Now that I am well and truly into my second year of living in the UK, I thought it was appropriate to look back and reflect a bit on where this journey has taken me, how it has changed me and influenced and shaped my life and character. It’s been a year of highs lows, challenges, excitement, exploration and discovery. I personally have had moments of extreme joy and intense pain, had confidence highs and lows and I think it is helping to shape me into a better person. I’ve loved, lost and learning to love and trust again, better and stronger.
I love working as a clinical dietitian in the hospital. It is challenging in many ways if I was to take everything to heart could be very emotionally and physically draining, it's not for everyone, I understand. There are scenes and situations that I have observed at times that aren’t for the faint hearted, can weigh you down at times and display both the good and bad in humanity. The vast majority of my patients are much older than me, and in most cases have a lot more wisdom to share than I have at this stage in my life. I try to learn from what I hear and see.
The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death. Proverbs 13:14
He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm. Proverbs 13:20
For example, in regards to relationships I learn from their words and also by at times observation (not intentionally) of how they relate to others in different stages of life in sickness and in health, particularly when you are old and sick and not at your best. I think we have a tendency to want and expect perfection in life, which is completely unattainable. TV, Hollywood, the media are always going on about relationship breakdown, which couple has divorced or split after so many years together (often not very many) and put out this negative image that staying together with one person is impossible. I beg to differ. I don’t have rose-tinted glasses on here or anything, but I know that through hard work, perseverance, commitment a stable loving and ongoing relationship is completely possible between two individuals. I’ve witnessed this with friends, family and also from strangers. A couple of hospital scenes have particularly touched my heart this week .
One lady I have been seeing for a nasogastric feed because she has been refusing food for weeks with ongoing low blood sugar levels and borderline dementia. I think she is in her late 80s. She has been pulling the feeding tubes out and is just not a happy lady. I was in the room one day when her husband had come in and she was saying how she just wanted to go and die and that she was miserable. Her husband then became all upset (understandably) and began to cry saying ‘what about me? You can’t leave me’. My heart goes out to these people because you see it all the time, a couple who have lived together their entire lives, adore one another and have done everything and grown old together and without each other they don't know what to do.
Another lady I have been seeing (mentally and cognitively functioning normally) recently had to have her leg amputated below the knee due to chronic leg ulcers after a knee replacement failed to heal. Her husband died six months ago and she has no other family or children because as she put it they married 'late in years'. Most of my patients are very malnourished. One lady I am seeing weighs 26kg and she is so anxious and confused, she doesn't know what to do. They need and crave love and attention and human touch in their lives.
I was on the stroke unit in one of the mens’ rooms (4 beds to a room) and I saw a lovely American lady who had come in saying goodbye to her husband and the other men in the room. Strokes affect different people differently but often they impact speech and movement with varying rates of recovery. At this point, all of these men are unable to speak clearly and have slurred speech, some of them have muscle weakness and can only use one side of their body. It is easy for people in hospital to be forgotten by friends and family, and to be ignored and spend an entire day without having a conversation or being acknowledge as a person by those around them. This lady, I saw her chatting with everyone personally by name saying goodbye as she left, joking with the men that they had to keep an eye on her husband, that she could feel mischief brewing in the room and that they were to keep out of trouble. I wasn’t eavesdropping , it is virtually impossible to have any privacy in a hospital setting and you just hear and see things. She told her husband that she loved him and kissed him goodbye, then he cried after she had gone. It was refreshing seeing a lady to engage with everyone in the room and seeing real love and affection.
These scenes have demonstrated to me that love is attainable, it can be maintained and last when two people adore each other and are ready to put the effort and time in. Something to work towards and believe in. Wherever I am I try to share some love and care and attention to the people that I meet, to let them know and feel how important they are, their worth. I don't always get it right, but that's what I'm working towards.