Breastfeeding – don’t @ me. 

Before I had a baby I wasn’t overly keen on the whole idea of nursing. To me it seemed like a very confronting reminder that I am actually a mammal, like a dog or a bear or a monkey and that for me was weird. 

Then there’s the fact that until that time I’d only ever used my boobs for sex stuff so I didn’t really want loads of people seeing them. 

My husband and I share our home with his brother, who suffered a stroke several years ago and although he is highly functional after the brain injury he is unable to work meaning he is always home. I didn’t want him to watch me breastfeed and I’m pretty sure he didn’t want to see it either. 

Then there’s the clothes, I’d already bought a bunch of maternity stuff, I didn’t want to fork out for more stuff that frankly I didn’t much like the look of. But then I went to the antenatal classes and I started to come round. 

By the time I’d had Max I was determined to make it work despite knowing that many people can’t. I felt that if I was determined enough eventually it would all just sort itself out. 

It’s all very well being determined but breastfeeding involves two people and Max to be honest was less fussed. 

When he was born his blood sugar was low for a host of reasons and in order to avoid being sent to neonatal intensive care I was pushed to give him formula and he was also placed onto a glucose regime. I didn’t know then that mixedfeeding was an option. I figured he would be a bottle baby and that was that. In some ways that probably would have been easier. 

I went to twitter to try and make sense of it, to mourn the fact that I wouldn’t be able to breastfeed and was told by some probreastfeeding friends that I was entirely wrong and that there was still time. He was only two days old. 

The main problem was how after the initial skin to skin and first breastfeeding in recovery I’d not attempted to feed him again and my milk hadn’t come in. I asked to see a lactation consultant in the hospital to the shock of my midwife, as my notes said that I was breastfeeding successfully, no one came before I was discharged. 

I saw the midwife the following day at home and she told me to start expressing by hand but not to use the electronic pump and to offer Max a feed before each bottle. I did this for two weeks, Max still always wanted the bottle after the boob so I went to the GP about low supply. 

The GP referred me to a breastfeeding cafe saying I had a problem with my technique even though she’d never seen me feed Max. She wouldn’t prescribe domperidone. She told me to start reducing the amount of formula Max was being given. You can imagine how a hungry baby might feel about that. 

The cafe was honestly horrible. A packed, fluorescently lit room with no privacy where the woman in charge complained about the number of people in attendance and barked instructions patronisingly at the mothers loudly enough for the whole room to hear. 

I was told to feed for 30 minutes on one breast at each feed instead of offering both and then expressing with the electronic pump from that breast afterward. I couldn’t do it. Max cried. It was too long. I didn’t go back. We just kept doing what had been sort of working but over time he wouldn’t feed from me without crying. I felt like I was stuffing my boob into his mouth like a gag. 

But now I really didn’t want to give up. When it did work it was magic. The huge surge of oxytocin and that deep emotional bond with your child is addictive. And it makes you feel like you’re doing something right at a time when you’re trying to figure everything out. 

I spoke twice with a lactation consultant when Max was 7 weeks old and was given a huge amount of advice and support for nothing. She was incredibly kind. If I’d had that support on day one I’m confident we would be exclusively breastfeeding now. 

Instead, I still offer before each bottle but Max will only feed for a few minutes first thing in the morning now. And I pump just to try and keep it going. 

Unlike the wonderful feeling you get from feeding, pumping is like having a hangover. It makes me want to cry, have sex and drink a gallon of water all at once. But I still can’t quit because what if he changes his mind? 

I’ve been really overwhelmed by the unsolicited advice that I’ve received via twitter in regards to this topic. Sometimes it’s been a godsend and other times infuriating because it’s either been painfully obvious or impossible to implement. Both twitter and this blog are primarily places for me to express myself and explore how I feel about things so bearing this in mind on the topic of breastfeeding I’m done. Please don’t @ me. 

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An induction. 

I don’t know what the deal is with my blood pressure. I’d had it taken periodically at the GP before I got pregnant and no one had ever said there was a problem.

 
Then I got pregnant and it seemed like maybe there had been a problem and that combined with my bmi meant I was now a high risk and I would have to be induced at 40 weeks at the latest. 
Initially I was sort of pleased at the thought of being induced because being pregnant means giving up control and this meant maybe clawing some back. I would know when it was going to happen. I could plan for it. 
Then I went to the midwife and her exact words were, ‘avoid an induction at all costs’. At which point I started to worry. 
Through 28-36 weeks our kid was breech so a planned caesarean was booked after I squabbled with the consultant. 
I don’t know if sections are routinely being gate kept or if it’s particularly fat women they’re worried about operating on or a bit of both but I felt judged even though I’d only declined them attempting to turn the baby. 
The odds were not hugely favourable for a successful turn and there was a 1 in 200 chance of going into spontaneous labour. I just wanted our kid to be safe and comfortable and it didn’t seem worth the risk. I bought a book on sections. I read. I started to feel better about it all. Safer.

 
At the following scan the baby had turned on his own and when the doctor told me I cried. The induction was booked. I told the doctor what the midwife had said about avoiding an induction and how they are longer and more painful than natural birth and how frightened I was of something going wrong, of needing forceps or a proper emergency section. 
Did I mention they were estimating that the baby was quite big? Big enough that when I got to the labour ward and eavesdropped on each handover that every midwife questioned my diabetic status. The doctor told me not to worry about the size of the baby. I’m big, my partner is big and we wouldn’t be offered a section unless the kid was estimated at over 10 pounds. He was just under. 

The doctor told me there was about an 80% chance that the induction would be successful but from my own reading it seemed I had a lot of factors stacked against me. I’m over thirty, have a high bmi, high blood pressure, have been sexually assaulted in the past, it was my first baby, I was less than 41 weeks and my cervix wasn’t looking favourable. All these things make an induction less likely to succeed. 

The same doctor also told me that the pessary I would need would go in for 8 hours and they’d do 2 if the first one didn’t work. I figured I could handle 16 hours with what was described as a tampon in place. I tried to calm down. I really wanted the baby out.

On the monday I was due to be induced I had to call the labour ward to check if a bed was available. I called for the first time at 7am. They asked me to call back. 22 calls and 12 hours later they were ready.

 
The pessary went in at 10pm. It really hurt. I wasn’t expecting the pessary to hurt. It felt sharp, like it was cutting me. By 3am I was having contractions. There was a young woman in the bed beside mine watching television at normal volume until that time so I didn’t sleep. 
The longer the pessary was in place, the more everything inside me felt like it was swelling. Going to the bathroom was agony. It felt like all my organs were going to fall out into the toilet. 

I’d sent my husband home because it turned out the pessary would be in for 24 hours and they’d try another one if the first one didn’t work. Not 8 hours as I’d originally been told. I wasn’t prepared for 48 hours of this. 
By 1pm with no sleep and contractions 3 times in 10 minutes the pessary started to fall out. I gritted my teeth and pushed it back in whilst trying not to cry. The next time I went to the bathroom it had fallen out further. 
I asked a midwife to help me put it back and when she did so, I screamed so loudly that people came running into the room. It felt like being stabbed. It was much worse than the contractions I’d been experiencing. I couldn’t stop crying. I felt hysterical. The midwife gave me a tissue, told me to calm down and left. I overheard her talking to a colleague about how she’d lost her taste for the work. I apologised to her for screaming. I felt so ashamed at not being able to tolerate what everyone seemed to think should be tolerable.

 
At 10pm a consultant came by and agreed to let me stop the further pessary. She said some women react badly to pessary and it wasn’t uncommon. At no point up until now had I been offered pain relief and on several occasions when I limped to the nurses station to ask for it, I was left for 2 hours with none. 
Once the pessary was out I was able to finally rest. The contractions subsided. I slept an hour or two.

 
On Wednesday morning a doctor I know well and like broke my waters. I wasn’t routinely offered pain relief but I insisted on gas and air for it. My cervix was still completely closed at this point and they were going to push a crochet hook through it and although my insides felt better since the pessary was removed I knew I wouldn’t be able to cope with the pain.

 
Having your waters broken is also incredibly painful. Even with codeine and gas and air. It took about half an hour. I screamed a lot, but into the mouthpiece so it was muffled. So much water came out. And blood. And mucous. All over the bed. All over the floor. A flood. Then the contractions started again and I finally got my own room. 
They didn’t have any birth balls left and only one pillow could be found but I was in labour. Gavin slept on the floor and used his coat as a pillow. 

The pain was manageable with gas and air. About 6 hours later, as I wasn’t any further dilated, they started the oxytocin drip. I decided to have an epidural at this point, the drip sends your contractions into overdrive and I didn’t want to know what that felt like. I didn’t need to be a hero. I just needed to survive. 
The epidural was great. The anaesthetist was great. The midwives looking after me in my own room were great. I felt better. I felt like I could cope. Even if I had a big tear. I’d be ok. I coached a student midwife whilst she catheterised me. I made jokes. I didn’t dilate further. I didn’t sleep. 
At 6am Thursday another doctor I know well and like came to ask if I’d like to try for another for hours or if I’d like to have a section now. I called my mother, she said very firmly ‘go to theatre. Now.’ I had spiked a temperature by his stage, my blood pressure had started to rise and I was on IV antibiotics. Away we went. 
It was all over in 20 minutes. The radio was on in the operating room. Dancing Queen was playing when they lifted our kid out of my belly. I began to shake. They had to take the baby away while I vomited. He was so beautiful.

 
I thanked every member of staff I saw all day in a drug haze because I was so glad to be alive and for the baby to be alive. I went to recovery and couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore. 

Plus size and Pregnant

bump1On Monday I’ll be 15 weeks pregnant. You have to count it in weeks because the constant terror that something might go wrong means you need weekly milestones.

Anyway, I’m not here to talk about my constant terror. Saving that for another blog post. I’m here to talk about clothes. I love clothes. I’ve not bought any in nearly 4 months now which if you know me at all you’ll know that I am clearly  very ill.

Plus size pregnancy options are, well, limited. I guess they think that pregnant people just want to wear nighties all the time, which we DO, OBVIOUSLY but also we have to go outside to our jobs. So where can we shop? WHERE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD CAN WE SHOP?

Asos and  New look  have maternity ranges that go to a 20, which I can just about squeak into depending on the cut, this is infuriating as they have the cutest and most fashion forward of the maternity ranges I’ve seen. Dorothy Perkins go to a 22 but they’re just a bit blah. I don’t know, Dottie P ain’t done it for me in years.

If you need larger than a 20 then  Yours Clothing do a maternity range up to a size 36 which gives me some hope, they have a decent range of leggings plus a few nice dresses. and they do maternity starter packs which seem like a good idea. Surprisingly, George at Asda is actually alright and goes to a 24 in most styles, they do some nice swimsuits. BonPrix go to a 26 and is where I expect I’ll be getting my winter coat this year.

Marks have a limited and disappointing range of maternity wear up to a 20 BUT they are the only place to buy big pants and these which I love and are my ‘go to’ pants, pregnant or not, (I know, phowar.) and they run up to a 28. Far more promising than any over bump pregnancy pants I’ve found which either stop at an L or an 18. Looking at you, George at Asda and New Look respectively. Really, who wants under bump pants? I cannot fathom it.

From the last two months of obsessive googling, this is all I’ve found. I know, it’s a bit depressing. If anyone reading this knows of some other places that aren’t tiny boutiques which only sell 4 shirts, HMU.

Love,

Emily x

Our Las Vegas Wedding. 

The night before our wedding, the  flight to Las Vegas was delayed due to storms. We sat on the runway for three hours in Los Angeles while my soon to be brother in law shifted uncomfortably in the tiny plane. He’d only ever flown twice before.

We checked into our hotel after midnight, giddy with how fancy it all was. Then we tried to sleep.

In the morning we went to the Clark county marriage bureau to get our license and the somehow the day had vanished. It was time to get ready.

I shooed Gavin out of our suite and a Russian woman airbrushed my make up while an American woman back combed my hair.

Gavin came back to get a missing piece of his outfit and balked at my transformation. We drank some cheap fizzy wine and went downstairs where Elvis was waiting for us. It was pouring with rain.

In Graphic Detail. 

I’ve been steadily gaining weight since my boyfriend and I moved in together. Whenever I’ve managed to diet, I’ve put it back on, and then some.

In the final year of my nursing degree I comfort ate to survive it and gained another dress size. In the first three months of my first job as a qualified nurse, a skin condition I have which is associated with my weight worsened, and in addition to being painful, caused significant scarring. And I gained another dress size.
I have found it hard to look at myself and see beauty recently.

But I’ve kept trying.

Articles and twitter accounts* talking about accepting your current body, living for now not some magical thin bodied future and accepting that sometimes you can feel nothing at all about your body and that’s ok, have helped BUT I’m getting married in a few weeks and despite repeating to myself constantly that it doesn’t matter, I have to admit that feeling beautiful right now is important to me. (* Written by heroes like @ArchedEyebrowBR, @Kathroooon, @virgietovar, @yrfatfriend and @kiddotrue)
In an effort to mark this time in my life and to try and feel good when I look in the mirror I paid to have my photo taken by Velvet D’Amour of @VOLUP2 fame. I picked clothing I would honestly never wear outside. I was very nervous. I was expecting it to be a disaster BUT I HAD SO MUCH FUN.
Firstly, Velvet is a warm and friendly New Yorker who is very easy to be half naked in front of. Normally I would feel self conscious getting changed or taking my bra off in front of someone I just met but I was just like BOOM NO BRA. THERE YOU GO.
Secondly, she kept stopping to show me the photos as she was taking them, to be like – that’s hot.
Thirdly, modelling is much harder than I thought! Holding poses, whilst sweating and trying not to make your face contort into an anguished potato is definitely a workout.
The best of the shots are below but in some ways the final result is irrelevant. The experience alone was worth it. I fully admit that these images have been retouched and I was wearing a tonne of make up but I also don’t remember the last time I let someone else photograph me in a swimsuit without insisting they immediately burn the evidence. There were still photographs in the set, unpublished here that I cringed at. It’s hard to silence so many years of ingrained fat hate.

But I think I might be winning.

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Florida part 2

Gavin and I had had two fairly significant arguments during the last year about marriage, with I for and he against or indifferent, I couldn’t tell.

He had been planning to propose throughout both those fairly significant arguments. Good poker face, that boy.

Everywhere we went on my 32nd birthday Gavin was trying to find the right place to ask me. Not at the bollard. Not after the manager in the tourist shop. When?

We went for dinner with a colleague and his partner who were coincidentally in Key West that night. I have never been happier.

The following day we took a tour of Ernest Hemingway’s home. Our tour guide was loud and intense. He took his job very seriously. He made direct eye contact for too long. He clearly loved Ernest Hemingway but deplored his infidelity. He kept coming back to it. How wrong it was. Like he was saying to everyone in the tour that he would never be unfaithful.

Out by the pool, toward the end of the tour, a man dressed as Ernest Hemingway interrupted our guide.

“I AM AN ASSHOLE”, he said.

We all thought that this performance was part of the tour but the guide was infuriated and asked him to move on, which begs the question, does this man just hang around Ernest Hemingway’s house impersonating him? Seemingly, yes.

The remainder of the holiday was spent watching iguanas in the trees, wild chickens in the streets, eating a lot, no really, like a LOT, napping and beaming at each other smugly. I drank mimosas every day and I ate key lime pie three of the five days we were in Key West.

We caught the shuttle back to Miami, an 85 year old German man and his American wife joined us half way up the keys. Every five minutes he would make a joke about leaving her for a younger woman and she would reply – go ahead. She began to talk to the woman sat beside her about their lives whilst we eavesdropped.

They had been on holiday in Gran Canaria many years ago and decided they would never visit England based on this experience. Entertainment for the evening had cancelled and a German singer had agreed to fill in. As he began to sing in German, the English guests booed. The American wife was so appalled by this, she explained to her new acquaintance, she could not understand why the English had not overcome their ill will to the Germans after World War II. She continued to explain that her husband had lost relatives to the English during the war and they were not offended by songs in English. Her new acquaintance, who had initially been quite talkative, grew quiet. Gavin and I silently calculated how old the German man would have been in 1945.

We arrived at the airport.

 

 

Florida part 1

We arrived in Miami on a humid Saturday afternoon. There were no functioning cash points at the airport and neither of us had remembered to get dollars before we flew, cue much meandering of the airport and wringing of hands whilst trying to decide how we would get to South Beach with no money.

The more I fly, the more my fear of it seems to grow. So I take drugs now. I don’t know if it was watching ‘Diary of a Teenage Girl’ chased with ‘Inside Out’ on the plane or the drugs or both but I was feeling pretty emotional.

Last year was a hard year, on reflection, I think actually a good year but hard. I don’t remember the summer, I was on my final nursing placement between May and July and then after a week spent horizontal, mainlining Charmed, I started as a healthcare assistant at my first nursing job whilst waiting for my NMC pin. Oh and we were in the process of selling my flat and buying a house.

People told me how selling a flat and buying a house was one of life’s most stressful events, up there with death and divorce but I didn’t believe them. I thought they were exaggerating and being babies.

I was wrong.

To cut a story long enough to be its own post short, I really needed this holiday.

My summer had finally arrived. We checked in at The Betsy on South Beach. They handed us both a glass of complimentary prosecco, delighted and giddy, we went to the room and awkwardly tipped the bell boy. The Betsy looks like it should have been the set of a film noir. We lay on the bed and watched the ceiling fan tick round.

That night we went for dinner at Prime 112. My first night in America I always have a blind spot to portion sizes. I think we ordered enough for 6. If you’re ever at that restaurant, the mains are big enough to share. After dinner, my feet swollen from the flight, my strappy shoes too tight, we walked several blocks to find a Walgreens to buy an industrial sized pack of peanut butter M&M’s. For later.

Things carried on in much this fashion for the next day or so. I tried to badger Gavin into buying swimming trunks at Macy’s but he wouldn’t. He doesn’t like to swim. My little Australian brain can’t comprehend it.

I had booked a greyhound, realising at 11pm the night before we were due to travel that the collection point was 2 hours drive from our hotel and that we needed to find another option. We managed to book a shuttle going from the airport.

Another couple on the shuttle tried quite hard to befriend us during the journey, I can’t remember their names. She gave me a small bottle of sweet wine to drink, he joked about English people using the word chemist over pharmacy and how we may as well be saying apothecary. Conversation faltered over the seven mile bridge.

Our B&B in Key west came complete with cat, situated directly behind Ernest Hemingway’s house. I turned 32. There was a dress I was determined to wear on my birthday and whilst we getting ready to leave for breakfast the clasp broke. Gavin tried to fix it and I shouted at him.

We trundled on and got a bit drunk at breakfast, there was a nice dog, I recall. We took a trolley around the island and stopped at the southern most point. The line to take a picture was 30 deep, which was funny because there wasn’t really much to look at apart from a painted bollard.

Walking back to the B&B, I dragged Gavin into a tourist shop, intent to buy him swimming trunks. While we were talking about it in the large but empty store filled with knickknacks and swimwear, the manager turned off the loud electronic music playing and told us that the store was not for talking. Furious, we left without any shorts.

Gavin took this weird interaction quite hard. I didn’t know why. We went for lunch at Blue Heaven. We both calmed down.While we were at lunch Gavin told me that if I didn’t like my present then we could return it for something else. I idly wondered if maybe he was going to ask me to marry him. Then we went back to the B&B for a nap. Lolling on the bed, Gavin asked if I wanted my birthday present.

“OF COURSE I DO”.

He presented me with a ring and for a moment he said nothing. I wasn’t sure if he was proposing or if it was just a gift.

“Will you marry me?”

I laughed.

“Yes. TOTALLY.”

With tears in his eyes, we squeezed each other.

“Sorry for saying totally.”

 

 

The birthday wishlist or how to spoil a girl

birthday

 

From top left:

ASOS Curve Faux Fur Jacket, Clarks Kendra Dime Mary Janes in Cognac, Black Heart Creatives Moon Witch Silhouette Necklace, Chanel CC Cream, River Island Pompom leather gloves, Lavish Alice Cape Dress from Simply Be, Newlook Silver Metallic Brogues, Valfre Lipstick Phone Case, Rad.com Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe Sweatshirt, Etsy More Issues Than Vogue Phone Case, Etsy Leather Crown, Oasis soft leather shopper, Etsy Cut Out Diamond Pendant, and Victor Rolf Bonbon Eau de Parfum.

Phew.

Michelin London 2016 [food]

I love food.

Maybe love isn’t strong enough a word but I just checked on Yahoo answers (https://uk.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090225111344AAvrmVl) and apparently there isn’t a stronger word for love than love so let’s just stick with that. I love food.

I’m not a snob about food. Twinkies, fast food, street food, vegan, upmarket, experimental, I’m interested. Let me try some of that.

The thing I really get into though is going to a fancy restaurant. The whole experience is like a sort of magic for me and now that I’m finally earning money again I want to start taking my love for food a bit more seriously.

The Michelin 2016 guide has just been announced and as you’d expect they all sound amazing, however, I’m a bit intimidated by restaurants that have them, like they might turn me away. I’ve been to a few that have one star unknowingly in the past, St.John and Sketch. People have raved about both and I enjoyed them but they weren’t necessarily the best meals I’ve had in the last year in London.

Once food gets to a certain level I’m worried that I don’t understand it. I’m a still a bit like a child with food. I put ketchup on lots of food at home. Don’t @ me.

Anyway I’ve put together a quick list of restaurants with Michelin stars in London I’d like to try (boyfriend please take note), that are maybe not too hoity-toity with the hope that they’re still sort of accessible for a person with the palate of a child.

Arbutus, Frith Street. *
http://www.arbutusrestaurant.co.uk/

Barrafina, Adelaide Street. *
http://www.barrafina.co.uk/

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, Knightsbridge. **
http://www.dinnerbyheston.com/

Portland, Great Portland Street. *
http://portlandrestaurant.co.uk/

Restaurant Gordon Ramsey, Royal Hospital Road. ***
https://www.gordonramsayrestaurants.com/restaurant-gordon-ramsay/

Restaurant Story, Tooley Street. *
http://www.restaurantstory.co.uk/

Social Eating House, Poland Street. *
http://www.socialeatinghouse.com/

If you’ve eaten at any of the above or you’d like to, let me know.

Everything you ever wanted to know about becoming a nurse but were too afraid to ask.

TL:DR, Becoming a nurse is the hardest thing I’ve ever done but it was worth it.

A few weeks back I became a nurse.

I know.

Terrifying.

Some nurses might read this unabashed account of my experience and think I am a whiny baby. Maybe their training was sunshine and rainbows which they look back on fondly. Much like a mother several years post birth. But we all know. Giving birth is horrendous.

If you’re reading this before you become a nurse maybe your training will really be sunshine and rainbows. Anything is possible.

A year prior to completing the degree I began an access to nursing diploma, it was part time and helped to prepare me for the academic demands of the degree. Some of it was absolute rubbish but overall it was useful, if only because it pretty much guaranteed I’d get a place on a course. Despite our nursing shortage, it is still competitive to gain a nursing degree place. I worked part time during this year and couldn’t really have managed without savings. If you are an aspiring mature student nurse I recommend an access course and becoming an HCA to supplement your income.

Then began the hardest three years of my life. I’m not even exaggerating. I’ve run a marathon, gotten divorced and moved internationally more than once. This was harder than all these individual hurdles combined.

If you fancy a blow by blow account of a day in the life of a ward nurse you can read this other thing I wrote a few years ago here:

http://sabotagetimes.com/life/diary-of-a-despairing-nurse

But let’s carry on.

First year doesn’t matter too much in terms of the grade you will come out with at the end of the degree but that didn’t stop me from putting huge amounts of pressure on myself to do well. And the placements. Placements in first year are the hardest. Every member of staff you meet will have a different expectation in regard to how competent you should be. Some nurses gave me patients to look after unsupervised, other supervised everything I did, quizzing me throughout. First year is the year you are most likely to be shouted at by your mentor in front of the entire ward. I’d like to say first year is the year you will cry most in storage cupboards but realistically that will happen throughout the three years and possibly for the rest of your life as a nurse.

Everyone will warn you that during the degree you may injure yourself performing some kind of manual handling. I did. I slipped a disc during my second placement and could barely walk for two weeks. It healed but was terrifying. I got norovirus more than once, stress related eczema and began having ectopic heartbeats during the degree. I also gained nearly 4 stone. I had to buy more uniforms two sizes bigger and worried toward the end that they may not fit in my final weeks.

Second year was actually kind of ok until my boyfriend’s Mum suddenly got oesophageal cancer and died 6 weeks later. I do not in any way begrudge any of the support I needed to give to everyone in my family during that time but I did it as a nurse, less so a girlfriend. Even when something is affecting you very closely, you are the nurse in the family now, as soon as you begin your training, even if you don’t really know what you’re doing. People will rely on you to interpret medical stuff and support them as a nurse. It is very hard.

Later during second year I went to The Philippines for a nursing placement. This was also incredibly hard but also fairly thrilling. I sweated a lot. You can watch my vlogs of that trip here:

https://vimeo.com/user25847260/videos/page:3/sort:date

This trip was sort of a more concentrated version of what it was like to be a mature student amongst 20 year olds. I really struggled with this. I’ve always been a bit of an outsider but I really felt it during the degree whilst trying to befriend people ten years my junior. I lost touch with old friends too because I was too busy to spend time with them throughout the degree. It is also worth mentioning that the NHS isn’t always the liberal utopia I thought it was going to be. Nurses are still people and some of them are racist, sexist, homophobic or just plain rude. Let alone the ones that are burnt out. I found less kindred spirits than I expected to.

Now. Third year. Oh boy.

In Third year you are a nurse, you’re just not getting paid. Also, you must write a 9000 word literature review which counts for almost a quarter of your degree. I dedicated about 8 months of my life to writing a very passionate literature review entitled ‘How does legislation affect health promotion for female sex workers?’, (A: punitive legislation dramatically impacts both access to and implementation of health promotion strategies. Sex work needs to be decriminalised asap.)

I didn’t go out, I worked on all my days off, I redrafted and redrafted and I got a C. When I got the grade back I tried to read the feedback but I couldn’t stop crying so I gave the stupid thing to my Mum who has kept it for a long off point in the future where I may be able to cope with reading it.

So why did I stick it out?

Easy – nursing is wonderful. It is an utter privilege what people will trust you with. You can travel anywhere and be a nurse. There are as many career pathways as there are parts of of the body. Nursing is freedom from worry about job security. No matter what happens to the NHS, we will always need nurses.

Finally, a tip for anyone about to venture into this career. Pull the pin out on your fob watch between placements, it saves the battery.