Lets Take A Minute To Be Real
So, I've been trying really hard to stay positive recently, trying to see the humorous side of all of this- talking about wobbly bits and bad Kim Kardashian jokes. I've felt like all the way through this, the best way to cope is to try and keep positive, to try and see the lighter side of things- bar one slight wobble on a doctor- I had been succeeding at this.
That was until the past couple of weeks. Whatever it is that is going on with my insane body- and we're slowly starting to do all the multitudes of tests to get some answers- it has made me hit my limit of what I can cope with.
As you all will know if you read my last post, and I mean, who wouldn't with a hashtag of #PrayForTheFoof, you will know that I got pyelonephritis on top of everything else. I saw my GP half way through my antibiotic course as was planned and we made some plans, we started some new medications to help with my lungs (god bless anti leuketrines and their crazy nightmare producing side effects). The GP was lovely, but did the dreaded thing of taking some observations- and boom, I was still pyrexic whilst taking antibiotics. Anyone who isn't medical- after 5 days of antibiotics, you shouldn't still be having a temperature.
The plan was to finish the course- and just keep an eye on my temperature over the weekend and come back the following week to update my sick note and just check to see how I was doing.
Now, as we have established- I'm a terrible patient. My temperature stayed high all weekend, but my thought process was, I was speaking to the GP again next week to get my sick note, so it can wait until then.
The GP calls, and asked how I was doing. I explained that my lungs were feeling much better since starting the new wonder drug- but I was still having quite high temperatures over the weekend. So, being the awesome GP that she is- she booked me an appointment with someone to be seen within half an hour! When does that ever happen!!
So I pootle on down to the surgery and I'm seen by an amazing Nurse Practitioner- I sit there and before I open my mouth, hes hooking me up to a monitor.
"Amy, You look shocking"...
"Well, thanks- it was the look I was going for, Death warmed up is totally in vogue right now!"
To be fair, he was right, my heart rate was through the roof, my temp still high- but my blood pressure was stable. We did the wonder that is a urine sample and we were still looking at a big old infection. Brilliant.
So decision time- discussion between the urology team at the hospital, my lovely nurse practitioner and myself- we decided that realistically, nothing would happen much over night, so I would go home with antibiotics and I was to attend at the hospital the next morning at 10am.
I do as I'm told, I get some sleep, take my medicine and head up to the hospital the next morning.
"Yes Miss Overend, you still have pyelonephritis, and your infection markers still remain high. We're going to give you some more IV antibiotics, some more IV fluids and we'll send you home on 2 weeks of antibiotics"
Fabulous... just what I wanted to hear.
More soul destroying, my sick note was extended for 4 weeks. Now, I know that I can go back before the 4 weeks- but realistically, with how I have been feeling, it really isn't likely that I'll be back before then.
Today, my wonderful team explained that even when I am back- realistically I'm going to be going back on a phased return to work, and that I wont be on full clinical duties for a little while. I know that this is to not only protect me and my health, but also to ensure that I'm safe to be at work.
The rational part of me knows that this is the best thing for me, that it will ultimately get me back to my old self at work as quickly and safely for me as possible.
This however, today, hit me harder than I had imagined it would. My brain told me that I was an absolute failure, that I was letting my team down, that the girls in my immediate team who run our unit with me were now going to have to pick up even more of my shifts. I was letting them down, I was letting my boss down, I was letting my girls down, I was letting my patients and their families down.
I feel like my identity is slipping further and further away- I'm further away from going back to the job I love. I don't feel like a nurse at the moment. When I'm sat as a patient, with cannula attempt after cannula attempt coming at me, I feel completely exposed and vulnerable. Sometimes, the teams looking after me knowing I'm a nurse helps- they can see I'm exhausted by all of this, and the compassion of one of their own going through hell really shines through.
But, at the same time, it can be a hindrance.
They expect you to understand what is going on with you- what would probably be explained to the general public- often isn't explained to me.
Perfect examples are things like test results being given to me- I am a neonatal nurse, I deal with tiny humans, with tiny human blood ranges, its been years since my adult nursing years- so when they throw numbers at me, there is an expectation that I should know what numbers mean.
Even things like asthma- as an adult nurse, we don't really get taught about asthma the same way children's nurses do, as a neonatal nurse, my patients don't have asthma. So when you're diagnosed with acute asthma as an adult, things such as inhalers and the use of spacers etc is completely alien to me- but I'm a nurse, so I should know- this means I don't get shown the basic. I have a basic knowledge of inhalers, I know what salbutamol does, but throw in preventers and I have no idea what is what.
Doctors can be quick, in and out because there's an expectations that I wont have questions- I promise you I do. I don't understand whats going on with me, please recognise I'm still a human who is scared and vulnerable. As much as I don't want to loose my identity as a nurse, and trust me its the biggest worry I have at the moment- this is the one time I need you to see past my professional role.
One of the biggest thing that has hit me is the range of side effects from medications I've been taking that I haven't been prepared for, again, because of the expectations I should already know.
For example, Steroids have been utterly life saving for me recently, I've unfortunately needed to be on very high dose steroids for over 2 months- the side effects have really started to impact on my own mental health.
I have had a huge weight gain, I'm puffy and swollen, my face resembles that of a small moon- so much so that I think it is now my face that controls the tides, not the actual moon. My normally thick hair is thinning, and it has suppressed my immune system massively to the point it has caused me to be susceptible to any bug coming my way. Non of this was explained to me prior to me starting the treatment- that could be that no-one expected me to still be on them 2 months down the line, or that there was the assumption that I would just know.
This has meant, when I look at myself in the mirror at the moment, I don't recognise myself. If my skin isn't covered in burning rashes, my face looks huge, my eyes look dark and heavy- I just don't look or feel like me.
When I have been feeling my lowest, I have got amazing family and friends around me who tell me to be kind with myself, to not be so hard on myself, and genuinely, I don't think I would have got to this point without them.
But currently, I don't feel like I'm doing the best I can. Like I've said, I feel like I am a failure and that I am letting people down.
Even simple things, such as going to stay with family are now making me anxious. What happens if something happens whilst I'm travelling? What happens if I become unwell down there and I'm not near the team that know me and my history? What if I go out and forget my epipens and I need them. I can't even leave the house without a bag full of medications anymore.
It's now mentally exhausting, and my positivity really is getting to an all time low.
When people say its ok to not be ok.... I'm not ok at the moment, but I don't feel ok about it.
I want to be ok, I want to be who I was before this started. I want to be my crazy busy self again.
Currently, I'm very much in the fall, break and fail category... My rise, heal and overcome currently feels like it is in the hands of others. I have absolute faith in our healthcare system to find the answers that I need to get me back to where I was before, but my brains expectations and my body's capacity are on very different levels. Whilst I'm stuck in this point, I have to find ways of keeping that positivity up.
Yet today, and I'm sure there will be days to come... I can't keep that positivity up.
I'm not ok, I'm not me and I feel like I'm slipping further away from the me I was.
Yet, this is what I tell myself... I haven't gone through all of this for nothing. It has been a lesson, and it is continuing to be a lesson.
The biggest lesson is realising my resilience is not what I imagined it to be.
Hitting my limit has been a massive test, realising its ok to cry, to let people in and see your vulnerable side has been a massive learning curve too. Even just asking for help, for me is a difficult thing to do- but I'm starting to realise that people want to help and be there for me. For me, that is a massive adjustment I am mentally having to make and its taking me a lot to do that..
I''m not used to feeling vulnerable, I'm used to being the strong one who cares for others- I'm still nowhere near close to adjusting my mind set to needing to be cared for.
But, I guess this is the first step in showing vulnerability and saying, actually- I'm not ok!