Saturday, May 25, 2013

Turning Negativity into Positivity

This is so true for me! If something is going horribly wrong, I love nothing more than being able to whinge about it,, to anyone and everyone who will listen.  Why? I don't know.  None of the suggestions that people come up with are ever "right" for my situation.  Perhaps I love misery.....

However I am determined to change this mindset.  When someone asks? How are you Cat? I will only reply with positive statements no matter what is happening.  This makes me feel better.  It reminds me of the good things in life. 

I listened to a sermon from Phil Dooley (Pastor of Hillsong South Africa) last night and he talked about Simon Peter who was in Jesus presence in a storm at sea.  Simon Peter was in the boat, Jesus was on the water.  When Jesus said "COME" Simon Peter got out of the boat and followed Jesus.  No questions ask.  Simon Peter knew that in the storm, that miracles only happened where Jesus was.  I need to do that.  I need to get OUT of the boat and TRUST Christ.  I can't just sit around and hope that the miracle of good health finds me.  I need to seek Christ, follow him and TRUST him.

In order to do this I need to STOP talking about the negativity in my life and START giving thanks for the positives.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Friends in good times and bad

I must confess to being somewhat self absorbed this week.  I won't lie, an element of woe is me has settled in but enough is enough.  Yes, I was admitted to hospital, no we don't have the full story yet, yes I have to wait quite a few weeks to see a specialist and yes I feel I've had enough ill health so why me?!  I need to snap out of this state of mind and appreciate the good things within my life.  Being miserable is not helping the situation and it is just making me feel even more miserable.

One thing that has become extremely obvious this past week is that I am loved by many friends and family members.  I have felt overwhelmed with the out pouring of love that has come my way.  I love my friends and family dearly.  If I could pack family and some of my oldest friends up from Ireland and move the to Australia then my life would be pretty much perfect.

What is a friend?

Friend n, a person whom one knows, likes and trusts

I am blessed with many friends, I am a very social person.  The joke in work is that you can place me in a part of the unit away from my friends to keep me quiet, however the plan will fail because I will just make new friends.  Often people find it hard to believe that I was ever shy, but I was in fact a very shy person until I started nursing.  Now I am able to have a conversation about pretty much anything.  I love conversation and I love hearing about peoples lives, adventures, experiences and dreams.  I guess it could be said I love people. 

This past week I have found that I am loved in return, loved more than I even knew.  We all lead busy lives, but this week I have been blessed by people taking time out of their busy schedules to sit with me, pray for me and laugh with me.  Many who couldn't physically be with me have sent beautiful emails and text messages. 

I have found it challenging to be the centre of attention due to illness.  I always like to present a very controlled front, I still show emotion (mostly happy, excited, bubbly emotions) but I won't show fear.  I am more likely to crack a joke to hide my fear, and that can give off a tougher image than perhaps I should present.  I am talented in changing the topic when it gets too close to the truth of an emotion that may cause my bubbly happy mask to slip.  I have realised this week that it is the fear that people won't know what to do with the raw real me in the face of bad news.  Having had a lot of ill health in the last 6 years, I am subconsciously trying to protect them from a lot of the negative emotions it can bring out.  I guess I want them to still see me as me and not look at me with sympathy.

Since my overnight hospital visit last Sunday many of my friends have challenged me in this very area.  They have not let me hide behind jokes.  They have not let me suddenly change the topic.  They have held my hand when my lip has trembled and they have LOVED ME through every minute of it.  There have been no looks of sympathy.  They have helped me form plans of how to deal with this new health crisis.  Some our christian and are praying daily for my health and that I be healed in Jesus name.  Some are non believers and are making sure I can get to and from appointments easily and that I have enough to eat.  Each one of my friends has touched my heart and I am so thankful for them.  I still have a lot of work to do in the area of sharing the bad as well as the good.  I know I am hiding the bad from them as an act of love as I want to spare them.  However they are teaching me that it is ok to share it all and they will LOVE me no matter what. 

So this Thankful Thursday post is for all my amazing friends.  I am truly grateful to have each and every one of you in my life.


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A trip to Emergency

A lot has happened in the 5 days since my last post.  I wish I could say that it was new and exciting things but the reality is very different. 

It began with my return to work on Saturday.  I was on shift with a great group of people but it was an extremely busy day.  I finished late but didn't mind as Tomcat was picking me up and I wasn't going to be stuck waiting for a later bus.  MissD and family were coming for dinner so we raced home to get ready for their arrival.  Tomcat had worked wonders on the house and everything was clean and tidy.  There is nothing worse than the fear people will rock up to the house and it is a mess. 

We had a wonderful evening with MissD and family.  It was music to my hears to have laughter ringing throughout the house.  I can safely say that the company of good friends is great therapy for my stress.  It wasn't a late night because MissD has two little ones and I myself had to get up at 0530 for work the next day. 

Sunday in work was another of those busy days.  Initially I let things get to me, but AussieB (one of the first people I became friends with in Aus 7 years ago) took me to the side and made me sit and deep breathe until the acute stress phase stopped.  AussieB was worried because the hives which had been settling were now back and all over my arms and hands.  I dismissed it.  At that point I had had hives for 2 weeks straight.  I had become used to seeing them appear and then disappear.  Antihistamines and steroids were the medications of choice but to be honest they weren't doing much.  They made me feel like I was at least helping myself and getting treatment but the reality was they were doing nothing. 

On Sunday evening it all changed.  I was watching TV, the highly anticipated return of "The Block" but I couldn't really concentrate on it.  I felt 'off'.  My face started to feel tight and I noticed my lips were feeling bee stung.  I looked in the mirror and my whole face, neck and lips were swelling up.  I spoke to Tomcat and discovered my voice was very hoarse.  I tried to clear my throat to see if it helped but it didn't.  Throughout the conversation my voice was becoming more and more quiet and hoarse and my lips bigger and bigger.  Tomcat drove me to the hospital and I could feel the panic rising in my chest.  Would I need to be intubated to protect my airway?  I text a couple of nursing friends to ask for prayer and one came to the hospital to be with Tomcat in case I had to be intubated and put on a ventilator to keep my airway open.

At the hospital they took one look at me and put me straight into resus.  My oxygen saturations were dropping, my blood pressure was ridiculously high and my heart was racing.  All i wanted to do was cry but I had to really force myself not to as it wouldn't help my breathing.  I was given lots more medications and had a drip put in.  Unfortunately I have very difficult IV access so the consultant had to do it using an ultrasound. 

Everything was pointing towards an anaphylactic reaction. When they took into account the 2 week history of hives and already being maxed out on antihistamines and steroids the anaphylaxis was less likely.  Plus I wasn't recovering with adrenaline.  What on earth was happening to me?

I am now being investigated for a rare disorder called C1 inhibitor deficiency.  It looks like I do have it but we have to wait for blood tests to come back.  I also have to be reviewed by an immunologist but unfortunately they are high in demand and low in supply.  If nothing else this is teaching me patience and forcing me to rest.  I am back on sick leave for this week and back at home after my night in hospital.

I am sharing my story because it may help others to recognise when something is very wrong with someone.  My symptoms all pointed towards anaphylaxis which is a severe allergic reaction.  If anyone ever has any swelling of the mouth, nose, tongue, get help straight away. 

Friday, May 10, 2013


At my wits ends, still covered in hives and having only just recovered from the realisation that I am in fact suffering from stress, I was left with a dilemma - How do I recover right here and now? The decision to reduce my working hours had been made but that won't kick into effect for a couple of weeks.  I sat and looked at my painful broken skin on my arms and legs and felt nothing but sadness that i had let it get to this point. 

As a nurse I am often the one handing out the advice to everyone else, not having to take the advice myself.  In my mind I was replaying everything I would tell my patients, their relatives and even my own friends - eat well, drink less, move more, do something you really enjoy, hug your loved ones, take a stroll on the beach... I have even been known to throw in meditation.  That's when I felt despair, I was beyond having those actions help bring me back to a place of tranquility.  Given time they would most definately help me, but in that exact moment they would not stop the ugly outbreaks on my skin, they would not help me to sleep at night instead of staying up scratching until I almost bled. 

I had another lightening bolt thought, a flash back to a conversation I had with another friend only a couple of weeks before.  My little scottish friend YummyMummyS, a fellow nurse and expat on the other side of the world from her extended family.  YummyMummyS had suggested acupuncture, she herself had it in the lead up to fertility treatment and during her pregnancy.  It reminded me that Tomcat had it years before he met me and has raved about it ever since.  YummyMummyS reported it greatly helped her morning sickness (perhaps it could help my hives) and Tomcat had reported it helped him relax after long stints at work.  I felt a sense of hope and excitedly rushed off to check if I was covered through my private health fund.  Voila, I was and they recommended a practitioner a short 5-10 minute drive from my house.

It was after hours so i was unable to make an appointment at that time, then at the back of my mind I started having doubts.  I found myself thinking "you are a critical care nurse, you know that medicine and time is what you need, none of this airy fairy stuff".  Don't you just love those little voices that pop up, burst your bubble and plant doubt in your mind!  I decided that I should research it before making an appointment.  I jumped straight onto the World Health organisations (that's WHO to you and I)  website and discovered that they recognise acupuncture as a valuable treatment and recognise research that has been done in this field.  That was good enough for me.  The next day I made my appointment and found myself sitting in the clinic 90 minutes later.

I have to admit to being excited, nervous (it was needles after all) and if I'm 100% honest still a little sceptical.  The practitioner was lovely, not a hippy like I had made up in my head, he made me feel at ease instantly.  I few simple questions about what had brought me to the clinic and he learned about my stress and being signed off work.  I then hopped onto the couch and he started to take my pulse.  Recognising this as a great first step in any medical treatment I felt at ease, this guy knew what he was doing.  I took a few deep breaths and then realised he was taking the pulse on my wrist and using different levels of pressure on 3 different spots and then did the same on the other side.  At the end he said I had a "very low kidney pulse".  Bang, there it was the sceptical side of my arose once again.  I stopped him in his tracks and said "I'm sorry but i should probably tell you I am a critical care nurse and you are holding my radial artery which isn't even near my kidneys".  Fair play to this poor man who had suddenly encountered a nightmare client, he smiled and listed a lot of symptoms associated with a low kidney pulse.  Here are some of them:-

Feeling deeply drained
Feeling tired but wired
Fear, anxiety, paranoia, panic
Lack of inner calm
Afternoon sweat attacks
Night sweats
Dry mouth especially at night
Needing to go to the bathroom a lot at night (nocturia)
Foot pain, in particular high in the arch and heel

The only thing I could say to the poor guy was "oh ok, point made there is no way you could have known I have all of those".  He simply smiled, put me at ease and next thing I know I had needles in my feet, ankles, up my legs to my knees and one in each wrist.  For the record I didn't feel them at all. 

I was then told he would leave me to relax (there was that horrible word again!) and that he would return in awhile.  As he left I was thinking how long is awhile, what if I need you? But he was gone. I spent the first few minutes alone looking at the needles and cursing why I decided to do something that so clearly was way out there that it would never work. I heard the acupuncturist taking a client into another room and starting her treatment. I thought, oh great, now i have to lie here with no relaxing music (like at the beautician) even longer while you sort her out as well. Well this is stupid.  Can you tell I don't particularly like new experiences?

Having been awake since 0400 that morning I decided to close my eyes for awhile and then 'it' started happening.  I felt myself relax, I felt like I was melting into the bed, I felt peace.  I could feel tension leaving my body, my breathing slowed down and I felt calm for the first time in weeks.  I don't think I have enough words to describe the feeling of rest that I had during and after the treatment.  On the drive home I found myself thinking that if I drove into something I would probably shrug and say oh well.  That was how relaxed and chilled out I felt.  That feeling lasted for a good 3 hours after treatment.  I slept well that night, not for a long time - just 5 hours and the next day I didn't have the same level of anxiety or worry.  My hives were settling down, no new outbreaks but the intense itch was still there.  I am learning that i can't expect things to be fixed overnight.  I didn't get into this situation overnight and it will take time to recover.  Acupuncture is going to play a key role in helping me get there.

I am going back for my second treatment this afternoon and this time I can't wait. 

Have you had acupuncture?
What was your experience like?

Thursday, May 9, 2013

When your path shifts and the goal posts change

I made mention earlier this week about being off work on sick leave.  The story behind that is that I am experiencing lots of stress from different aspects of my life at the moment.  Some areas are completely within my control and others are not.  I am not the sort of person who openly discusses with friends or even family what it is that is getting me down or making me feel overwhelmed.  In my scrambled thought process it is a way of admitting a weakness.  Don't get me wrong I don't think people showing weakness is a bad thing, I love to help others but I can't admit my own weaknesses to myself or anyone else.  This is part of what prompted me to return to the blogosphere as it previously gave me an outlet for these thoughts and allowed me to work through things. 

On Monday I was ordered to rest, to take care of myself and to relax.  I had broken out in hives and Monday was the 9th day in a row of being completely covered in them.  My largest measured 18cm x 6cm, ouch.  This year I have been going at what feels like 100mph every day and suddenly the word relax was being thrown at me.  First thought was one of panic, as if I could slow down, didn't the doctor realise how much I had to do.  I was already feeling overwhelmed by life's tasks and now she wanted me to pause for a week.  That really wasn't going to work for me, but i smiled politely, took the sick certificate and came home and sulked! Yup, you read it, I sulked.  This was me, a person who had just finished working 4 nights shifts, had 1 night off, worked another 4 night shifts, had 1.5 days off and then returned to day shift.  In the past 3 weeks I hadn't had more than 1 day off in a row, I felt overwhelming exhaustion with the inability to rest deeply at night due to dreams about some of my stressors.

The start of the dreaded hive outbreak.

When Tomcat arrived home on Monday night he took one look at me and asked me to reduce my hours at work for my own health's sake.  You see I have a complicated medical history and in truth I am extremely lucky to be alive.  I will share more on that another time.  In recent weeks and months I had toyed with the idea of cutting back at work but felt a sense of guilt at not being able to work full time.  This time however I knew Tomcat was being 100% serious and I knew I had to listen.  Earlier in the day a close friend (the ever talented and beautiful MissD) emailed me something that was like a thunderbolt and stopped in my tracks, " I'm so praying for you - I don't believe you should just be managing like this but you should be flourishing."  In that moment all the thoughts about needing to slow down, needing to adjust my path and goals made sense.  I had dismissed them and thought, no not yet.  In that moment I knew God was speaking to me through MissD, I felt a sudden peace with the decision to reduce my hours, and the sense of guilt at what I perceived as not being able to cope just drifted away.  On Monday night I had my first restful sleep in many weeks. 

Now I find myself in uncharted territory.  Until now my grand plan had been to work hard and long hours for as long as I was able to.  Even writing that statement now makes me laugh, money from long hours was not even coming close to making me happy, so that was a very very silly goal.  Now the path has shifted and I am going to have more time on my hands.  I need to set new goals as I don't want to waste my new found free time.  I still want to serve others but I am unsure in what sense or area.  One thing I do know is that I have to help myself first.  I need to teach myself the art of relaxation and yesterday I discovered a new way of doing so (more on that later in the week).  I need to optimise my health and only then will I be in a position to be of use to others.

Have you been dismissing thoughts about needing to change an aspect of your life?

What are your goals at the moment?

What do you do to relax and rejuvenate?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - a few of my favourite things


Handmade invites instead of generic facebook event invites or text messages.  So pretty, fun to make and make people feel loved.
As a household of shift workers we can go can go for a week or more without seeing each other.  Sure we are aware of a warm body in the bed gently loudly snorning when we jump in the other side.  Communication is therefore a problem.  Here is one of the love notes I left Tomcat while on a week of night shifts. I simply adore finding notes, random text from my wonderful hubby.
Sunrise at the end of a long night shift.  This is a wonderful sight.
Showing Tomcat the North Antrim Coast of Northern Ireland (and this is winter!)


I share parts of my day on instagram, come check me out.

 What are a few of your favourite things or places? 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Return to the blogosphere

Today I have found myself at home on sick leave with strict instructions to rest and take care of myself.  This is a challenge for me and I am sure that I am not alone in that.  There always seems to be something else that I deem to be more important than sitting down, breathing deeply and recharging my batteries. 

So here I am once again in the world of blogging.  A few years ago I blogged under this very blog name, I enjoyed it, I enjoyed the interaction with like minded people and I loved shedding some light into my world.  I feel it will be a good outlet for me to sit down, deep breathe and do something for myself.

Who am I?

My name is Cat, I moved to Australia from N.Ireland 7 years ago this week.  I guess it could be said that this is my Australiaversary.  I moved permanently after going between Australia and UK/Ireland for 2 years.  You see my husband (lets call him Tomcat) is Australian, we did a lot of umming and ahhhing about where to settle and you guessed it Australia won.  But instead of sticking with what at least one of us knew as familiar life, we moved to a different state from my in laws.  Yup some may call us crazy but we saw it as an adventure.  Time to strike out and make a name and life for ourselves.  It has been a tumultuous 7 years - but more on that later. 

What are my interests?

I am Christian and believe we each are here to make a difference. I will in the future share some of the areas and campaigns I am particularly interested in.

I work in health care as a Critical Care Registered nurse.  I thrive on adrenaline in work but in my private life I am extremely cautious.  I think it comes from witnessing many accidents and misadventures.  I constantly fight the urge to wrap my loves ones in cotton wool and forbid them to do anything 'risky'.

I love swimming, reading, movies and most of all my family and friends.  If I could pack my parents, sister and some of my oldest friends up and move them down under life would be pretty much perfect.  Add in a glass of bubbly and I think i would be the happiest person alive.

Thanks for dropping by, feel free to leave me a comment and I look forward to getting to know you all while sharing more of myself.