Monday, 23 May 2011

When the unthinkable happens...

I said in a previous blog entry that my aunt was ill and that I wouldn't be able to cope if anything happened to her. Unfortunately that time has come, completely unexpectedly and utterly prematurely. She'd had cancer for 8 years but those who didn't know could never tell and she easily had several years left yet (we'd been planning a big holiday together to Florida next summer). I won't go into details but within the space of an hour she went from getting ready to go to a friends for a BBQ to not being with us any more. It didn't help that the ambulance took 50 minutes to come, but I'm not going into details with that easier as it makes me too angry.

Everyone's just completely shell-shocked, it just doesn't seem real. My uncle is in a bad way - my aunt did everything for him, he doesn't have a clue how to cook, clean, anything. My mum (sister-in-law to my aunt) is lost without her, they used to go shopping and out for lunch several times a week, now she has no one. My cousins seem to be dealing with it remarkably well but I can't help thinking that's partly because their house is constantly full of people and partly because they just don't understand that she's gone forever. Me, I just keep thinking of all the happy memories we have but can't get my head around the fact that there'll never be any more with her. One of my earliest memories is with her when she looked after me when my nan died, talking about heaven as she tried to explain to a 7-year-old what happens when people die. She took me to my very first music concert, she's interwoven into every Christmas and holiday our families have shared, and that's it, there'll be no new memories. I have this constant fear now of who's going to be next...I struggle to sleep when I'm at home as I'm listening out for my family's breathing, every time my phone goes off I'm scared it's my dad telling me someone else has gone. I guess I, and everyone else, just needs time to come to terms with it; time is a healer, as they say.

The funeral is going to be on Friday and I've been asked to read out a poem. I'm not sure if I'm going to be able to do it; I'm hoping that if I focus on the page and what I'm doing rather than the 100-or-so sobbing people in front of me I'll be ok. This will be my 3rd funeral in 7 months and I really hope it's my last for a while. After that I'll have Saturday - Tuesday to cram for my last in-course assessment which is on Wednesday. It's unfortunate that everything has happened when it has, as this easily would have been my best module but I guess I'll just have to see how I do. Then it's a mock OSCE on Thursday (which I'm massively screwed for due to complete lack of preparation), a final day of Interprofessional Education on Friday (I won't be sad in the slightest that that's ending) and then 2 weeks of study leave begins...

Re-reading this I can't tell if I've over-shared. May come back tomorrow and edit some of it out...


Monday, 2 May 2011

Nearing the end...sort of

So today is the last day of Easter break before we start our final module tomorrow: Human Development. I've particularly been looking forward to this one as it contains lots of baby-related things! It has a reputation of being a bit of a nightmare though so we shall see how it is! We have 5 weeks of HD then 2 of study leave and then it's 4 days of final exams. So of course I spent the last 2 weeks revising and doing lots of work didn't I? Of course not!! We had the most pointless essay ever to do on Interprofessional Education that I bashed out in a few days (it's so rubbish I'll be surprised if they even bother marking it!) and I wrote up some lecture notes that I ran out of time to do earlier in the year. But other than that I've been taking some much-needed R&R and done a few night shifts at the children's hospice.

Night shifts are a bizarre thing. Before working at the hospice I'd done nightshifts in a hospital where there was lots to be done and patients often woke several times during the night so it was rare that you got to sit down for more than an hour at a time. In the hospice however, there are 4 members of staff (2 nurses, 2 care assistants) for 6 children (usually 8 but 2 bedrooms are closed for renovation work) and on the 3 shifts I did, all 6 children slept all night. There were a few things that needed doing, like a ton of laundry, which I found surprisingly therapeutic, and some filing but apart from that I was just paid to try and stay awake! Although the nightshifts were rediculously easy, I think I much prefer day shifts where you actually get to play with the children rather than spending a couple of sleepy hours with them before and after bed.

Most of the children I've looked after in my time there have been long-term disabled children that stay at the hospice to give their parents/carers some respite; I haven't actually yet looked after any there for end of life care. However, the other night I spent time with a child who was recently diagnosed terminally ill but didn't know (the staff had all been told but the parents hadn't yet told the child); they looked and sounded perfectly healthy which made it difficult to think of them as someone that is dying. The child wasn't particularly young and the way they spoke showed they felt in-control of their condition and had accepted it as long-term; I can't imagine how they're going to take their prognosis. On a happier note though, I looked through the notes of the first little child I looked after and it seems they're in remisison, yay!

I'm off now to go finish unpacking and then enjoy my last day of freedom (well technically it isn't freedom as I have muchos work I should be doing, but we'll forget about that) before I start on the downward spiral towards final exams!