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An itch to scratch

Tim is on a couch. This may seem unremarkable but it’s the first time he has been on a couch for 5 weeks and for Tim, that is a lifetime…and a half. Thanks to a person very dear to me, we are spending the night in a really nice apartment suite in Broome WA before we leave for Cape Leveque tomorrow. One of the prerequisites of booking a hotel/motel/apartment was that it HAD to have a couch, lounge, settee, sofa, a rose by any other name. For me, a microwave. Not that I’ll probably use it but it’s the things you just don’t have when camping.

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Moonlight Bay Suites – A beautiful place to stay.

ANYWAY, we are in Broome WA and Broome WA has impressed us hugely. We have spent every evening swimming at Cable Beach in calm inviting turquoise water, floating around, chatting, diving under the water and constantly appreciating being here swimming when 5 weeks ago we would be working, or studying, or just still entwined with the daily grind. I’ll get back to Broome.

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We spent two nights at Cape Keraudren, a coastal reserve north of Port Hedland in East Pilbara. We camped overlooking oyster reefs where the tide came in and out twice a day. We saw a little octopus with a few missing limbs who seemed really friendly. We also loved watching the hermit crabs scuttle slowly around.

We would like to have more fond memories of Cape Keraudren but every time I look at my arms and lower thighs, I see sandfly sores, multitudes of them. We got eaten alive at Cape Keraudren! Yes, we did have Bushmans spray on but they got through the mosquito mesh of the camper trailer and attacked us as we slept. They are nasty nasty nasty little buggers! They are the itchiest itchy’s we’ve ever ever had!!

We did walk around the beach and had a beautiful swim in the water and also listened to our neighbour gently sing along with his ukulele as the sunset which was a real bonus. The view when waking up was just beautiful! So maybe Cape Keraudren wasn’t all that bad!

We aimed to get into Broome on Tuesday 18th September and were making good time until we came to Sandfire roadhouse where the rest of the highway was closed due to a bushfire. We joined truckies and other tourists who were all waiting around and hoping they could get on their way sometime soon. We sat around for a few hours but had enough so went back 40 km’s and stayed at 80 Mile Beach for the night.

Eventually we arrived in Broome and checked into Cable Beach caravan park. We’d recommend this caravan park because of the beautiful shady trees and decent size camping sites. Upon request, we were given a site directly across from the amenities. After lunching at Zander’s on Cable Beach, we went for a drive and swim at Cable Beach then back to camp.

We got our car fully checked-over and serviced as we are doing the Gibb River Road in a week so we know it’s all schmicko to go!

The weather here has been just divine, ranging around 30-33 degrees. The past couple of days Tim and I visited Malcom Douglas’ Crocodile Farm, had a game of mini golf (which I WASN’T thrashed in, like SO WASN’T beaten by over 20 points!) then wandered around Chinatown and each had a neck/head/shoulders massage. We then had a swim again at Cable Beach and went off to the Town Beach Markets yesterday evening.

This morning I was booked in for a deep tissue massage and was slightly nervous as I’ve never had a proper body massage before. The lady led me into the room, asked me to take my shoes off then pointed to the mattress on the floor. She then left me there. I took my shoes off then stood awkwardly waiting for her to come back. I felt like Mr Bean, wondering if I should take my clothes off or wait until she tells me to. The masseuse returned, looked at the mattress then at me and laughed ‘please, take off your clothes and lie down’ and scuttled out laughing and talking in Thai about the idiot client she has to massage. The massage was amazing and I felt as loose as a goose when I left, although it hurt like fuck at some points! I think I walked like Mr Bean once it was done!

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Broome has one of the best atmospheres I’ve ever encountered. It is just so chilled out and is a really nice place just to slow down and enjoy. There is so much to do during the day and in the evening. We are sad to leave but we are travellers now so must move on! Plus, I’ll apply for nursing posts here so we can enjoy it more one day!

Tomorrow we are off to Cape Leveque then will get ready to do the Gibb River Road so I’ll have some adventures to write about then!

Lots of love to you all! – Rachel xoxoxo

 

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It’s a dirty old town

It’s not really. Albany I mean. It’s a beautiful town. I’ve just been listening to The Pogues a little too much. Me and Shane McGowan have similar quality teeth.

I’m saying my goodbyes, au revoirs and sayonaras to my friends and acquaintances and it’s bittersweet. Two weeks ago I had a cracking time at a local funky bistro with a group of dear friends. I looked fondly at each of them as they stuffed food into their mouths, slopped cider down their fronts and laughed with their mouths full and I felt so much love. They are people who are themselves and nothing else. Who accept me as me even though sometimes I should have been someone else. But overall, they are my mates who I share a special bond with and love to bits.

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We can’t choose our family but we can choose our friends. The old cliché … and although I am leaving my friends in person, through the power of social media I can continue to irritate them by tagging them in stupid shit or naming group chat’s ‘Bunch of knobs’ (you know who you are).

As I found out when I was finishing my degree on placement in the Northern Territory, it is fun to make new friends. It is a thrill to learn about someone else, their history, plans, sense of humour… I made some new friends only being over there for a short time and I can’t wait to see them again when we get back.

I keep telling myself all of this because I am feeling nervous about the whole new chapter of our lives. I have officially resigned from my job and Tim has given his notice for his long service leave. From the 10th August, I am unemployed with no job to go to (as I know at this moment) but have made a peaceful decision to let life unfurl before me and take opportunities as they come.

I’m a controller; I like to be in control, take control and try to not lose control. But that mindset really isn’t sustainable for a future of adventure and mystery; something of which I wish for my life and Tim’s. So letting the grip loosen and becoming more accepting of what happens is a lesson I’m going to learn and hopefully appreciate.

Thank you for voting for my blog in the Bupa Blog Awards, I got an email saying my blog has been nominated so finger’s crossed when they make the decision in September! We will well and truly be on the road then so I’ll be uploading far more interesting posts but I wanted to just check in and say Hi! and that I haven’t forgotten to keep you in the loop.

Talk to you soon!

Rachel xoxo

 

 

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She was Broken

‘For Heaven’s sake! Put that tray down and get the damn washing on!’. Her nasal voice boomed across the dining room and cut a diagonal slice through each of my ear drums. Resident’s paused midway through scooping porridge into their mouths and watched wide-eyed as the new carer was again being screamed at by the senior staff member. There was unease in the air as the young girl scampered across the faded linoleum and up the ramp towards the laundry; head down and tears again welling in red-lined eyes.

To say it was a baptism of fire would be an understatement. When I began working at the aged-care facility, I was already a wreck. Nursing a broken heart from a devastating end to a relationship and never having worked in aged-care, I was beyond nervous. My anxiety was at its peak and I even jumped when the automatic air-freshener sprayed. I had no idea that I would be sent even lower than I already was; by a person who was meant to be kind.

I have just read an article by Rachel Macy Stafford called ‘Am I Invisible?’ about being left out, or treated badly or just needing kindness, any sort of gentle kindness. It struck a nerve in me. Not to open old wounds but to appreciate people in my life who have shown true, unconditional kindness when I had nothing to offer back. People who found parts of my personality they liked and wished to get to know. People who didn’t know me at all but their inherent personal qualities of treating people with kindness and compassion shone out of them like morning sunbeams over the ocean.

There is one person out there, maybe two, three, ten, two dozen? But at least one person who has held their hand out when you were lying on your back, pinned down by insecurities, circumstances and devoid of energy to try to get back up by yourself.

I stood behind the laundry sobbing. Sobbing and sobbing. ‘Why me? I am trying my best! I don’t know what I don’t know!’ The sound of the back door opening and the rustle of wheelie frames being ushered noisily inside sparked me to wipe my tears, blow my nose and blink heavily, trying to less redden the red in my eyes.

Day in, day out I was screamed at, told I was ‘hopeless’ ‘useless’ and ‘a wonder I was ever employed because I wouldn’t be for long’. I was set up to fail by being asked to perform tasks she knew I had no idea of how to do but knowing I was too terrified to ask for help. I would go home and feel empty; no tears were left, no strength was had and no future was I looking forward to. Except the days I would drive into work and see a familiar car parked in the familiar spot. The other senior staff member was on shift and it was going to be a good day.

Tonia (pseudonym) was the absolute opposite of the other staff member and to me, in my current broken state, she was an angel. She greeted every staff member by name and let the staff organise themselves in the morning. And to top it all off, she cared deeply for her colleagues of whom she was fiercely protective. I was often rattled at work but kept it together to provide care to the people I was there to support. However, every day I was on with Tonia, she would stop me as I scarpered up and down the hallways and hug me. A big, warm, long hug. And she would whisper to me “You are doing a great job, never forget that, you are doing a brilliant job”. These moments slowly built my confidence and with the camaraderie between myself and the other carers, work got less traumatic and more enjoyable.

Unbeknownst to me, the manager was addressing the issue with the other staff member. The other staff had been reporting what was happening to not only me but other new carers and things were happening.

Personally, I decided that I would not be a victim. I would not let the nasty insecurities of one person affect me so deeply because I was giving her power. So I made a promise to my soul that I would never again let someone make me feel like that. And I would never make someone else feel like that. I worked hard at that job; really hard. And was offered a nursing scholarship a few years later.

The other day I had breakfast with the colleagues who were so supportive at that job. Four women who I will always love and admire because they suffered as well. And we laugh, hug, tease each other but most of all, have a deep respect for each other that you can see as we look at each other with admiration and kindness.

You see, you don’t have to ‘stand up for the underdog’ all the time. You just need to be compassionate. Often a kind word or gesture can be all it takes to remind someone struggling that ‘things will be okay’.

I will always strive to be like Tonia. I don’t think I’ll ever get to her level but if I come even slightly close, I will be happy.

Take care and be kind to each other.

  • Rachel.
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Un-culture shock

I’ve been back in WA for two weeks today. I’ve caught up with a few friends and my Mum, returned to work and entered a few short story competitions (finger’s crossed!). I greatly miss the NT and it has been difficult keeping my mind focussed when I keep daydreaming about being back there!

Life in Albany has gone back to how it was before I left and that is both a good thing and a bad thing. I’ve changed, as I keep saying, but Albany hasn’t because it didn’t need to – I did. I often think back to places I was living in the NT and the people I go to know there; what they are doing right now and if they are happy. Fortunately Facebook has enabled some of us to stay in touch which is a blessing.

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Albany at night. Unsure of who took the photo so can’t acknowledge sorry.

So I don’t actually have any news or exciting things to tell you! The day I flew into Perth I got obnoxiously long sparkly nails which I got removed yesterday – for the sole reason of being able to pick my nose without scratching my brain! – and I feel liberated by typing one key at a time!

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View of Perth city from our hotel room.

I am loving cuddling my dog Izzy. I appreciate her more than I ever have. We just snuggle into each other and breathe the same chilly Albany air, promising to each other that we will cuddle all the time. It has been the opposite with my cat Leila. We have lost any semblance of a relationship we might have had and she looks at me with disdain every morning I get up as if to say “Gee I enjoyed those two months you were gone”.

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We are packing up the house and organising renovations because we aim to leave around early August to go up the coast of Western Australia and hopefully get to Darwin in time for my graduation ceremony. Graduate position applications  for Alice Springs, Darwin, Katherine and Tennant Creek open on Monday so I’ll be getting everything ready for that. As I said, I have two excellent people willing to be referee’s for me so I doubt I’ll have a problem getting one of the positions. Plus my aim is to live and work in remote Northern Territory. Wish me luck though!

The next couple of months is going to be pretty quiet but please stay tuned because I will update regularly (with far more interesting content!) when Tim and I begin our next lot of travel!

Before I go, I do want to thank the Centre for Remote Health in Alice Springs, particularly Jessie Anderson who was extremely supportive and bent over backwards to ensure I was safe, supported, housed, transported etc etc. She was always happy to have a chat and help weigh up options with sound advice and a genuine interest in students having a positive and varied experience. I don’t want to sound gushy, however for someone who is away from home and alone in remote areas, having someone who knows where you are at all times is comforting. If you’ve ever thought about experiencing placements in the Northern Territory, give the Centre for Remote Health a ring, you won’t regret it!

Love to you all. – Rachel 🙂

P.S I had a few bumper stickers made which my three brothers have agreed to put on their vehicles! Here is one of my nephews, Archie, displaying it!

P.P.S AHPRA registration came through so I am officially a Registered Nurse!

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My gorgeous little homey Archie John modelling my sticker!

 

The Scribbling Nurse

And that was that! (for now)

It’s done. Or in the fine vocabulary of Vicky Pollard “I DUN IIIIIT!”. 326171

I have finished my Bachelor of Nursing degree and now waiting for my registration with AHPRA (the governing body all health clinicians need to be registered with in order to practice [legally]).

It was a bittersweet ending to my time in Hermannsburg. As is usual with student placements, you just get to know the staff better and feel like you’re fitting in just a little bit more then *woosh!* you’re leaving. You say heartfelt goodbyes to staff you came to admire and enjoy being around, but they will soon have another student to fill your place and the merry-go-round starts up again; same moves, same motions, same things to sign-off.

The Hermannsburg Ntaria clinic staff, like the Tennant Creek, Ali Curung and Canteen Creek staff, are all a really wonderful group of people who I would love to work with in the future so maybe this student might return one day!

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Most of the Ntaria Health Clinic staff!

There were a couple of people in Hermannsburg who I spent time with who I will miss and look forward to seeing again when Tim and I return to the NT.

Ems is a strong and determined new student, who was a pleasure to sit with and rehash knowledge even I had forgotten. She reignited in me the excitement of new beginnings and a sense of self; ‘Why am I doing this’? Ems knew, she’s known for a long time why she is doing this. And being around her, listening to her story and sharing mine, I remembered why I was doing this as well. Thank you Ems.

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Ems, Fran and moi!

And Lulu. Lulu is a magical dog because for some reason I have this crick in my neck and every time I move it, I hear a voice say “Lulu HAS to be in your blog! I’m not writing it down because I just said it. Lulu HAS to be in your blog!”. I’ve never been afraid of a midwife before but I have heard urban legends so Lulu, a rescued pound dog who has white fur that gets stuck in your clothes and is way older than she looks, has now been mentioned in my blog. And I get to keep my womb and any other bits midwives deal with. Lulu’s Mother is a midwife and she isn’t afraid to travel in her new little car.

This week has been a countdown to the day I finish. I was on-call with two RAN’s (Remote Area Nurse, in case you forgot) on Anzac Day and attended a few call-outs with them. I still love remote area nursing and working/living in Aboriginal communities.

Wednesday night, I went to a BBQ down at Fink River with Fran, Lulu’s Mum. There we joined a group of people and sat under the stars, chatted and enjoyed watching the little kids run around. The serenity was, in my opinion, better than Bonnie Doon (sorry Darryl). Everywhere I go, I make a mental note to come back with Tim and Izzy and spend more time there, get to know more people and learn more about ourselves, even if it is sitting quietly and being in our third space.

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Picnic on the Fink River bed

Thursday, we had a lunch together at the clinic and one of the visiting clinicians had made a lime cheesecake to say goodbye to a RAN called Marcia and a congrats to me for finishing. So lovely and appreciated.

This morning (Friday) was my very very last day as an RN student. I went over to the museum to have a look around at the history of Hermannsburg. I took some happy snappys and had a cool drink at the tearoom. Hermannsburg is beautiful little community with lots of places to visit. I’m keen to go back and see Jesus’ footprint near Fink River and just spend more time enjoying the area without rushing.

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Everything seemed slightly surreal as I wandered around waiting for my ride coming into from Alice Springs to take me back. Unfortunately, the driver of the car who picked me up was the most rude, obnoxious piece of work I’d encountered in a long time. I don’t usually draw attention to negative experiences however I am managing to find the funny side in the situation. I’m very assertive and choose when to enter into swapping words, but because I didn’t feel like being left on the side of a desert road with no phone reception and a warm can of Coke Zero, I ignored her comments!

After 8 weeks, moving 9 times and working in 6 different facilities, I have met and worked with some of the most genuine, hardworking, loving people I have ever met. I feel so blessed to have had this experience in the Northern Territory and can’t wait to call it my home, again, but for longer.

I just went and watched ‘Gurrumul’ at the cinema. It is about Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu, a blind Aboriginal man from Elcho Island who is a musical and singing prodigy. He has a haunting and powerful voice that can take you to different parts of the universe. I’d highly recommend seeing this documentary.

I had the entire cinema to myself and as it was playing on my mind, I thought I’d quickly check to see if my last two units had been marked. I squinted at my phone and saw I had passed my last two units meaning I now had my degree. I turned my phone off again and sat in the darkness, tears of joy rolling down my cheeks as the rich soulful euphony of Gurrumul’s music swirled around the theatre and caressed my heart. ‘I did it’ I thought proudly, ‘I did it’.

– Rachel

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Photos courtesy of Fran!

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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