the sentimental value that toy held to me. He had been inseparable from the little squidgy. It has his squidgy. The one he had actually played with. In my mind, it had remnants and traces of his personality on it. the scrapes, marks and dents on the toy were somehow his stamps on the toy. The hardest part for me after realising that my bag had been stolen was telling everyone. I knew that I was about to open up a minefield of unsolicited opinions. Which I detest by the way…just in case you were wondering. Are you sure you left it there? Duh!?!? I did not lose my mind alongside the bag. I definitely left the bag there. But I kept those thoughts in my mind. After all I needed their help to find the bag. Why did you leave it there? Seriously, if we could all explain the reasons why we did the things we did we would be better people. Who leaves a bag in a place like that? Well me! You would have done the same too. Seriously, asking a question in my absence is just not on! What if I did not walk in on that conversation? Poor me…I felt at the mercy of everyone. I was on the receiving end. Oh and I forgot to mention how many times I had to recount the ordeal. It just felt like yanking off the plaster every time I retold my tale of woes. I could see in their eyes that they were saying I was dumb. Well maybe I was but is that why my bag should be lost….or better still stolen? Thank you for reading. Photo Credit: Pixabay You also like other articles in this series. Please click here

Nursing Diaries: The Stolen Bag

Hello people. I hope you are all well and feeling ok? Today I wanted to just share with you guys something that happened recently. I found a birthday card in my bag. It was not mine but one that I had bought for a friend. At the time I got him the card, I allowed myself spend a bit extra customising and acquiring this card. It was a statement type of card. I really wanted to finally express my sincere appreciation of our friendship. He had on a few occasions, gone out of his way to be there for me. Like he really did not have to do the things he did but he did them anyway. Now why are we talking about this card? Well, it turns out that I found this card unfortunately in my bag 3 months after his birthday! Seriously, I though that I had included it with the gifts as I should have. But it turns out that in all the excitement, I had forgotten to include it. As I was about to take my bag out, I did my usual checks to ensure that I was not going out with any left over junk, unwanted papers and receipts from my previous use. It was then, that I saw the card in the corner of the bag. I did not recognise the envelope initially until I pulled the card out. “I feel blessed to call you my brother, Happy birthday. You are the strongest man I know. This new year of your life, God will show himself and stand with you. I pray all storms will become calm. God will never depart from your side. You will succeed against all odds. I love nd cherish our friendship.” I smiled as I read the message I had included on the first page of the card.  On the next page, I saw the verse that I had included which was inspired by the las minute wine I had included in the basket of gifts. “I am not sure if you still drink. But may the wine, like the blood of christ, signify the outpouring of his love and blessings in your life. May this new year be sweeter than this wine… Amen.” The birthday was 3 months ago now and I contemplated posting the lone card to him anyway. It made me laugh when I read it back because I was definitely not feeling that way about this friend today. He had annoyed me a lot in the last couple of weeks. So I feared that sending the card might be misconstrued as an olive branch. That, I was not interested in. I also felt a bit childish, but I like being childish. It makes me stay true to my inner disinhibited child, not seeking to be politically correct! So If I was happy to hold on to the card, why was I feeling uneasy? What would you do in this situation? Will you give the card to your friend anyway? Will you clarify the reason to stop them feeling you were making peace? Like say “hey, this was your birthday card and I forgot to give you then. Read it, feel god, but please let’s go back to our quarrel?” If you don’t clarify you will be the one who made the first move? Right? Thanks for reading

The Belated Birthday Card

Sorrow… That’s all that engulfs me every time I am lost   Whenever I sit down and feel my emotions, they are as raw as they are real. I bring them to life through the words I weave. With each print, my feelings take shape and form within the pages of white paper.   But then again we all have this creative ability and we express it in different ways. Expressing it allows us to share in our divine connection with God. It allows us to humbly be led from within.   To embrace our creative existence is to embrace God the source of all creativity. The things we craft are not ours but God’s…presented to us through our feelings and emotions but expressed by us through our craft.   Whether we sing, dance, write, paint or act, we are all the same. We are seeking to find ourselves through the works of our hands…to find the hidden tunes in the beat of life.   What we have to give the world will be decided by the being who leads us. When and how we will succeed depends on our destiny. Even though we do not find material benefit from our creativity, the immaterial benefit of having the ability to express it is a gift to be treasured.   My soul is aggrieved because what I have created is now lost. I wrote an epistle and poured myself into its creation. Night and day I was a slave to my ability but the end product justified all my hustle. On the day I sought to present the beauty of my creation, it was lost and never to be found no matter how hard I tried.   What does this mean? Why did God allow me access to the creative vault? Why did he give me the tools I needed to retrieve it and take it away from me again. I made a beautiful thing out of the grief that had me bound. Now that it is lost, I am aggrieved anew.   As I sit contemplating my loss, I am reminded of my humanity, my finiteness and insignificance in the grand scheme of things. I am a slave to my creator. I realise now more than ever why I must not let this setback be a distraction from the ultimate goal of partaking in creation as God intends. Or else I would be as lost as the artefact I seek.   I endure pain in many ways mostly because of the emotions they stir in me. Emotions are powerful and they rule the world. Wars are fought, peace is restored by those empowered to steer the emotions of others. Learning how to steer our emotions towards our intended goals is more of an art than a science.   When I lose what I create, it is so that I can become light enough to immerse myself deep within the fount of my creativity. The lighter I am, the more I can acquire. All loss is gain because in the end all is vanity. I did it before and so I will do it again. I will not fear because I am deeply rooted within the river that never runs dry.   I need to still my soul. Calm my spirit so that I can reach deep within. With God, all things remain within reach only if we believe. All hope is not lost. If it has not happened despite my efforts, that means it is not yet time.   Thank you for reading

Creative loss

Mental health is possessed by every one- Fact! I know it sounds like a ridiculous thing to say but for ages I thought that Mental health was a bad thing. Like being mental as people often say. Interestingly, we all possess physical and mental health. Both have to be fairly stable to enjoy some level of well being, quality of life, health. We will all suffer with some form of issues to our health – physical or mental at some stage in our lives. I personally have coasted along fairly normally (whatever that means). But I was shocked when I recently broke down. We all know my status as a grieving mum but I still carry on. I am one of those who just does not stop. I just keep moving, Like the famous saying that if you are on a bike you have to keep pedalling or risk falling. However, you will agree that at some point everyone needs to take a break. Well, being a nursing student means that time has suddenly become precious. There is always something to do. Placement, university lectures, assignments, portfolios and the list goes on. I was unable to switch off from this reality. For a long time this worked. The distraction kept me from feeling sorry for myself. I was happy. During the summer holidays, I tried to maintain my restless ness. But my holiday was long and so somewhere along the line, rest crept in. It was much needed and I just basked in nothingness. I did not even realise how tired I was until I began to relax. Endless days and nights rolled up in one. I was busy doing nothing or something that wasn’t major. I caught up with my colouring, walking, sewing, clearcut, meditation and so on. I even caught myself wishing the holiday would go on forever. Harsh realities began to kick in at the start of the term. I soon began to feel bamboozled with course work. Unlike year 1, we spent what felt like 5 minutes at university and bang! we were in placement. The stress of it all created room for cracks to gradually emerge within my rock solid defences against my sea of grief. I began to feel absolutely incapable of withstanding even the slightest stress. I began to feel scared and anxious about everything. For example I dropped a dinner plate and began to cry. I was not even crying about the plate but I was feeling sad about not being able to hold the plate. Seriously, who even says that? Well I did. I was doubting myself a lot.  Could I really do this? Could I really carry on with my studies? I contemplated dropping out. I felt so fragile, it was unreal. Then suddenly from nowhere, Karl developed an injury. He was in so much pain. I had to nurse him. We soon began to have one Xray, investigation, scan and all what not. I was getting by. Doing everything for my boys as I normally did. Until… One cool windy morning when I completely broke down! I just began t cry uncontrollably. Somehow, sitting down waiting around for Karl’s scans took me back there again. I sniffed the ward and I found myself back at GOSH again with Otito. Why was I seeing images of Otito in my head. He was smiling at me again in his room in the hospital. I longed for him. I missed him. Then next came the superstitions…. OMG, was Karl going to die? Was that why I was seeing Otito a lot? I began to have vivd dreams about my Otito. I would wake up sweaty. It was not a question of not accepting because I accepted Otito’s death before it even happened. I, like every Christian knew that he was in a better place. Yet all my knowledge could not shield me from the feelings I was experiencing. Karl was sick and so I could not even go to him with my feelings. I began to sleep too much, eat too little and just sit staring. I did not even want to wash myself in the morning or go for a walk as I always did. University? I did not even want to attend anymore. I just longed for the peace and solitude of silence. I was enjoying visions and thought of my son. It was comforting and scaring at the same time. What if it meant something bad was looming again. I count take another blow to my being again. I cried and cried alone for days Then… One day, I just booked an appointment to see my GP. You know there was once a TV advert that said the people could tell their doctor if they were feeling sad. Well, I could not access counselling immediately and I knew I was just so sad and helpless. I had headaches, I only wanted to sleep and do nothing. I said all my mantras and they were not working even though I still hate to admit it. Well, the appointment day came and I saw the GP. This GP listened. I wept uncontrollably. I expressed very deep rooted feelings. Her questions were not intrusive, they were subtle enough to help me navigate my feelings. I told her about my fears, my dreams, my sadness. Guess what she said ” Your feelings are quite normal Lauretta. After all you have been through. I am so sorry Lauretta, losing a child is the worst thing that can possibly happen to a mother. I would be worried if you did not feel sad sometimes. I will start you on some medication. What the treatment would do is to help you cope. It will keep you calm and help you find more happy days and less sad days.  Just expect some days like this when you feel so sad…and that’s normal. You are very brave. Coming to us means that you are brave. You recognise that you are struggling and […]

Nursing Diaries: We all have Mental Health!

I have heard a lot being said about Independent Mental Health Advocates (IMHAs). Advocacy services are free, independent and confidential. Advocacy service is free because the patient does not pay for the service but is entitled to the service. It is independent because the staff are separate from the hospital. They are not part of the hospital staff numbers. They exist to communicate the views and feelings of patients to others. Finally, the service is confidential because it allows the patient to speak freely. They create a safe space where patients can express themselves. The advocates are only permitted to breach confidentiality where there are safeguarding and safety concerns. The patient is made aware of these during the initial introductory meetings. Role To amplify the patient’s opinion. To ensure that the patient understands  their rights including why they are being detained. right to tribunals, right to appeal the section etc. To ensure that the patient’s rights are upheld To create an enabling service that empowers the patient to slowly take responsibility for their advocacy. To provide options to the patient so that patient can make choices. To provide moral support to the patient so that they can feel comfortable within the setting. Being sectioned can be an overwhelming time. New faces, new routines can often make To prepare patient for meetings. For example appointments, CPAs, Manager’s hearing etc. There are two types of advocacy services. The Independent Mental health advocacy (IMHA) and the Normal advocacy service. The addition of the IMHA to the advocacy role was implemented under the Mental Health Act (MHA) amendment in 2007. This made it a statutory requirement for patients detained under sections of the MHA to be entitled to IMHA as an additional safeguarding. The IMHA sees the patient when the patient is admitted. They explain the scope of their involvement to the patient. For example they set boundaries. They do not have access to patient’s notes to help the IMHA remain independent and non judgemental. They make the patient aware that they can disclose information but that the IMHA will break confidentiality for safeguarding reasons, or if they disclose involvement in illegal activities eg drugs, arms etc They do not reflect their views when advocating for patient, The service is all about the patient and free from prejudice. The IMHA does not replace a solicitor. The IMHA shares information with the patient. The IMHA is not bound by duty of care for example, they will still advocate for the patient even though the patient may be making an unwise decision. The IMHA is not a complaints department. However, they can support the patient to make a complaint. The IMHA can carry out an escalation on behalf of the patient where they become aware of ill treatment of the patient or a breach to the patient’s human rights. The IMHA ensures that safeguards are in place to protect the client by keeping vigilant within patient areas. The IMHA attends ward surgeries. There, they ask the patient if they will want to discuss issues further when they are unclear to the patient. NEW IMHA RIGHTS IMHA can now be allowed to interview the patient in a private place. IMHA can also be allowed access to the patient’s notes where risks have been identified. The IMHA does not access capacity. The How will the patient access the IMHA service. Self referral is possible through a free phone service Nurses can refer patients to the service Everyone on the ward that deals with client can refer the patients. The IMHA service is not an emergency service and so they will prioritise clients in the order they will be seen How does the IMHA deal with ethical and moral dilemmas? The IMHA maintains professionalism by remaining independent. They set boundaries with the patient from the inception of the relationship and sets realistic expectations for the patient. The IMHA uses clear communication to avoid ambiguity when relating with patients How does the IMHA uphold the advocacy for children The is achieved by clarifying that the service is for the child and the role of the advocate is to uphold the views and feelings of the child even when they differ from the views of those with parental responsibility. There is also a family advocacy service. This can be handled by a separate advocate where cases conflict of interests arise. Sources Interview with the IMHA within the setting The Maze: A practical guide to the Mental Health Act 1983 (Amended 2007). 3rd Edition. Beckenham: Bethlem Royal hospital pp 133-135 POhWER (2016) Independent Advocacy Service. (Leaflet) POhWER (2016) Secure and Complex Advocacy Services. (Leaflet) Action for Advocacy- The Advocacy Charter

Nursing Diaries: Who are Independent Mental Health Advocates (IMHAs)

It’s two years now… How time flies. I just received a card in the post from Great Ormond street hospital and it was too special to be quiet about. You see, for those in my boat, they know how it feels. Everyone forgets. No that’s harsh. Everyone becomes silent… they don’t talk about him anymore. Well, it’s not surprising since he no longer exists. Well, I felt elated today by the card though. Sadly when I tried to call back to send my heartfelt thanks, there was no specific person to take the compliment. Them: My name is XYZ, you are through to the bereavement service Me: Oh thanks, I just received a card and I want to speak with the person in charge. Them: Erm, erm…. there is no one here in the office, will you leave a message so that I can get someone to call you back Then I went blank. Leave a message? what do I say? Please call me back so that I can say Thank you to you. Them: Hello, are you there? Me: Yes Them: So what is it regarding? She rephrased the question. This one seemed easier me: It is regarding my son Otito…my late son. Them: Oh, do you need support? Oh I never knew that they could give support! Me: No (Now I sounded lame. Why was I calling?) I just want to speak with the person in charge. Them: Ok, so what is it regarding Me: Thank you Them: You are welcome Me: No, it’s regarding Thank you. I want to say thank you. I received a card just now and I thought it was very thoughtful. Since they are not around…. if only I had an email for you guys, I would have sent a letter, it would have been more profound. Them: Oh, it was sent by our office Me: Who sent it Them: We did. I wanted to ask the question: “who is we”, I was still thinking… Them: I am glad you liked it. Is there anything else I can help you with Me: In shock because I was still gathering my thoughts. So I simply said…No Them: Alright then, bye, bye. Me: Bye She hung up…. It was in that moment that it dawned on me that no one sent me the card. It was probably a computer. My hubby was in the room and he asked me : “so what did they say?”. Now I wished I did not tell him I was making the call because I did not want to break his heart. Me: They said they sent it from that office. Hubby: What office Me: The one I just called. I was entering limbo again (I normally enter a certain numbness that leads to me staring when I am troubled. I call this my limbo phase). I was still in shock. When I received that card, It took me to cloud 9. How compassionate, how thoughtful and kind of them. I should not have tried to call to say thank you. After all, did I do that last year? Mba …No! I was not happy that no one seemed to send the card. First she said they were not around, next she said “we” sent the card. But anyway even if “we” sent me a card, it was better than nothing after all all those I knew had forgotten. So cheers to “WE” at Great Ormond Street Hospital, you rock. You guys always loved my boy. I appreciate you all. In future, I would not call to say thank you though. Leave me in the bubble of love, compassion and thoughtfulness that your cards put me in when I receive them. I do not want to be upset. Thank you all for listening to me as always. Photo Credit : Pixabay

Death at my Door (DAMD): 2 years already. When “WE” sent me a message.

I feel the scabs forming daily over my grief. I have started to thaw from where I was frozen with the pain of the loss. I can safely say that I now feel the fresh breeze of life on my skin. Well… I still yearn for memories long gone as any griever knows. But…. I smile because I was privileged to make them with “he is was mine but now flies high in the sky!” I can flex my emotional muscles more. I don’t fight the tears when they pour I know that experiencing them strengthens me and helps reduce the pain.   Now I see the scar forming beneath the scabs that have formed where my heart took the hit at his demise. It still hurts to behold the scar but… The oil of love that surrounds me will melt the scar until it hurts less to look at it. Like every warrior, the scars we bear of the life we live show how far we have come. What is most powerful about the scar is that it reassures us about we are capable of overcoming. If you did it before…you can do it again and you will! No matter your struggle or pain. Keep believing that you’ve have got this! Thank you for reading

Death at my door (DAMD) The Scars

Still on the Faux locks The dread worms had lasted 5 weeks but now they looked like hell. Normally, my hair frizzed for Lagos (That’s when I lived there). Since I moved continents from the tropics to this temperate region, it frizzed for Europe. When the nice lady made my dread worms she said to wait 6 weeks before the next appointment.   Luckily, I discovered the faux locks a few days ago. Why wait any longer? I thought. I secretly sent her a message to secure an appointment. Easy peezy right? Well, not with this woman. She asked me to send her pictures of the hair. I began looking for the brightest part of my living room to capture the hair. I needed her to see the frizz in the hair. Knowing her, she would not book the appointment if it was not ready to be re twisted. She was such a dread lock guru and from all my previous discussions and consultations with her, she was all about naturally nurturing the hair to reach it’s full potential. Yeah man!   Luckily, I was able to capture all the ugliness I needed to secure an appointment. It was to be 2 days later and I was so happy. I spent most of the evening contemplating on wether to ask her about the faux locks by text or in person. The thought that I could actually install the locks in 2 days was so exciting. Why wait? Was it not my money? My hair?   We were sitting in the living room watching a movie when I decided to send her a message We were sitting in the living room watching a movie when I decided to send her a message. You know how messages help cut out all the small talk? That’s exactly why I sent it instead of calling.   ME: “I have a question Susan, sorry to bother you. I want to ask about permanent faux locks ( at this point I was thinking that there must have been temporary faux locks and I did not want any misunderstanding. Meanwhile, the excitement was building up. I was sure she knew how to make them. She knew all things locks!) Do you know how to install them? How much do they cost?   I clicked send!   Phew, there was no going back now. The message was gone now. Although with this new improved what’s app, I could delete it. I didn’t. Instead I waited for her reply. I went to prepare dinner. As I did, I kept looking at my phone screen for updates.   No reply   I watched another movie   No reply.   I was feeling desperate for an answer but I did not want to send a reminder. You know that thing where you want a message to sound casual and not do or die? That was me.   Still no reply.   Maybe she was not home? Or perhaps she had left her phone at home and gone out without it. Or maybe she was attending to a client. She was a busy woman after all. I decided to stop checking and just carry on. If it was going to be, it would be.   Then BUZZZ!!!!   A message and it was from Susan.   My heart was pounding as I typed in my password to unlock my phone and hit the What’s app icon. Yay, It was going to be real? I hope it would not cost a fortune. Whichecver way, I would pay anything to cut out the faffle of waiting around for my dreadworms to grow, bulk up, and all the hoohaa.   SUSAN: “Yes, expensive plus the hair and I need a day. Approximately 165 depending on the length”.   So much for waiting for a reply. I did not get much from it. Although on a positive note, she was engaging with the idea and not attacking it. She needed a day and my appointment with her was in less that 12 hours. I did not mind waiting an extra day to get what I wanted really. 165? Was that the price or the number of strands she had to make? If it was the price for it then that was fine too. As long as I had it done in the end. I was glad that Susan was not giving me a sermon. At least in the end it would benefit her and she would make more money from it. But I needed more answers   ME: “I understand. Is it super duper expensive? Please tell me the length ranges and prices”.   SUSAN: Is this for you? Oh dear, my message sounded general. Of course it was for me.   ME: Yes, or is it too late? Now that I had done the dread worms? (Oh, I had not considered that. Anyway, she did say she could comb out my locks at the 4 week stage.)   SUSAN: Why do you want to rush the growth? Really, rushing the growth? I still wonder why people like to give unsolicited opinions. Why could I not just make my hair in the way I chose without being given advice. Who said I wanted to rush the growth? I understood that the hair needed time to grow but I did not want to wait with it. I could disguise it while I did. I did nor even have to explain myself to anyone. I am a grown woman. I could feel my temperature rising. I started taking deep breaths to calm down because I did not want my disgust to seep through my fingers into my next reply to her.   Breathe in, Breathe out, In….out……in…..out…. “Hey babe, you ok? You seem to be breathing very deeply”, John asked. Oh dear, I did not hear him walk in. Another adviser. The world seemed to be full of them. He leant towards me on the couch wearing his […]

Dreadlocs or Not? : Still on the faux Locs (7)

The placement Visit The placement visit is essential because it provides the student with the opportunity to initially interact with the placement area on an informal basis. It is like a test-run of the real experience and can help the student prepare adequately for the placement. Sometimes, placement areas may be located within an area that is unfamiliar to the student. The visit allows the student make the necessary logistical considerations. For example gauging the distance and time of travel needed to maintain punctuality. A guided tour. During the visit, the student may be given a guided tour of the facility. This can help set expectations about the client group, size and scope of the placement area. Initial conversations during visits may involve disclosure regarding the learning opportunities being provided by the placement area and the expectations from the student may also be disclosed. Research the placement area by visiting their website. This can help the student get an idea about the specific services offered by the placement area. Are they a specialist service? Is there a specific client group For example children, adolescents, adults or elderly? Do they cater for a specific sex for example male or female? In order to get the best from the placement, it is usually useful to read about these services. Ask about the legal frameworks that are regularly linked to the service. For example the Mental Health act, Equality act, Child act, Safeguarding and so on. The placement opportunity may provide the opportunity to see how these laws are applied to practice. Ask questions about the placement. It is useful to have questions written down to create a sense of organization. Finding out as much as possible about the placement during the visit can help set the student’s expectations. Hearing firsthand information from the staff can reduce anxiety. It also helps create the impression that the student is eager to learn. Find out about possible multidisciplinary input. The placement settings give students opportunity to interact with other multidisciplinary teams. It can be worth finding out what other fields of nursing and/ or healthcare are interlinked with the service. This information can create an interesting focus for action plans. During the placement visit, students can ask if there are opportunities to observe these various teams during their interactions with clients to expand the scope of learning. Arrangements may be need to be made in advance to facilitate these opportunities. It is worth noting that client consent needs to be taken into account. Negotiate with Mentors. Students are always advised to do the shifts that are offered by the placement areas. However, many placement areas may be able to accommodate individual requests for varied shift patterns. This depends a lot on the type of service, hours of work and severity of the student’s circumstance. During the visit, students may perceive this flexibility and make such requests. However, this should be done cautiously. Thank you for reading. Written by Lauretta Ofulue. Photo credit: Pixabay

Nursing Diaries: The Placement Visit

Faux Locks I had never heard of the term before. Of course Faux was not a new term to me. After all, I had faux fur tops and bedding, faux leather bags and throws. But that was all there was to the faux business in my life.   I lie though, Come to think of it. Faux means fake, pretend, unreal. So synthetic hair was faux, synthetic wigs were faux as well. But I cross my heart, that is the extent I can stretch my faux knowledge to.   It was one jobless evening when I was engaging in one of my harmless and favourite pass times (internet strolling) that I stumbled into the concept of faux locks. Not the wig locks but actual dread locks but the faux version!!!   Faux Locks? Come on girls? Could locks be fake as well? What happened to the journey with the hair? Self discovery? Learning to be patient and all that? Well faux locks would be rubbish and easily spotted. Surely their fauxness should make them less popular. Nothing like the real deal!   Well, my curiousity had been aroused. I needed to see these locks for myself. One app later, I was on youtube. Search bar, faux locks and Voila! There the locks were in all their glory. They were painstakingly installed and the process had been filmed in the usual youtube way. In less than a day, the ladies created these faux locks that blended in with the actual hair. It was amazing.   Then I remembered that every time I grew my hair previously I always used hair extensions. That way, I skipped the rigourous part that involved all this penance and patience and longsuffering self discovery. I just hid my short hair in the hair extensions which by the way was beautiful while it grew. The thought that it was also possible with faux locks was ecstatic.   I did not tell John about my discovery. No way! I did not want a Gemini cricket that would talk me out of my new found liberation from my dread worms. From what I was seeing on the internet, the faux locks cost a lot of money. I even looked on ebay and 5 strands cost about £10. That was excluding the cost of installation. Surely, my locktician could install those for me easily. Afterall, she would make more money from doing them. I thought that the part involving her would be fairly straightforward.   So this week, my mind was made up. Faux locks it was. Goodbye to talking to myself 100 times a day to boost my confidence. Who said starter locks were beautiful? Well maybe those who had the support of make up. Interestingly, people had been stopping me on the street to ask about where I made my hair. I had given my locktician’s phone number to them. John reassured me as usual that being asked for referrals should encourage me on my journey. It did if I am honest. It absolutely did   ….until I discovered the redeeming faux locks. I now feel liberated. I do not have to wait for the hair or “learn” to love it as it is. I can make it look exactly how I want it to look in a years time…right now! Who said we cannot cheat nature? Eh? 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.    

Dread locs or Not? Faux Locs (6)