Posts Tagged ‘health’

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Anthony Nolan Trust

October 7, 2008

The Anthony Nolan Trust is a UK charity that focuses on leukaemia and bone marrow transplantation. It manages and recruits donors and is always looking for more people to add to the register (aged 18-40) especially young men and people from black and minority ethnic communities.

Campaigning journalist, Adrian Subdury sadly lost his battle with leukaemia but his legacy has gone on to inspire thousands of people to join the bone marrow register.

Adrian spent the last weeks of his life campaigning to make education on bone marrow, blood and organs complusory for 17 and 18-year-olds in all UK sixth form colleges.

I registered with the Trust some years ago and can honestly say that apart from the blood test there’s nothing to it.  Find out more at ‘Why join the register?’.

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Darkness Visible

July 3, 2008

A few weeks ago I was in the library searching for something or other and in my travels came across this wee gem of a book which I’d recommend to anyone interested in mental illness, especially depression.

In the eighty four pages of Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness, William Styron describes his descent into depression through reflection on melancholia, despair, physical ailments, social phobia, alcohol, therapy, hospitalisation and eventual recovery. He gives an extremely moving account of his preparation for suicide, feeling like an observer to an oncoming disaster in an almost theatrical fashion. His attempts to write a farewell note seemed too ridiculous for they sounded either pompous or comical so he tore up all his efforts and resolved to “go out in silence”.

“Late one bitterly cold night, when I knew that I could not possibly get myself through the following day, I sat in the living room of the house bundled up against the chill; something happened to the furnace. My wife had gone to bed and I have forced myself to watch the tape of a movie in which a young actress, who had been in a play of mine, was cast in a small part. At one point in the film … the characters moved down the hallway of a music conservatory, beyond the walls of which, from unseen musicians, came a contralto voice, a sudden soaring passage from the Brahms Alto Rapsody.

This sound which, like all music – indeed, like all pleasure – I had been numbly unresponsive to for months, pierced my heart like a dagger, and in a flood of swift recollection I thought of all the joys the house had known: the children who had rushed through its rooms, the festivals, the love and work, the honestly earned slumber, the voices and the nimble commotion, the perennial tribe of cats and dogs and birds … all this I realised was more than I could ever abandon, even as what had set out so deliberately to do was more than I could inflict on those memories and upon those, so close to me, with whom the memories were bound. And just as powerfully I realised I could not commit this desecration on myself. I drew upon some last gleam of sanity … “

Eloquent and straightforward. Enjoy.

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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Day

July 1, 2008

It seems comedy is the Community Psychiatric Nurse’s companion and for that I’m truly grateful otherwise the time with my mentor would have been far less entertaining! My adventure today involved chasing a patient’s dog around the street trying to get it back into the house because the dog likes adventure you see and sometimes if it gets out it stays out all night and it really needs to come in because I’m going out and what will it do if it comes back and I’m not in (the patient says). Immediately I feel sorry for (a) the elderly patient because she’s getting distressed and the dog’s too fast for her (actually the dog’s too fast for me too) and (b) the dog who’ll be left wandering around all day because no-one’s home. I was thinking this could all end in tears. Probably mine if I catch it and it bites me!

From the window I spotted the slippery menace and darted back outside … a woman with a mission! But we all know what dogs are like. They wait till you’re almost beside them then run away again. I lost count of how many times it did that. The man up the road started to chase it too and the Council refuse collectors seemed to enjoy the show.

I saw the dog was running out of steam and shouted one last time. Maybe he heard the desperation in my voice because he came bounding up to me. This dog whose name had been changed recently (long story), a friendly wee thing who realised he was in for the sharp end of his owner’s tongue. With his tail between his legs he made his way into the house and I was the heroine of the day!

Back inside we heard stories about the bingo (that made me smile), going for walks, hearing aids, dial a bus, the naughty dog eating sausages, learning to read and write at 70, her auntie (who must be about a 100) and a wee trip to the seaside. Nice lady!

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Monday’s Bingo

July 1, 2008

Yippee! I’ve passed and second year is still almost over!

I find it a little strange sometimes that I can get such good results. I’m sure someone is going to contact me to say there’s been a blunder, a huge mistake, a bit of a mix-up but so far it appears not so I smile. Now those who know me know that I hate boasting and am more inclined to understate my achievements than to shout about them from the rooftops. This is my way even though I wish I was different sometimes. Maybe it’s the result of a Presbyterian upbringing and the fact that praise was always hard to come by in our household or maybe it’s just a personality thing. Who knows and it’s not important. What’s important is I felt really good about myself and am pleased that the hard work is continuing to pay off. I’m sure family and friends believe that I’m taking the phrase ‘if a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well’ to the extreme. No? Thanks for your help and support anyway x

Then I had an odd afternoon when I dropped in on a drop-in group specifically for people recovering from mental ill-health. Nothing odd in that you might say, especially for a student nurse specialising in mental health and you’d be right. In essence it’s not odd at all. But when the bingo started I was transported to a certain scene in a certain film. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry quite frankly and left feeling a bit deflated by the whole experience even though the participants were very nice, staff extremely welcoming and everyone seemed to enjoy it.

Nothing wrong with bingo you might think and, again, you’d be right. What am I getting at? I’m not really sure. I spoke to my mentor about it today and questioned the appropriateness of my reaction in a conscientious reflective student kind-of-a-way. Contrary to my thinking she understood what I meant, asking if I saw it as a step backwards instead of forwards. I’m sure that’s what I saw – something from the past – a stereotypical collection of people doing a stereotypical type thing in a stark hall absent of any warmth and I guess that shocked me slightly in 2008. I wondered if this is the best we can do?  I’m not sure what I think.

What I know is they enjoy it, it’s not about me is it, it’s about those that turn up week after week because it’s bingo. Good for them.

Enough said. Move on.

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discussing broccoli

March 14, 2008

“I’m not really that interested in broccoli” says Jack, age 5. 

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Tales of Passion

February 28, 2008

Novelist Isabel Allende talks about writing, women, passion, feminism. She tells the stories of powerful women she has known, some larger-than-life (listen for a beauty tip from Sophia Loren), and some simply living with grace, dignity and ingenuity in a world that, in too many ways, still treats women unjustly.

Listen and be inspired!

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to be human

February 28, 2008

‘Perspectives on the Human Experience through the Arts’ is my chosen options module this semester and it’s a challenging one. This module is based on the belief that for health professionals to learn what it is to be human they need compassion and appreciation of the uniqueness of individuals. Studying the arts and humanities helps us do just that and though it may sound like the easy option in an otherwise heavy academic year or ‘time out’ to some, it isn’t. Seriously.

By exploring a range of materials, including individual pieces of work created by survivors, we are encouraged to enter into their world and by doing so recognise the things that make us human: vulnerability, individuality, personality, imagination, passion, spirit, breath …

We explore the many different experiences found in childhood through adolescence to old age and end of life issues and discuss the difficulties people face and the reasons why they do what they do in a world that has become too harsh for them to bear.

Reality shocks and not for the first time my awareness is heightened. Most of the material isn’t an easy read and with or without the compassionate heart, one cannot help but be affected.

This poem is from The Memory Bird (1996) Edited by Caroline Malone, Linda Farthing and Lorraine Marce. Published by Virago.

Bleeding
As I watch blood ooze from my vein
Slowly the droplets anaesthetise my brain
The screaming in my head gently subsides
Calmed and sedated, almost mesmerised.

I am losing the struggle to survive
I have to bleed to know I’m alive
The tramlines of war scar my skin
The only sign of battle within.

My life drips on to the barren floor
Tears flow in rivulets under the door
Numbness spreads right through my core
Where is my energy to fight for more?

But these are not for death but life
Do not be alarmed at the way I strive
Marks on my body are a small price to pay
For freedom from Hell and a new dawning each day.