As I looked through my goals and reflected on nearly 16 years of a Nursing Career in New Zealand-I was emotional. I have mixed emotions for many reasons. On the 26th July 2018-I hunged up my Nursing Cap. Through the years, I have served as an Oncology/Haematology Nurse, a Rehabilitation Nurse, an Endoscopy Nurse and an Operating Theatre Nurse. But one particular aspect of nursing which has changed me personally was being a Palliative Nurse. I worked for a Nursing Agency over the weekends and I would nurse the dying in their last days. It was humbling. Yes, I have lost a few patients who would pass on me during my night shifts in their own homes but that never detered me from Nursing. That respect on a dead bed, to be honoured and treated with dignity (no matter who you are), to be painfree, and to pass peacefully for the dying really captured me and changed my perspective on caring. I will never stop caring.
Nursing has been a career that has taught me overwhelmingly so much. I am forever grateful for it as it had far accelerated my personal and professional growth and development. Today the 27th July 2018, I have officially resigned from my current employer! There is a new career pathway ahead. I don’t know what it will be yet but I know through the years, I have worked hard and sacrificed a lot to build myself up. I had one goal in mind too- to be a better and purposeful citizen and community worker making a difference.
There were no regrets as I broke and rose through my Nursing career. I have maintained my dignity through the harsh challenges and the nasty bullying culture of Nursing. That statement of “Nurses eat their Youngs” was loud and clear when I was a student nurse. I clearly remembered two Registered Nurses doing “paper scissors rock” on a busy Wellington Medical Ward to see who could take me as a student nurse. It was so debilitating, humliating and stigmatising! One that I’ll never, ever forget. It will go down into my autobiography book when I eventually publish it. I made a self vow that I will never, ever treat a nursing student in my care to that extreme. Ever.
The bullying culture was not restricted to Nursing alone. Being an Operating Theatre Nurse had a culture on it’s own too. Through the years, being the Surgeons Right Hand came with it’s own challenges and bullying. Yes Surgeons are Gods as the perception goes. The pressures are huge. Often they “tear you into pieces, throw instruments on the floor and through walls, humiliate you in front of everybody, throw you out of their theatre, blame you for loosing a screw or suture, demand that piece of instrument now and trample on your confidence so you are made to feel so low like an ant.” I have learnt to be patient. It is a virtue. The valuable traits of being taught as a human from those who have come into my life and made a significant difference to my personal and professional growth summarises who I remain to be: “Recover. Recompose. Regroup. Reflect. Rebuild. Revitalise. Reinvent. Rise. And pay it forward on the global stage.”
But one thing will not deny me. My Nursing Goal to become a “frontline nurse” and serve internationally. Florence Nightingales (1820-1910) legacy of providing basic clean environment and fresh air, attending to every wounds, and making sure that every soldier recieved kind, compassionate and humane care is installed in me. I am reminded by Mother Teresa’s powerful quote of “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” We can make a lot of difference in teaching too I believe and Nursing is one profession that teaches a lot. It is the same in the Medical profession too. I know for sure that part of my serving abroad will be teaching others what I have learnt and was skilled to do here in New Zealand.
The image of me in a uniform serving on the frontlines and attending to the wounded soldiers in the wars serves as a general reminder of how much I wanted to achieve that goal. Secretly, it is on my vision board; it is written down as my goal; it is in my vision; it is bestowed in my heart; and it will always part of my journalling. The powerful image of the “Civil War Nurse” by Richard F. Welch remained ingrained in me. I’ve always admired and had huge respect for these loyal women of the civil war who became known as the “Battlefield Angels.” They were unsung heroes who worked so hard. I want to honour those nurses by carrying on that mission work too abroad.
Last night as a small group of health professionals came together to celebrate the work that I have done and to wish me well for the tough adventures ahead-it dawned on me. The honour and the respect that they showed me was huge. Doctors and Nurses. Two respectable professions. A Gynaecologist/Obstetrician hugged me and bade me farewell with the statement of “If you find yourself stuck anywhere in the world or in any extreme circumstances no matter what time it is, call me-I will be waiting on the other line and I will talk.” A well respected General Surgeon gave me a generous token and wrote a very powerful personal card-it meant so much to me! An Anaesthetist hugged me and reminded me that if I ever find myself stuck in any difficult circumstances abroad on my humanitarian missions to ring so he can get a group of them to help get me into safety. He did entertained us with the thought of reminding me of not ruling out the possibility of marrying a Swiss Doctor!
The Irish translation of “slan go foill agus go néiri on bothan leat” which translates to “goodbye and goodluck, may the road rise to meet you” made me so emotional as I recieved hugs and thank you from my Manager! A friendship necklace from a young vibrant Nurse that had so much story of love, struggles and challenges, tough dark times, recovery and success behind it all became a powerful pounamu taonga moment for me as I promised pay it forward with that friendship circle of love. A package of Self-Care delivered with love from the Vascular Surgeons and their team was honourable and noble. This self care is in fact the critical of all as preparations intensify. The messages of support, acknowledgements and love from those I have worked closely with reminded me of how critical and important a team has become to me. They are my family. It was a safe haven. While hugs do not come freely and are not everyone’s personality-I had more hugs from work colleagues, both Doctors and Nurses than any others would and that meant a lot. That was respect on another level. I’ve embraced those moments. It reminded me of my place and more importantly, love. Universal love that must be shared.
It may be an end of an era in New Zealand but the journey is far from ending. It is just starting. This international team has become my family-a family that has been more caring, supportive and respectful. They have given me their honourable blessings for me to go forward globally and dutifully serve with my heart.