My life as a Nurse – an introduction

Hello everyone,

Since I wrote an intro on my Tourettes and my Deafness, I couldn’t resist to make one about me as a nurse. I’m still in training, so I am not (yet) a professional, but I do have some experiences that I’d like to share.

Where it all started
It started with me dropping out of the Signlanguage Interpreting program because of my hearing loss. I KNEW I wanted to ‘help people’, and ‘make a difference’. My mum, dad and sister all work (in some form) in health care, so I knew that they made a difference in people’s lifes. Whether it is by talking to them, or supplying hospitals with equipment that is needed to save people. Nursing at University level seemed like a good idea

Applying and procedures
After I decided I wanted to become a nurse, I applied and did a day of testing at the Uni to see if I was ‘qualified’ to start. And… I was! I was so happy the day I received the news that I got accepted at Uni.

The first year
I followed a program where you do the first 2 years combined in 1 year. That was tough! But I learned so much about the human body and I was surprised that there is SO MUCH that can go wrong, why doesn’t it go wrong more often?! I made new friends, did my first internship at a nursing home and there was one situation that really stuck with me.

silly doctor

2nd year Internship, how to save a life by talking
There was a woman of around 75 years old who had become paraplegic due to cancer about a year before I met her. She got help with daily care, washing, getting dressed, being lifted into the wheelchair and her decubituswounds were taken care of. When the care was done, the nurses left and left her do her own thing, until she was lifted into bed again and then she wasn’t seen for the rest of the night.

I thought to myself: this woman had been able to walk for 74 years, she was independent and did so many things. And now she’s like this. At first I pitied her, but soon I learned that there was no pity neccesary. She was a strong woman, with a strong will for life. I am, in many ways, like her: I’m Deaf and have Tourettes, but I don’t let it hold me back from doing anything!

One day she was told she needed surgery for her wounds. She didn’t talk about it, but I could see she was terrified. One day I asked her directly and sat with her for a long time. She said she had become depressed and anxious – which was no surprise for me, but she hadn’t told anyone. I reccommended some things and that helped her a bit through the surgery. I visited her in the hospital and she was very happy with that. I will always remember her.

Apprenticeship at the university hospital!!
The thing I was working to for 1,5 years finally happened, I got accepted as one of 16 people (out of 200) to not just do an internship at the university hospital, but to get to have the responsibilities that any other registered nurse has and I was going to get paid for it! I was out of my mind so happy.

Neurology
I was placed in the Brain Division, deparment of Neurology. Ironically, since I myself have Tourettes Syndrome, a neurological disorder. I loved working there, I loved my crazy funny co-workers and I loved the patients.
But as you can read, it’s past tense… I had to stop because of my Deafness and there were some things in my family (my mum was diagnosed with cancer 2 months ago and I got overwhelmed by it all), so to be short: it got too much for me. I learned a lot, I’m really humbled that I got to have this experience, but unfortunately something I had to let go of.

The next chapter of my life
I wouldn’t be Sam if I didn’t already have new plans. And I do! There’s a mental health institute for the Deaf in my country where I applied for to do my 3rd and 4th internship. I have an appointment set at the end of this month, and I hope they’ll see my positive attitude and will hire me!

To conclude: you might face obstacles, but if you find a way around them, they won’t bother you as much. “If things don’t go right, turn left”.

smile free

Love, Sam

Question: If you work as a nurse (in training), where do you work? What do you like about it most and want to share that with me? Have you faced obstacles during training?

Advertisements

Living with (sudden) Deafness – an introduction

Hello everyone,

As promised in my last blog, here is my post about my Deafness. Yes, capital D Deaf.
My friends know how hard it is for me to even say out loud that I’m ‘hard of hearing’ – as I usually call it, but there’s no getting around the fact that on some days I don’t hear anything at all. Nothing but silence.

Deaf vs deaf
Let me first explain, as many of you follow me because I have Tourettes, not because my ears don’t work. Deaf with a capital D means culturally Deaf – a cultural perspective, deaf with a lower case d means ‘having hearing loss’, ‘something that should be fixed’ – the medical perspective.

deaf

Introduction
Anyway, on to my introduction:

As a child I had a mild hearing loss, nothing that people worried about, including myself. Didn’t want hearing aids, went to a hearing school and had hearing friends. Fastforward: I graduated from high school and was looking into what I was going to study. My mum had a deaf acquaintance and that made me think about learning Signlanguage, because of the fact: every child/teen in my country learns English, French ánd German. But if you have a deaf neighbour who uses Signlanguage you cannot communicate with them in their own language, and that while being from the same country!

Signlanguage interpreting studies
So, at age 19, I took up Signlanguage Interpreting – I knew I had a hearing loss, but I was in denial that it was getting worse. My grades were great, and interpreting went very well (yay for the audio being able to be amplified massively!). No problems, right? Wrong!

The way I got through most of the spoken language classes was because there was almost always an interpreter. Learning Signlanguage itself felt so natural, so effortless. I didn’t need to rely on my lack of hearing, I could just use my hands. Eventually I had to do an internship where I couldn’t amplify the audio to maximum volume because it was a ‘live’ setting, and they ‘caught’ me. I wasn’t hearing anymore, not in the way I used to, at least.

Voices became less clear, words started to fade away into a mixture of just noises.

Change of plans
I had to stop with the Interpreting program, as my hearing loss got worse. Most days my hearing is 70dB less than ‘normal hearing people’. But on some days I cannot hear anything. I started a new study, got myself some hearing aids so I was ‘a hearing person’ again and took up working at a hospital as a nurse, but couldn’t keep up with the fast pace everyone was speaking at and yelling medical terms at me. I had to stop that too.

I became very anxious and fell in a deep depression. It felt like I failed: I became deaf, I couldn’t do the work I wanted to do anymore, I couldn’t communicate properly anymore with the people I love most. How was I supposed to go on like this?

Deaf Gain
And then something clicked with me, on a Deaf Gain-day that was organized by the University I once attended for Interpreting. A nice man who gave a lecture introduced himself in Signlanguage, and he said had become deaf later in life as well. He told the audience that he didn’t just lose his hearing, but he gained his Deafness. Other people followed and told their stories about Deafness not having to be a disability, but can be empowering (later I’ll talk more about that). They are part of a subculture called the Deaf culture. It’s a rich culture full of history and with it it’s own language.

Even though I wasn’t born Deaf/deaf, I can relate to feeling you’re part of a culture. I was born with something called Tourettes Syndrome. A neurological disorder that causes neurotransmitters to fire out signals too much, and makes you have Tics. Yes, I write Tourettes and Tics with capital T’s. Familiar feeling hm? – When I’m around people who have Tourettes as well, I feel like I don’t need to explain myself, I can be myself, have fun with my fellow Touretters, exchange experiences, both positive and negative. And most of all: feel accepted as I am.

Today
I’m slowly, but surely, starting to feel the same way about Deaf culture too. Let them see that we are no different from anyone else – we can do anything, except hear. That’s something I will remind myself every day, until I can fully say: I am Deaf, so what?

If you are reading this and you suffer from sudden/late deafness (because if you’re used to hearing, it can be suffering not being able to hear), remind yourself that you’re not alone in this. You’ve done nothing wrong, and life can and will be just as great if you set your mind to it!

teeth

Love, Sam

Living with Tourettes – an introduction

Hello everyone,

This is the first time I’ve ever written something online, but I’ve wanted to for a long time. To raise more awareness about living with Tourettes, and all the things that come along with that (in my case that would mainly be anxiety and ADHD, but also depression and OCD).

I want for people to understand what Tourette is from a, what I call, a Touretter’s perspective, not just the medical perspective. As a nurse in training I know all about the medical perspective: Tourettes is a neurological (or, debated, called a neuropsychiatric) condition that is caused by neurotransmitters firing out too many signals – causing Tics.
You can get treated for it with cognitive behaviour therapy, or medication (mostly anti-psychotics).

My perspective? Of course, Tourette has it’s downsides, absolutely. There’s nothing fun about being in a busy airport and being compelled to yell “BOMB!”, or having twitching limbs that are going in all directions except for the direction you want to go to. The physical pain that are caused by Tics… sounds quite dreadful doesn’t it?

But, as you may have noticed, I write Tourettes and Tics with capital T’s. Why? That’s something I learned from the Deaf community and kind of took it as a metaphore for Tourettes. I’ll explain: you can be deaf / have tourettes (medical perspective: it’s something that needs to be fixed, something’s off with you), or you can be Deaf / have Tourettes – that is a cultural perspective. I don’t mean to say that Touretters are a subculture, but when you put a lot of Touretters together you do kind of get a ‘family-feel’: everyone knows the daily struggles, not being understood. Nothing is weird when you’re around fellow Touretters.

I, for one, am glad I have Tourettes. I wouldn’t be able to do the things I do if I hadn’t, wouldn’t know the amazing people that I know (special shout out to Renée, whieeeeej my friend) and I would not be as understanding of people who are considered ‘different’ – that may be people with mental issues, physical issues that are seen as ‘abnormal’. I want you all to feel proud. We’re different, and it makes us who we are.

different

That concludes my first ever online post. My personal introduction and my introduction on my hearing loss will follow soon!

Love, Sam