Tuesday, 7 May 2013

I Get Knocked Down But I Get Up Again

I have a fondness for these oh-so-90’s lyrics from Chumbawumba: I get knocked down but I get up again / You’re never gonna keep me down. They’ve been my go-to support on all but the bleakest days. Sorry Mother Theresa, Dalai Lama, and Cute Katz.

Everything feels a bit knocked down at the moment. 3 years of student nursing has left the house in a bad state, the mess escalating weekly. Just lately all sorts of stuff has broken: the shower, the central heating, the kettle, a tooth, the car steering column. We stayed positive, managed to replace the kettle. There’s a lot of talk about nurses needing to develop resilience. Is this what is meant? In as much as the definition is ‘put up with it, don’t complain and don’t get sick’, I suppose it is.

At the beginning of the academic year, I set myself the goal of getting a First. My grades hovered in years one and two between 1st and 2:1, 71% both times. I decided to work hard more consistently. I really thought I could do it. It turns out I couldn’t. I’ve worked harder but….well I don’t know what happened. The results haven’t matched the effort, adequate, but not enough.

Logically, it doesn’t matter. Degree classifications really aren’t important in nursing, in fact most nurses have a diploma. If I ever want to teach or do research it won’t matter either, a 2:1 will be enough. Nobody’s bothered. I’m bothered. I’m embarrassed about being bothered. When I think about the last disappointing result, my eyes tear up. I have one more assignment to finish but motivation has slipped away. I’ll get it done but I won’t be as enthusiastic about it as I would have done if I’d have got 8% more last time because I’ll be in the park or watching TV or fixing up the house (OK not that).

I don’t think it’s the getting up again that Chumbawumba intended, but it will have to do.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Now (Shhh!)

Someone asked after the blog yesterday, so I’m back here taking a peek. How are you? Where are you?


I am in the university library which is where I hang out these days, although still not as much as I should. People in their final year are coming up to dissertation deadlines so every computer is in use and there is a conga line snaking around the carols, hunting. It’s the silent floor though so no singing.


It’s a tense place. Important work to be done. Deadlines. Yesterday, the young woman beside me started to cry, silently. She was searching through her files. A few seats along someone was playing music through their headphones and the sound leaked. I snatched them from her ears and bit through the wires. I leant her my cyber-mum headphones that have padding to keep it all in. I barely noticed as I got on with my work. Those things happened in alternate universes. In this one I gave her a dirty look with a little tut. In the afternoon, there was a rattle through the metal pipes and everyone looked up and at each-other except one who got up and ran out. Ghost in the machine?


Nick has taken to making me a flask to take in. I wonder if it is allowed. `Sealed containers only’ is the rule, so I’m safe until I pour tea into the lid. I cradle it in my hands and drink it like a shot, sneaky. They have a purple-shirted posse to root out that kind of behaviour.


This is how the Uni part of student nursing is winding down. On my desktop is a partially complete pretend report about a service improvement plan. I have never seen a real-life one. If they exist, I doubt they come with Harvard references. Sleeping uneasily in a closed file is a quarter of my dissertation on suicide. I have promised myself time to work on it after the service improvement plan in the way that people plan their treats. The parents of two boys who died by suicide were on the news this morning, reminding me of what it’s all for. The future’s on the way.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

First Blog of 2013. Last year didn't get very many entries, maybe I'll do better this time.

The long break from Uni for Christmas is almost over. If I get a job as a nurse after I qualify it might be my last Christmas off for a few years. Naturally we didn't make the best of it, Nick and I were ill consecutively so the time passed unpleasantly. Our youngest was missing from the festivities too, so nothing felt like as much fun as usual. Ah well, I've thrown out the last of the smoked salmon (a holidays only treat in our house) so it's all over now.

This week I am working in the uni library on two assignments. For the first on complex care (this just means mental health needs plus one additional complicating factor) I'm focussing on learning disability. I had initially decided to stay away from the topic because to get a poor mark following a 20 year learning disability career would be humiliating. However, up against the deadline, I've succumbed and am enjoying writing it probably more than any other essay I've written. More and more, I'm considering going back to working with people with learning disabilities once I qualify. We shall see. Naturally I wished I hadn't left the writing so late.

In contrast, my next assignment is on the law and services for psychopath offenders. It seems unlikely that I would ever work with that client group. Never say never though.

Happy New Year

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Christmas Begins

Today has been so cold and dry that even the dullest parts of Coventry looked like a Christmas card. A fitting start to the holidays for a student nurse. We've lit the wood burner and stocked up on mince pies. It’s been a long term.

Twitter is running a hashtag #underratedbands. Not really a band, but in the light of the winter frosts, here is my long-time favourite thing on youtube.

N's home tonight, she hates me blogging about her. I'm so glad she's back but shh you didn't hear it here.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

OSCE Angels

Bringing back the blog quietly, just to see how it goes. All kinds of fun has been happening over the last few weeks, shame you missed it. There’s no going back now.

One of the rights of passage for student nurses is the OSCE (objective structured clinical examination). It’s kind of an assessed role play. Theatre for the terrified. So today, in the presence of an eminent scholar, I had a conversation with and then injected a plastic bum.

Beforehand, my nerves had been getting the better of me and it might have gone badly were it not for some people I met while waiting for the lift. Firstly, there was the man in the waistcoat. I know him a little and it’s always nice to see him but this was extra special because he was wearing a tweed waistcoat over his floral shirt. Appearances aren’t everything for sure. In fact they mostly aren’t anything, but this man is not usually a waistcoat wearer and this slightly dressy look suited him. He hung around long enough to be embarrassed when I told him so, and then took the stairs. I’m not saying my compliment and his walking up three floors are connected in any way but…………

I called the lift again and when I turned back it was to a small child in a pushchair. This is an unusual occurrence in a university building. Why was here there? What was he studying or was he a visiting lecturer? He giggled and showed me his teether. It was a beautiful moment.  The child was accompanied by two people shy but very happy people who I met this time last year when their son was newborn. They had stopped especially to say hello to me and it was meaningful given their awkwardness around people. They could just have walked on. I was glad to be meeting them in much happier circumstances than before. It was the best of social encounters.

The angels by the lift had settled my nerves just enough (we’ll overlook the needle stuck on the syringe and my inability to calculate the date two weeks from today etc). I passed, and since it was the last OSCE, qualifying feels closer. After Christmas there will be people who might need an injection. Bottoms of flesh. There may also be angels.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Hello, I’m back from my gap year, did you miss me? What’s been going on? My dirty washing? Yes, here it is. Thanks. Can you lend me some money please?

I closed the public diary last year, having got a bit paranoid about nursing rules, confidentiality, and how things might be interpreted. I’ve missed it though as I’m rubbish at keeping a diary I don’t show people and now all the good stuff is missing. Neither you nor I will know what happened. How can I be expected to remember things I haven’t written down?

So I’m coming back to Dee’s diary, but I’m making a few changes. I’m going to alter some of the things I write about so that the people and organisations in them are less identifiable. It seems a shame, an untruthful diary starts to become a work of bad fiction after all, and I have no concerns about anything I’ve written in the past. However, Nursing is a sensitive trade, so you and I are going to have to compromise a bit.

Talking of Nursing, I’m going to be writing more about mental health and a bit less about family stuff. That’s mostly because I’m coming up to the end of the second year of my training, and all kinds of things are happening. I want to be able to think about it (‘reflect’ is the word used in nursing, mawkish isn’t it?). Don’t imagine that I’ll be able to resist showing off a luscious bit of stitching though, or bragging about seeing Richard Herring’s latest show.

Hope the changes don’t put you off. I know you really want to read all the juicy personal stuff. A friend reminded me that I somewhere in this diary I wrote about my first sexual experience. I hope reading about it was a memorable for her as writing about it was for me.

I don’t remember penning it at all.