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Why? Who? What's this blog about? It's about MEEEE!

Being a Widow

My experience of dealing with grief as a widow

Astrocytoma

About Jane's brain tumour journey: Astrocytoma.co.uk
 

A crisis of faith

27 January 2014

I wanted to be a nurse when I was 18. For all kinds of reasons, I went on to do a degree in broadcast journalism instead. Then Jane's illness happened and it spurred me on to finally get this nursing degree done. I was going to use my experience for a good thing. I would become a palliative care nurse and make things better for other dying people. That was my motivation.

Or was it? Was my motivation perhaps more selfish than that? Working as a health care assistant in palliative care is nice. It requires lots of care and empathy. Helping people with washing and dressing etc can really help them have a 'better death. I never questioned that being a palliative care nurse would merely mean I could care for people even better. But now that I am in nursing school, I am beginning to doubt my motivation.

I spend a lot of my time looking t things related to brain tumours. Palliative care for young cancer patients, radiotherapy doses for Astrocytomas, recommended surgical interventions for frontal-lobe Astrocytomas, use of different chemotherapy drugs in brain tumours and their relative efficacy.... that kind of stuff. My assignments are often linked to my own experience and how I use that in practice. All I do seems related to it. When lecturers say: pick a topic for your assignment that you care about... generally, brain tumours or cancer and young people are the first things to pop in to my head. Not that I go to the library for hours especially to look stuff up, but when I am there, I will often lose track of what I was doing because I end up reading about brain tumour-related things.

And I am not sure that is the right motivation to sustain a nursing career. Surely this means I will suffer burn out sometime soon? Am I only doing this degree so that I can look back at Jane's treatment and finally understand what was done, the medication she was given, how her symptoms progressed, how her death was essentially inevitable from the day she was diagnosed etc. I don't actually WANT to spend the rest of my life linking everything I do to Jane and her illness. Which is exactly what would happen if  become a palliative care nurse. My very existence would be defined, every day, by how I want to either improve on the care Jane got, or improve the bad parts of it. I will constantly want to tell people: I understand, I have gone through the same thing. Which is inappropriate almost all of the time. The question is why do I feel I want to do that? Is it because I need to feel connected to other people in similar situations or is it because I want to pass on my wisdom? Am I looking for something or am I looking for a way to give something back? I would like to think it is the latter but deep down I think I know it isn't.

It is surely not a good idea to think about it in such terms. So I am thinking more and more that I should focus on something else. A different specialty perhaps. And forget about palliative nursing completely, at least for a few years. Until I am ready to do it for the right reasons, armed with the right amount of self-awareness and the skills to see when I am overstepping professional boundaries, both towards the patient and towards myself.

Cardiology sounds interesting.


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Feeling guilty

07 January 2014

How can you miss the love you lost and still say that you are genuinely happy with the one you have now? Surely you are lying to yourself and really not 'over' it if you still sometimes feel: I wish I could talk to X about this because he/she would understand exactly what I mean? Isn't that the same as saying your new love isn't good enough? I cannot quite square missing someone with loving someone else. Surely these two things are mutually exclusive?

If I say I miss JD because she would have been perfect for a discussion on research methodology, does that mean I am saying that Fiancee is not good enough to do that with? If I say I miss JD because we used to go skiing together, am I saying Fiancee is not good enough because she doesn't ski? Or am I just saying: I miss JD because of these few things, nothing more, nothing less, it has no bearing on what I have with Fiancee? Of course I think it is the latter. After all, the reverse is true too: when I say that I love making music with my very talented Fiancee, I am not saying she is better than JD, with whom I did nothing musically. I can't conveniently say it works one way because I revel in feeling guilty, but not the other.

But what am I basing that conclusion on? Maybe other people who know more about loss and grief will say: If you are feeling like this after 3 years, then you are not ready for a new relationship. I don't know. After nearly 3 years I still have this need for other people to tell me I am doing 'it' right. (Fiancee's note: You totally are, dear.)

I think Fiancee and I are ticking along quite nicely. We talk about it. We make up the rules as we go along. She seems to be coping extremely well with these random episodes of self-doubt. But I feel very guilty about these kinds of thoughts. I have a tendency to just throw things out there without thinking them through first (this blog is a case in point!). And then as I think them over out loud, I filter my thoughts down to 'what I really mean'. But by then I may have already brought up some rather painful thoughts and suggestions. Which I then have to explain as being incomplete and therefore not really applicable to her or to us. Doing this, I rely on her ability to 'forget' the things I later on dismiss as not true. I know that if it was me, I would not be able to forget. It would nag in the back of my mind. So I assume that it must nag Fiancee as well. And since I don't want her to worry about things that I end up dismissing, I sometimes choose not to talk about something that is on my mind when it related to JD.

Maybe what I am saying is that I just feel guilty towards Fiancee every time I feel I am missing JD. As if missing JD is directly related to how much I love Fiancee.

I know that is not the case of course. I don't miss JD on a daily basis as a presence in my life. I don't miss her as my partner. To me, that would signify that I would not be ready to be with someone else. I miss JD usually at very specific times, about something very specific that we used to do, when I need to answer to a specific question about something she was good at, or when I am at a very specific place we have been. I guess I miss her as a friend, as a person.

Yet I still don't understand what place my past has in my current life. Or how to give it a place. It bugs me.
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A new home for us

06 January 2014

Soooo......after months working with a team of District Nurses as part of my degree course, I have today returned to university. And the exciting topic to start off the year is Research and Research Methodology. Yes yes, I hear you groan. It made me wish I could chat it over with JD. She would be an invaluable resource. I mean, the subject of studying research itself seems pretty navel-gazing. But in actual fact it was really interesting. It is just such a shame I will have to actually write a massive essay at the end of all that lovely research. Maybe I should get an assistant to do the hard work for me.

Speaking of assistant.... Girlfriend is currently next to me on the sofa hemming our new curtains. You see, we were cheapskates and bought the curtains that were 3cm too short for our windows because they were £20 cheaper. So now Girlfriend (that really should be Fiancee by now) has taking the hems out and is now making a new hem. Ain't she clever...

And that, Dear Reader, is why I am marrying her.

So yes, our new house. We moved in on a Saturday and went on a ferry to Holland on a Monday to 'do' Christmas with my parents. So no real stress at all there. The Monday on the ferry was awesome. It was on Stormy Monday. Only a few hours after we sailed, they closed the port of Dover due to the severe weather. Our crossing was tumultuous but kinda awesome. A nice way to introduce Fiancee to ferry travel.

Then there was Christmas and then we came home. To FLEAS in our house. A man came and sprayed it. And then we put our things in to the house. And now it looks like this:


Which I think is pretty awesome. The massive map is a Zoological Map of the World, dated somewhere around World War I. We got it from the DIY shop and I had to rent a van to get it home. It was too big for the car. There are still a few small things to do but we are getting there. It certainly feels like our home. It is quite something to get used to, going from a small 1-bedroom flat to a 2-bed house. If nothing else, we have to shout so LOUD to hear each other when we are in different rooms.
The biggest room has been turned in to our office. My desk is there and Fiancee has her little home studio set-up. The house is pretty cold as the wind blows through the gaps in the floor boards but I will be sealing these in a couple of weeks.

Yeah, I am happy with the house. Now we have a wedding to organise. Better get on with it.












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