Rainy Monday

It’s a rainy Monday morning, and it’s cold, winter is announcing itself. I am not a winter person. I do not like the cold, so this week is going to be rough! The weather forecast predicts not only cold but rain and overcast conditions, as well for the rest of the week!

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I don’t mind rain as such, I do, however, prefer the rain in summer. Warm and wet I can do, cold and wet not so much.

If it wasn’t for the fact that I have to get up and go to work, I would stay in my pj’s until winter was over.

I have lost my new umbrella, my garden is underwater, I am in ankle brace so the only shoes that I am able to wear at the moment are a pair of very old pumps that are not exactly waterproof.

My morning started early with a dietitian appointment for one of the girls, then take her to school and go for physio. My feet were so cold and wet, that the physio actually put hot packs on for a few minutes to warm them up!

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Around 30 years ago the suicide rate in winter, was higher in the  far Northern Hemisphere, especially in European countries that had very short days and were mostly dark even during daylight hours.

This was due to a condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), with proper recognition this has changed and as hard as it may be to believe, spring and summer actually seem to have the higher suicide rates.

What exactly is SAD. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons — SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year. If you’re like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. Less often, SAD causes depression in the spring or early summer.”

SAD can also affect you during the summer months.

This is a very real psychological disorder. It is not as common here is South Africa but it does happen. The further you are from the equator the more at risk you are to having SAD.

I used to think that for me it was just winter blues. That is until I realised I had become a recluse. It started when I was about 16, came winter and you could not get me out.

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I didn’t want to be with people, I ate mostly starchy foods, I spent my life in over sized jerseys and sock or pj’s.

This continued for quite a while, even after the children were born, I would come home from work, have a hot bath and get into pajama’s. We lived on pasta and bottles sauces, I couldn’t be bothered to cook.

It was during fertility treatment that I went onto an antidepressant and I started feeling better. After the treatment was successful and my first child was born we felt it wasn’t necessary to stay on the medication. I showed no signs of postpartum depression, plus it was summer.

Then March arrived and I started to struggle, I went back onto the tablets until November. This went on for a number of years, then I discovered daylight globes.

Light therapy is one of the treatments and is something you can do at home if you suspect you have autumn/winter SAD. I put a daylight globe into a lamp and sat in front of it for an hour each day, within a few weeks I started to feel better. You can now get special light boxes specifically for the treatment of SAD. I eventually changed my bedroom lights to daylight globes and haven’t looked back.

In the last 10 years I have started to get better. I still avoid going out if I can but I get home from work and instead of immediately going to bath and get into pajama’s, I make dinner and only get into the bath before I go to bed. For me bathing is not to get clean but rather to warm up and feel better.

The problem with SAD, whether it is autumn/winter or spring/summer SAD that you suffer from it is often missed as a condition.

If you suffer from any of these symptoms during seasonal changes you may suffer from SAD. If,however, you are suffering from these symptoms all the time you may be suffering from general depression. Either way it is advisable to seek medical assistance.

Signs and symptoms of SAD may include:

  • Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
  • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Having low energy
  • Having problems with sleeping
  • Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight
  • Feeling sluggish or agitated
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty
  • Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide

Which season do you prefer and why?

Nurses day- So what!

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Nurses day is officially 12 May. It started in 1965 in the US, where they celebrate from the 6th to the 12th. The 12 May is the birthday of the first official nurse, Miss Florence Nightingale.

I became a qualified general nurse in 1990. We didn’t have nurses day in South Africa. I am not sure why we have it now?

Nurses day

Nurses day is supposed to honour the nurses around the world for their hard work, dedication and caring. Their alleviation of suffering and their advocacy for the health of those who cannot advocate for themselves.

Except for a few hospitals who acknowledge their nursing staff with a little gift. A key ring, a pen, a mini chocolate, a mug with the hospital logo on it, nurses day is mostly celebrated in the colleges where an inspirational speaker will come and talk to the students.

I must admit one company in South Africa did acknowledge nurses day 3/4 years ago. Sorbet beauty bar gave all nurses on presentation of their Council registration slip, a polish and paint treat.

I loved that, I was lucky it happened to co-inside with my day/night shift change, so I had a few days with beautiful nails.

The sad truth

Sadly I don’t think the majority of nurses actually deserve the acknowledgement. This is a generalisation I know. Nursing was a professional calling. You knew when you signed up that, you were never going to get rich, you were going to work long, hard hours (12 hour shifts), you were going to work weekends and nights, public holidays and school holidays.

You were very likely not going to receive thank you’s or praise from the patient who just threw up all over your clean uniform. Patients were going to swear at you and shout at you. Hopefully you would have paid enough attention during class to realise those where the ones who need you the most as they were likely the most afraid.

The rules

The rules were simple to follow. You wore your white uniform, your dress covered your knees, even when sitting (I do admit to liking the fact that nurses may now wear pants).

Sensible shoes, shoes that made a noise disturbed your patient’s rest. Heels hurt your knees and back. Shiny patent shoes are easily scuffed and are hard to keep clean. Plain lace ups or slip ons that covered your feet and supported them during the long day.

No necklaces that dangled. You were allowed a small symbol of your religion on your necklace. The length of your necklace was equally important. It had to be short enough that a patient couldn’t grip it and pull or it had to be long enough to be out of sight.

Your hair had to be neatly kept away from your face. It had to be kept clean and although colours were allowed they could not be outrageous. You for instance couldn’t have a pink head. I do think today that if a nurse has a streak of colour in her hair it is not the end of the world. If I were still nursing I would allow a streak during awareness campaigns, such as ’10 days of awareness of violence against women and children’ or Breast cancer month, or prostate cancer awareness in November, International HIV/AIDS day, diabetes month, TB awareness etc.

Tattoos were taboo, there is still a stigma attached to them. While I love some of the art work that people are wearing, I am in semi agreement about tattoos. I think it is okay to have a discreet tattoo with a loved one’s name if they have passed.

Make up had to be understated if worn, it should still be. Let’s face it no one wants a nurse who looks like she’s been made up to either stand on a street corner, had a fight with a make up palette or is dressed for a party. Make up makes us feel better and in some cases look better. Even patient’s in hospital would like a nurse to help them put on a little lipstick now and then.

Earrings were only studs or sleepers in your ears and only one earring per ear. I am okay with more than one earring but not dangling feathers or chains. For the same reason as no dangling necklaces.

Nurses need to have a watch with a second had, this is important in doing observations on your patient. No wrist watches were allowed as they could not only injure your patient but you the nurse. When you put your arms under a patient to move them, the watch could hurt or scratch either of you. Nurses fob watches (broaches) are still available and many pharmaceutical companies had them out, as well as being available online.

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Photo by Black Chitsulo on Unsplash

Where has our professional image gone?

Today I see nurses wearing all sorts of rings on their fingers. Rings pose the same risk to patients as wrist watches. I can’t even begin to count the number of nurses who have either lost a stone out of their engagement rings or actually lost the whole ring. The rules uses to be, you could only wear a plain wedding band if you were married.

Your nails had to be short and unpolished or at worst polished with a clear varnish. Once again this was for patient safety and your safety. Long nails could scratch patients and bacteria can get in under flaking nail polish.

NO GUM! To this day if someone is chewing gum, I don’t hear a word they are saying I am too busy worrying that they are either going to spit the gum at me while they are talking or choke on it, or I am think that this is what a cow chewing cud looks like.

We took pride in our profession, we looked and dressed the part of professional women. Now I see them getting off the taxi’s in their slippers, fancy pantyhose with patterns better suited for a smart occasion that dealing with bodily fluids.

Uniforms that are one size to small, and because most hospitals have gone back to the white shirts, we can usually see the colour of your leopard print bra!

The fake eyelashes that remind me of spider legs, just waiting to fall into an open wound.

The braids that can’t always be washed or they fall out. I often found pieces of hair lying around on the ward floors, having come loose from someones head. People lose hair, that is the reason to keep it tied back or clipped.

The rings and fancy watches with their little stones harbouring germs.

The long fingernails that are never quite properly scrubbed, lets be honest, hand washing is much talked about but seldom done properly! The coloured nail polish you haven’t quite had time to redo is now chipped and flaking and two nails have nothing on at all.

Are you a real nurse or is this just your job?

 

If you are a nurse, stand in front of a mirror and take a good, honest look at yourself. Do you look professional, do you look like someone you would entrust your mother/father/husband/child to, or do you just look like you are dressed as a nurse?

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Is this just a job or are you proud to be a nurse?

 

When the Bubble bursts

When the bubble bursts and you start to fall. When we first married, my husband was buying into what he thought was a thriving business. The person he was buying it from was a close family member.

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The kind you would instinctively assume would have your back no matter what. 6 years later we discovered that was not true.

We got married and lived in a small apartment in a not so marvelous part of the city but it was within our budget.

At this stage the family member discussed selling the business with my husband. I probably should have given my opinion then but it was a family business and I didn’t want to later be told ‘It’s your fault xyz’. They kept the business and my husband was often told to buy things through this business for our private life.

Shortly after our first year of marriage we moved to a rented house in a better suburb. We had been trying at this stage to have a baby for about a year, with no success.

My husband was then convinced by the family member to buy us a house, as the rented house was no longer safe. The foundation was sinking.

We discussed options and costs and were told not to worry, we can use the money from the business, they would just increase *John’s salary to cover the costs.

I was working for a busy GP practice. I had to resign during my last year of fertility treatment as I was always to sick from the hormones to work.

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It took us 5 years and  R 250 000 to have our first child, *Joseph was born in 1996. Around this time I discovered that the business my husband was buying in to was actually going into debt. I had stopped working and was now a full time mom.

In 1997, the  bubble burst, big time. The business went into liquidation, we nearly lost our house as my husband was listed as one of the business partners and our house was a cc, with him as a partner. I also discovered that I was pregnant with child number 2. *Joseph was 9 months old at the time.

My husband went into voluntary liquidation. The family member managed to make sure his house was safe. Thankfully a good friend in the legal business helped us move the house from a CC to my name. We have an ANC marriage contract so everything, the house and 2 cars were put under my name.

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The first thing I did was find temporary work as a receptionist, no one wants to hire a pregnant woman. My husband eventually found a job when I was 32 weeks into my pregnancy. He held that job for the next 4 years, it was an NGO and the politics eventually got to him.

As I have said previously my husband is a nice guy, he is no good at politics. He had to go to the CCMA, he won his case and this kept us going for the 3 months it took for him to find a new job.

My new baby, a girl this time, *Shirley, came with me to a flexible job I had found doing data capture. She was 2 weeks old when I started there.

When she was 4 months old, she started at a creche and I found full time work back at my old boss.

In the space of 6 years we went from having no money worries, to almost losing everything we had.

This was not the last time this trusted family member nearly cost us everything, we are still not recovered.

*A reminder that names have been changed and pictures are free images from WP*