Friday, 8 March 2013

Human Nursing v Veterinary Nursing - Guest Blog

Guest Blog by @piranna92 - Hannah Emily Kelly

As a second year veterinary nurse and full time employee in the veterinary industry I find it extremely interesting that Veterinary medicine often replicates that of human medicine. We both deal with a very different type of patient, most Human nurses specify to deal with a certain type of patient be it paediatric, midwifery or cancer patients. Veterinary nurses however deal with a variety of different species, cases and monitor anaesthetics, so I’m guessing the real question is which value of life is more important?
Human life is almost undebatably more important and I have the upmost respect for the people that work within a hospital, I think it takes real courage to work with people when they are terminally ill or in severe pain I know I certainly could not cope with the situation. As I cut my finger open once and bandaged it for two days before admitting I needed stitches, I would not be the best person to react under that pressure.
However there have been recent studies explaining about the importance of people with the human-animal bond, this bond can be interpreted in three ways parent-child, child-parent and sibling -sibling. This “bond” has been described as an emotional tie to even loved ones that have passed or a helping hand through a difficult time of life. So therefore isn’t someone’s “child” just as important as an actual child? There have been several studies that elderly people are more likely to stay and be healthier if they have a pet to keep them company, they are also more likely to maintain a better mental state for longer and spend less time in hospital.
I recently read a article in a nursing magazine comparing the level of compassionate nursing between human and veterinary nursing, good ole Florence nightingale! She was the forefront of the article and how she is known throughout history for her caring nature towards her patients in the most disastrous circumstances. And as much as I reckon I’d look smoking in a bonnet but it’s just not surgically acceptable and there is no way I have enough time on my hands to curl my hair.............even in the old fashioned way, I still like to think that in some way every nurse steps up to her job in whatever field because they care, genuinely care about their patients. We wouldn’t keep going if we didn’t love it, patients or their owners can be aggressive and you may suffer the odd bite or two but when it really comes to it I love my job I want my patients to leave feeling more comfortable than they did when they came in. Nurses whatever kind, work very hard and no matter what every day they are there to hold someone’s hand, paw or claw

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

My patients, and other animals

Today it was suggested by a fellow professional veterinary nurse trainee colleague that I could blog about veterinary nursing v human nursing. Thankyou to @Piranna92, Hannah for this suggestion, which seems very apt as I have recently been blogging about my nursing experience over the years. Only last night on Facebook I was chatting to a friend and past colleague Nick about nursing models and excessive paperwork which prevents us from doing the job we trained for.

I had not considered the fact that nursing models may be mirrored in veterinary nursing, which proved an interesting research point today. A lot of medical research and models have been transferred from medicine to veterinary medicine. One example of this is Roper Logan and Tierneys model of nursing from the good old 1980's. It struck every student nurse with dread as we had to write care plans for patients based on these 12 elements. We all seemed to skip number 10 in our teenage naivety and embarrassing red cheeks at the thought of having to discuss this with a patient.  

Similarly veterinary nurses use nursing models of care such as Orpet and Jefferey (2007) with its 10 abilities to consider all aspects of wellbeing of an animal, not merely focus on the issue of the injury or ailment before them. 
The idea in both cases is that we as nurses are the patients advocate, delivering a personalised plan of individualised care based on all the elements. During my career I found a variety of interpretations of this. Some areas truly delivered personal care plans, involving and empowering the patient, whilst others dealt with it by having filing cabinets of pre written care plans on which you personalised it merely by adding the patients name! With animals of course it would be impossible to discuss the care plan with them, but this can still be achieved by involving the owner is possible to ensure that a routine or favourite food/dislikes are taken into account. Many of the complaints in any care profession are around lack of communication, treating individuals as just that. 
In my current role we use ICPs - Integrated care pathways, an American concept of electronic tick boxes for care delivered. Although my colleagues state this is time consuming, its is no way as long as the tedious hand written care plans of old. The downside though is that the tick boxes "yes", "no", do not allow for shifts from the norm or unexpected incidents. This results in you having to write a lengthy handwritten evaluation note, so has technology really moved us on in time? Don't even get me started on the system crashes and frozen PC screens!

Nurses in whatever job role, have always historically been hand maidens. Over my career I have dutifully trotted behind the Consultant and entourage and been left outside the curtains of the ward round fighting my way back in more times than I care to mention. I have cleared away bloody instrument covered trolleys without a second thought. This is what I trained to do wasn't it? 26 years down the line, I am a little more savvy and now lead the ward round, and woe betide any surgeon who doesn't decontaminate his hands or clean his own equipment away! I am lucky that my Consultant colleagues are in the main respectful of my standing and experience and we work together, as it is a reasonably small unit. I know my veterinary nurse colleagues will also suffer this same inferiority complex at times. We are both professional in our own right and must always strive to be seen as such, as we do respect our surgical colleagues in the main!

The training for nursing is 3 years, versus 2 for veterinary nurses. We both however never stop studying or learning and have a mandatory requirement to  provide continual professional development proof to re register on a yearly basis. This also comes with a fee - we actually pay to work and its never ending in its increase! On the nursing aspect we receive very little in reality for this (not even the old plastic registration card) apart from the protection of a legal case against us. We each have to prove our worth through post registration modules and degree pathways, length of experience no longer worth its salt.

The salary of both professions is in no way comparable. A qualified veterinary nurse can expect between £14-22,000 rising to £25,000 as a senior veterinary nurse, whereas qualified nurses can earn between £18 to £34,000. Perhaps you may argue that human life is worth more? In my eyes veterinary nursing is not just about cuddling animals. Like my nursing profession, it is not glamourous, we both take the rough with the smooth, we roll with the punches/kicks of aggressive patients/animals (and bites). We both deal with emergencies as well as the routine. We clean, decontaminate malodorous and items you don't even want to think about. We both observe, monitor, soothe, reassure, provide a safe clean environment, sterile equipment, care for pre, intra and post operative patients/animals. Both these roles matter. Personally I don't see an animal as any less important than a person in being cared for in a compassionate and thoughtful way. 

I have had aggressive, violent patients as well as easy mannered docile ones. I have had hairy patients as well as smooth. I have had mud covered patients as well as pristine. I have had quiet patients as well as those who bark orders. Nursing versus animal nursing? No difference. We both care, we both want to ease suffering. That's what we train to do every day. Equally as important to a humane society. Hannah, I take my hat off to you and all the very best in your forthcoming exams and future career. I look forward to your guest blog in the future. 


Sunday, 3 March 2013

Who would be a nurse? Part two

However good your initial nurse training it can never prepare you for the shifts and events that shape your career. The overwhelming memory of my last year as a student nurse was of a couple running in with a tiny baby into the A & E department, blue, not breathing, motionless. The team dutifully fired into action, faultless and robotic like in their actions. The next 15 minutes became a blur as I secretly prayed for a miracle. The dreaded words "time of death..." resounding in my head. What happened next I would never wish on anyone. I was asked to take the couple to the relatives room. Alone. Me. A mere 3rd year student nurse. A mixture of anger and choked back tears filled my head. The mother white as a sheet, clutching her yellow soft wool blanket. The father, trying to be strong but obviously falling apart. The walk to the relatives room seemed endless and dark. The chairs we sat in pale, a little tattered and worn seemed stark. The fading photography on the walls unwelcoming. As if this was not bad enough, there were two burly police officers waiting to greet us. "A sudden death... must be investigated.. just routine.. nothing to worry about..." I looked at them with disbelief. had they not tact, no common courtesy, no human compassion?
The couple now both in obvious shock, shaking from head to toe, tears falling, no tissues, until I passed them the standard NHS box. Something riled within me, and I said to the officers, "Enough, please, this is not appropriate, step outside until we are ready". I don't know where this came from, we are all prepared in training to be patients advocate, but at this moment, I truly understood what this meant.
Words came from somewhere, I managed to talk to the couple, they talked through their shock, grief, disbelief, thanks to the team, to me for my time. As they left with the police, I felt my own grief kick in. Unfortunately there was no time to discuss this, the shift was 4 hours from finishing and I was needed. The one thing that was wrong, was that no one took time to ask me if I was comfortable with how things went, did I need time out, did I need to talk. From that day on, I vowed never to leave a student or a colleague unsupported and always strive to talk through any issues that arise.
My first shift as a qualified nurse was with another more senior nurse. She hated being in charge and ended up in tears after about 2 hours. The ward in disarray, junior staff unsupervised. Although I could not hold the keys, my natural well meaning "helpful bossiness" took over and I sorted the workload, delegated tasks, and the shift passed with no one the wiser.
I have come across a multitude of leaders in my time. The born leader, who recognises when you need guidance, unclips your wings when you are ready to fly, praises and inspires. The leader who just has to be in charge, with no respect for those in their team, who squashes ideas, puts people down and is destructive but would never even recognise it. I am by no means perfect, but I have always been a hands on nurse. It comes naturally to roll up my sleeves and muck in. Emptying a commode has never been above me and never will be. I could never be "too posh to wash"
On leaving my first job a junior colleague said to me "You will always be respected as you never ask us to do anything you wouldn't do yourself" This stayed with me throughout my career. Although at times I have found the job and the people challenging, if I stopped caring I have always known I would stop nursing, simple as.
My career has covered a variety of speacialities, orthopaedic, nursing homes, medical, gene therapy, clinical investigations, infection control, and now I am a lead ward nurse on a surgical unit and site lead for infection control.
What keeps me nursing? The people who I meet who inspire me, despite their pain and suffering. The people who are not so nice, because this merely sets me a challenge to do better. The satisfaction at the end of a day when I am tired and weary that I have done some good and helped someone. Being a mentor and helping others. Despite the fact that this reminds me how long I have been nursing - now in my 26th year, it still fires my enthusiasm for my profession. I call myself an old fashioned nurse, because my standards are still what they were when I started. My trolleys are still shiny, I set high standards for patients in my care - that they are pain free, comfortable, fed and watered as far as I am able. We all have heard of recent events in the press of shortfalls in care. All I will say is that there is no excuse for poor care or turning a blind eye. We all have an equal responsibility to care for each other and shout out when there is a problem and louder still until we are heard.
Who would be a nurse?
Me. Then, now and probably until I cease to breathe. The moment the uniform goes on (in recent days, scrubs aka Nurse Jackie), I am proud of my profession. I put to one side my own problems and try to do my best for those in my care. I aim to be a happy, cheerful nurse who treats her patient as an individual with respect. I am a team player and equally work well alone. I don't get involved in too much of the gossip, as it bores me, and I merely try to get on with everyone.
I hope I am the kind of nurse someone would want to be looked after by. This would make me happy. I am glad I fought to be a nurse and that I did it just for me, achieved it for myself. My job, colleagues, and patients have helped me through some tough times and I will always be grateful for that. Like everyone I sigh at the end of a busy shift as I open my locker and get changed, but...

A Nurse's Prayer

by Teri Lynn Thompson
Let me dedicate my life today
To care of those who come my way.
Let me touch each one with healing hands
And the gentle art for which I stand.
And then tonight when the day is done,
Let me rest in peace if I've helped just one.

Who would be a nurse? Part One

My first dressing up costume was as a five year old and consisted of a nurses blue and white striped dress, white apron, plastic stethoscope and a cap with a red cross. I remember the local "old school" GP commenting on it as he came on a house visit to my Auntie with whom I lived. He asked if he could rely on me as his assistant.
My Auntie Elsie had various ailments including leg ulcers, chronic diabetes and heart issues. I remember helping the GP as he changed bandages, examined and investigated on his numerous visits. The malodorous and sights never bothered me and it seemed to come naturally to soothe and calm and provide reassurance. As a lone child, I made up many games in my childhood, including playing school. My various teddies, dolls and stuffed animals would all be propped or leaning in rows for today's lessons. They all had a variety of bandages, Elastoplasts (remember them? itchy red rash notwithstanding!) and red patches drawn onto the dressings with a red felt pen. It came naturally to want to cure and heal the sick and needy from even such an early age.
My Mothers psychiatric illness mean't I became a carer of sorts from an early age also. Her various suicide attempts and disappearances became commonplace and I spent most of my teens in psychiatric wards listening and seeing just how this affected peoples lives. It did not get picked up by any school social workers at the time, as I was always fed, clean and tidy and never skipped school - testament to my Auntie who was always supportive. My Mum could help none of it, as it was and is an illness, but it affects those close in such a deep way.
I enjoyed Latin at school and had already decided I wanted to be a nurse and was advised by my language teacher Latin would be useful. However a combination of careers advisers and my Mum did not agree on my choice of profession. This led to me taking Geography which I hated with a passion! I secretly remained passionate about nursing as my chosen career and forged ahead with studying hard. My mothers illness mean't that my concentration was poor and I needed to take some exams again which I did and finally was able to apply. The nursing interview was tough and grueling and I was surprised to be accepted. My mother was not impressed and made no attempt to cover up her displeasure. I never really discovered why it was, but I know she always wanted a career but brought me up as a single parent so perhaps there lied the reason.
My nurse training began in 1987 and I was lucky to have a great group who became known as the "whydowes" because we questioned everything constantly. The training consisted of blocks of theory in a school of nursing and placements on wards and departments within the local hospitals of a West Yorkshire town. My first placement was on a surgical ward - old Nightingale style beds with central tables on which we did our care plans and patients flowers were kept. The uniform was the same colour as my childhood costume but in blocks and a terribly itchy material, necessary black laced up shoes and tights. The best part of the uniform by far was the navy gaberdine cape with a bright red lining and straps which criss crossed over our front. We really thought we were the bees knees walking to and from placement to nursing school. They came in handy on night shifts as a blanket on the draughty old wards.
I remember my first wage slip and still have them all. It seemed so much money and after paying my mum board and lodging having so much in the bank and not knowing what to do with it. My lifestyle was not exactly fast pace and my weekly Saturday night at a local disco with friends did not really eat into it very much. This was all to change however when I got a flat nearby to nursing college with a friend. My Mum had become quite difficult to live with and I needed my own independence  The shock of bills, rent and shopping soon dawned on me and that my wage was really not that big at all!
My early memories are of strict ward sisters. One who ruled with a rod of iron on my first placement, with a starched white cap, and who amazed me as she never came out of her office but knew every last thing about the patients and us! She kindly turned a blind eye to the fact that we smoked in the sluice and there must have been so many half cigarettes hastily flushed away day and night at the sound of footsteps approaching! My sad memory here was of a boy with learning disabilities who collapsed on Boxing day and being asked to run for the cardiac arrest trolley on the next ward. I felt so stupid and slow trying to push the trolley quickly up the hill with my adrenalin pumping through my veins. The awful sight of the boy on the floor in full view of all, and attempts were futile as he must have had a long standing history of cardiac issue unbeknownst to us all. He was such a character on the ward with an infectious smile and laugh. I found it impossible to eat my Boxing Day lunch at home and burst into tears when it all sank in. The Consultants on the ward were always invited into Sisters office for a cup of tea - a full china tea service after ward rounds. They also turned up over Christmas to serve meals and one in particular was very leery to a colleague after having consumed a lot of alcohol. a good job he was not operating that day! For Christmas I received a small parcel from the infamous ward sister and it was a pack of tights. A small but very touching gesture I thought. A firm but fair leader who supported her staff and ensured the best quality care of her patients. The one thing I never understood however was why she made us butter 2 loaves of bread every single morning and offer this to patients prior to breakfast with a choice of jam or marmalade. No one ever wanted it but we did it religiously as per orders day in and day out.
Another favourite ward sister was on a gynaecology ward and would invite students to join her in a game of Trivial Pursuit. There she would be, feet aloft, fag in hand but always ready to roll up her sleeves when required. I found this placement quite alarming with patients having abortions, sad individual stories and horrific sights and memories at times - the dark side of maternity care. I did learn a lot of my technical skills on this ward including aseptic technique with the Ward sister assessing me. Trying to take sutures out whilst being assessed and my knees knocking and hands trembling, but my ward sister was so kind and patient. I passed with flying colours due to having her as one of the best mentors.
Psychiatric wards were really not for me, a little too close to home for obvious reasons. I gritted my teeth and got through it with some difficulty. We always used to joke you couldn't tell the staff from the patients.
A lot of our student nurse duties involved good old fashioned cleaning. A weekend cleaning book where we would primp, preen, shine and polish as if our lives depended on it. Woe betide a slightly smeared trolley being on your watch. We were also expected to know all our patients names, ages, and diagnoses at the drop of a hat if the dreaded Nursing Officer arrived. This was a sort of head Matron. You would have to sheepishly knock on their door when reporting back from sick or for any disciplinary issues. Their main job on nights just seemed to be the ward round. We would carefully flash our pen torches over the bed space and purport to know every last thing about the patient with flourish and all from memory. This was fine until the dreaded Nursing Officer bellowed an correction at you with gnashed teeth.
Our clinical tutors from Nursing School would arrive to teach us the main skills,like how to bed bathe a patient from top to toe. Our Jamaican tutor used to fascinate me as she was so kind and caring and left no part of a patient unwashed. The swish of her uniform was reassuring and the patient knew they were in expert hands. She taught me to treat a patient as if they were your own family. This moral stayed with me from that day forward.
Theatres was an interesting placement. Not really for me as I prefer my patients awake. But I remember a lot of tom foolery including being placed into the scrub sinks and huge buckets on our last day and water fights which ended in water flowing down the main hospital corridoor. Happy Days!

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Hotel breakfast

So here I am nestled nice and warm in the breakfast room. You could say it’s the best room in the dining experience, as I have a birds eye view of the place. I never wanted to be this old. Its no fun being shrivelled and burnt out. If only I was still smooth and firm and felt really alive. Anyway its no good moaning, I have to tell this story before my time is up. It may be sooner than you think! 

Theres Mrs Classy over there at table number 2. Thinks herself somebody with her airs and graces and blonde coiffeured locks. Don’t get too close though, its only a fa├žade. Her natural colour is 50 shades of grey. She barged past me without a second glance, all too quick to get her “posh” breakfast. Little does she know the fruit salad she deems so healthy was scraped off the floor at 6am and tipped back into the bowl. That chef assistant is such a clumsy oaf. Forgive me if I curl up at her a minute as she nibbles the grapefruit covered in fur! 

And here we have a one nighter at table number 3. Hes here with his secretary. Oh yes you might think you fool me with your notepads and pens pretending its all above board by booking The Willow Conference room. If I sit up a bit I can see her foot in your lap Mr, oh yes! Its not just him getting hot under the collar, can’t someone turn the heat down in here a bit, Im having a hot flush. Must be my age?! 

Next in the rogues gallery is to my right at table number 5. Surveyor Sam. Hes an arrogant so and so. Don’t you just hate those sort who sit on their laptops and mobile phones conducting a business on speaker phone. So you have sealed the deal eh? £50.000. Wowee. Whoopy day. Pity you don’t pay more attention to your long suffering wife who is at this minute finding her own jackpot with Mike, retired schoolteacher from Kent, who she sees once a week in a clandestine affair on floor 3 in room 428. They would be sat at table number 4, only they didn’t have time for breakfast, preferring something tasty of their own making. Put that in your pipe and smoke it smug Sam. (could do with a smoke myself, come to think of it).

 Table number 6 is empty. Well I say empty. Its to be cleared. I would have been there myself but Im glad Im where I am to be honest. In fact I wouldn’t mind being here for life. Life, I hear you say, don’t be ridiculous.. but if only you knew what I had been through, you would understand. Treated rough in my life, neglected, pushed around and finally stripped of all my finery. Catching light of myself in the spotlight above my place Im shocked. I really have some grey streaks in my hair, and doesn’t my bum look big in this? So yes its best I am where I am and not on that table on show to all the world and his wife. 

Table 7-10 is a weightwatchers conference. These poor people have been sucked in by the points mean prizes option. They started off happy people with a zest for life and now they look positively gaunt with their sunken cheekbones and thin frames. Taking pride of place in the centre table is the ceremonial prize. Is it a gold chalice, no. Is it a all inclusive break to the Seychelles to a health spa, no. It is.. wait for this, a set of weighing scales!! I ask you, how sad is that?! For gods sake a bit of fat don’t harm you!! Take me for example, Ive been told Im very tasty indeed, so there. 

Table 8 are a noisy rabble. They have been here since 7am. You know the type, take the all you can eat voucher to the extreme. I have watched them back and forth at least 5 times. Food all over the place, including the walls and floor. I said good morning so many times I got fed up of their rudeness and not answering that I gave up. You just cant educate some folk. I know I have room to talk, I have been here the same amount of time, but I have had nothing to eat, Im just enjoying people watching. But them ruffians just make my blood boil so much that Im positively sizzling.

Table 9 is very different. I have been watching them for some time. You don’t see this very often. They cant take their eyes off each other. It must be love. Their eyes positively sparkle with it overflowing out of each other. A joy to behold it is. The other people are too busy with their own importance to see the glow around them, but I see it. I hope they make eye contact. Im over here. Yes, just little old me. Sitting here minding my own business. Come and say hello. Go on you might enjoy it. Oo they are getting closer. Leaning over me. She, glides off, but he fixes upon me. Oh goodness, Im fair melting, how hot is he! He picks me up twirls me around and Im dizzy. Im seated again now, right next to him. Im looking up at him, gazing, I too am transfixed just like she was. Well who wouldn’t be. And then it happens he gazes me straight in the eyes, my mouth touches his. Hes going to kiss me. Oh I can hardly contain myself. He opens his mouth and…. Im in there! Hes tasting me, oh I know Im going to be swallowed but who cares. The crispy piece of bacon has pulled!!! 

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Its gone right to my head

                                         Show me the way to go home...

We all want the best for our children. We want them to be happy, contented, safe and secure. We do our utmost to prevent them sliding down the slippery slope of no return, the mere thought of which drills a sense of fear deep into our souls.
My daughter E did not have the best of parenting in her life, perhaps you could argue. From the age of 6 weeks old she was looked after by her father, as I was a qualified nurse and could earn more - a practical sensible decision. I did have guilt feelings over this at the time, as I lived in a small minded town back then, where it was not the done thing for a woman to have a career. My husband and I had no issues with him being at home. His relationship with E at that time was incredibly close and she still dotes on her father. It was in the early years of our marriage, that I realised that alcohol however, was the main passion in his life. It was not unusual for him to have a house full of drinking buddies, with  crates of Fosters or the cheapest deadliest cider opened and empty cans everywhere. I got used to stepping over them on the way in, cleaning up and spending lonely nights as he slept it off. It was usual for E to have alcohol around her, and still now she finds it comical if anyone has one drink "socially".
My husbands explanation for this is that it was how he was brought up, so what was the problem. Unfortunately E also saw the downside of this unsocial drinking. It was common to see her Dad so drunk he fell in the bath, slurred his words, vomiting, and him sinking deeper into despair by adding a few drugs to the cocktail mix and becoming so depressed that he had an ongoing affair, his first and last heroin dabbling overdose and slashed his wrists the next day. (His explanation, not mine).
Perhaps you are wondering why a relatively sane girl like me tolerated this behaviour, along with the threat of violence, physical abuse at times but far worse the treatment of my daughter. Why did I finish an 8-8 shift to walk home past the pub to see my beautiful daughters face through a pub window and pick her up to take her home. The answer is I eventually came to my senses you could say. I am not asking you to have sympathy, but just see things from another facet of the crystal. I believed that I had to be a good wife, that maybe it was my fault, believing the negative words he called me, also quite scared of what he could potentially do. Above all, I knew the love E had for her father, and that it would break her heart to leave him at the age of 4. We, in time got our own house, a mortgage, but with it the drinking became worse. My husband was often too drunk to pick E up from primary school, so got a taxi there and back, or that she was looked after by my mother. The final straw came when I  came home to find E playing out at the back of our house on the adjoining lane. It was snowing outside and he was comatose on the sofa, surrounded by the usual cans with the front door wide open. Again, he saw nothing wrong with this, and E screamed that she hated me when I made her come inside. She was 5.
When I did take her far away to the other end of the country, the relief of getting out of this situation was immense, but E continued to hate me and blamed me for her having no contact with her father. In essence, I never stopped her seeing her father. I had been separated from my own for 25 years and knew that pain only too well. What I did do, was try and ensure that the court understood the situation fully - that her Dad was an alcoholic, and occasional drug abuser, that there was a danger of her being surrounded with unknown men at the age of 5. She did see her father at a contact centre for a few visits, until he decided he had better things to fill his life with. 

E was seen by many psychologists in her young life. They painstakingly tried to unravel the many knots of her mind. She did have a kind of behavioural disorder. I have lost track of the times that I have relayed our life story and how we came to be here. I had to harden myself to the tutting and comments made when E would have her outbursts and manic episodes. My skin got used to the constant biting, punching and deep scratches that E would administer when she didn't get her own way. She had become used to a 6 pack of crisps being given to her by her father for the day, whilst he entertained his friends. Trying to ration this now and reason with her, was futile and I was just the bad parent for constantly saying no. I just wanted the professionals to help my daughter, to recognise she had a condition and not blame me. I was accused of just wanting a label for my daughter. I tried to explain I was a registered nurse and knew she was mentally ill and needed help. E always had no sense of danger, would hurtle herself into a road in a forward roll, or dash off miles ahead with a manic banshee shriek and cackle. She had issues at every single school she has ever attended, through bullying other children to being bullied herself, but mainly disrupting classes and bad behaviour. 
Her main school in London began with the usual parents joy, first "big" uniform, snapshot on the doorstep, the way you get yourself in a right state, and they just wander off, all nonchalant stylee. 
It was in these first few weeks however that I had a phone call to say she was missing. Missing? What did they mean? Kidnapped? No, she had been enticed out by an older friend and spent the day in a disused house with step ladders to different crumbling floors where adults also frequented to drink or take drugs. She was now 11. This was not the last time she went there. It became a daily occurrence for me to take her to school and for her to walk out of the back entrance. The school had no jurisdiction they said, to stop her leaving. The new "big" uniform, soon faded, dirtied by a new lifestyle, torn by climbing, dusty from sitting on unknown floors. There were periods when she settled for short periods, but this would then break down again. I knew she was smoking, but never smelt alcohol on her. The school knew smoking went on, and she and her "friend" were acquiring money from Arthur Daley deals and buying them in school uniform from the local shop. The headmaster joked how she was quite the entrepreneur. I politely pointed out that I in no way found this situation funny. 
At home I tried everything with E. We continued to see psychologists, had reward schemes, forfeits. She rewarded me by stealing from me, damaging property in the house, constant voicing that she hated me and hoped I died, laughing in my face.
Trying to get her away for a new start, I moved to the coast. A far better school with one to one mentors, but she grew worse.  One day I confronted her over stealing and she took a knife to me, threatening to hurt me. She was now 13. The physical strength of E is unbelievable when she was in one of these rages, it scared me. The look in her eyes as she showed no emotion and became violent, was chilling. 
The missing episodes got worse also, and I got used to calling the police to say she had not come home from school again. It made no difference if you turned up to pick her up as she rarely was at school, just escaped after an hour or so. I knew many policemen on first name terms as they patiently sat on the sofa, taking yet another photo of E to help find her and an account of the latest escapade. My Westie no longer barked when they knocked on the door for the 5th time that week. They sympathised, soothed, assured me it was a phase, that she would grow out of it, that I wasn't a bad parent. Equally though, they pointed out that they had no jurisdiction either over the situation, even when she stole a souvenir bottle of Ouzo from the house and sat with her friends drinking in the park. They did in time say they would no longer go looking for her, as they couldn't keep wasting resources. Most times they had found her, although she did resist being brought home. I tried my best to get social workers involved, drink counsellors who tested E and gave her rewards for not drinking. It wasn't until much more recently that E has told me she had steadily been drinking since the age of 11, and it was normal for her. She accused me of being snobby and posh for seeing fault with it. I was raised on some of the renowned Council estates in Yorkshire by my Mum alone, and do not see myself as posh, only wanting to get a career for myself. I was lucky not to have alcohol issues in my family, but my Mum did have serious mental health issues.
The worst night of my life so far was when E did not come home at the age of 12. She was missing the whole night. I hope you never have to go through that, but I seriously thought she was in a gutter somewhere. It was a winters night and I remember sitting up the whole night chilled to the bone in fear. It turned out that she had got drunk and stayed at a friends house whose parents had supplied the drink. The next day she was returned by the police in a surly manner and resisted the police with violence. As she slept it off, I remember breaking down finally and the police saying that she had said I was not a bad parent and that I was pretty cool actually. I could simply not understand why she was doing this to herself. It was as if she had a finger permanently on a self destruct button. 
The next low point was when she called me (missing again). This time she sobbed down the phone telling me she was not worthy of living and wanted to kill herself. She had taken an 11 year old boy from school out on an escapade with her and he had got so poisoned with alcohol he had collapsed and spent the night in A/E having his stomach pumped and nearly died. I begged her to come home and we would talk and help her through this. Eventually she did and for one of the first times in her life showed emotion and sobbed for an hour. I naively thought this would be a turning point. However the next night E went missing and ended up with another girl in a lock up garage with 3 older guys. Thankfully nothing happened, thanks be to God. 
Again, the social workers told me it was because she wanted to see her father, that it was a normal teenager thing to do. I pointed out she was 12! Also that it was her father who refused to see her, despite my attempts.
I did after much deliberation and a 7 day repetition of missing episodes take her to the social workers office, demanding they take her into care to help her. Have you any idea what that took as Es mother to bring myself to do this?
Was I met with help? I was told I would be arrested for neglect if I left her there and walked away. At this point I begged them to help me and more importantly her, as she had an undiagnosed disorder fueled by alcohol and needed help. 
As always, E had the upper hand, by escaping the office and going missing. I rested my case. 
After this she continued to go missing, and the social workers were quite happy for her to stay in a house of a friend where the parents drank regularly and allowed their underage children to. E went shop lifting and I took her to many chain supermarkets requesting they arrest her and ban her from the shop and see how accessible the drink is to under age children. Again, they sympathised but said they could not do that.

Things came to a head when she came home drunk at the age of 13 and threatened me again. I called the police myself. They arrived and again said they could do nothing, until she swore at me. The police woman saw red and picked E up with a single hand and placed her against the wall, her legs dangling, saying she was arresting her for potential breach of the peace. 
I can remember standing in the police station another time terrified of the unknown process as she had been caught shop lifting and bragged about it. Instead of a cell, the police relented and kept her in a holding room with me. The shame burned on my face as she was finger printed, yet looking at her she merely shrugged her shoulders, smirked saying it was cool.

I was beginning to wonder where this was going to end. As always, E made her own choice. She had gone on a holiday to her fathers as agreed by social workers. I had paid for her to go. She rang me and said she wanted to live with her father permanently and that she was not coming home.
Her father smugly said he would keep her safe and she would come to no harm. 
E had always put her father on a pedestal, and I know she always will. What did I do? Drag her back? What would have been the point. I told her I had only ever tried to do the best for her, and that it was not my job as a parent to make her unhappy. My own mother did not agree with me and stated I should have made her return.
E was now 15. I knew I had to let go. I had done my utmost to show her a different way, take her on holiday, encourage her to read, get an education, take pride in herself. 
In the end we all know the consequences of our actions and we have to take responsibility for them. I am a mother, a nurse, but I am not a qualified psychologist and that is what she needed. But not just any one. The one who flatly told me the only way she would ever function in life was to be locked up for a period of time on treatment. But this never happened, she simply slipped through the system. She never fitted a text book definition, but then what is "normal behaviour".
I don't blame anyone for this, I merely wished at that time there had been better education for professionals and schools and parents in how to deal with these problem kids. We dump them in different areas, we lock them away. But does anyone really understand why they do what they do?

In truth I do blame myself. I will never forgive myself for not getting her away sooner. I will never know if this would have made any difference whatsoever. As we all know in hindsight we would all do things differently sometimes, but as parents we can only do what we think is best at the time.

What is she doing now?...
She stayed with her father, the episodes continued and in fact got worse. 
She is now 20, has been in violent relationships and is now still in one and pregnant.

What can we do as a parent?...
Simply be there to pick up the pieces.

All I would ask is, don't judge anyone in this situation and that they are not bad children and we are not bad parents. There needs to be continued support and help for anyone in this scenario. I know that in Es case that the following is true

                        "You will always find me singing this song"......

Thanks to a Twitter chat with @craig_caerdydd about this subject for the inspiration for this blog, and thank-you all for reading

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Mr Darcy with a large dose of Hugh ~ Follow you, Follow me

#.......In your arms I feel so safe, and so secure.....

Well, it has been some time since my last scribing
Much has happened in my Numpty life
Make yourselves comfortable and I shall begin.

There was a night when I was going to leave Twitter, this had been building for some time, and I had every intention of never returning and tweeted this in a roundabout way.
That night, one DM arrived, in my inbox. This was from someone I had followed for a while and we had called each other "kindred spirits", sharing love of literature, music, humour and sensitivity.
I was drawn deeply to open the new avi picture of the man on the account, and as it opened fully, my heart pounded. The most amazing smile and eyes I had ever seen, but with a story behind the smile. For some reason I was compelled to find out what his story was, which I did over many months, and knew that his face had captured my emotions so deeply, that night.

     "Write a message from the heart, it might just be where the future will start"  (JD)

Our love of reading and writing had meant we had read each others blogs and been drawn to each other by an invisible thread of destiny, written in the stars.
Who followed who on Twitter was unimportant, the meeting of minds was the key. One followed the other, the other followed back.

Whilst I am here, thank-you dear readers for patiently waiting for Ms Jones voyage of discovery to pick you up. I know I have left you standing waiting in the dark, but if you would like to pick up your cases, carrier bags, pampered pooches and the like, we can still make the train of life with a few minutes to spare.
Has everyone got a seat? I can see some standing in the aisles and one perched on the overflowing litter bin and the couple sitting on each others lap in the luggage rack. Alas, even with a season ticket of life, I am unable to guarantee you a comfortable repose.

We are off! Hold tight, it is a bumpy ride, I know we have obstacles in our way, but have no fear, as it is nothing that cannot be overcome with a little perseverance. The way to the new world ahead is lit with such blinding glowing rays at the ende of the tunnel.
This journey seems to have taken years, but then it really has, a real voyage of self discovery. During this journey, I have not changed, I have merely shed many outer protective layers  revealing my true inner self.
This train is so cramped, only 2 carriages with the old fashioned slam doors and push down windows. You see me standing amongst umpteen holdalls, rucksacks, bags and I fear I may disappear in an ever increasing pile of bags. I giggle as a group of around ten guys jostle past - a stag party en route somewhere whose non dulcit tones of badly copied pop songs fill the air.
As the fields of destiny pass me by on either side of my carriage, I am led back to poignant parts and conversations in my life, afore mentioned. Whereas before, I had always been filled with dread at the track ahead that was my life, I am now aware of an overwhelming excitement as the train trundles on.
This excitement built to fever pitch and I feared my heart would burst out of my chest.
At last the train ground to a halt, only I stepped off, as if it was meant to have always been that way.

The carriage was full
Only one stepped off and faced
The other who waited
Bags dropped, they both embraced  (JD)

The moment I had only dreamed could happen in my wildest dreams happened. That look, that smile, those words, it was as if the world stood still and here he was in front of me in real life. Before we had met, I had always known he was "the one" no doubt in my mind, and trust me when you realise that, then you know, and whatever happens hold tight and never let it go. These opportunities come but once in a lifetime yo! (thank-you Eminem!).
We have had difficulties and it was to be expected that some people could never understand this situation or how it came to be. As with a lot of life situations you soon find who true friends are and who remains loyal. This is all old news now, but all I want to say here is that we had come to be in this place after being open and honest and true to our selves. It was not as it appeared to some, and for those who judged wrongly they have a right to their opinion, but I also exercised my right to choose not to listen to their slander.
To those who stood by us, I just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for being there and for knowing the real me and not wrongly judging me.

I have never ever looked back since that day on the platform. My life now has meaning, I am happy for the first time in my life, I look at the man by my side and feel an incredible pride and furnace in my heart for him. Although it hurts dreadfully to be apart for long, we also have that freedom and independance of spirit individually to be who we are.

I truly hope that if you have not already found such love, that you do, and I do believe it is there for all of us.
I do feel this is a spiritual event and I will thank God every day of my life, and above all, I thank my gorgeous man, for coming into my life, showing me what love is, and I will be indebted to you for the rest of my life.

@jsdax - I love you, I love you, I love you


"Every day is such a perfect day to spend, alone with you....I will follow you will you follow me?.....#

This is the end of this blog, but I will be continuing my numpty rambles in a new one.
Will you be aboard the next train?

All my love

Ms J