Evening clouds

Evening clouds
Sunshine and Clouds

Monday, 25 September 2017

Rabbits, rodents and running

Pounding the local footpath this morning I was reflecting on my career and what I'm up to now. In part this was started by Anne Cooper's blog on moving away from the bedside to other roles, though still being part of the nursing community. Her description of the comments Anne got when taking those steps echoed some of my experience though being a different gender I suspect moving to where I am now fulfilled expected stereotypes; even so when at the bedside I was often asked why I was not a doctor as if I was being wasted as a nurse.
Time has moved on though there are now calls for more men to join nursing; I hope they do and are able to enjoy the range of experiences and opportunities that nursing presents.
What else was going through my head on my run? Having managed in hospices I recalled a recent conversation about what I'd been responsible for that seemed very tangential to patient care. That's where reducing invading rabbits from a Grade 2 listed garden and dealing with rodents who're trying to invade the rubbish bins comes in. Meeting pest controllers and ferrets all part of the tapestry of my professional journey.
The running has become a larger part of my life now; alongside that is a recognition that I'm fortunate to have been paid during my Nurse training and supported by employers to gain a first and Masters degrees along the way. 
And in the here and now of 2017 we see more evidence of the financial difficulties many face, particularly in roles such as nursing. In October 2017, being the 10th month, many nurses supported by others are raising money to help the Cavell Nurses Trust; they support nurses who have money troubles. 
For me, I'm a bit too late to get to 10k running for October, though the app I'm using tells me I'm over halfway to 5k as a run. So I'll be helping consume some of the 10k calories at a cake fest/feast then joining the inspired 10k walk around Birmingham’s canals at the end of the month. Whatever your experience of nursing, whether as part of the profession or as someone who has received nursing care I hope you'll sponsor one of us in our #10kForNurses endeavours; you can sponsor me via my JustGiving page for the canal walk, thank you.

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Running on, there's no excuse...

I need to start at a finish line, mid 1990s; not only is this line an end, it's also a place to begin again. To go back a long way to the first start, my last couple of years at primary school were under the same teacher; his approach to me was essentially psychologically abusive, particularly when it came to sports. My secondary school career was not blessed with imaginative approaches to activity, only team games and swimming lessons. Those experiences did not leave me with with a strong desire to pursue fitness. In the last year or so at school they got round to providing circuit training and I began to find pleasure in individual activity. Post school was less active and the onset of shift patterns once I was in nursing seemed a reasonable excuse not to take too much exercise; after all I was in a physically demanding job. In those days gyms were places to learn boxing or body build; Chris my fellow student in my set did enjoy sports and persuaded me to run occasionally around a nearby park. Roll forward about 15 years.

Now in a role with regular hours I'd attend courses and conferences where some of my clinical colleagues would swim or run during spare time; I was impressed but sitting in the sauna seemed preferable. Then as a Macmillan nurse an opportunity arose to volunteer to represent Macmillan Cancer Relief (as it was then) in a London Marathon. There were few places and I was confident I'd not be picked; I'd seen so many fitter colleagues who be sure to get signed up. What made me think I could do a marathon? I'd found the development of the London Marathon a fascinating phenomenon and thought as a Londoner it would be good to enter it “one day”. I was at this point close to 40 and decided I'd like to try the marathon before I got to that age.

You can guess what happened - in October 1994 I was told I'd got a place in the Macmillan marathon team. Dumbfounded I gathered my wits and realised an acquaintance at the time knew about running a marathon. He advised me on the type of footwear to acquire and offered training help to get to the 10-11 mile distance by New Year's Day 1995. After that his own elite runner training required me to take it from there. So that in April 1995 on what turned out to be a nice warm sunny day I crossed that finish line; no speedy time just the intense pleasure of crossing the finish line; that one I started with above. Along the way I'd grown to love the improved fitness, the ‘buzz’ of the endorphins and the knowledge that I'd conquered the ghosts of my scholastic sporting past.

After that as the family expanded and ‘life’ took over running faded; the excuse list grew. And now I'm nearing the stage of needing to refine retirement plans and have had brushes with potentially serious health issues. I noticed too my love of the couch, the only place to be after a long though sedentary day. So taking more note of what I should and should eat and drink and having started taking regular medicines I began to see colleagues in the We communities making a difference to their lives through #NursesActive on Twitter. I was impressed and a little envious; and then it hit me I had no excuse not to be fitter.
Now there are apps that will help you start to run and gradually gain in what you can achieve. I'm amazed at how quickly my little hairy legs have got back into the groove; the buzz of accomplishment alongside the fresh air and better sleep are a bonus. I'm investing in me and my future health as well as enjoying the sensation of feeling better equipped to face each day both mentally and physically.
That 1995 finish line, and the last staggering steps down the Mall was a place of endings and beginnings; it feels good to take time for myself and to make sure that now I'm 60+ I'll be around and in better shape than I have been in a long time.
Thanks to all those supporting #NursesActive and supporting The Cavell Nurses Trust; look at the myriad activities nurses have so creatively participated in and ask yourself if you really have a valid excuse not to do something active. Remember, you're really worth it.
Crossing the finish line, 2nd April 1995, waving in victory and forgetting to stop my timer!