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To be human.

I feel compelled to write this. For everyone, especially other students.

I was chatting to a brand new nursing student today who is at the very start of her journey. She is still navigating around the learnline website (online university ‘blackboard’ with all the resources, assessments, grades etc), flicking through great big text books and trying to memorise everything she reads – bless her heart. She said feels overwhelmed. She stopped and looked at me; quietly, just watching to see if my expression changed… hoping to hear some reassurance that it was okay to feel overwhelmed. That things get better – get easier.

What did I say to her? Well, right now I am sitting in Hermannsburg with tears streaming down my face. I’m exhausted. Overwhelmed. I’m days away from finishing so I should be feeling on top of the world, yeah?!

I told the student that it is perfectly normal to have melt-downs. Cry, scream, throw something, yet keep going. Have a break then finish that essay. Go each day to clinical placement even though every inch of your being just wants to stay in bed. Write that damn objective, reflect on that reflection and post a discussion on the discussion board. Tick all the boxes because each day will pass and you’ll be closer to your goal. Minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day … you get the drill.

We push through study and clinical placements as well as our normal lives whether it be looking after children and households, working, friendships, marriages / partnerships, family, hobbies, aspirations, health and self-image. Things can crack and make you feel like shit. It’s cool, you’re not the only one.

I’ve texted a good friend of mine with so many swear words and angry emoji’s that she has sent back a full text page of self-help advice and loving words.

Keep going. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, just keep going because it will get better. And when you get there, it’ll be all the more sweeter.

Take care.

– Rachel 🙂

“She was never quite ready but she was brave, and the universe listens to brave”

 

 

 

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Hermannsburg & Uluru (and everything in the middle)

NB. All photographs of Uluru and Kata Tjuta were taken at sites where photographs are allowed. No photos were taken where it was forbidden. Cultural acknowledgment and respect was shown throughout the tour. 

I just walked to Piggly’s Supermarket and got some milk. I can’t remember ever walking to the local shop to buy milk. So that’s something exciting.

I’m sitting in a cool (both temperature and aesthetic) house in a suburb called The Gap in Alice Springs. Walking out the front door, the McDonnell range peers down at you, keeping you safe from anything coming up from the south, like South Australians or…stuff. I’ve been here two nights, getting in from Hermannsburg on Friday morning, hitching a ride from a lovely midwife called Fran and her pound puppy Lulu. I haven’t checked the DSM 5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders #5) but I do believe I may be slightly addicted to dogs. I miss my dog Izzy terribly and experience withdrawal symptoms including the need to talk out loud to her in her special dog voice (when no-one’s around; I may be mad but I have insight) to pretending she’s on the bed with me and using a pillow to hug as if it’s her. However, once I get to have a cuddle and pat of another dog, my longing for Izzy is placated for a while and I can function. So I patted Lulu and that was nice.

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Isabel Elizabeth aka Izzy Lizzy

HERMANNSBURG

Last week I spent in Hermannsburg, an Aboriginal community just over 120km west of Alice Springs. Ntaria health clinic is fairly new and has a team of health professionals including a doctor, Aboriginal health practitioners and nurses plus a receptionist and driver all of whom are friendly and welcoming. The clinic is  located near another facility called West Aranda Health Aboriginal Corporation (WAHAC) so the staff of both support each other to provide a holistic service. It also has lots of visiting specialities like the mental health team I eagerly waited for on Thursday! (I work in MH and aim to do my Masters degree in it so any other MH clinician is a friend I just haven’t met yet.)

Last week was quiet in the clinic which allowed time for me to have a chat with the nurses and Aboriginal health practitioners, research some information online and complete some online study. It was lovely to spend time with different staff members and find out more about their role, where they are from and what they like about living and working in Hermannsburg. As usual, this clinic, like others, has both permanent and locum staff yet all the staff seem to enjoy getting together either for walks, BBQ’s or exploring the region. On Wednesday, we helped send off some school kids who were riding horses to Alice Springs arriving in time for Anzac Day.

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Seeing off the kids riding to Alice Springs in time for Anzac Day.

 

ULURU

Last night I got off the coach bus from a very long day exploring Uluru and Kata Tjuta with Emu Run Tours. We started at 6am picking up people from various motels, hotels and caravan parks then trekked to Erldunda roadhouse and wildlife park for a hot breakfast. I chatted to a couple who caught The Ghan up from Adelaide. Next we picked up more ‘explorers and adventurers’ (the tour guides refused to call us tourists because tourists are ‘people who drive badly and we aren’t driving, we’re on a bus’) from Uluru resort and went on to Kata Tjuta where we were given a strict time limit of 35 minutes to race to the gorge, take pictures then race back. The gorge was beautiful and it would have been magical to sit and meditate in the shade overlooking the green foliage being protected lovingly by a mountain of red striped rock on either side.

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I had the impression from tourist photos that you could only get within a few kilometres of Uluru so I was pleasantly surprised when we got to walk around the base of the rock, seeing the caves and waterholes and touching with my own hand the cool hardness of a significantly sacred area for the Aboriginal people. Next time I come back with Tim, we will be able to spend more time absorbing the powerful environment and appreciating one of Australia’s most famous landmarks.

We had a BBQ dinner at a ‘sunset photo’ spot which our group had to ourselves for all of ten minutes before processionary caterpillars in the shape of tour buses synchronised their parking and hoards of visitors, just like us, flopped off each bus and clicked selfies, spousies, friendies and more selfies this time sipping champagne (guilty!).

Sleeping on a bus sucks so getting home, showering and sliding into a clean bed was AH-MAZING. Great tour, long day, tired student.

OTHER STUFF

So I got my nose pierced as well. It was the first thing I did when I got into Alice Springs from my beautiful Tennant Creek (how I miss thee!). I’ve had over 13 body piercings and 7 tattoos in my time but this nose piercing hurt the most. So much that I yelled out a profanity while the poor apprentice was trying to squeeze the stud into the hole she had just made. Fortunately tattoo parlours aren’t notorious for policing language so I didn’t have to pay more and/or leave with 3 holes in my schnoz and no stud.

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It’s not a huge zit. This time.

Five days left of this nursing degree and I’m finished. FINISHED! Wooohooo! But to be honest? I’m shitting myself. What if something happens in the next five days and I can’t get signed off? What if I fall over and can’t go to prac for a week? (I associate falling over with bad injuries for some reason. Other than extreme sports or 4 wheel motorbike riding.) What if the Ntaria health staff think I’m an idiot and give me a crap final assessment? Sounds all silly but the end is near… and so far! I will be very relieved and happy when I am holding in my hot, sweaty hand the 160 hours attendance record, decent final assessment and the last two completed objectives – all ready to scan and send to Charles Darwin University. THEN I will be okay… except then I’ll be worried that CDU will find fault with something. Okay, anxiety get behind me.

Am looking well and truly forward to going home and seeing Tim, Izzy and the ocean. I am looking forward to seeing my cat Leila as well but Tim told me she said she doesn’t care if I come back but to just send money for food. And not biscuit food, WET FOOD. And not just WET FOOD, Whiska’s Casserole wet food. And NOT only when it’s on special.

I am going to apply for a nursing graduate program at Alice Springs Hospital, applications open in May 2018. I have referees lined up (and really good ones too!) so I really hope I will get a place. I’d love to spend some time in the ED in Alice Springs and Tennant Creek hospitals then go on to do a Transition to Remote program. Finger’s crossed!

Hope you’re all keeping well! Thanks for reading my blog 🙂

Oh and check out: http://blog.feedspot.com/australia_blogs

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– Rachel

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Which is Which?

There’s another scribbling nurse. And it comes up at the very top of a google search. Dang it. He is not me and I am not him. Good luck to him though; as both scribbling nurses, we might one day meet and play scrabble. And scribble. And hopefully not battle for the title of THE Scribbling Nurse but I’ll sharpen my thermometer just in case…

Last Friday I spent the morning with one of the Child Health Promotion Nurses who was happy for me to go with her to the local primary school and talk to the kids about the importance of washing their hands. We attended the ‘transition’ class which is in-between kindergarten and pre-school (?). I walked in and 3 little kids ran up and wrapped their arms around me, welcoming me into their classroom! They watched a DVD about germs then all had a goo put on their hands which they could only see under a blue light (the germ seeker!). They then had to wash their hands and come back to check under the germ seeker if they had left any of the goo on. It was a great way to not only tell them but show them how germs work and why keeping little busy hands clean was very important.

Last Sunday I went for a walk along Lake Mary-Ann. Crossing the bridge, I looked up to see enormous spider webs. Sitting proudly in the centre were enormous makers of the spider webs casting 8 protective eyes over their enormous spider eggs.

Since my last post it’s been a week and a week it has been. I have spent all week (including tomorrow) in the Alcohol and Other Drug sector with one of the coolest mental health / AOD nurses I’ve ever met. There’s no drug she hasn’t seen smoked, ingested, injected or inhaled. And no liquor that hasn’t seeped deep into a person’s cells and soul that even facing the loss of everything dear to them hasn’t stopped them from wetting their lips and feeling the burn.

Tennant Creek has a multitude of services dedicated to the provision of support, treatment and care for people facing an addiction of some sort. Ranging from frontline grass roots support such as the service I have spent time in including the ‘sober up shelters’ to the people behind the scenes researching and creating programs that are person-focussed and culturally sensitive. The need for experienced and dedicated staff, like many services around the nation, is chronic. However, the people who are here are present in body, mind and spirit and sticking around – for as long as they can – to support the community in their fight against substances which are breaking down family units and adding to the health burden of Australia.

Check out this list of all the Volatile Substances that people can use to get high. AOD and VSA (Volatile Substance Abuse) workers have tried to be one step ahead yet are often just one step behind because sadly, where there’s a will there’s a way.

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This week I was shown around a facility called the Julalikari Youth Accommodation Centre. The Julalikari Youth Accommodation Centre provides individual accommodation on the property for Indigenous young people who have employment and need somewhere safe to live. This will open in the next 6-8 weeks.

I also had the enjoyment of meeting a guy called Fraser Tahau who is a musician and involved in Uncle Jimmy’s Thumbs Up program. Fraser is an amazing guitarist and singer and assisted many communities to write and create songs to educate young and old people about the importance of good health, good hygiene and good diet. The below video is one of my favourites. Trachoma is a bacterial eye infection that can lead to blindness. It can be easily prevented by good hygiene and not infecting eyes with grubby hands.

Eye Know – Uncle Jimmy’s Thumbs Up

Last night, myself, my RN AOD buddy and Fraser went to watch Hillbilly Horror, a play with no props and an outstanding cast of actors and musicians. I haven’t laughed so hard in a long time. The Barkly Regional Arts Coordinator and other artists and facilitators gave the audience a run-down of future artistic plans for the Barkley region and I felt a swell of pride amongst the attending locals. Despite what has been happening in Tennant Creek and surrounding regions which has been broadcasted in the media, in the wise words of Chumbawamba, they get knocked down but they get up again, ain’t nothin’ gonna keep them down.

This was also in full show at a meeting I attended with my RN AOD buddy this morning. A room full of community minded people of police, council representatives, Territory families staff, AOD, Aboriginal health workers and more all brain stormed ways to make Tennant Creek a safer place for everyone. I provided some information on a program that used to be run in Albany where youth workers and peer workers would be on the streets talking to the youth, playing music with them and reaching out to people who may not reach out first. It was taken on board by the attendees and meeting facilitator. A lot of kids and adolescents are very anti-authority, not helped by American music and movies that make it seem cool to hate the police or aim for an anarchist society. Peer to peer support ie. someone who has walked the walk can be a positive mentor to other kids currently facing difficulties at home, school and with their friends and can have a huge impact on whether habits are developed or not. Or if habits are continued or recovered from.

Anyway, there is so much to learn and so many people to learn it from. For me, they haven’t just been my clinical instructors but people in the community, patients, clients and acquaintances. There are more people reading this blog which I’m thrilled about but I’ll always keep the content as real as I can because I am an observer and writer. And this world is my muse. Goodnight Tennant Creek, you are loved. And so are you.

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Ciao for now! – Rachel

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One week over!

I like Tennant Creek. I really like it. It’s not fancy, ha! We all knew that! It’s not sexy, suave or metro, – heck, it’s an outback country town. But I WOULD write home about it. And I have, in the form of 2 postcards that are sitting on the passenger seat of my loaned car waiting to be posted to my Mum. Sorry Mum, they’ll get there.

I just had 2 days in the dialysis unit with a very experienced RN called Jimmy. He was softly spoken, patient and keen to share his knowledge, even though he knew I was only there for 2 days. This particular unit is seperate from the Tennant Creek Hospital and is specifically for chronic end stage renal disease (ESRD). ESRD is where the kidney function has decreased to the point the person needs kidney replacement therapy (KRT). KRT is either in the form of dialysis or transplant. Kidney dialysis uses a machine to filter out the toxins in the blood, a job normal kidneys perform. 99% of the patient’s were Aboriginal, the youngest patient I nursed with ESRD was 30 years old. 30 years old.

Today is Saturday 10th March 2018. I have been in the Northern Territory for 7 days, 5 days in Tennant Creek. I had my first sleep in for over a week (oh poor me!) then began a day of leisurely sightseeing. First off the rank was Battery Hill Mining Centre which has 3 different exhibits. I saw two of them because I arrived late. The first exhibition showed the life and times of Albert Berolla, a WW1 & WW2 soldier who volunteered to join the army. From Tennant Creek, he walked, rode a horse and hitch-hiked to Darwin so he could enlist. He won a prestigious Victoria’s Cross for his efforts in WW1.

The next exhibition was about gold mining and how they set up camps and lived. Apparently the Tennant Creek miner’s were renowned for being very muscly due to their extreme efforts to slug through hard earth with picks and shovels with water more scarce than the gold itself.

Helen, the customer service lady at Battery Hill Mining Centre is really friendly and so helpful. Say hello to her when you go in.

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Briefly called up to ‘One Tank Hill’ which is an obscure name for a hill with one tank on it – dang locals. Beautiful views of the township to the left and some remote camps to the right. The pinkish wall isn’t snake shaped, it’s just the panorama shot. It’s actually a circle.

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Onwards to Lake Mary Ann AKA Tingkkarli, a man-made lake about 2km east of Tennant Creek township. The green trees and grass, with peacocks, geese, peahens and even roosters wandering the grassy areas made the whole scene look like an oasis compared to the red earth and stark bushes surrounding it! I wandered around until a car pulled up and little Aboriginal kids leapt out, running to the water and splashing about. They told me a peacock was in the tree and has ‘feathers that stand up near it’s bum’. A family were sitting at a picnic table, a dark eyed baby eyeing me off as I walked past. When I went past again, I stopped and said hello. They were about to have a BBQ and had 3 Kangaroo tails, wrapped in plastic with an IGA price sticker on each. The man briefly explained how he was going to cook the roo tail (singe the hair off, place it under coals and BBQ it) and was happy to show me the tail out of the wrapper.

After having a quick chat to my Mum on the phone, I pulled into the old Telegraph station. It was a self-guided tour with the whole area very well maintained. I think I was the first person to have been there in a while because I was ‘hugged’ by spider webs criss-crossing some of the areas! After a good walk around with the sun on my face and the clouds on my back, I drove back into Tennant Creek for a quick shop and an afternoon at home.

Looking forward to next week with the Remote Outreach Midwife Yvonne, who I met on Friday morning. Will keep you posted. Thanks for reading my blog, I hope you enjoy the pictures and what I’ve been up to 🙂 – Rachel

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I love NT