The Evil of Hope

by Fiona Lotherington, Registered Nurse and Complementary Health Practitioner, Northern NSW. 

You may think that the word evil is extreme when describing the effect of hope. Yet I define evil as anything that holds back our growth and development and anything which perpetuates the separation from the truth of who we are or which delays the healing needed to return to our essence. Defined in this way, evil and hope are perfect bedfellows.

I was recently listening to a friend talk about his experience with his partner who had died many years ago from breast cancer. As he shared the details of the events around her illness and eventual death, the word ‘hope’ came up several times. Each time I heard this word, I experienced a growing sense of dis-ease, as I became aware of what a detrimental role hope had played in her illness and death.

For a moment this surprised me, as hope is normally considered to be a virtue. Like a warm coat in winter, it is used to comfort ourselves or other people when we are ‘down on our luck’. It is common to hear people say, “I hope you get better soon” or “don’t give up hope” and consider this a kindness. We give generously to charities dedicated to researching medical conditions, in the hope that a cure will be discovered. Continue reading “The Evil of Hope”

Nursing and my new religion

Annelies van Haastrecht, community nurse, Voorschoten, the Netherlands

I started nursing at a young age, 17 years old. And if you asked me at that time why I had chosen nursing as a profession I would not have been sure what to answer. It would definitely not have been the answer I would give today. Today I say I have chosen to become a nurse because I love people and I love to care for and nurture them, to give them an insight into how it is to truly be caring and loving for oneself.

I left the healthcare system ten years after I started, without any appreciation for myself, burnt out, not coping with the pressure and the huge demands of the system. I did my utmost to fit in, to please others, unaware of who I truly was and this resulted in me becoming the tough nurse, hardened, in whom everything and everyone else came first. I thought myself and saw around me that this was what nursing was about, but I felt I would never be enough, that I had failed, I had given myself away completely and I gave up… and withdrew from my profession.

Continue reading “Nursing and my new religion”

Our secret medical history

by Matthew Brown, Registered Nurse, Perth, Western Australia

Most of us have seen a GP or been to hospital at some stage, and have had our medical history taken. The usual questions cover a range of illnesses that include most parts of our body. Commonly asked questions are related to blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol, heart and lungs, any previous surgery and what type of medication we are on, which may provide a clue to anything else we may have ‘forgotten’ to mention!

I call this the public medical history, the one that is carried around like a backpack, that informs all health professionals just what type of body they are dealing with. These are the problems that are often managed with medication, and the more you are on, and the higher the dose, the greater your problems are.

But there is another history we keep hidden. This secret history is the one we keep really personal and generally don’t share with anyone, or maybe only one other person. These secrets are the vital evidence and the foundation of our ill ways, ill health and poor decisions. They may at first seem irrelevant or even minor, but they are crucial to understanding the person as a whole, and hold the clues to the kinds of events, illnesses or injuries that happen to people.

Those things that we keep secret are the things that we find embarrassing or personal; that we would never share with another. They could range from anything from early childhood all the way through life. There is often a hurt of some kind that holds us back. It may prevent us from either admitting it is there, or we may find a way to completely ignore the feeling associated with it. Continue reading “Our secret medical history”

The Value of Qualitative Research – Understanding and Expression

by Jennifer Smith RN Australia.

I recently had the opportunity to participate in a research study. I had completed a survey and was then asked if I would like to participate in an interview as part of a qualitative study on self-care. The research was about exploring the topic of self-care in nurses who work in palliative care and whether this may relate to compassion for self and compassion for others.

I love participating and supporting other nurses, especially when it comes to research, so I jumped at the chance.

The qualitative approach to research, is less about figures and results and more about the experiences and themes of the participants, with a view to establishing a broader understanding of what a group of people’s experiences are on a particular subject. The numbers of participants in qualitative research are often much smaller than with quantitative research and whilst this allows for a richer, in-depth analysis to be performed, there are some factions in science that do not value this and who consider quantitative research superior. Both are valid ways of performing research and are suited to address different research questions and fields of study.

The questions asked were quite broad about how I self-care, how it affects how I am at work, the strategies I use, the things that get in the way of me self-caring and whether or not I had a ‘self-care plan’ and whether a plan is beneficial (this is something that is talked about a lot in palliative care circles). The questions were open so I could really discuss and explore how self-care supports me both personally and most definitely professionally.
Continue reading “The Value of Qualitative Research – Understanding and Expression”

Having ideals and beliefs – at what expense to the body?

by Cherise Holt, Nurse, Australia

When I was 20 years old, I graduated as a nurse and began to work in a Rehabilitation unit, in a major city hospital. On any shift I would be allocated to approximately 7 patients, all of whom were recovering from surgical procedures, injuries and various illnesses & diseases. They all varied in the amount of support they (and their carers) needed from me, physically, mentally and emotionally.

I worked shift work, usually days, afternoons and weekends and it was not uncommon to work 7 days without a break or have very irregular shifts. I frequently worked until 11pm at night and would then start another shift beginning at 6.30am the next morning. I used to think I had barely enough time to drive home and sleep, let alone take time to wind down properly or bring true quality to my relationship with me (or anyone else!).

I worked hard and I would tell anyone that I thoroughly enjoyed my job. I loved talking to the patients, although found it difficult with those that wanted more of my attention or more solutions from me than I felt I could give. I liked providing care for them, however found that the physical tasks I was doing for them, even the basics of daily care, was becoming tiring on my body.

At age 20, I was already feeling drained by my career; how could this be? Continue reading “Having ideals and beliefs – at what expense to the body?”

Two Doctors and a Patient

by Jennifer Smith, RN, Australia 

Today at work I witnessed something very beautiful, although it was something very ordinary. I watched two of my colleagues – two doctors – have a conversation about a patient.

Nothing unusual about this, given that we were all in a hospital. What was beautiful was the way they were with each other and then the patient.

This particular patient had only very recently received a very serious medical diagnosis. There had been a lot of medical assessments, tests and treatments in the previous 48 hours. All of which is often very overwhelming for anyone in this situation.

As I went about my work, organising patients for my day, I saw these two doctors standing together, talking to each other, and one was handing the care of the patient over to the other doctor as they were changing shifts. The thing that stood out the most was how genuinely caring they were, especially in the way they spoke of the person. They were considering everything about this person and their family.

Together they then spoke with the patient in a very ordinary fashion, very professional, but also connected to this patient as another human being.

You may be asking, so what’s so special about this, surely it happens every day?
Continue reading “Two Doctors and a Patient”

I am sick, but I am feeling beautiful

By Danna Elmalah, Student Nurse, The Netherlands.

Today I woke up feeling absolutely sick. In the past I would have felt miserable and inefficient, because I could not ‘do’ anything. I used to only feel like I was ‘worth something’ if I was doing things. The more things I was able to do, the better I felt about myself, but once I was not doing anything I felt worthless and unhappy. But this time around I do not feel that any more; I have noticed that when my body is sick it is actually telling me something… and that when my body speaks to me and I am listening, all that ‘I can do’ seems to matter less and ‘who I am’ starts to mean more. Now, being myself is way more important than what I can do.

I will tell you how it all began…

Continue reading “I am sick, but I am feeling beautiful”