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.
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
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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!!!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As regular readers will know I am coming to the end of my Diploma of Nursing studies, which culminates with a five week Acute Care placement, totally some 200 hours. As I did with my Aged Care placement and my Community Care placement, I will be documenting my thoughts, interactions and reflections on my experience. Unlike my last two placements, I will not be summarising after the fact, but in fact giving a daily summary of experiences, emotions and lessons learnt.
Last week I discussed Mentorship in my article Walking With were the idea of providing what someone requires to achieve the goal they have set is a kind of Patronage. This week I want to discuss Legacy. If we consider Mentorship as answering the question of How, Legacy is answering the question Why?
I have been reflecting this week on my personal journey, my failures and triumphs, the good leaders and the bad, the men and women who invested their time in me, and those who left a lasting impression. I reflected on leadership and the importance of Mentoring those who we lead and not just giving blind directions. I reflected on the importance of walking a journey with someone beside them, not in front leading blindly, or from behind barking arbitrarily. This lead me to write about, what I believe, is the most important facet of Leadership, and that is Mentoring. The understanding between two individuals at different points on their journey to walk together and learn from each others experiences. This may sound like a different model of mentoring than what is commonly taught, namely where an experienced person takes an inexperienced person and attempts to impart knowledge and experience on them. I kindly draw your attention back to the person leading from the front. Or where a person will share their experiences with staff or individuals via a mass email while never actually allowing time for the people to engage with them personally, I draw you attention to the person barking from the rear.
There are numerous baby websites, books, journals, and magazines that will gladly tell you that there is a million things you should get for your new bundle of joy. Couple that with friends, family, mothers, in laws, outlaws and everyone in between, there is a lot of information to sift through. With the announcement of My wife and I having our second child together, third in total, this week I felt it prudent to share some lessons learnt from the first one, Darby. I will cover the things that I Would do again and the things that I most certainly Wouldn't.
I have decided to talk about my favourite subject, my Wife and our life together. But before I loose the male portion of my readership this isn't going to be a love story with walks on the beach, champagne breakfast and how I was the perfect embodiment of Casanova. Instead this is going to be how my Wife and I stay together, keep it together and Maintain Our Rage. The three main concepts I wish to convey with regard to Our Rage are; Communication, Priorities, and Making Time.
Five Community Care Reflections - A look back on the week that was
A reflection on my Aged Care Placement, given my looming Community Care Placement
#3Rs - #Reflect, #Relax and #Recharge, thoughts and stories used to #MaintainTheRage