This is my first ever blog, so please accept my apologies for its appearance! I’m learning how to blog and tag etc. I write from my heart about my experiences and this is just the beginning. So please bear with me! Many thanks, Suzanne.
I’d had a few big dreams over the years. One was to become a Nurse. I had one of those little kit things for Christmas, when I was 4 years old The best present ever! I knew I’d be a Nurse one day, and I didn’t think or want to be anything or anyone else. It felt like the most natural thing in the world to me. I realised that dream when I was 18. And that was a career that would span for 30 years or so. The last 10 years in a Hospice/Community Palliative Care environment. I absolutely loved it. It wasn’t a job to me, it was something I not only loved, but really enjoyed so much. To be with someone at the end of their life was an honour and a privilege. The most precious time of all. So many fond memories…
My other dream was to live by the sea. We’d had holidays in Dorset and Cornwall (South of England) ever since I was a teenager. We won’t go into how many years that was… but it was a while ago! I can remember we would always drive past this particular Hospice, overlooking the bay. Every time I would look up at it and think “I’m going to work there one day…” I was 13 at the time, and we drove past it many times over the years. I would look up and have the same thoughts each time….
Dreams really do come true
I just love being by the sea. It’s so beautiful, majestic and it soothes my soul. I only have to visualise it to feel such peace and calm. So along with working in “my Hospice” I also knew that one day I would live by the sea.
Both of those dreams were also realised. The power of the mind and visualisation at its best!
I moved to Dorset in July 2016 and then nearer the sea in March 2017. How wonderful was that?! The sea practically on my doorstep – less than 15 minutes by car. In fact, the view driving down to where I lived was stunning. You could see the sea through the hills, as you drove down. And on a sunny day that scene was breathtaking…
The Hospice in question had recently changed from a Day Hospice to an Inpatient Unit. And even better, they were advertising for staff! I applied straight away for a bank nurse position. That’s where you can be a little more flexible with your working pattern. I’d recently had training in Life Coaching, Hypnotherapy and Neal’s Yard consultancy. So the plan was to bring those 3 together and start my own well-being business. Alongside working in the Hospice that I’d loved for so many years.
I got an interview and they gave me the job! I’d had experience as a Practice Development Nurse so they were keen for me to start. I was also going to be sent on a Nurse prescribers course. Oh, I’m half a Doctor, I thought to myself! A tour of this amazing place was better than I imagined. I was actually inside this wonderful building…!!
And in the blink of an eye things change…
Then on the 5th June 2017, I broke my ankle. I contacted the Hospice to let them know I couldn’t start when I had planned, as I was going to be in plaster for several weeks.
During this time I was under the care of the Ophthalmic team at my local hospital. Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) runs in my family. My Dad has it, he inherited it from his Mother- who in turn had inherited it from her Father. I’d had tests at Moorfields eye hospital in my 20’s, but it hadn’t showed up then.
The Ophthalmic consultant had suggested I contact the DVLA. Stating that I was having tests for visual field defects. Deep down I knew what I had, but I was in denial, so pushed that niggling gut feeling down as far as it would go. There we go.. nicely buried.. bless my little cotton socks!
So whilst still in plaster, I went and had an Electroretinogram (ERG) test. This involved sitting in a darkened room and watching flashing lights, which tested my response to light via electrodes placed on my head and lower eyelids. That was weird.. like having grit in your eyes that you just wanted to rub all the time. And what happens when you are asked not to blink? Yep, you blink!
That was on the 30th June, my Mums birthday. We celebrated after my hospital visit. I had my sunglasses on, as my pupils were as wide as saucers from the tests!
Then on the 13th July 2017, I had a letter from the DVLA requesting that I send my driving license back immediately. My visual fields were not up to the required legal driving standards…
I had to contact the Hospice and explain that I could not take the job. It was 45 minutes by car, (on a good day) and shifts and public transport do not mix well.
As any Nurse in the UK will know, we now have to revalidate to stay on the Nursing and Midwifery Councils register. This was something I was also unable to do. I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to go through all the paperwork and effort involved. I was shocked, upset angry… grieving too many losses at once. So I sadly did not renew my nursing registration. That felt like another massive blow. I’d been a nurse for so long. It felt like a huge part of who I was… then I thought, well who am I then!?
On the 25th July 2017, I had a letter from the hospital confirming what I had buried deep.. I had Retinitis Pigmentosa.
I made a decision to move back to Hertfordshire, where I’d previously lived for 40 years. If I was going to go blind and rely on public transport, then I wanted to be somewhere I knew very well….
It felt like the end of my world. Little did I know at the time, it was the start of something new and wonderful. They say painful endings are the sign of brand new beginnings.
More of that part of my story in my next blog…
The link to Neal’s Yard Remedies website is below: