And then she’s boxing clever…

I am quite the advocate of physical fitness. I think it’s so important on so many levels. It makes me feel alive and powerful.

Not that I’m any good at it. I’m pretty terrible really. But that doesn’t matter. Anyone can be good at being couch potato, so I already have one up on those people.

So five weeks ago I embarked on a new fitness regime and its INTENSE. It comprises of boxing, running, pushups, sit-ups and skipping rope. When the trainer feels particularly sadistic, he brings out the ladders.

It’s awful. The trainer refers to us as troops. ‘Come on, troops! MOVE IT! You came here to train! Sit on your ass at home! Move!’

Dreadful. The only soldier I can wrap my head around are made of toast to be dipped in a soft boiled egg.

But at the same time, it is oddly fantastic and invigorating. And I get better with each session. And I’ve lost 5kg. 

But I am really terrible.

1) a good portion of the session involves jumping: star jumps, squat jumps, burpees…and there are mirrors everywhere. I have noticed that it’s not only my legs that do the jumping….my tummy jumps in tiny rippling rolls…and my boobs jump in spite of my sports bra. And don’t think they bounce in unison….oh no. The right always seems to be that little bit more ambitious than the left, leaping up before its partner. 

2) boxing is exhausting. And a little terrifying. I hit the punching bag. It swung back. With vigor. In my face. 

3) during boxing we need to find a partner at times. I once got paired up with a man. A very sweaty man. He was dripping. At a point he cocked his head back to get his fringe out of his eyes and it was like I ran through a sprinkler system.

4) towards the end of the session we do floor work to emphasize our core and sometimes I just lie there, a heap of exhaustion. And I have a little existential crisis and ask myself why am I here? In the grand scheme of things, does it really matter? In this infinite universe does it really matter if I can hold a plank position or not? Then the trainer screams ‘MARIE! YOU’RE NOT AT THE BEACH! MOVE!’ and I snap out of it.

It is probably the best workout class I’ve ever attended in my life. It is intense but doable and always different and definitely not boring. I honestly enjoy bits of it. And I’m reaping the benefits: I am already stronger and in better condition. 

Also, imagining the faces of people who bug me on the punching bag gives me a better workout.

    
 

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By far one of the best experiences of my life.

I always dreamed of running a marathon. To me, running marathons was something only Uber-fit people did, people who eat kale for breakfast and quinoa for dinner and when they shower, they need to be careful not to slip down the drain.

Long story short: not me.

But due to certain events in my life, I have learned that we have very little control over most things. But how fit I am is most totally within my control. Depending on how thoroughly I prepare, I can do this. So I joined a running group a nd trained 3 times a week since October which culminated into today.

And today my dream came true and I completed a half marathon.

Some thoughts/insights/comments:

1. What a beautiful community atmosphere there was. Everyone was there for the same purpose, excited for the challenge. It was really wonderful. There were people in the streets cheering us on and bands playing at every kilometer. I remember on the 19th km, I was running alongside an older gentleman from Germany who had run the full marathon and some drunk guy who was getting day-pickled came up to us and shouted ‘come on!!! Run for your lives! One kilometer left! HAHAHA!’ I, personally was totally shocked at this arse-face but the German turned to me and said ‘easy for him to say, he’s not the one running!’and I nodded in agreement and we crossed the finish line together. It was wonderful.

2. God bless the scouts who gave me water/Powerade/oranges/sponges. Kudos to the kid towards the end who gave me a sponge and said ‘here! It’s softer than a cloud!’

3. People expectorate ALOT while running. I found myself playing ‘dodge the “bila”’ in marsa.

4. I chose to allow my marathon pics to be uploaded on Facebook. Eugh. They are not good.

5. I thought I’d be super hungry after the race. I absolutely wasn’t. I’m still not. They handed me a banana when I was done. I was afraid to eat it in case I vomited. That being said, I am very grateful that one of my most cherished friends invited me over for pizza.

6. At the 15th km I was knackered. My legs didn’t want to cooperate anymore, I was exhausted. By km 18, I was ready to give up. I was so close to the finish line but I had had enough. But then, near Manoel Island, there was a little girl with a sign that said ‘you rock’. And I thought to myself ‘well, yes I do!’ and I kept at it until the finish.

7. The best moment had to be when I was running the last 100m up to the finish and saw my husband on the sidelines cheering for me. That was what I needed for the final push.

This was undoubtedly the experience of a lifetime. I learned about myself, it was a major challenge and I came out on top. And most importantly, if I can do it, rest assured that anyone can.

Those who know me know how much I love super hero movies. When I watch them, I think about how I wish I was a superhero. At the end of the day, I believe that athletes are the closest we can ever get to real, live super heroes. I’m no athlete, but today I can honestly say I felt like Wonder Woman. And I am so thankful that my body works as it should and allows me to participate in such a thing as a half marathon.

Until next year.

Uh…well….we’ll see!

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The crown.

It’s a cold and blustery evening and myself, the husband and of course our faithful feline cuddled up on the sofa to watch tv. We’ve been watching season 2 of ‘The Crown’ and today we watched the episode that focused on how badly bullied prince Charles was at school.

And it struck a chord within me. Because I know what it is to be miserable at school. I know what it is to have a stormy look on one’s face and trying to fight back tears and just wanting comfort somewhere and how it is a silent and shameful battle.

It is no secret how awfully treated I was at school. I felt so badly about myself. The feelings of worthlessness and like I did not matter. Actually, it’s kind of worse: that I didn’t deserve to matter. There were those who shone and those who were duds.

I was a dud.

I was a dud who so desperately wanted to shine. And I knew I could shine. But where I went to school, there was no room for it. There was the clever girl, the girl who was good at art, the girl who was good at acting, the girl who was good at sport and that was that. And I constantly felt like I wasn’t good enough. And I lived in terror that I would never amount to anything. Also, I was different- I liked different things, I sounded different, my behaviour was different.

And then, to top it all off, I was tormented almost all the time.

I had terrible acne, all over my face. I remember once a girl told me ‘why don’t you get rid of that shit on your face?’ What a cruel thing to say. Did she honestly thing that my acne was a choice? That if I could have got rid of it, I would choose not to? The thing about acne is that not only does it make you wish you could wear a paper bag over your head all day, it’s also physically painful. If you forget for one second that you have this affliction and yawn a little ungraciously and the skin on your face stretches, they burst and bleed and ooze. And trust me, anyone with acne would have tried ANYTHING to get rid of it. It is how I found out I am allergic to benzoyl peroxide. I was told of this miracle cream and I tried it without doing a patch test. I ended up with what looked like a chemical burn across my face. So not only do you have to deal with all that drama, then you get some clear-skinned hussy instructing you to snap your fingers and get rid of that ‘shit’.

I remember an incident where we needed to think up of a slogan fo4 the class for ‘Say no to drugs day’ (ha ha ha, so funny, as if any of us actually knew what the underbelly of the world of recreational drugs was all about. Yep, a high school slogan was really going to deter someone from heroin addiction.) I came up with a good, original slogan. A more popular girl plagiarized one from an ad she’d seen in a magazine. When narrowing down which one to use, it came down to her and I. But she was cool and I wasn’t. Which obviously made her copied slogan cool. And they went with that one.

The bullying depicted by boys in ‘The Crown’ is pretty terrible. But I think the psychological torture inflicted by girls upon other girls is a cruelty unlike any other. Girls have a way of getting to know another’s weakness and then pouncing on it and using it until their target has turned into a puddle of tears and self-loathing. All I ever wanted was to belong and perhaps feel just a little less different. Maybe even liked. I’m pretty certain that this desire could be smelt from miles away. So what did a particular group of girls do? While in my presence, they would invent fantastic stories of adventures they went on and boys they met and things they did, purposely to make me feel left out. These girls would actually use the time and energy to actively reject me and then revel in the fact that I was hurt. I wonder how they would manage to sleep at night after doing such a wretched thing? We went to catholic school…how could they go on their knees and receive the body of Christ after such behaviour?

I used to dread waking up in the morning. When I would look at my red, splotchy face in the mirror I would wonder who would be attacking my heart that day? Who was going to try take me down yet another notch? Was a day going to come where there will be no notches left?

I’m sure some will read this and say ‘what an exaggeration, she was over sensitive, such things are normal!’ Well maybe that’s true. But at the same time, it should have been ingrained in these girls from day one that different is not necessarily bad and at the end of the day, being different is quite special.

However, this feeling of being different has never left me. I constantly compare myself to others, using them as the yardstick for normalcy.

But that being said, if the norm consists of bullying and making others feel like less than nothing, then, I’m afraid normalcy is for the birds.

My husband often teases me and says that I am an acquired taste. Well, I’m happy to say that nowadays I only have time for people who have acquired a taste for me and they are some of the most extraordinary and wonderful people I have ever encountered.

And for those who haven’t, well what can I say?

You’re missing out.

And in my world, I can truly say that I’ve earned my crown.

I won.

In nursing, it sometimes feels as if you are swimming against a super strong current. This actually once happened to me…I underestimated just how strong a current was while swimming and you have two choices: a) drown or b) become stronger than the current.

When you start out in this profession, it takes time to become strong. There is a learning curve and it takes a while to master it all: your skills, interaction with people from all walks of life, hospital politics, the system…it’s a lot to deal with and juggle. And if you are a little bit ambitious and wish to climb up in the ranks, there are just more and more things to learn and master. 

The shocker is this: even as you get higher up on the nursing ladder, you are often rendered powerless. Because at the end of the day, if something from way up top is decided, you have to do it. And that hierarchy is pretty steep.

So what’s my point?

There will be times that you know that you are absolutely right about something. Absolutely 100% correct about something. Something big or something small, it doesn’t matter. And someone will try to say you are wrong. If and only if you are absolutely certain of what you are saying DON’T BACK DOWN. You fight and show them what you are made of. Because in nursing, your decisions only affect you a tiny bit…but they affect the patient a hell of a lot. 

I am a firm believer in choosing one’s battles. And when it comes to some battles, you look at them and think ‘this is an impossible one’ or ‘nobody will significantly lose or benefit if this one swings either way’. This can sometimes feel demoralizing and that current rears it’s ugly head and you begin to feel like you can’t breathe. But stop, take a few minutes to breathe and keep on keeping on.

But when a significant one rolls around, you get on your surfboard and ride that wave like a pro and show everyone that you mean business and they are the total wipe-outs.

And I am saying this because it happened to me quite recently. Since I’ve been recently promoted, I often feel like I’m drowning and like I don’t know anything and I’m back to square one. But then, it happened: there was a situation and I knew I was right. I was facing a lot of opposition but hey, I do have 11 years of nursing under my belt. It doesn’t always feel that way, but I actually know a lot. A great deal really. And I AM good at my job. I stuck to my guns and I didn’t back down. 

And in the end, I was able to make the opposing party see my point of view and it was my plan of action that took place.

And I won. 

I fucking won. For the first time in a long time, I finally felt on top of my game. I did my happy dance near the nursing station. Admittedly, it was a tiny victory. But it was indeed a victory. And my God, did I need a win.

You want to know what’s the beautiful thing about scoring a win in this profession? It’s that it’s never a win on your own. A win for me is a win for the team, a win for the ward and everyone in it. And winning alone is no fun, right?

Never underestimate what you know and your own strength of character. When you do that, becoming a winner is easy. 

I like riding the waves of triumph. This could become a habit. 

   
  

2017

At this time of year, I always reflect on all that I’ve been through and most importantly what I have learned.
I begin to wonder if I will ever have a year where I look back and think ‘hey look, nothing major has happened!’ I guess the only way that could happen would be if I lived in a hole for twelve months.
But isn’t it funny how we can possibly judge what something ‘major’ may actually be? If I lived in a hole, it could be a visit from a spider. We are all a product of circumstance and that’s what shapes us and molds us.
So this year. This blessed year. I have been through so much personally and professionally. It was incredibly hard but I feel like I have learned and grown in so many ways. So I suppose it was all worth it.
Towards the beginning of the year, I had to accept the fact that I will probably never have biological children. We took almost everything science had to offer us, but nothing worked. It was a very bitter pill to swallow. Being a mother was the one thing I thought I knew I wanted. It is so funny how things I never particularly thought about came to me rather easily: a husband, a career, my masters degree; all of which I am fortunate to have. But all I ever really expressed a wish for was to have children. And in a weird twist of fate, it is one of the few things I simply cannot have.

But I am not sad. Now. I was very sad. I was devastated. I am most certain I would have made an excellent mother. An unconventional mother, but a good one. And I had to mourn. I experienced grief for what I would probably never be. At that time I honestly believed I would never be happy again. I am glad to say, it is not the case. I have learned that you may not get what you want in life, but you can still be happy. When my second ivf failed, so many people told me ‘don’t give up! Don’t give up!’ However it was my dad, the only person who spoke some sense to me. And he said plainly: ‘listen…if you want to give up, just give up. This isn’t like you are climbing a mountain and you are being encouraged to press on because you know the top is there somewhere. There may never be a ‘top’. And there is only one you. Take care of you.’

And like that, I realised that although I cannot have children, it did not make me any less of a human being.Even though giving birth to a child will be an undying wish, I have come to the conclusion that maybe this is so for a reason that is bigger than me that I have yet to comprehend. And sometimes we are so clouded by what we think we want that we shut out all other possibilities that could be knocking on our door.

2017 taught me to grab at those possibilities. It also taught me to let go and move on and to accept that the universe will unfold as it will. And that can be a very positive thing.

I also learned about dreams. You can have more than one. And they don’t all have to be fully attainable. You can fulfill half a dream. Or a quarter. Or none at all. Or you can have the dream and it explodes in your face. The thing is, it’s all fine, because out of failed dreams, spawns a new dream that you never thought you could ever have. And you discover a strength you never thought you knew.

This year, I got promoted to nursing officer, or charge nurse, if you prefer the new nomenclature. And the way the system works is that according to your placing during the interview, you get to choose where you will work. If there is a vacancy for charge nurse in your ward, all well and good, providing that nobody who scored higher than you wishes to take that place (this actually happened to me when I became a deputy…there was need for a deputy in my ward, but someone who scored higher than me took the position, bumping me to another ward.) History has a lovely habit of repeating itself, so once again I got bumped out of where I was and I had to dive in to somewhere new.

Being a nursing officer is mega hard, especially in a new ward where nobody knows you and you don’t know them or how they work. The learning curve is steep and the time you have is limited as the ward needs to be run, regardless of if you’re ready or not.

To be honest, I don’t believe anybody is actually ready. And that is another thing 2017 has taught me: if you wait until you are ‘ready’ to do something, you probably would never do it. There is no real such thing as ‘being ready’. I think it’s all just ‘do or die’ and since I have no intention of dying, I do the best I can and bravely face the consequences when I fuck up. And trust me, I do fuck up. But I fuck up once and learn to never let it happen again.

Two years ago, I took up marathon training because it was a dream of mine to run a marathon. I ended up stopping due to fertility treatments and all the paraphernalia that comes along with them. This year, I have decided to pursue it again, without interruption. My progress has been phenomenal, I run well, faster and at longer a distance. And on the 25th of February, I will run that 21k. I won’t come first. But I will do it, mark my words.
2017. Not an easy year. But nothing worth having comes easy. And I’m still standing.
And the most valuable lesson I have learned is that I am a woman of strength. And the world has thrown so much at me that could have broken me, but it didn’t. And in some ways, these experiences have changed me: they have made me even kinder, even more empathetic and have put a fire in my heart to do more good than I have ever done before.
So take that, 2017. You did your worst. But you never anticipated Wonder Woman as an opponent.

Heh. Screw Wonder Woman. You had Marie-Claire. And that broad is as tough as nails.
Happy new year everyone, and all it brings! Lots of love and prosperity and whatever that means to you xxxx


The most wonderful time of the year…for rudeness.

I have been a nurse for a really long time now, four years of training and eleven years of practice. However, people’s rudeness still astounds me. Still! I am totally ok with the excrement, sputum, blood and vomit but the sheer rudeness of the general population still stops me in my tracks and shocks me.

Now I am incredibly understanding. I get it. It’s Christmas time, you are in hospital and you are shit scared and surrounded by strangers. I get it. Manners are not high on your priority list right now. But the weird thing is, being an obnoxious brute seems to be way up there on the priority list, and it is excercised frequently. 

Here are some scenarios:

1) one guy rings the nurse call button and when you go to see what’s up, he keeps you there with demand after demand. And don’t think he asks nicely: nurse, panadols! Nurse, coffee! Nurse, arrange my pillows! This guy is far from helpless, he’s up and about and can easily make his own coffee….but no, his taxes pay for my wages, so he wants the full experience. I considered throwing the coffee in his face so he could also experience the burns unit, possibly even the ophthalmic department. 

2) I just walked in the ward at 6.45am, I open my office and begin to take off my scarf and jacket to take handover from the night nurses, when a pajama clad old male patient just storms in and begins to quiz me about his health. I have literally just arrived from home. I only really know about the health of my cat at that moment (independent, definitely not nil by mouth). I couldn’t even be sure exactly of my husband’s health as he was still in dreamland when I left that morning. And when I ask him to give me a minute, he just talks over me, demanding answers. 

Patient: how are my blood results? Will I get discharged today? Did my urine test show anything? Would you like some sputum?

Me: I just walked in, I still need to take handover, then I’ll answer any questions you have…

Patient: aren’t you the nurse in charge??? You’re supposed to know! 

Me: oh yes, of course, Mr. New-admission-whom-I’ve-never-met-before! Your haemoglobin levels show that you are going to turn into a unicorn! Yep! I think I will take a stool sample, take it to the lab and have them examine it for glitter, just to be sure. 

Of course, that is not what I said, but you can see what I’m dealing with here.

3) we have exstensive visiting hours at hospital. 11.30am-13.00 and then from 15.00-20.00. Why, oh why do people want to come in that hour and a half in between to visit their loved ones? And must you really call me names under your breath when I ask you to leave?

4) relatives, I understand that you love the patient and feel helpless in the face of illness and that you really want to help. But by doing so through approaching the nurses about some ridiculous need perceived by you and not the patient is not the way. I overheard this conversation in one of the rooms during visiting hours:

Visitor: shall I get you something?

Patient: no, I’m fine.

Visitor: I’ll go ask the nurses to make you tea…

Patient: no, I can’t have tea today…

Visitor: of course you can! I’ll go tell them!

And sure enough, this woman oozing with self-importance comes bustling up to me at the nursing station.

Visitor: my relative wants some tea! You can make her some!

Me: actually, I can’t…

Visitor: well, if you won’t, I will, my goodness!

Me: no, no…she has to remain nil by mouth, no food or drink as she has a procedure this afternoon…

Visitor: oh…

Yes, ‘oh’. Now get out of my nurses station, troglodyte. 

So yes. The most wonderful time of the year. And yes, I am an absolute river of ongoing patience and understanding. But I draw the line at rudeness and treating people who are helping you with a disrespect most blatant. Maybe it is because of our Mediterranean blood that makes us so hot headed and boisterous. I know it’s difficult, but sometimes it is beneficial to all parties to put that gear into neutral for a while.

And yes, your taxes pay my wages…but it costs nothing to be a decent human being.

  
  

A very merry Christmas.

Christmas has rolled itself around once again. I usually love this time of year, but it’s usual merriment is kind of marred by the fact that I have changed my job and I now run a ward.

And it is a fantastic, wonderful ward with wonderful people in it. They are truly shining stars, every last one of them. The nurses, the nursing aides and carers, the cleaners…all of them first class.

However, it is very, very stressful. 

1) I took over from the ward’s previous nursing officer, whom the staff all adored. And with good reason, she is great. I am constantly worried that I don’t measure up and that they are all saying ‘how I wish the other nursing officer comes back and we can get rid of this red headed ditz.’

2) I have been away from ward life for a year. A lot of things have changed in a year. I am constantly learning new things and as the leader I feel like I should know more than anyone. But the fact of the matter is, I don’t and it makes me worry that my staff will lose confidence in me.

3) The shift and leave system is majorly complicated. I don’t wish to change it because the staff are happy with it. But it will take me time to really get used to it. However, in the meantime the staff can’t stop taking leave for my convenience. Which leads me to my next point:

4) I am so afraid of making a mistake. Because if I make a mistake the staff will suffer which is precisely what I absolutely don’t want.

5) Christmas time is a nursing officer’s nightmare. Leave, nobody wants to come in for overtime, everybody has events they want to go to, Christmas and New Year’s concessions to organize…

The problem is that I care so much. I really, really do. Last week, I made my first mistake: I told someone they could not take leave when they actually, clearly could because I had read the wrong page on our roster book and got confused. And somehow, at 11pm it occurred to me that I might have read the wrong page and there was nothing I could do about it. I got so horribly upset. I could not believe that I did just what I was trying so hard to avoid.

It was all ok in the end, but I still feel really bad about it. But I know I’ll never make that mistake ever again.

I always think the same thing: it’s almost a virtue to be able to not give a shit. I stress out so much because I am really, really trying to do my very best.

I just hope it’s good enough.

God bless us, everyone.