Nursing school update: Final Year

I cannot believe it’s been a year since I was posting about being finishing first year and now I’m two shifts and an exam result away from being in my third and final year. It’s quite scary.

I’ve somehow become adept at blocking out the inevitable that in another years time I’ll be let out on my own into the big bad world of nursing. I still can’t grasp how I’ll ever be able to remember all of the things I should know, or get rid of the feeling that I’ll be a terrible nurse because of my ‘lack of knowledge’ which I know I can only gain with practice and time. I do however have to hold my head up high and believe in blind faith that I’ll be ok. I will get through it and I will be capable enough.

Granted the fears are somewhat less than they were two years ago when I started this journey. Second year has taught me a plethora of skills and disease processes along with the nursing treatments to aid recovery or comfort. I know a shitload more than I did at the beginning of the year and that says a lot. Yes I still have moment where I think my brain will shut down and ‘poof!’ all the information evaporates without continual practice. But again, blind faith and regular reminders until it sticks will be my way forward.

I remember sitting here a year ago writing about my ‘second year slump’ after a terrible placement with not so nice people and feeling so unmotivated and lacklustre about my future in nursing I cannot stress how different I feel now. Feeling discouraged is part of the nursing game, forever, at least once a week or day, for the rest of your life. It’s because we do a hard job with a lot of responsibility and it’s taken this year for me to realise that it’s ok to feel like that and that most people do, even nurses who’ve been at it for years.

I’ve learned to give myself a break and that I’m not supposed to feel thrilled about every placement or job I have. I don’t need to be joyful about nursing all the time, it’s ok to have days where you hate it. This probably sounds really odd but during first year I would beat myself up for not liking the wards like other people do or having dread over not being good enough because I wasn’t skipping into work every day. 

I’ve got to experience community nursing and theatre nursing this year and I’ve loved it. The wards just aren’t for me, I can do it just fine but it doesn’t make me happy going into every day. However there are so many different areas to work in and that’s why nursing is so unique and worth rolling with the punches for. 

I’ve matured this year and know that a job is just a job at the end of the day but it truly is what you make of it. You don’t need to get trapped in an area you don’t like, you can find somewhere else to move on to.

Fellow student nurses who are feeling discouraged. It will be ok. You’ll find what works for you and if it definitely isn’t for you then you will know in your heart right away. Trust your gut instincts that aren’t led by fear and you’ll do just fine.

We Booked Our Wedding Venue!!! – My tips on picking a venue

Yes!! We have paid the deposit for our wedding venue and it’s booked for April 2019!! I actually cannot believe it, it’s all happened so quickly! If you had told me this time last year that I would have my wedding booked by now I’d of laughed in your face and walked away. Due to our circumstances I had zero inclination that I would even be engaged until I was out of nursing school…probably the smart thing to do but I only have one year to go so it’s not too bad. Another moment in my life where I’ve realised that you can’t really plan for anything like this, it happens when it happens and we didn’t had any intentions of booking something so soon but it was the place we loved and were getting a great deal on it.

Anyway, on with the tips.

Location/Size

By this I don’t even mean the venue itself but the distance you are willing to travel and how many people roughly you would like at the wedding. We thought long and hard about eloping…I’m not even joking but we decided against it because we want to have our families there to celebrate with us. So before the budget and even the time of year we needed to figure out what was feasible to ask people to do. Our families don’t come from money and we don’t have the money to fly people across the world so we knew that we wanted to have it close enough to our hometown that it wasn’t more than an hour away. This isn’t to say destination weddings can’t or shouldn’t be done if that’s your dream then by all means have one but consider the possibility that not everyone will be able to afford to go or may have other commitments that prevent them from going also.

Once we knew how far we were willing to travel we took to the internet…

Google/Pinterest

There are lists upon lists of wedding venues on the internet if you are from Scotland a great place to start is the Scottish Wedding Directory, they have a website and a magazine which give you tips on all aspects of weddings and lists upon lists of wedding venues which you can narrow down by location and size so it’s not so overwhelming. We trawled through the internet and found a few places we were interested in and wrote them down on a bit of paper to come back to as we went along. Pinterest is just great because if you find a venue you can type it in and potentially see it in a variety of different ways depending on who has had a wedding there. It also brings up a few gems that you maybe hadn’t been looking for but that catch your eye in a different way. It also has great ‘top questions to ask your venue’ pages that are super handy.

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Here’s some of the websites we looked at:

https://www.scottishweddingdirectory.co.uk/

http://tietheknot.scot/

https://www.rocknrollbride.com/

Broaden Your Horizons

Personally I’m not the kind of person who can have everything planned to perfection right off the bat…or at all really. Not that it can’t be done but my advice would be to not do that. When we first started looking we wanted a barn feel, then we wanted a marquee, then we wanted a loch, then we…you get where I’m going with this right? Look at everything, even the things you didn’t think you would like because nine times out of ten its then that you find what you really want.

Sleep On It/Budget

Before you email or call any venue space to arrange a meeting sleep on it and come back to it a few days later. During this time discuss a potential budget (this will likely fluctuate over time but a great place to start) and see what you are willing to pay for one day of your life…yes one day, a great amazing day, but one day. If you can afford to spend £30’000 then by all means go for it but don’t get yourself into debt for one day of your life. So once you’ve agreed on a budget come back and look at your list and see what is too out of your price range and what you don’t really like now that you’ve calmed down and can think more logically.

Arrange Venue Visits/Package deals

One you’ve picked the venues you’re interested in, email or call to arrange a private tour and meeting to see what the venue has to offer. Some venues are great for having online brochures but I can guarantee you they don’t tell you everything and a lot of places will tailor a package to suit you. It’s at this point you can really see what you can get for your money and compare prices and packages against the other venues you go to see.

Packages may not be what you’re interested in, you may want to do it all yourself and go to different vendors for different things, some venues allow this, some don’t but it’s up to what you prefer. Work out what will be cheaper and look at reviews for the venue suggested packages and see what you can get the best deal for.

Haggle/Signing the contract

When you think you’ve found the right venue don’t be afraid to haggle with them over the price. If it’s too out with your budget just ask what they can do to bring it down, we did this and saved a load of money. The same goes for signing the contract, don’t hand over the deposit until you are happy with the contract and speak to the events planner about what you would like stipulated on the contract to save your own butt.

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And there you have it, this is pretty much what we did and I can tell you it was a stressful few weeks but it kept us level headed throughout everything and we really got the best deal for us. We have the catering, drinks package, canapes, entertainment, humanist registrar and a whole lot more included in our package, plus the events co-ordinater is like having your own wedding planner and will keep us up to date on everything and email us when we need to have certain meetings etc. Of course we are able to email, call or visit at any time as well which is great but for us this is much more stress free than having to juggle various vendors and what we wanted to do.

My struggle with IBS

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Everyone with IBS will tell you that it can be pretty horrible, the bloating, rushing to the toilet, constipation, nausea, pain, lethargy, food intolerances…it’s not easy and it’s far from talked about. I think given there is no definitive cause for IBS it gives people the idea that it’s not a ‘real condition’. Trust me, it bloody well is and there is no cure. I try not to let it but my life revolves around my bowels…I know, how lovely. I can’t leave the house without my bag of tricks, I’m practically a walking pharmacy and given my passion for going natural, having to take medication pisses me off sometimes.

I take omeprazole every day for acid reflux because IBS doesn’t just affect your lower gastrointestinal tract, it also affects your upper gastrointestinal tract in some people. I also have buscopan for cramping and Imodium if I have diarrhoea. These two are my last result go to medicines when my symptoms are at their worst. I also take ginger tablets which are chemical free, all natural and honestly amazing, to combat cramping before I take the chemical based medications sometimes by taking the ginger I don’t need the buscopan, but sometimes I do and I just have to accept that. I also take probiotic tables in the morning with my breakfast, the optibac ones are my favourite, they are also chemical free and all natural. With IBS you often lack the good bacteria in your gut which aids digestion and absorption of nutrients and I find that both the ginger and probiotics have helped HUGELY with this and my symptom management.

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The main thing all IBS sufferers should do to combat symptoms is change their diet. I have been on a very long mission the past few years to track what foods trigger me. For example dairy sends me off so I have cut it from my diet, chocolate even dark chocolate sets me off, green lentils, too many eggs consecutively, things high in fat and the list goes on. I have had all of the allergy tests and I’m not allergic to anything but have ‘intolerances’ to certain things…how annoying I know but it’s all about being smart.

I meal prep, this way I’m not having to rush to the hospital canteen and pray there is something I can eat that is also healthy. I am lucky because I like meal prepping and I’ve never had a huge problem with my diet so changing to healthier options hasn’t been too much of a struggle for me. Eat a well-balanced diet and be aware that even some healthy foods may trigger you too but try to not get bogged down by that, there are plenty of foods out there to eat. Yes I eat healthy 98% of the time and yes I do miss chocolate, ice-cream and cheese from time to time but not enough to go through the pain and toilet trips. It’s about weighing up how you’ll feel in each situation. Changing your diet will definitely improve things for you and I know it’s tedious and you just want to feel normal and eat the pizza or chocolate because everyone else can but you will feel better not eating your triggers.

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I get annoyed when people think you aren’t eating a certain thing to be awkward. For example my friend asked on her wedding invite if we had any special dietary requirements and I said, dairy free and no walnuts (allergic). She looked at me (she gave me the invite in person) and because I had tried going gluten free last year which didn’t really make a difference to my IBS and went back on it she just assumed this would be the same. She said ‘we’ll see nearer the time’ instead of just respecting my wishes to be dairy free which I still am months later and the wedding is in less than a month’s time. This will happen. People will think you’re being awkward and you have to let it go because they just don’t understand. Stand your ground and keep your chin up, it’s your body and only you can look after it.

Exercise is also a great way to keep your bowels regular and increase energy while releasing bloating and pain. I know it’s hard when you are feeling sick and lethargic but even starting by going for a walk every day to get the blood pumping and when you feel up to it incorporating different exercises into your routine. I’ve done everything from P90X to insanity and BBG (Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide) but I’ve now found the exercise that works best for me and that’s yoga. I could do an entire post on yoga alone and I probably will at some point but just briefly for now, yoga will change your life.

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There are several different kinds of yoga, I dabble with most and have been exercising long enough to know what my body needs and when it needs it, you will get to that stage too with experimenting and time. It’s great for the digestive system with moves specifically tailored for that area of your body. Not only does it help with IBS but it helps with posture, mood, anxiety, strength and flexibility. People often forget that your body is one giant system made from lots of smaller systems working together to keep you alive. In order to be well, all of these systems need to work so if you have to take care of all of you, not just your bowels which trust me will affect more than you’d care to believe, any sufferers out there with bad skin? Just saying.

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Your mind is also a huge factor in IBS and usually if you have an anxiety disorder like myself you will have IBS or vice versa. Yoga tends to have a partner and that is meditation which is harder than yoga if you ask me but sometimes more valuable and something I encourage all IBS sufferers to do because of the link between the mind and body. It sounds airy fairy but if you’ve been in the pain and discomfort I have then you will pretty much try anything and this is free with no negative connotations to your body. Both yoga and meditation also teaches you breathing techniques which help calm your body and stop your digestive tract rushing your food through it or relax it enough to speed it up if you have constipation.

I hope whoever you are you find something that works for you and it will be trial and error, what works for me may not work for you but it’s about dedicating the time to yourself to figure that out. I’m a busy student nurse and I if I can do it, so can you.

Five Things They Don’t Tell You About Getting Engaged…

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If like me you started googling, so I’m engaged, now what? Then this post may help you with your questions…or perhaps just make you feel a little more normal because getting engaged is actually a pretty big deal.

Firstly. Stop and breathe.

I’m here doing this with you because like you I’m newly engaged. I need you just as much as you need me.

Scary Questions

Let’s begin with a scenario:  The ring is happily glinting on your finger, it’s been approximately three hours since he asked and you are being bombarded with questions about how he done it and what the ring looks like and it’s all exciting and new.

Then suddenly someone asks, ‘So when’s the wedding?’

You come to a halt and confusion hits because you’ve only been engaged for three hours and almost instantly you’re expected to know all the answers to all these scary questions that there is no way you can know yet.

Yes folks, this is the reality of being engaged. For some crazy reason people forget that you’ve more than likely got no clue what your wedding will be like or when it will be at this point. Yea you’ve maybe pinned things on pinterest on a private board for the future day when he finally popped the question but in reality they are just ideas…now you have to make that reality? Shit.

This leads to my next point…

Feeling Overwhelmed

This one surprised me because I’ve known for a very, very long time that I wanted to marry my man but when he actually asked and the reality of all the stress that will come with planning a wedding hit me I felt a little panicked. I have anxiety problems and the constant questions made me feel suffocated and actually quite down. We all have an image in our heads of being engaged and we don’t realise how different it will be.

I spoke to my other engaged friends and instead of feeling like a total weirdo they helped me realise that feeling overwhelmed is actually pretty normal and even the most together of people can feel that way at first. To help with those feelings I let my friends and our families have their moment of excitement with us, we drank prosecco and had family meals galore. Once the heat died down we had a weekend that was just about us and no one else. We went to the cinema and out for walks talking about other things not wedding or engagement related and were able to remember that we are still us, we are not just two engaged people.

Not Everyone Will Be Happy For You

This comes in many ways. My friend had people who were simply jealous of her happiness and couldn’t be happy for her making comments to others or to her in a passive aggressive way. Other people have had issues with family members who didn’t agree with how soon they had got engaged.

For us it was people who were friends of ours who were also friends with people from our past who don’t particularly like me, him or both of us anymore. For some reason they don’t agree with our engagement or maybe don’t agree with marriage full stop. Ultimately that is their problem not ours, perhaps its jealousy or perhaps there is no reason other than they simply don’t like us. Either way, don’t let that bog you down. Not everyone can like you or agree with the thing you do but as long as you are in love and happy then screw the people that can’t be happy for you.

The Engagement Party

Not everyone has an engagement party but our parents wanted to throw us one so we are having one in a few weeks time. What I didn’t expect was how stressful it would be. Although the party is being paid for mostly by our parents the guest list, music for the DJ, invitations, decorations, what food we want and so on has been decided by us. Last weekend we spent a day going round houses hand delivering the invitations to save money on postage. It’s like a mini trial run for the wedding in a way.

Again, don’t stress yourself with this. It’s supposed to be fun and you don’t need to go overboard with decoration or a sit down meal just give people a buffet, bar and dance floor and they’ll be happy. Also only invite who you want to invite. Don’t be swayed by your granny who wants your cousins, wifes, neice there even though you have no clue who they are. It’s supposed to be about celebrating with the people you are closest to, so do that.

Feeling Rushed

I might slap the next person that tells me, ‘but places book up fast!’ I’m aware of that Janet, no need to harp on love! People will try and rush you. Tell them to f**k off and leave you alone. This has been the most annoying thing for me. We don’t intend on getting married until 2019 and yes we will start looking at places and planning but ultimately we are not stressing about getting it done in a year or having certain things planned out exactly by this date and that date. Maybe you’re the type of person who likes that and that’s fine, but if you’re not…don’t be pushed into anything by anyone else.

I seriously don’t know why people have this obsession with ‘getting it done in a year’ like take a chill pill Janet, we’re not all rich or have rich parents to pay for things (unfortunately) it will get organised when it gets organised. I in fact relish in the fact I have time to plan and organise and research things properly so I get what I want, hopefully at a discount price because I’ve had time to shop around.

 

 

Each to their own I guess.

Feeling Lucky

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I’ve been in the mood to journal recently which I haven’t felt like doing in a long time. I used to journal on this blog constantly and really talk about my life and my feelings with full honesty and in the past year with time restraints and lack of confidence I just stopped. I’ve kept up the nursing updates and the occasional post and more recently started my chemical free reviews which I do love but when it’s come to me…who I am. I lost that for a while. My fiancé and I had a lot of soul searching to do this past year and I had to live in the real world for a while. It wasn’t pretty and probably would have made for some interesting posts but it was too painful and confusing for me to put into words at the time.

I will likely speak about things as I start to delve into the more personal again, although to this day I still don’t understand why I want to tell the world through the internet these things at all. I guess it’s to not feel so alone and in some way to share the human experience through a passion I fear I will never take further than in a blog and that’s writing. Also, is it so bad to want to look back on your life and re-read the good and the bad and think, ‘well I definitely grew and look what I’ve achieved’?

Maybe it’s the hormones coursing through my body at this fragile time of the month, or perhaps spending the last 48hrs with the love of my life that’s caused me to feel the need to write it all down again. Happiness often causes me to bubble with anxiety because it was lacking for so long in my life but I’m working on that and I do feel much more settled than I ever have. Also the feeling of gratefulness I’ve had the past two days as I lay next to my fiancé in bed curling my cold legs around his warm ones. I feel so lucky to have that in my life, sickeningly so.

We went through a lot the past few years and came through it all, better for it and I look at him and my heart swells. We delivered our engagement party invitations yesterday choosing to hand deliver the ones we could to save some money and of course we ended up talking to various family members on both sides and every single one of them was happy for us. They smiled and hugged, congratulated and even took family pictures with us. I could cry with happiness right now at how accepted and welcomed that made me feel.

I spent a long time having ‘friends’ who only wanted to tear me down, ruin my relationship and one even tried to steal my man. For whatever reason we became ‘public property’ within our ‘friend group’ and the disloyal people came out of the woodwork and started trying to tear us apart. After years of deceit, some of which I had no clue about until at recently as last year I felt like everyone hated me, that everyone was against my relationship and that I was bad for my fiancé. I was well and truly sucked in to their negative behaviours that I now see was jealousy. My fiancé never once wanted to not be with me, even when we were going through the roughest times we had ever faced. I was fooled well and truly by those people who pinned us against each other from the start and of course pretended to be our friends and care to our faces.

It’s hard being with someone from as young as we were when we met. Teenagers are stupid most of the time, they make bad choices and are easily led (generally speaking, not all of course) so to grow up with someone is bloody tough. You either grow together or apart and if you have a similar friend group as you grow they will likely see the good and bad and perhaps wonder what the hell you’re both doing to each other. Don’t judge those snippets you see they aren’t the whole story.

I can now say with certainty that I trust my friends and I have a much smaller friend group than I used to. I am also much more aware of who I start hanging around with nowadays. I just feel so lucky to be so in love and to have so much support. When life is good we need to soak it up and enjoy it.

What is Love?

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Love is different for everyone and has no definitive way of showing itself. Love can be sex but it doesn’t have to be, some of the most sexless marriages are still filled with love. It can be cliché but it can also be random and unexpected. To you, love may be roses and wine, to me it’s the warmth of his hands on my body as we lie innocently watching a movie. Some people argue and love more wildly than others, some are quiet and timid and choose to avoid the subject but the love is no less.

Some things may be ‘healthier’ than others. You should communicate and talk…but what if that isn’t ‘healthy’ to you. This post for example will go against many peoples view of love and will contradict itself wildly…that’s ok. Why? Because that’s also love. A giant contradiction of itself where hate and love are drawing a fine line and where wanting to smother his face as he snores at night keeping you awake is ok…because it’s still love.

It’s confusing and painful and gentle and rough. It has no corners but plenty of places to hide. It makes its own rules and some suck harder than others, in more ways than one. Don’t beat yourself up if your relationship isn’t perfect, I guarantee the person or relationship you are comparing yourself to isn’t perfect either, although maybe some are but peoples perception of perfect all differ as well.

Comparison kills but also set goals so which is right and which is wrong? Probably neither, maybe both. All I can say is do what is right for you and the person you love. Expect the good and bad and embrace them both because both will teach you invaluable lessons. Always strive to better yourself but accept that not everyone wants to change. Most importantly, love yourself before trying to love anyone else.

Nursing School Update – Best Week Ever!!

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(warning – a little graphic at times)

It’s been a while since I spoke about anything nursing related which I always find funny because it’s all I blogged about way back when, before I started nursing school. I think because I’m living it and learning it I can find it hard to have the time or motivation to actually write about it. I am going to try harder especially because in six weeks time I’ll be venturing into my final year.

So I have news. I failed my big exam. I’m soooo disappointed in myself but I’m picking up the pieces and trying to find some time to study for my resit in august. It’s my first fail which I guess is a positive thing meaning I’m not ‘failing out of nursing school’ I just failed one exam. It happens to the best of us…at least that’s what I’m trying to tell myself. I had a meeting with my marker and she said everything I wrote was correct but I didn’t expand enough and give enough detail in my answers so I know I have the knowledge in there somewhere I just need to work on how I answer it.

I did however get another A1 grade for my school nursing placement. This is the thing, I get great grades for my practical skills and actually doing the nursing job. Things like, communications skills, working well under pressure, having the knowledge to perform tasks such as catheterisations and so on but academically I struggle to express that knowledge.

Anyway, I got a great mark for that placement and really enjoyed my time there. I was able to spend time with the district nurses and health visitors as well so I feel I learned a lot about community nursing as a whole.

Now for the biggest news. The placement I’m on now is working for seven weeks in theatre (Operating room) and I am freaking in love. I spent my first week with the anaesthetic nurse and was allowed to manage the patients airway including insertion of an LMA which is basically a breathing tube and something we do get taught how to use in uni. That was so awesome and a little terrifying since it was my first day and he was like, ‘on you go’. I did it though. I’m much more of a hands on, let’s try this kind of person anyway. Learn by doing unless you feel entirely incompetent of course, it’s ok to be unsure and want to watch first as well.

So I then met my mentor this week and she is a scrub nurse so I’ve been able to see so many cool operations and the best one yet was yesterday. It was a GYN list I was on and the surgeon had only seen three of these in his twenty year career. A young girl of sixteen came in to have her vagina surgically opened. She had been having abdominal pain like period cramps but was worried why she hadn’t ever had a period, turns out her vagina was closed up. So he opened it and about two litres of blood came out. That poor girl. It was insane and probably the coolest thing I’ve ever witnessed so far (in that weird way only other nurses will understand).

I’m in love. I have completely changed my ideas of where I want to work and I’m desperate to become a scrub nurse. It’s so exciting and bloody difficult trying to remember all the different trays and instruments as well as dealing with surgeons who as we all probably know are some of the cockiest people around….sorry surgeon folk love what you do, keep saving lives. This Thursday when I’m back on shift I get to scrub in and help set up trays etc. I’M SO EXCITED!!

It’s the strangest environment where people all work really well as a team because they have to basically but there is still bitching going on but it’s all out in the open. These people have the brassiest necks around and it’s fucking brilliant! I’d much rather someone say to me, ‘hon your being a dick’ so I can sort my shit out and move on with my life than be talked about behind my back. And it’s totally ok because EVERYONE DOES IT! That probably sounds like a strange positive but if anyone has worked on the wards you’ll understand what I mean. The tension from all that bitching is unacceptable regardless but especially in theatre where you have a patient being cut opened. Being able to air any issues is so refreshing.

Honestly the most bizarre environment I’ve ever been in. I NEEEEEED to get a job in theatre when I qualify next year. 100%