January. I have been an inpatient again for a few weeks now. The day I am due to fly back to England for uni has come and gone. The student nurses have CPR training, and I have convinced myself that I’ll be allowed to go too, once I OK it with the nurse taking it of course…Sorted!
Mid afternoon I am bouncing down the ward when I spot the nurse at the door of the nurses station. I bounce over and with desperate urgency, ask if it’s ok if I join in on the CPR training. The nurse laughs and says no. I’m a patient so, no, I can’t join in. At this point I get a little worked up, a little hysterical. I start howling that I’M A STUDENT NURSE TOO!! And I’m missing all my clinical skills!!! [commence crying] So I need them to teach me nurse things!!! Ever so calm, the nurse explains that I’m not well, that I need to get better first. “BUT I AM WELL, I AM BETTER” Right on cue, grumpy nurse starts shouting in the background “NO. YOU’RE NOT.” Repeatedly. In hindsight, the whole thing is a little comical actually, but at the time, I mean it. I was in hospital, watching two fellow first year student nurses doing all the things I should be doing. I was frustrated and upset and I wanted to be the one in uniform, giving out meds and attending CPR training. And I couldn’t.
Grumpy nurse is actually one of my favs, and throughout my admission- like when I storm off in a huff after being told I can’t take part in the training, she shouts down the corridor after me, “we’re W A L K I N G not running!” I am frustrated, but I know she is right.
I’ve been out of hospital a while now- long enough that I can no longer remember exactly how long it’s been.
I’m still back home, still unemployed, still not allowed to drive.
But things are crawling along. Sometimes painfully slowly, but they’re crawling. I’m getting frustrated actually, about how slowly things are going, about how long it might potentially take to get back to where I was a few months ago- on a nursing degree and getting the fuck on with my life.
Because in the meantime, I’m back home, I’m unemployed, and I’m still not allowed to drive.
In the meantime, I attend two-three medical appointments a week, and spend my days trying to Sort Shit Out- like tying up loose ends from uni, sorting my finances, looking into jobs and placements and voluntary work and attending meetings and interviews and training regarding those things. In the meantime, I am still spending a lot of time parked on the sofa in front of the TV.
And it feels very Different. The life I had six months ago is very different to the life I have now. And I’m still adjusting, still finding it hard sometimes to accept that things have happened the way they happened. Six months ago life was busy and fast paced. I was learning interesting things and getting to know interesting people and exploring a new city and I was On Track to getting where I want to get.
I feel a bit like you do in Monopoly when you get the GO TO JAIL card just as you’re about to PASS GO AND COLLECT £200. A bit like someone’s hit EJECT and thrown me right back where I started. Square One.
But every time I start dwelling on that, grumpy nurse pops up in my brain and hollers, “W A L K I NG, not running!”
See, every other time I’ve come out of hospital I’ve jumped right back to what I was doing before I went in. The next day I’m back at work, the day after next I’m back at uni, the next week I’m sitting exams or flying off to nursing interviews. I stick a plaster over the healing wound and jump back into the deep end, head first. I don’t give myself a minute to breathe and let things sink in.
And every time I’ve come out of hospital, it’s not long til I’m back- or at least til I get unwell again.
This time, everyone- especially my CPN- is adamant that we’re taking things S L O W L Y.
So I’m trying that. It’s bloody frustrating, but as the days tick on, I’m beginning to see it as a good thing.
My mood wasn’t *great* when I got out of hospital- I was still only emerging from a bit of a low. But gradually, I’ve been introducing yoga and exercise, each week going more and doing more. Physically, I’m feeling energised, and I’ve noticed a huge lift in my mood. I’m working on sorting my sleep too- earlier to bed and earlier to rise (and sticking to that even if I didn’t actually get much sleep). I attended a recovery college course on Five Steps to Wellbeing, and have been keeping those things in mind and I’ve started doing Acceptance therapy with my Occupational Therapist. I’m planning my days around things like the gym, or appointments in town, or a few hours of voluntary work, or coffee with friends, and using those things to give me some structure. As the weeks have inched on, I’m spending less time in bed, and less time in front of the TV.
And I’m taking things slowly with work. My CPN said on discharge absolutely not a peep about work for one month, minimum. The month has passed and she’s still not budging on it: she doesn’t think I’m ready, and certainly doesn’t want me doing anything more taxing than part time in a shop. So instead, I’ve looked into getting a non paid work placement with a scheme that helps people get into paid employment. It would be 16 hours or so a week, in a healthcare setting of my (sort of) choice. Which sounds perfect- it provides structure without the responsibility of a paid healthcare post, and I’d be improving my skills and gaining experience for both a permanent post in my health trust (hopeeeeefully) and a university application. I’d be starting off small and building myself back up- which I’m starting tor recognise is important.
So maybe things are crawling, maybe I’ve had to adjust to walking instead of running, but mostly, I feel good about things. In taking the time to ~focus on myself~ (lol), I’ve been able to get myself into a better place mentally and I’ve had the time to do the things that helped get me well, and will ultimately keep me well- better eating (thanks to home cooked meals as opposed to onion bajis four nights a week a la uni), better sleeping, yoga and exercise, appointments with my team, acceptance work and err, downtime. Less stress time. And if this work placement works out, I was right to turn down my job offer and not rush back into work too.
Walking, not running.