Finishing University

It has been a long time since I have blogged. Well nearly two year and to me that does not feel like a long time.

The last time that I wrote here was about getting back to university. Although this was a positive step in my life and I felt like I did the right thing, it did not go to plan. My final year at university was one that most people are waiting for, the count down to become a fully qualified nurse and head out into the unknown.

Sometime through this year I must have hit a downwards path to become unmotivated. I completed everything both academically and practically and was doing really well. I was good at nursing but I was starting to feel like it was not for me. I didn’t know this at the time but self-reflection showed me that it was not a sudden change, but something that I had started feeling a long time ago.

It was the final module of the year. All that was left was a short essay on an innovation and I had to present that to the university. Attempt after attempt I began to realise that I was not the person that was good a presenting, especially when the piece of work in front of me was something I was not passionate about. Logging into the university system to get my results and reading FAILED was disheartening. Three times I went through the same process and my stress levels were at an all time high.

Strangely enough the passion for all of nursing did not disappear on me. I spent the whole final year working on a piece of work that I felt so passionate about that all my effort was focused and I could not concentrate on anything else. My dissertation, the 10,000 word essay that all other students were reluctant to do. I on the other hand, was happy to do this. I was actually excited to be working on a research dissertation where I could focus all my thoughts and ideas into one project and do my best. My topic came naturally, inflammatory bowel disease was so close to me that I thought this was the best thing to focus on. The subject I chose: How do different treatment or management approaches affect the quality of life of patients living with Inflammatory Bowel Disease? I ran with this idea and it almost got me a first, the highest marks I got any any essay throughout my time there.

Well after the many failures of the final module I decided that this was not for me and even though nursing had taught me a lot and about life in general, I would take all this and go off looking for a new career. I am still working within the healthcare section but I am looking into a career change, for now I am keen on anything that will take me away from healthcare but if I could take one of my passions and make a career out of that, that would be amazing. For now I will see how a go and maybe down the line I could pursue a career for me.

Maybe a career in IT. A career as a Software Developer/Programmer.


Getting Back To University

I was so excited when I found out that I was going to university and I was able to study the degree I wanted, BSc Adult Nursing. To become a qualified nurse was only three years away. I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis shortly before I set off on my personal journey and head out into the big wild world of living independently.

I always had major symptoms of my colitis through my course, I just managed to deal with it, going to the toilet before lectures, running to the toilet in the middle of lectures and hiding it away from everyone I knew. Who really wants to talk about bowel habits and admit that they have a problem? It wasn’t me for sure; I hid this away from the university staff, students and even the people I lived with.

One big relief when I started university was that I had to myself a private en-suite. Everyone is conscious of going to the toilet and when you can go 20+ times a day that consciousness turns to paranoia.

It was difficult at university and I had days when I called in sick so that I didn’t have to leave my accommodation, too afraid of not making it to the university.  This was impacting my ability to study. I was missing lectures and not turning up to placement. My grades were not great and I was missing out on many experiences. I was struggling physically and mentally and looking back now I saw myself suffering depression. I was in such a state and was becoming financially in debt.

After two years of my health fluctuating, it always caused problems but sometimes to the point of housebound. I was about to complete my second year and finally be on the final year to graduation. I had completed all the academic work and I was finishing my final placement on A&E. I was becoming so ill and missing so many days that there was not enough time for me to complete the required skills and be assessed to accomplish all the competencies that I was called into the university to see the programme manager. They didn’t know that I had colitis and was concerned about how much time I was having off.

I told them everything; I explained all about the condition and what was happening to me, that I was finding it difficult to carry on with the course. Because of all that had gone on I had no choice but to step off the course as it was not possible to complete within the time I had left. I left the course feeling disappointed and perceiving myself as a failure.

My health got worse and hospital visits were becoming more frequent and the length of stay was getting longer. I was spending so much time in hospital it was like I was living there. My health was at its worst and causing more problems. 5 months after leaving the university I was at a point of my life where I had a decision to make. “Have a bag or be in a bag”. This was the dreaded decision that I did not want to make but looking back now was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

There may be a stigma around having an ostomy but I would not be here without having one and I would not be able to do the things I do today without it.

6 months later

I have finally recovered from surgery and have got control over my life. I felt a lot better than the year before even though throughout that time I developed more chronic conditions which affect my life.

Looking forward, getting back to university.

I knew I wanted to go back to university and considered attending a university which was closer to home so I could have support from family members. Unfortunately the local universities were not accepting transfers so my only option was to go back to where I was studying. Finish of the last placement prior to starting my third year.

Because of all of the problems I occurred throughout the last year I decided to approach this year differently. Due to having Ulcerative Colitis and my ostomy alongside several other conditions I was deemed as a disabled student. This may be hard to accept for some and it feels like you are being labelled.

I approached the disability department of the university and told them of all my conditions, they were so supportive and offered to help straight away. An assessment was done to assess how my conditions impacted my life, the ability to study and what support measure and strategies could be put into to place so that I could get the most out of my final year and make sure that I had the support behind me to complete the degree and get best grades I can.

There were several things that my conditions impacting on my life. I needed constant access to toilet facilities and may need to use them in an emergency. I now had reduced mobility and I needed to drink more than before along with other needs that become noticeable after returning back to study. This helped a lot and allowed me to get back to university and make sure that I was supported.

I am now back studying and working in the hospital which is taking up all hours of the day but I’m grateful to have that opportunity and I could not have done this if I had not made the decisions I had made.

Top 5 Tips:

  1. Make sure the university are informed of the conditions you have so that they can help you in any way they can.
  2. Make sure that if you have difficulties at university that you speak to someone, it doesn’t matter who but never suffer alone.
  3. If you have been off due to ill health or you have had surgery, make sure that you take things slow. You don’t want to rush yourself back in. Especially if the degree is physically demanding.
  4. You may now have to also deal with an ostomy. Make sure that you have enough supplies and that your supplier knows where you live. It’s also good to make sure you are familiar with how your accommodation accepts delivery and the process of receiving your parcels.
  5. Make time for yourself, you need to get your head down and concentrate but don’t forget about time away from study. Enjoy your time there and make sure you make the most of it.

IBD/Ostomies and Socialising

Socialising is one of the hardest aspects of life and can be very hard for many different reasons. When you are young, there are many opportunities to meet other people to make friends, through school etc. As life goes on and you get older, that opportunity changes, there becomes other aspects of your life that you can socialise. Through my life I made friends through school and after leaving, those friends faded away. I went to college and the same thing happened again. University was one of the biggest aspects of my life, which helped with socialising and allowed me to gain the experience to easily talk to others. Making friends became easier and talking to strangers was not as difficult.
In life friends can come in and out of your life very quickly and sometimes you can look at your life and realise that you begin to have no friends. Through my life I have had very little in friendship and now I find it very difficult to socialise with others. I believe that this all stems down to the fact that the opportunity to meet other people becomes harder throughout life. Certain situations that people my age socialise may not work for everyone, as a young male, going out for a drink with others gives people the chance to socialise. If that is not the type of place you enjoy like me, then the opportunities for meeting others become a challenge.
It can be very difficult to meet others, the internet can help to meet other but in ways can also impact on your life and stop you from meeting people. It is much better to meet others in person, than just talking over the internet. Previously before the internet you had to go out and find friends, talk and meet them, interact face to face. The internet stops this face to face interaction but allows you to talk to people from places you would not normally meet others. This could be the next city or across seas. There are many advantages and disadvantages to the internet and socialising.
For me, I find it difficult to meet others because there is little opportunity for the chance to meet others, not being the type of person to go out drinking which is the most common situation for meeting new people, other sociable events is hard to come by. Talking to strangers that pass you by and saying hello can be very hard and intimidating to some. The world has come to a point where people don’t socialise as they once did, talking to someone you have never met without a common interest can come across the wrong way. Just saying hello to a stranger without no other interaction can be taken the wrong way which is why it is important to be in a situation where both parties have a common interest which can get them talking, but finding that common interest and being in a situation to have the same interest is becoming harder and harder.
The internet can help in this situation and can make it easier to find others that you share interests with and can make it easier for you to talk to others and make friends, but are these just cyber friends, do you ever meet the people through the internet and this can be very dangerous. It is like a constant battle for some to find friends and be in situations to meet other people.
Loneliness can affect many people at all different ages from the very young to the very old and anything in your life can impact this. IBD/ostomies or any other form of illness can impact on your ability to meet others. Your symptoms can stop you from going out, being scared to go out because the symptoms can be very embarrassing and people may not understand. These illnesses can affect you and make it harder to go out so often, fatigue can cause you to want to stay in rather than go out, not having enough energy to do the things that you would like to do. There are many symptoms of illness’s that affect people’s lives. With IBD this can cause pain, fatigue, embarrassing symptoms etc. that can limit your ability to socialise.
Ostomies can also impact on people lives which has their own affects. Having to manage dealing with an ostomy, being close to toilet facilities just in case you need to use them, being consciously aware that others may see your ostomy and their reaction may not be the one you want to see. There are many difficulties that people living with IBD or/and having an ostomy find when trying to socialise.
Loneliness and depression can hit very quickly without you realising it, this has a big impact on people’s lives and it can be very difficult to free yourself from this. Anyone can become alone and anyone can get depressed, this can be long term or short but either one can be hard to manage.
There are not always bad points to having IBD/ostomies; it can help in a way.
My life experience with IBD caused me to become less sociable with others and I became isolated and a feeling of loneliness and depression set in without me realising, staying in the house not wanting to go out and meet other people. Panicking every time you wanted to go out, symptoms you did want to experience inside the house your extremely did not want to experience outside the house. I started to become housebound. I started to feel lonely and this started to have a big impact on my life.
I then had surgery and life with an ostomy began, this immediately started to help me, I started to feel that I could leave the house without the worry of having an accident in public and the fear seemed to disappear which was a great help but along with that comes different fears and different reasons not to socialise and trap you in the house, not wanting other to know you have an ostomy, being afraid they might see it or react badly if they knew you had one. Having to care and manage it outside the comfort of your own home. There are many things that can impact your life living with an ostomy but it has also helped me.
Since having my ostomy I have become more open with myself, I have found it easier to talk to other, meeting other people with ostomies which gives me a common interest with others. At first I started meeting people through the internet which is not as good as face to face contact but it is a start, I got to know others from far away and life started to get less lonely. I have also met other ostomates face to face but it can be hard living so far away to keep constant contact.
Having my surgery has opened a door for me to be able to meet others and socialise, yes at first this may only be through the help of the internet and may or may not lead to more face to face socialising but it is a step in the right direction.
Socialising can be very hard for many reasons and something in your life can make it difficult for you too socialise and other aspects of your life can make it easier. The internet can impact your life and make it easier for you to socialise and can stop you from socialising or it can have no impact on socialisation.
For everyone it is difficult and at some point you may feel lonely and depressed, even now I may have the opportunity to talk to other through the internet and in person but there are days which I still feel so alone and have depression and it can be very hard, these feeling can come and go day to day but I am working on it and maybe in time I can socialise more with others.