I was initially avoiding writing a 'How I am surviving COVID-19' post, but thought about it, and had inspiration from my Alma Mater, CQUniversity. So I have compiled a short post about my experiences with COVID-19 and how I am surviving what has developed into a very interesting 2020 and Year of the Nurse.
After studying my Diploma of Nursing, which required 3 days a week, 40 weeks a year of physical contact and attendance at CQUniversity then transitioning to the Bachelor of Nursing which was almost completely online, with 12 contact days aver a two year period, I was a little shell shocked. But I developed a series of survival skills that saw me graduate with a Credit Average, and awarded the Associate Vice Chancellors Medallion for 2019.
In an age of Chronic Disease, Misinformation, and Coronavirus, Health Care workers have an important Front-line role to ensure the effective care and accurate information delivery to our patients. We often think this role is for our Primary Healthcare providers like GPs, their Nurses, and even hospitals. But the journey really starts well before that. Today I want to share a little bit about my journey through Preventative Nursing and the role it plays in our society.
I write this post after disposing of every last one of my Mental Health Medications. I no longer have a secret stockpile just in case, I no longer live in fear of having a relapse, I no longer have the same internal struggle whether I wished to live or die. I firmly believe that this is All Behind Me.
As you are all well aware by now, I am a massive GEEK. I enjoy table top board games, playing with plastic men, and have waaaayyyy too many movies and TV shows that start with Star. But most of my love for all things geekery began when I was 10, and I was introduced to the wonderful world of Dungeons and Dragons (D&D).
Like a ship maintaining course, we make small adjustments in our lives every day. Sometimes it's as simple as changing the cereal we have for breakfast, changing our morning routines, or adding in a new diet or exercise plan. For me, this week, I have had a challenging adjustment to make... sleep. I would classify … Continue reading Adjusting
When we think of Nursing, or for those outside the field, Nurses, we tend to think of Hospitals, Doctors Surgeries, and Aged Care Homes. But, as my recent furor with the job market will attest, there are plenty of unknown opportunities. I was unaware that some Schools still employ Nurses, there is the Prison system which employs on site Nurses, the Meat Works employs Nurses as I will bear witness to, along with some Mine Sites, Cattle Stations, and of course the Military. My advice to you, as the potential Graduate Nurse, or Re-Deploying Nurse are the following three things; Look Wide, Ask Everyone, Talk to People.
I have always believed that Social Media should be exactly that, Social. I also believe that when used properly great things can be done. Whether it be raising funds for a charitable cause, spreading warnings about flood or fire, sharing News about a lost child, or in my case finding myself a job. During this whole process there were many people involved, many shares, many likes, many comments, there was also a team of people who were praying for me, for the right job, at the right place, with the right conditions. These prayers are the ones that have been answered.
So after a month of being off my medication, looking for a new Job since graduation, and hitting 2020 like an out of shape boxer I thought it prudent to perform a little check in. This serves both to satisfy my own sanity and to let my readers know I'm not completely falling apart. I will use the DASS score to assess where I am at mentally, along with a set reflection as the DASS has its own limitations. I will also share about some of my struggles since coming off my medication and the strategies I have put in place.
For several nights now, actually more like just over a week, I have been having wonderfully vivid dreams. These dreams tend to stick with me when I wake up, and I remember great detail about them. These dreams I share with my wife. She notices that the 'Evil Villain' in all of my dreams bears a remarkable likeness to characteristics and traits of myself. Furthermore, she states, that in these dreams whereby I am "Defeating Myself" perhaps I am actually trying to formulate or perpetuate the idea that I should be removing these sometimes negative traits and bettering myself. To Die to Self, in a manner of speaking.
During my time off I had a lot of time to reflect on where I was, how I was feeling, life in general, and what I wanted out of 2020. One of the thing that I knew I wanted to change was weight, the other was to regain control over my emotions and the ongoing effects of my medication. I noted that my medication could be contributing to both my weight and my numbness I was experiencing. Most of the medication that I was on, namely Seroquel, Lithium, and Venlafaxine all act to reduce the swings in mood and control depressive episodes, but also have the nasty side effect of weight gain. These two factors led to the choice, without consultation with my medical team, to cease my medications. For better or Worse.
I am fat and lazy. I seem unable or unwilling to do anything about it. I attempted to diet on a VLCD and failed, I tried Shakes and failed, I'm eating sensibly with smaller portions and the right food, still FAT!
I was a little stumped on what to share this week as my week has been pretty benign. I thought I would ask the youngest person I know who reads my blogs to give me inspiration, my son. He asked that I write about Relationship Advice, or the trials and tribulations of my teenage years. I have decided that Teenage Years it is. My Teenage years were a rollercoaster ride of emotions, experiences, and interactions. The years can be divided up into School, Friends, Everything Else. This will give the clearest picture of what my teenage years were like.
I am fat. I seem unable or unwilling to do anything about it. I attempted to diet on a VLCD and failed, I tried Shakes and failed, I'm eating sensibly with smaller portions and the right food, still FAT!
As most of my regular readers are aware, I am no stranger to pain. I have suffered through 15 operations in 8 years, have suffered through the recovery for all of them, have numerous permanent conditions that cause all sorts of chronic pain, and all at the tender age of 32. This is not meant to illicit sympathy or cause a feel of shock. This is a cautionary tale that I hope someone who reads this will take heed.
Several weeks into the Shakes and meal replacements. This post has the numbers and the all too telling photos of the progress thus far.
Anyone who has known me for longer then about 15 minutes knows I am an Apple Fan Boy. I have the phone, the computer, the tablet, the TV, and now the wireless headphones. My wife and I decided to treat ourselves to an early Christmas Present. Now I am a firm believer that technology is an adjunct to our daily lives as apposed to necessities, and the AirPod Pros are no exception. They are, however, a superb product and deliver everything they advertise. I will look at the AirPos Pros in the vein of a review, and also dissect the impact of such technology on our lives and society as a whole.
Several weeks into the Shakes and meal replacements. This post has the numbers and the all too telling photos of the progress thus far.
As bloggers we all write for different reasons. Some write to have a message heard, some write to reach the masses, some to simply have their thoughts written down, and some (like me) write to reflect on their life and hope that the struggles they are going through are not seldom alone. When I started Maintain the Rage in 2017, I never expected anyone to read my blog outside of family and friends. To this day I am still surprised by the fact that several hundred choose to visit my blog on a weekly basis. But I am left wondering, what is my reason to write in the future.
Several weeks into the Shakes and meal replacements. This post has the numbers and the all too telling photos of the progress thus far.
This weekend saw another camp with friends and family at Seeonee Park, a local Scout Campground. We sat around and chewed the fat, we played cards, we burned things, we threw the kids in the back of the ute and drove around the grounds, but best of all we simply existed together. These things all created Happy Memories, but there were also the Happy Memories that were triggered by activities. Memories of driving around Nan and Grandads property running errands, memories of bouncing around in the back of the ute mustering, and enjoying the quiet serenity of rural landscape after a hard days work.
This weekend saw the return to something that I love, but needed time away from due to work, study, and mental health, and that thing was Scouts! I was taking part in an International activity referred to as JOTA/JOTI which stands for Jamboree of the Air/Internet. The weekend gives Scouts from around the world to chat to one another and share experiences. It allows the Scout to feel like something bigger than themselves. This weekend was especially special to me as JOTA/JOTI 2016 was my first Scouting event I attended, and JOTA/JOTI 2017 was the first District level event I ran.
The end of the first week of Shakes and meal replacements. This post has the numbers and the all too telling photos of the progress thus far.
I have had the unfortunate issue of being at home away from work. I have an acute case of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and can barely butter toast. It was therefore agreed that I stay home until it is remedied. So far we have done the conservative, today I am having a Cortisone injection, and we will see how everything unfolds from there. Anyway, as a result of all of this I am at home. While everyone is at work, school, or daycare. I have been completing small tasks as much as my wrist will allow. Unfortunately, most of the tasks I want to achieve require way more physical capacity than I currently have. This has left me with waaaaay to much time for my brain to go into overdrive, schemes and plans come out of said overactive brain some of which are probably best left as ideas, and too many hours to be wracked up on my favourite game Dragon Age: Inquisition.
For those astute readers out there you will notice that this post seems remarkably similar to my previous Weigh in day Wednesday Weigh Day. In that series I endeavoured to loose weight by reducing my daily intake of Kilojoules to 5000 per day. After 18 weeks of dieting I had lost roughly 16 kilos, but my depression decided to kick me in the guts and I began over eating, indulging in way too many sweets, and comfort eating almost every meal.
In my continuing series on My Rockhampton I have decided to share the story of my local Green Grocer, Berry Good Produce. For me, Berry Good Produce epitomises the very essence of local retailer. Berry Good sells not only his own produce, but sources the best our region has to offer. He gives the smaller producers a chance to have their produce seen and tasted by the people of Rockhamtpon. This Co-Op is what has seen the exceptionally friendly Green Grocer evolve from an overspilled Gazebo in the carpark, to a large store front with an ever expanding range of produce.
For those who have been reading for a while, you know that I love supporting the local guy where I can. If every dollar I spent could stay in the region I am residing, I would make it so. In that vein of thought my local butcher, Parkhurst Quality Meats, not only provides me with a large variety of butchered goods, but has second to none customer service, and an attitude of constant improvement and development.
A Doctor and friend of mine once told me that "You are unlikely to change until you reach a particular point in your life, and point is Rock Bottom, then and only then will you make real change". Though I agreed with his sentiment at the time, I had achieved so much without having to hit Rock Bottom that I didn't completely take on what he said. This week I think I have hit that point. I knew that between my medication, my depression, and my bone idol laziness I had gained most of the weight I had lost. I didn't realise that I had actually found more. To date I am 140kg. Last time I was even close to this was 2007/2008 when I decided that I was going to join the Navy, and had to lose 50kg to do it.
An open letter to you, the Reader
Anyone who has seen my Facebook feed this week would know that I finished my final placement for my Bachelor of Nursing this week. This means that I no longer have to wear the Teal uniform of choice, I no longer have to practice under someone else registration, and I no longer need to work for free. But despite all of the finality, and opportunity that lies ahead, the journey to this point has been both enjoyable and enlightening. Every department had its own secrets to share, every shift had a lesson to be learnt, and patient a mystery to resolve.
An Open Letter to my Body from My Stomach
A little over 3 months ago I wrote an article called My Rockhampton, in which I shared some of the things that, to me, make Rockhampton the place I love. Well, I have decided to start getting a little more specific in what I think make this city so Great. I will share am going to share, on no regular interval, the cafe's, restaurants, retail outlets, butchers and many more places that make Rockhampton the brilliant place it is. Today, I am going to focus on a nearly unheard of Restaurant near the CBD called The Barbecue Box.
An open letter to my Stomach were we discuss the overconsumption of all things sweet, portion sizes, and food choices.
Advocacy is one of the most important and under utilised component of a Nurses job. It sits at the very core of our being, the reason behind every action, and heart behind every conversation with a Doctor. Recently, whilst caring for a patient, I didn't exercise my right to advocate for them, and as such they have continued to be mis-managed. For confidentiality reasons I will not disclose particulars of the patient, but will instead refer to them as Jeff. I have come up with a nemonic of ABCDE to remind me of the components of Advocacy, and I hope they will help you too.
I have started my placement in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of one of the hospitals in my region. Like most ICUs they run on 12 hour shifts, specifically for the one I am placed at 0700 till 1930 and 1900 till 0700. On the surface this seems great, over 3 weeks you work 10 days and are still counted and paid as Full Time, you have 11 days off over the same period, there is no such thing as a late-early, and the likelihood of being asked to stay back is greatly diminished. Though all of these things are true, and I will expand on some in a moment, there have been some interesting issues develop along the way.
I have written a lot about different portions of my journey, whether; weight loss, depression, parenting, nursing, or other facets of my life. In almost all of these posts I am either striving to reach a particular point, or I am trying to stretch myself. The commonality between them, however, is the continued dissatisfaction with who I am, where I am at, or even how I am perceived. Now, I am not saying that we shouldn't push ourselves to grow, or to improve, stagnation is the enemy. However, I am reaching a point in my life whereby I need to accept me for me, and not always looking at myself in a negative light.
This week, and subsequently the week prior, saw me completing my two week placement in our local Emergency Department. Originally I was merely excited to just get a glimpse of the chaos and mayhem of ED. Having now spent the two weeks in ED.... I WANT MORE!!!
As most readers will know, I am a Nurse. This awesome, wonderful, and rewarding careers comes with it once teeny tiny little drawback, Night Shift. As 1.4 million Australians know, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, that shift work is hard, a rotating roster is had, and Night Shift is just the pits. There are however a few things that you can do to help get through the shift and subsequent days following.
Last week I wrote about where my headspace was at, the immediate actions that were taken, and the decisions that still had to be made. This week I have been reaping the benefits of the changed medications, Thiamine, and the ever recharging event of Camping. All of these have been attributing to a greatly improved mood, improved motivation, and reduction of both negative self talk and suicidal thoughts.
Last week I posted about where my headspace was at. This week I met with my Psychiatrist. The meeting went as well as I could expect. Discussions were had about things I didn't think I would have to live through again. Discussions were made based on my headspace now and the similarities to where we were almost this time last year. I am not going to lie, it scared me a bit.
This is the Eighteenth week I have been somewhat aware of, and concerned by my weight. The past two weeks have been hard with my Depression taking a bit of a strong hold. As such, I have been comfort eating, punishment eating, and just general being a fatty eating.
This week I have been feeling the weight pushing down on me harder and harder. Every day seems like I have found a new way to disappoint myself and those around me. Little Luke seems to be becoming more and more negative, and that voice is getting louder and louder. The scary thing is I think I am starting to believe what he says. I think I am seeing myself as he sees me. I feel myself collapsing under the weight of it all.
For those who have been following my journey through Depression and Anxiety, you will know that the trip has had many twists and turns, ups and downs. Well unfortunately I appear to be at one of the downs. The past couple of weeks has seen my motivation decline, mood slip, and overall my headspace to take a sharp turn towards the negative. So much so that my Psychologist left our routine session and made a time with my Psychiatrist for the end of our session. Made me feel awesome, huh?
Well I thought the First Year went by quickly, it seems as if I blinked and the second has disappeared. I thank everyone for coming on this journey through depression, weight loss, nursing, parenting, and life as a whole. It has meant so much to me that you have decided to come along for the ride.
Welcome to the Sixteenth post of a continuing series of posts called Wednesday Weigh Day. These posts will be a tracker for my progress through weight loss, hopefully, and a way to share my journey, and some of my recipes.
The word Duplicity conjures up imagery of being deceitful, untrustworthy, or as the literal translation goes actually two faced. However, there is another meaning to Duplicity which is the state of being whereby you feel two normally conflicting emotions at the same time, both are equally as rational as the other, and both are valid emotions at the time. The later form of Duplicity is where I am at. I feel torn inside myself, like there is two me's occupying the same space. I cannot help but think of the movies Split and Glass, both of which have a character who suffers from Disassociate Identity Disorder and has 24 known and identifiable identities occupying the same body. I am not saying that I am developing DID, but it helps draw the parallel.
Welcome to the Fourteenth post of a continuing series of posts called Wednesday Weigh Day. These posts will be a tracker for my progress through weight loss, hopefully, and a way to share my journey, and some of my recipes.
Through our day to day lives we reflect, review, argue, weigh up, decide, and posit over a myriad of different things. Sometimes this internalisation can be heard inside your head as an echo of your own voice. Some see this as the classic Devil vs Angel on the shoulder, or others as a respected figure they hold dear. Myself, I hear me echoed around in my head, this is sometimes drowned out by the noise around me, other thoughts, or otherwise. When I am reading it is the voice that reads the word, and even when I am writing, like right now, he is the one dictating what is to be written. This is Little Luke.
Welcome to the Fourteenth post of a continuing series of posts called Wednesday Weigh Day. These posts will be a tracker for my progress through weight loss, hopefully, and a way to share my journey, and some of my recipes.
Dear Mum, There are so many things I want to say, and I feel that I lack the vocabulary or the nuance to say them all. Firstly, and more obviously for-mostly, I love you. That isn't to be taken lightly or seen as a passive line, I mean I love you. You are selfless, generous, loving, kind, and caring. You are the largest influence in my life for those traits in me. Without your influence, I would not be half the man I am today.
Welcome to the Thirteenth post of a continuing series of posts called Wednesday Weigh Day. These posts will be a tracker for my progress through weight loss, hopefully, and a way to share my journey, and some of my recipes.
In my life I have lived in a number of cities, across most of the states of Australia. I have seldom called any of them home. I have felt that for the most part I was either a visitor, or an outsider. Even Canberra, where I spent most of my formative years, where I purchased my first house, and where my two best friends reside, I still struggled to feel a sense of community. Rockhampton, however, has surpassed that. I moved to Rockhampton in 2014 with my wife, and son. We bought a home, and started to grow roots.
Welcome to the Twelfth post of a continuing series of posts called Wednesday Weigh Day. These posts will be a tracker for my progress through weight loss, hopefully, and a way to share my journey, and some of my recipes.
Dear Wife, I know you hate these public displays of emotion. They cause you to feel anxious, shy, and force you to become a little more recluse. I know that what we feel is between Us and God. I know that everything I am going to say here is of no surprise. But it shouldn't be. This should be nothing more than an overly public confirmation of everything you already know. But I am going to share it anyway.
Welcome to the Eleventh of a continuing series of posts called Wednesday Weigh Day. These posts will be a tracker for my progress through weight loss, hopefully, and a way to share my journey, and some of my recipes. With a current Daily Kilojoule goal of 5000Kj, to better tie in with my wife who is also on the weight loss journey, and to expedite the weight loss so I can wok out my neutral caloric intake. I have been on the 5000Kj goal for just over of a month now and have settled into the reduced intake reasonably well.
We are all so focussed on where we are going. The next goal, the next promotion, the next holiday, even our next home. This forward focus is needed to ensure we don't stagnate, but at time we focus so much on the future we lose sight of where we are, and those who are on the journey with us. As we travel down the road of life, we sometimes need to stop at point in the road, look at how far we have come already, and refocus with a renewed energy.
Welcome to the Tenth of a continuing series of posts called Wednesday Weigh Day. These posts will be a tracker for my progress through weight loss, hopefully, and a way to share my journey, and some of my recipes. With a current Daily Kilojoule goal of 5000Kj, to better tie in with my wife who is also on the weight loss journey, and to expedite the weight loss so I can wok out my neutral caloric intake. I have been on the 5000Kj goal for just over of a month now and have settled into the reduced intake reasonably well.
One of my readers asked if I could write about my study disciplines, what I do to stay on top of my assignments and study load. I have written in the past about being a studious student, returning to study, and the sacrifices made along the way. To truly understand how I keep on top of University, or TAFE for that matter, we must look holistically. After all it no good looking at the bridge without understanding how the rudder works.
Welcome to the Ninth of a continuing series of posts called Wednesday Weigh Day. These posts will be a tracker for my progress through weight loss, hopefully, and a way to share my journey, and some of my recipes. With a current Daily Kilojoule goal of 5000Kj, to better tie in with my wife who is also on the weight loss journey, and to expedite the weight loss so I can wok out my neutral caloric intake. I have been on the 5000Kj goal for just shy of a month now and have settled into the reduced intake reasonably well.
As most of my regular readers would be aware I am a father to three beautiful children, two young girls who are One and Three, and a 16 year old boy. For those doing the math in their heads, no I did not have a son at 15, Joseph is my wife's son to her first husband, and he is my son, period. Having a step-child is no real different to having children, you still need to love on them, guide them through trials and tribulations, and you need to be there when times are taught for them. I wrote a while ago about boundaries, and encouragements for the children, and all of this is extremely relevant, but there are some pitfalls, and they are quite deep.
Welcome to the Eighth of a continuing series of posts called Wednesday Weigh Day. These posts will be a tracker for my progress through weight loss, hopefully, and a way to share my journey, and some of my recipes. With a current Daily Kilojoule goal of 5000Kj, to better tie in with my wife who is also on the weight loss journey, and to expedite the weight loss so I can wok out my neutral caloric intake. I have been on the 5000Kj goal for just shy of a month now and have settled into the reduced intake reasonably well.
Over the past couple of weeks I have been reflecting on palliative care and what it is to experience a Good Death. I have had the honour of being a nurse to several patients in their final days and moments, and to my glee they have all experienced what I would call a Good Death. This also triggered thoughts surrounding my family losses in recent years, and the ones that are to come. More broadly this raised the discussion around assisted suicide and the moral, legal, and ethical issues surrounding the idea.
Welcome to the Seventh of a continuing series of posts called Wednesday Weigh Day. These posts will be a tracker for my progress through weight loss, hopefully, and a way to share my journey, and some of my recipes. With a current Daily Kilojoule goal of 5000Kj, to better tie in with my wife, who is also on the weight loss journey. I have been on the 5000Kj goal for a little over a fortnight now and have settled into the reduced intake reasonably well.
In every day life we all sacrifice one thing for the sake of another. Those of us with children this seems to be the status quo. Our sacrifices could be be studying to better ourselves and move further along in our profession, working long or odd hours to increase our income through shift loadings or facilitate care of our children, and sometimes it is merely sacrificing what we would like to do in order to do what we should do for our family, our loved ones, or even ourselves.
Welcome to the Fifth of a continuing series of posts called Wednesday Weigh Day. These posts will be a tracker for my progress through weight loss, hopefully, and a way to share my journey, and some of my recipes. With a current Daily Kilojoule goal of 5000Kj, to better tie in with my wife, who is also on the weight loss journey. I have been on the 5000Kj goal for a little over a week now and have settled into the reduced intake reasonably well.
Self care comes in many forms; for some its a walk or run to clear the mind, others it's writing or creating something, whatever the self care is it's important to engage with in it as often as required. We often don't take the time for self care, thinking it is a selfish endeavour, or that we are coping fine with our daily struggles. The reality is that more and more people are suffering from depression, anxiety, and are committing suicide because they cannot see the way out of their situation. Last year I was in that very situation. I was not self caring as I should have been, and it nearly cost me my life.
Welcome to the Fifth of a continuing series of posts called Wednesday Weigh Day. These posts will be a tracker for my progress through weight loss, hopefully, and a way to share my journey, and some of my recipes. With a current Daily Kilojoule goal of 5000Kj, to better tie in with my wife, who is also on the weight loss journey.
By the time you read this, the University semester has begun again. I will no longer have free time to indulge, sleep will cease to exist, and I will be semi-permenantly hunched over my computer. But on the bright side, it's my final year, I am studying something that I love, and every moment I spend in a book is another skill or piece of information that I can use to Nurse better.
Welcome to the Fourth of a new continuing series of posts called Wednesday Weigh Day. These posts will be a tracker for my progress through weight loss, hopefully, and a way to share my journey, and some of my recipes. With a current Daily Kilojoule goal of 6000Kj.
There are many different things that people use to gauge their self worth. For some people if followers, for some it money, others it might be accolades. For me, it's simply acknowledgment, whether it's being quietly thanked for a job well done, or reads on a blog post, a lot of my self worth is tied up in the opinions and actions of others. This is leaving me downtrodden and despondent as I am not feeling any level of acknowledgment for almost anything I do.
Welcome to the third of a new continuing series of posts called Wednesday Weigh Day. These posts will be a tracker for my progress through weight loss, hopefully, and a way to share my journey, and some of my recipes. With a current Daily Kilojoule goal of 6000Kj.
Though I get many chances to reflect and ponder my life and the direction it takes as we hurtle through this crazy thing we call life, I don't get too many opportunities to be creative with my words. I may be verbose or overly decorative with my choice of words in conversation, after all in language we should not be lazy.
Welcome to the second of a new continuing series of posts called Wednesday Weigh Day. These posts will be a tracker for my progress through weight loss, hopefully, and a way to share my journey, and some of my recipes. From now the daily goal will no longer be 7000Kj, but 6000Kj, in consultation with my Nutritionist.
I am most certainly not a salad loving gentleman. I am most definitely a self confessed carnivore. The dieting that my wife and I have embarked on has seen a rapid increase in the consumption of lettuce, baby spinach, and other leafy healthy things. I have been consuming these things begrudgingly, knowing that I can eat 3 cups of lettuce for 75Kj. I am endeavouring to come up with ways to enjoy a salad, or least make it more palatable.
Welcome to the First of a new continuing series of posts called Wednesday Weigh Day. These posts will be a tracker for my progress through weight loss, hopefully, and a way to share my journey, and some of my recipes.
For those of you who have seen my post on Facebook this week, I am Fat. I would love to sugar coat it, but I am afraid I would eat that too. I am sick of being fat. I am sick of being short of breath when I bend over. I am sick of sweating profusely at the slightest effort. But most of all, my chances of being taken away from my children prematurely is becoming too high.
In todays modern day of 24 hours worksites the likelihood of you or someone you know being a shift worker is higher than ever. About 16% of Australians are shift workers of some varying description. With the advent of Drive-In-Drive-Out (DIDO), Bus-In-Bus-Out (BIBO), and Fly-In-Fly-Out (FIFO) to only are people working different shifts but are doing so away from their families for large chunks of time. You then have our service men and women in the ADF who can be deployed for 3, 6, 9 or 12 months at a time, away from everyone, in harsh and dangerous conditions.
I have been Nursing for about a year now, which isn't a lot in the grand scheme of things but never the less, and I have had the pleasure of experiencing Mental Health Nursing in two different facilities, Medical Nursing in two seperate facilities, Aged Care Nursing, and Surgical Nursing. Though this only scratches the surface of what nursing is available with; Oncology, Cardiac, Emergency, Intensive Care, Renal, Respiratory, Rural and Remote, and Midwifery just to name a few. I have recently been reviewing my career and what each section has taught me, showed me, and revealed to me about my nursing.
Despite being as supported as I am, you know who you are, bring well medicated, having professional help, and generally doing infinitely better than 6 - 12 months ago, I still find that I am dragging the chain a little. Now, most people would say the I am just being too harsh on myself and I need to cut myself some slack, but I still feel that I am sometimes actively avoiding chores, activities, social events, and family moments. This cannot continue.
We all carry memories of a life gone by, some of these are happy memories, some of them not so happy. Regardless of their positive sway memories are the foundation of who we are, they dictate how we behave in given situations, and when presented show the outside world a little piece of yourself. Memories these days are displayed in a number of ways, the spoken word through tall tales and exciting reenactments, physical objects such as printed photos or trophies or even items of clothing, and the digital which in todays 21st century world is rapidly becoming our memory storage of choice.
Three months ago I wrote about goals that I wished to achieve in the near future in a post called Fixing a Headmark. As I go into 2019 I am compelled to not have so many goals as to have a way forward, two weeks ago I wrote about my desire to lose weight in the post Setting Goals. Both of these posts are still 100% relevant and correct, and this post is not designed to overwrite them or contradict them. Instead it should be seen as complimentary.
I sit here at my computer getting ready to write this weeks blog and my mind is a complete blank. I read back through my recent posts to see if there is something that needs a conclusion, read back through the end of last years for inspiration, and I think about the week that has been and realise that I have covered all that has needed coverage. It dawns on be, whoever, that I have not written about how life is post treatment, with a stable medication regime, and all things considered a reasonably stable and improved mood with no suicidal ideation. So now I am.
Each year it is not uncommon for people to set New Years Resolutions, or goals for the proceeding year. Though I do not personally subscribe to the idea of a News Years Resolution, like January 1st is the only time of year you can set goals, I do subscribe to the notion that we should be constantly growing and moving forward. To that end I have three overarching goals for 2019, along with a slew of smaller ones, that I would like to see achieved.
Today I conducted a little experiment to see who was paying attention, if there were any folks out there who have been paying attention to my posts, tweets, and articles. The result I have is unfortunately not surprising, and is the reason behind my post today. As a community, whether Maintain the Rage, Church, School, Friends, Family, Work, Clubs, Hobbies or otherwise we need to ensure we keep a closer eye on one another, and Check In once in a while.
Tis the season and unless you have been living under a rock, with earplugs in, completely blocking out the outside world, you are no doubt by now completely overwhelmed with Christmas carols, sales, advertising, lights, trees, and that one person at work who seems a little too involved in the whole Christmas Cheer side things. I am going to start by saying I am not exactly Christmas's biggest fan, not the reason behind the season which is the birth of Jesus Christ, but the commercial, Santa Clause, snow effect, carolling, blinking lights, nonsense that the day and subsequent season has become.
My wife wrote a post this week surrounding her love affair with food and the journey through anorexia to now obesity, this isn't being mean just factual. This has sparked me to share my story, feelings, and love hate relationship with food. I hope this post will resonate with someone and you are empowered to take charge of your intake.
For the past 10 weeks I have been taking part in a local life group, a small group of people from church who meet on days other than Sunday, that focusses on being able to deal with life hurts, hangups, habits and hard times called Anchor.
My journey through mental health has taught me a great many things about what it is to have a mental illness and how it feels, the daily struggles of even the simplest tasks, and how the world views you because of your mental illness. So I thought I would share my insight in the way of a Fast 5, in an effort to increase awareness, decrease stigma, and generally try to build a better future surrounding mental health.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about my desire to "get my old brain back" and how I was despondent because it felt like everything I did was laborious or these things didn't happen at all. I was also concerned that my drive to achieve things, my edge, the 'A' factor if you will was some what lost. Well it seems I was running an old version of OS and it just took a little while to reboot, as this week saw a return to a slightly less manic, and more controlled version of my previous self.
I was recently interviewed by the Australian Teachers Magazine for one of their upcoming Student Guides. I was humbled and privileged to be a part of something that could potentially impact on the next generation. Part of the process was an interview in which a variety of questions were asked regarding my educational journey, my journey to becoming a nurse, and it culminated with the final question which was If you could give just one piece of advice to a student considering further study, what would you say to them, without hesitation I answered with Just do it!
Over the past couple of weeks since ECT I have been blessed by the almost complete removal of Suicidal Ideations, reduction in the feeling of depression, and the decrease in general negativity. With this all been said, as I have been back at work, endeavouring to be more proactive around the house with both chores and children, and participating in Bible study with my wife every evening. All in all things have bee going pretty well, but there are a few things that have made me want my old brain back.
This week saw the last exam for the semester, and the last contact day for University in 2018. Though I have enjoyed the learning and content covered this year, I am also looking forward to having some down time and enjoying time with the family, friends, hobbies, and other neglected facets of my life. The journey through 2018 has been an interesting one, with a new child, new mental health issues, and the challenges of continuing to juggle everything else.
Anyone who has been following my social media on Facebook or Twitter, and those who have been reading my blog for longer than a week will know I have Depression and Anxiety disorder. This has meant that I have had a course of ECT, been on a myriad different medications, and see a psychiatrist and psychologist on a regular basis. All of this is done with the hope that I can continue to exist with some sort of sense of "normality". As part of that I endeavour to continue to live my life as though my mental illness didn't exist, I study, I parent, I work, and I try to be there for my friends. Sometimes things don't always go to plan.
I have been wracking my brain trying to think about what this post was going to be about. I kept bouncing between my mental state, my placement, my family, my study, and everything else in between. I couldn't sensibly decide on one topic to share with you all. So I have decided to share all of them. This weeks post will be The Week That Was.
This week saw the end of my treatment. No more Electro Convulsive Treatments. No more trips to the hospital to have a current run through my head in the vein hope that it will set me straight. It also hopefully means an end to the annoying memory loses I have been experiencing the past couple of weeks. It also, hopefully, means I can just move on with my life and go back to living it.
With three treatments left this week, I am finally on the downhill run. I am not going to lie, I will be glad to have the treatments all done and dusted, be back at work, and resume some sort of normality. The memory loss has been quite significant this past week, with some of those memories being shared with you this post. I don't regret choosing ECT as a route, I firmly believe that without the decision to undergo ECT I wouldn't be here to whinge about it, or its side effects.
The past week has been a little tumultuous with the dizzying heights of the Queensland Training Awards, the crushing depths of my depression, which comes with all the treatment side effects following ECT. I would love to claim that my week was smooth sailing. I would love to save that the Awards where the boost to my confidence and self worth that I needed. I would love to say that my treatment has been amazing, I feel better and that I have suffered no ill effects, but alas I cannot. Instead I will share with you the very raw details of the week that was in the hope of raising awareness of mental health, rescuing stigma surrounding ECT, and to encourage others to push themselves and study further.
For those of you just tuning in I have been receiving ElectroConvulsive Therapy (ECT) for a little over a week now, and the experience has been eye opening if nothing else. Firstly, I will say that any treatment should be weighed up with its pros and cons, and should be considered by the individual. I considered ECT to be my solution to a problem that was all too likely to be fatal. Secondly, the person undergoing ECT will need all the love and support those around them can muster, for reasons I will go into in a moment. Finally, I am profoundly thankful for those around me, friends, family, or otherwise, without you I wouldn't be able to go on this journey.
I feel compelled to write about my most recent ElectroConvulsive Therapy (ECT) experience. For those who aren't aware I am undergoing a course of ECT for my Depression, after attempting many different anti-depressants and mood stabilisers, along with cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), despite this my Suicidal Ideation continued, and actually resulted in a plan.
This past week hasn't improved on the last, if anything it has continued into steady decline. I had an appointment with both my Psychologist and Psychiatrist, both of which where planned, and we discussed where I was at mentally and what to do next. The unfortunate side of things was that due to my mental state, thought patterns and suicidal ideation and planning, a serious discussion was had regarding treatment, and how that looked moving forward.
This week has seen a dramatic shift towards the negative, motivation has been low, and I have felt like I have been wearing a lead apron and dragging around and anchor. I would love to attribute my feeling to an event of change in circumstance but unfortunately I cannot. Instead I am left damning my own brain and its inability to remain stable for longer than 20 minutes.
This week I had the inordinate pleasure of attending the Badging Ceremony (Pinning for our American brethren) of a group of Nurses I mentored during their time at the University. I also had the honour of being the keynote speaker for the event, which was a new and exciting endeavour I hadn't yet experienced.
As you all painfully aware, mainly because I don't hide anything, I have an exceptionally full plate. I work full time shift work as a Nurse, study for my Bachelor Full Time, be a Father to my three children, Husband to my Wife, Chair of the Diploma of Nursing Society, Assistant Group Leader of one of the local Scout Groups, and somewhere find time to stop and recharge. This has meant that I am very time poor most of the time and I cut corners to make things work. Unfortunately you can only run like this for so long before you start Running on Empty.
As anyone who follows my Twitter or Facebook would know I was nominated for the Vocational Student of the Year award. The weekend just gone was the award ceremony for the finalists, and eventual winners. The night was amazing, and is completely available on Twitter under the official hashtags #QTACQ and #QTA2018, and all of my coverage is under #MaintainTheRage.
One coping mechanism I have adopted to deal with my Depression and Anxiety is to keep busy. Sometimes I boarder on being too busy and burning myself out, but generally I am at a steady pace of flat out. One of my projects that I have been working on has taken its next step.
In everyday life we all wear masks. Sometimes we put one on so we can work our retail job with a smile, sometimes it's so we can visit our mother in law and keep things civil, other times it's simply so others don't ask us how we really are. That's the mask I have been wearing, and it's starting to get heavy.
I would love to say that I was coasting along, achieving things and kicking goals, staying motivated, keeping everything under control. But I would be lying. Though I have achieved a lot this week, mainly around the house, I have been riding some wave of energy that I know is slowing down and beginning to break. I know that my Psychiatrist can only adjust medications so much before he has to wean me on one, and start me on another. Which just creates weeks of pain. I may not be doing well, but I am surviving, and thats a start.
Most weeks have their ups and downs, most have lessons to be learnt and things to take away, most have happy memories and troubling memories. This week was no different. I have found a new well of motivation, and I have been drawing upon it to achieve things around the house, work my shifts, spend time with the family and try and squeeze in some self care. But not everything goes as planned.
In recent weeks I have been endeavouring to be more motivated, I have endeavoured to achieve more, I have endeavoured to complete tasks that have been on my mind for a while. I have tried to accomplish a lot of these and failed at most.
When reflecting over the week that has been it has certainly had its ups and down. I crammed for my final A&P exam, I was a nervous wreck for weeks leading up to said exam, I featured in my local paper, I started journalling again, I still have this headache I can't seem to shake, I started looking into investment properties with my wife, and I got away with a check up with the Psychiatrist without a medication change. This week has been hectic, in both the amount going on and the severity of the emotional drain. My week can be summed up with Shake (mainly caused by anxiety), Rattle (from the medication), and Roll (because I just have to Roll with it).
Never have I starred into my computer screen, mulled over for so long, pained at the thought of a post as much as I have today. Not because I am unable to write, or because of time constraints, or lethargy. My issue has been how to express what is going on in my Brain, I was reminded of the opening verse of a very well known epic poem by Edgar Allan Poe.
Well its been an exciting first year for Maintain the Rage, and myself personally. To mark this moment I want to share with everyone some analytics from the past 12 months, some lessons I have learnt in this time as a blogger and what is in store for the future.
I feel the need to discuss what lies at the core of everything I do, everything I feel, everything I am. My faith. It is not something I usually talk about on such a wide platform, but it is not something I am ashamed of either. My faith to me is like the unyielding companion on life journey, the supportive friend, the shelter in the storm. In my faith I know who I am and where I am going.
Being a parent is difficult, you need to be a; taxi driver, chef, nurse, teacher, disciplinarian, psychologist, launderer, cleaner, alarm clock, personal assistant, earn a living, and somehow keep it all together. This is made more difficult when you add a large dose of Depression on top. It doesn't change what you do, just how much additional energy goes into achieving it all.
Nursing is a tough gig by anyones standard, the demands put upon us to know medications, procedures, illnesses, conditions, symptoms, cultural traits and behaviours, be able to assess pain, nutrition, hydration, mental state, and to be able to perform our ever increasing mound of responsibilities while maintaining our smile, our professionalism and conducting our duties with aplomb. Then on top of all that add in a large dose of self doubt, insecurity, second guessing, negative self talk, fear, paranoia, anxiety, reluctance, demotivation, and malaise. That's Nursing with Depression.
Firstly, I apologise for the delay in this post, and the absence of last weeks. I was suffering terribly with my depression, motivation was at an all time low, and i had zero energy. Since then, I have seen my psychiatrist, had a medicine change, had a drastic change in diet, and felt better about myself.
I received you letter and thought it pertinent to issues a reply. I would like to start by saying thank you for continuing to provide the medication that is both prescribed and needed. I am aware of the events of the past several months and wish to convey my viewpoint and hope that I am able to provide you with some sort of understanding as to my actions and subsequently the feelings you have been experiencing.
There have been several events over the past months that has me concerned. As co-resident of this body we share, I felt it pertinent to contact you in the interest of working through these misadventures. I would like to discuss the sense of absolute dread for no apparent reason, the overall sense of apathy and laissez faire attitude towards almost everything, and what can only be described as the unwillingness to retain the simplest of information or focus on the task at hand.
I am finding it difficult to be motivated to achieve anything. Betting our of bed is difficult, going to work is difficult, enjoying the time with my family is difficult. Everything feels cumbersome and laborious. I have spoken to my Psychiatrist and he is even a little unsure of a clear direction of where to go.
I am feeling at the lowest point for my my motivation that I have felt since taking my medication. Everything is a struggle, or effort, the things I love doing are chores, and even playing with my daughter or spending time with my very pregnant wife is emotionally draining.
My wife is 38 weeks pregnant, which means at any point she could spontaneously spawn a new little human, and I can't wait to meet her.
I write this as I prepare for my fifth shift out of seven in a row, at which point I will have a day off, then have eight more in a row. I spend my time at home either sleeping, studying or attempting to spend some quality time with the family. I am not work fit at all.
After the past 18 months of study, placements and headaches, I have finally made it. I am working as an Enrolled Nurse. Though this is just the first step on a long road it is an important one, and one I am enjoying every step of the way.
So as my medications begin to take a better effect and I can see improvement on the anxiety front, I am faced with returning to work and the beginning of University in a couple of day. The reality of how much work I have ahead of me is starting to hit home, and I would be lying if is said I wasn't a little nervous.
This week has been an improvement, when compared to those recently. I have had fewer anxiety attacks, not to say none, more days with a positive outlook, and fewer ideations. When all things are considered, a reasonably good week. Then to top it all off, my Nursing Registration came through finally, so I can now start work in the coming weeks.
After seeing my Psychiatrist, and following a dismal week of terrible anxiety and low mood, we have decided to make some medication changes. We have also decided to continue with weekly visits, and I have no doubt after talking with my Psychologist today, Monday, that will change to a more frequent visit as well. It's going to be a long road to recovery I feel.
I write this post following a rough week of anxiety and frustration. I write this knowing that I am going mohave a rough couple of weeks ahead. I write this knowing that despite complications my Psychiatrist is doing everything he can. I write this so people know and understand what I am going through. I write this to normalise the conversation. I write this as I am sitting here scared that I will loose myself.
So over the past couple of weeks I have been writing about my journey through a poor state of Mental Health; New Year Just Me, Breaking Point, and First Steps. Since then I have seen a Psychologist, and a Psychiatrist and been on differing medications for a fortnight. This post will be a reflection on the week that was. Please note I will not hold back on what I have experienced.
In any journey to recovery there are the first steps that need to be taken. For a broken limb its weeks in a cast, for and infection its antibiotics, but for depression, anxiety and other effectors of Mental Health, the first step is asking for help. I have now taken my first step.
I write this post as my Mental Health is at one of its lowest points I can remember. I share this with you all for two main reasons, so you don't fall into the same pitfalls, and to keep me accountable. For some of the readers this will come as a shock, for others and inevitability. Let it be known, I may not be OK today, but I will preserver.
I like to think that things are going pretty well. I completed my Diploma of Nursing at the end of last year, I have secured a full-time job as an Enrolled Nurse at the Facility I wanted, I have a new baby girl due in the early days of April 2018, and my other two children are doing swimmingly. Yet, I feel drained, I feel apathetic, lethargic, I feel that everything is an effort and one more often not worth beginning. I am struggling.
So my darling little girl, Darby, is turning two in a little under two weeks, and she is in full swing of the terrible twos. Though she is by no short order the worst two year old I have seen, looked after or heard of, she is definitely pushing the boundaries and exercising her authority.
For those who haven't been keeping up with whats going on, I have completed my Acute Care Placement and subsequently my Diploma of Nursing. It was a great 5 weeks, there are daily Reflections to catch-up on, and a wonderful experience. Following on from that we all had our Badging/Pinning ceremony on Wednesday as a graduation of sorts. I was then lucky enough to be asked in for an Interview at one of the Local Private Hospitals.
Over the past Five Weeks I have completed my Acute Care Placement for my Diploma of Nursing, to catch up on the day by day click here. Over that time I learnt may very valuable lessons, what many tasks drains can be used for, the effect of different sound care products, the differing cocktails of anaesthetics, and how diverse the multidisciplinary team really is. But given that most of that can be learnt from a book or educator I will leave those particular lessons to them. Instead, I will focus on the lessons that are picked up along the way, shared by other nurses and learnt from the patients themselves.
Day 25, my FINAL DAY of my Acute Care Placement, my final day in Theatre and my final day as an EN student. All in all, a momentous occasion. I saw my first set of Dental surgery, completed the last of the task book, enjoyed a nice lunch out provided by the facility and very un-ceremonously completed my placement.
Day 24 of my Acute Care Placement. My second last day at the facility, a return to the Operating Theatre and a series of new experiences. I had the privilege of sitting in on an abdominoplasty and bilateral brachioplasty first up this morning, then spent the afternoon in recovery while the three theatres were rushing out patients every 20 minutes.
Day 23 of my Acute Care Placement, hump day of my last week, my second day in Theatre, and the day I had my final performance appraisal. Not a huge day according to the lists, with the exception of the Eye Surgeries, of which there where 27. But it was still a big day when you consider the implications of a potentially negative appraisal.
Day 22 of my Acute Care Placement, and my first shift in the Operating Theatres of the facility. I was assigned one of the three theatres and given specific instructions of Blue is Bad, don't touch blue. I was also left a little bit to my own devices as to what experience, what to get out of the day and who to follow around. I decided to make the most of it and get as close to the action as possible.
Day 21 of my Acute Care Placement, my last day on the Mental Health ward and my first exposure to Electro Convulsive Therapy (ECT). It was the first day on the ward that I felt truly in control, I knew what was expected and what to do fully. It is a shame that it has taken the four days t find my groove, but I am glad I found it in the end. I am also intrigued by ECT and TransCranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), both of which can be used to treat severe clinical depression, both use electricity but in different ways.
In case some of you haven't realised, I am a bit of a geek. I love Star Trek and most other Sci Fi movies and shows, Board Games, Role Playing games, and Warhammer 40,000. Now I love to assemble and paint my miniatures, just as much as I love playing with them with my friends and family, and having a good laugh. However, over the past 18 months, thanks Nursing School, I haven't had the time available to enjoy my hobby of choice. Until this week.
Day 20 of my Acute Care Placement, my first AM shift and my second last shift in Mental Health. The day was certainly busier than the PM shifts have been of late, read day 18 and 19 to catch up, but still very different from the busy of Surgical or even Medical. I have started to see the report I have been developing with some of the consumers bearing fruit as I move around the Ward, they have begun to open up and actively talk with me about their issues, feelings, and psychosis.
Day 19 of my Acute Care placement, my second night on the Mental Health Ward, my last Afternoon shift of placement, and the start of my last Late-Early swing for placement. The afternoon was similar to yesterday, quiet, controlled, and so much different to what I have experienced thus far. The advantage I had tonight was the company of a 40 year veteran of Psychiatric Nursing as my RN for the shift.
Day 18 of my Acute Care Placement and my first shift on a Mental Health ward. I didn't quite know what to expect from this afternoon. I didn't quite know what my role was going to be. I know that I was going to be dealing with complex and numerous medications, emotions that were on a knifes edge, and triggers from consumers that vary from noises, to visual cues, through to hallucinated triggers.
Day 17 of my Acute Care Placement and my last shift on the Surgical Ward. The ward was packed, and I mean not a bed spare, hot swapping patients within an hour of discharge, sending them onto other hospitals for rehabilitation. Proper busy. As a final shifts and pseudo send off from the ward, it was finishing on a high note.
Day 16 of my Acute Care Placement, and my second last day on the Surgical Ward. Not knowing what to expect from a Monday evening, I didn't go in with any level of expectation, when I arrived I went through the list of names and beds, checked against the surgery list and endeavoured to plan out the evening as best I could. That was almost useless. Theatre by the end of my shift, was operating nearly four hours behind. Patients were only being seen at times we thought they would be returning. This made for a slow and disrupted afternoon.
A quality most look for in an employee, partner, friend or simply a person they wish to engage with on some basic level, is honesty. To that end, in June I wrote two articles #3Rs and Controlled Chaos, revolving around how I Reflect, Relax and Recharge and how I spin all the plates in my busy world. The honesty part of all of this is, I haven't been recharging as much as I needed to, and I have been sacrificing my friends and family in the effort to achieve everything I have been of late, and neither are sustainable.
Day 15, the end of the third week of my Acute Care Placement, and my first afternoon shift on the Surgical ward. I didn't know quite what to expect from an afternoon shift on Surgical, however with an emptying ward, no new admissions, only two theatre cases and most of the patients being day three, I wasn't anticipating a busy shift.
Day 14, for my Acute Care Placement and a return to the Surgical Ward, for what was is my last AM shift before a three day stint on the PM. The ward was surprisingly empty, compared to the chaos that was yesterday. There were several discharges, a fair spread of second day orthopaedics and abdominoplasties, and a day two TURP. I would have the inordinate pleasure of being assigned the patients at the end of the passageway, the furthest point away from the Nurses Station.
Day 13, Hump Day for my Acute Care Placement and a return to the Surgical Ward, for what was promised to be a busy day. And it didn't disappoint. The ward was full, there where four patients on the waitlist for a bed and 90% of the patients on the ward where only One Day Post Op. I was assigned two patients at the end of the ward, and assisting the RN and EN with the other six, where possible.