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Feminism or equality

I guess this is my bit on feminism. I’ve been reading a fair bit of late.. And I have some comments to make..

I think I myself do now identify as a feminist. But I am probably happy to identify as such given a particular definition. To me, a woman and should be as equally valued as any role a man might take in the workforce. To me, feminism is a removal of sexism from work, from life, from relationships, from family models etc. Sexism exists as discriminatory behaviours toward the opposite sex. (Well, *technically* speaking! This is the definition) however I think sexism can be displayed from women toward other women as well. To me sexism is really discriminating against someone because of their sex and therefore engendering them with particular afflictions purely based on their genitals. For example, telling a woman that she will want to have children some day even if she doesn’t want them now simply because she possesses ovaries. What other authority do people have but the possession of ovaries to tell others this I don’t know. In fact I’m fairly certain if I announced some time that I don’t want children that a) this would be met with some surprise given my career choice! and b) I’d have some smart-arse telling me I will change my mind one day.. When I’m not so young and immature.

Blah! To you I say! Blah! The truth is I’m somewhat undecided on children. But that’s a decision for me and me alone to make! Maybe I’ll involve the father of the baby too! Hehehehe! 😉 these days, lord knows I wouldn’t be the first who didn’t!!

Anyhow, I guess this all came about for me cos I made a somewhat off-handed comment a few months ago on twitter. Something along the lines of: “why are all the feminists so angry?” It was poorly researched and was perpetuating a stereotype that is frankly unhelpful. I was quickly corrected and had some of the other feminists come out of the woodwork and admit to me that they too didn’t see that hostility generally improves ANY cause.. Let alone this one. So I quickly resigned to do some research on the topic. I needed to be informed. I’ve done some brilliant reading since then! I’ve stolen a good friends copy of “the bitch in the house” which is a compilation of short essays and had a whole lot of fantastic points, all without too much hostility. All things I could relate to! I don’t appreciate hostility and for me it just makes me shut down.

I don’t appreciate sexism either! I don’t appreciate being told that I am a woman and therefore I will be more nurturing to my child than it’s father. I don’t like being told that I can’t do something because I am a woman. Of course aside from peeing standing up… And let’s face it! If I want to clean up the mess then I can damn well pee standing up if I want to!

I am a midwife and as a student I found the whole gender thing a difficult thought to ponder. I think that in my experience, children are assigned a gender based on their genitals, so not only does their parent dream up for them to be happy and healthy and successful, their parents often have a whole bunch of other dreams for them too! They’re dressed in pink or blue based on their genitals, and then their parents make comments in reference to their sexual preferences. They’re assuming that while this baby is still an infant that they’ll grow up to be a straight heterosexual, marry a man/woman (whichever applies!) have their picket fence and their 2.4 kids and live happily ever after! Until they get their first divorce and meet their second husband/wife of course!

And you might think I think too much on this stuff. But people who are friends and who are pregnant at the same time will make comments of their children to mates with each other if they have the same genitals and they’re going to marry each other if they’re opposite sex.

And don’t get me wrong! I think it’s a natural part of human thinking. We have dreams for our offspring and these dreams extend to their happiness and their success in life! But what of the children who feel an attraction to the opposite sex once they *do* think of things along those lines?

I mean I for one have always been brought up to be a compliant, thoughtful, respectful young lady. I need to look a certain way and behave a certain way if anyone will want to spend their life with me. What about if I don’t want to spend my life with them? Does it come into it? I am conditioned both by society and my upbringing that if I am not in a relationship that there must be something wrong with me. And I am made to feel that if I am not in a relationship that there is something wrong with me. Fact is there’s not! I am perfectly nice, respectful and reasonably pretty. I am also opinionated, clumsy and argumentative. I like a good debate and I like a good children’s movie. I love a drink and I love riding my bike. I am a lovable curmudgeon and Liz lemon describes herself in 30 rock. I am sometimes messy and I am sometimes clean and tidy. I always care and I am always emphatic, but I don’t always communicate that well. I am a little deaf, a little blind and not particularly the sharpest tool in the shed. But what I do and what I say it comes from a place of love.

I don’t always expect that my boyfriend/partner male counterpart will do the gardening just because he has a penis. But I’m not very good at it, so if he doesn’t want to do it I’m happy to pay someone to do it or better still, buy a place without too much of a garden. I don’t expect I always need to cook, but I do enjoy my food and enjoy cooking so chances are I will probably spend some time doing it.

I don’t feel the need to put down my male housemates cos they don’t do the dishes the way I do.. Telling them they’ve had a “boy look” when they can’t find something in the pantry only further segregates the sexes. The boys in my house are actually cleaner than me, and often tidier than me. We are considerate of each other and they learn different skills from me as I learn from them..

I think what I’m getting at here is that I am keen for equality to be a thing. Equality means equality. So support of gay marriage, is part of that. Who am I to tell people that they can’t commit their life to someone? I don’t know that I will ever get married either.. I have a lot more thinking to do on it, and what it would mean to me. But I am keen to remove segregation between sexes. I am keen to work together with people and make our world better for all.

I understand none of these thoughts are particularly new. They’re just mine and I had to put them down somewhere.

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Well it’s a little neglected this little blog of mine.. I think the last time I posted I was on a deadline for an assignment.. And coincidence of all coincidences, I’m working to a deadline again.. essay only 2/3 done is due Monday 😉 (coincidence! I swear!)

I was at the hospital the other day working my shift. I have been on placement since July, working 2 days a week in different sections of maternity. It’s been an overall good experience, and re-affirmed my love of all things midwifery. I truly do love what I’m doing.

This has been a difficult semester, not only am I playing catch-up for all the stuff I missed out on last semester, but I really had the confidence knocked out of me early on. It was during a conversation with someone close to me that this first manifested itself. Basically, this person suggesting that student midwives have no place in the hospital system or at a birth.

It really shook my confidence. For a long time I have been pinching myself. I got into uni, and I’m not quite sure how it happened. I pass every test, every assignment, every competency and every placement and I am not sure how that is allowed to happen. And at the end of the day, I’m not an imposter. I’m here, I am a 3rd year nursing/midwifery student. It’s no mistake, I have earnt my place in the class of 2013. My teachers, lecturers, tutors, educators and mentors have validated that as such. I keep expecting to one day wake up and find it has all been a dream. But it’s not, it’s real. And it’s amazing. So who is this person in my life, and why let them convince me that I don’t belong in my life?

It still amazes me everyday that I walk on the ward that I am allowed to be involved in providing care for these women and their bubs in utero. I recognise the pleasure, privelege and responsibility that is. And I am thankful for it everyday.

I thought I would share an experience I had the other day. I was rostered for the delivery suite. I love going to work on delivery suite. Cos overwhelmingly, it means it’s someone’s birthday. It’s the day that someone welcomes a new member to their family. It was particularly quiet that day, no women in labour. So we stand and wait. We need to wait, just in case someone comes in to deliver.

We had a caesarean section booked, and the midwife’s role in that room is minimal, if not super-numery at times. The caesarean section had been booked well ahead of time because of a particular complication with the pregnancy. When I did some research on the topic, I found that most of the time, this complication is diagnosed on pathology investigations. I found that the majority of the time, the complication results in a bad outcome for mum and bub, and usually it is discovered after it’s too late.

All went well with the procedure, though shortly after being born we noticed that bub was working a little bit too hard to breathe, and decided to take the little critter up to nursery for extra help to breathe. The operating theatre is a scary place for me as a student, and as someone who has been the patient on that table, it’s even scarier so for the patient.

In the moments after they took bub upstairs to the nursery, with dad and 4 or so other people in tow, that I remembered the very basics of my training. I remembered that there was a woman attached to that open abdomen, who had a head, a heart and feelings. I remembered she is a person, a wife, a mother, a scared patient. I sat down, next to the mother and held her hand. I explained to her that her baby was in the best place, and we would find out very soon what was going on. I reassured her and I stayed with her. I spoke to her and updated her on what was happening at each step. I stayed with her when the obstetrician beckoned me over to look at and learn about the complication that had brought us there.

I remember at the beginning of my training we discussed holistic care. That it’s more than just a broken knee in bed 16, there’s a person attached to that knee. And that person needs just as much care as the open wound. It’s more than just a woman who’s been induced with gestational diabetes, or pregnancy induced hypertension. It’s more than a woman who is in labour with her 4th child and had a major haemmorhage after the birth of number 2. It is a person. And midwifery means “with woman”. I hope I never forget that.

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For those of you who know, I worked hard last year and I lost 30kg. I have always been the chumpy kid, and as I grew up nothing changed. In fact I got chumpier. I do not have a natural athletic ability, I never have and I never will. But I got to a point where I stopped comparing myself against other people and started competing against myself. I got to a point where for the first time in my life I was able to run, and became quite fit. I was really enjoying my new level of fitness, mentally, physically, emotionally. It felt there was little that would get in my way… How wrong I was.

I fell off a dirt bike in April this year, I hyper-extended my knee and landed on it the wrong way round, basically snapping or damaging 3 of the 4 main ligaments in my knee. I ended up having surgery, and a number of months of rehabilitation. I am still going through physiotherapy and rehabilitation, and I will be to some degree for at least the next year or so if not longer…

Last night I went back to the gym for the first time since April. I went to my first spin class, and oh how I have missed the endorphins. I don’t think the class went particularly well, and I felt extremely unfit and unable, that is until I realised I am back to comparing myself against others. As far as I could tell, I was the only person in that room last night returning from major surgery and at my first session back, and I know I am the only person who is me.

Back in the day when I used to be obese, my excuses for not exercising amounted to laziness. Essentially, I was able to exercise, I just didn’t want to. When I did start going to the gym on a regular basis, I found that there was very little I couldn’t do. I would improve each session and I would slash through my previous best efforts. Each gym session I was happy to push the limits, and I was happy to go further than before.

Last night when I went I felt victim to my body. For the first time in a long time, I was no longer in charge of the body; I was instead being limited by it. I felt scared to push the limits, and scared of doing more damage. I still worked hard last night on my spin bike, but I felt I didn’t work as hard as I might have previously. In some ways, I feel that my body is failing. In the mind, I am ready, willing and able to get on the bike and ride my little ass off, quite literally! But my body just doesn’t respond the way I want it to.

Over the time I have been immobilised, disabled, incapacitated, call it what you will! I have struggled against this leg with a mind of its own. I have also managed to put on 2-3kg. I want to move that and even more. It’s action time. Even now, there are few excuses I will allow myself to make when it comes to doing the things I want to do.

In a way, it’s an important lesson for me to learn. I am going to be a nurse/midwife at the end of next year. I will have patients who are not in charge of their bodies. Patients who have the willpower and motivation but a body that won’t co-operate.

I guess in a way the hardest part of all of this is that it’s not quite mind over matter. In a sense, mind over matter is a good attitude to have, but I need to be careful to listen to the demands of my leg and not push beyond its capabilities. Because pushing too far would be the ultimate casualty here. But I will continue in my determination. Can you guys help me…? Losing the weight again is not going to be easy…. I’ll need encouragement…

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I have an exam in 2 hours, so of course I am sitting here in this uni bar at 11am in the morning blogging… I can’t think of a better use of my time.. Can you? Some might argue that whatever I cram in the next 2 hours is not likely to be of any good to me anyway… Ah well… I’m not too worried.. It’s one of my nursing subjects.. They seem very common sense in comparison to my midwifery subjects…

I had a conversation with a patient a few weeks ago that has been playing on my mind.. I guess I wasn’t really sure how to take it.. I’ll set the scene…

This semester part of my midwifery degree has me working at the local hospital’s maternity services 2 days a week. We work accross post-natal, birth unit, family birth centre, ante-natal clinics and detal monitoring. I love it. It’s hands-on experience and it’s what I need to learn the practical tasks of the job…

The conversation I had was a fleeting moment with a father of a newborn baby… His wife ran into some complications during the birth of their bub, and she was transferred out of family birth centre into the post-natal ward so that she could stay a bit longer and get some extra medical assistance. The father marvelled to me: “Wow! I can’t believe the level of care she’s receiving! This is in a public hospital! I’d expect this in the private sector, but not public!”

Back in June, I was lucky enough to have an article published in Sunny Days magazine, which I haven’t shared with you guys here.. But I will.. It basically went to say how much I love my course, and love what I’m doing, but that the most important aspects of my job and who I am, cannot be learnt at uni. As a nurse or a midwife, the most important attribute you can have is a genuine care, love and respect for people. The job is too bloody hard if you don’t care. Being someone like me, I care about each and every one of the patients in my care. For me, care is not just saying that a person is under my allocation for the day, it’s doing everything I can to make their stay somewhat less painful. I accept that I can’t change things, I accept that I can’t make the pain go away. And I admit that there are situations where this will be difficult to stomach.

But as far as things go, it’s not just working a shift to me. It’s not just cleaning bed pans, administering medication, checking for bleeding, monitoring vital signs, showering patients, changing beds, changing nappies, cleaning up bodily fluids, and monitoring heart rhythms. These menial tasks are all a part of the bigger picture. I wouldn’t do those things if I didn’t also care. I sympathise with my patients, I empathise with my patients, and I care about who they are as a person. To me the person is in the bed, it’s not just another number in the bed. It’s a person, who has a family, they have fears, they have joys. They are more than that broken leg, they are more than that infected body part, they are more than that respiratory infection, they are real. And the majority of the time, who are in that hospital bed is not who they are in real life. That person in that hospital bed is at their worst, and they deserve some respect. They deserve to be treated as a person.

I guess I am surprised at that man’s sentiment. I can’t see why you should receive any less CARE in a public hospital to a private one. I myself was a patient in a private hospital this year. As far as I can tell the only benefit I had from going in as a private patient was that I was able to book my operation within 10 days of the first consult with my surgeon, which meant having the operation a month or 2 earlier than I would have otherwise. For me that meant being able to continue with uni this semester instead of having to defer a year. That’s it. I had a horrible nurse overnight in the hospital, and I couldn’t wait to leave the next morning… Oh and the other privelege I had from that whole experience was being able to pay for the whole operation… (some may say was my own fault being uninsured! I’ll accept that! 😉

But in my experience, you can’t buy care. You can’t buy empathy. These are human emotions. And the vast majority of the time, the people in my profession have these in great quantities. At the end of the day, we are human too. So if you catch us at a bad moment having had a bad day… I’m sorry…………

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Learning

Well started placement in 3rd year today… I am only going to be at uni for 4 years.. And I am well into my 3rd year… THAT in itself is a little scary… To think that I am so close to finishing…. Well the thought of that just blows my mind a little.. To think that I will be responsible for the lives of ACTUAL patients with conditions and co-morbidities, patients with lives, jobs, and families. Patient’s who are REAL PEOPLE! That scares me in a huge way… Cos in no way do I feel ready for the task yet some of my co-horts will be out at the end of this year…. (Just those in general nursing… Us lucky midwifery students get to stay an extra year!)

Today I arrived onsite at 8am, waited around til 8:30am when the clinical supervisor arrived.. :/ not sure how they get small administration errors like this occurring each year. But they do. I guess for anyone who’s ever been to uni, you begin to expect that the uni are too busy being all academic they forget how to complete small, seemingly unimportant details. Those details which would have allowed me time to get a coffee this morning, or details that would have allowed me to print out some much needed papework. Of course, I know what you’re going to say: I should’ve been organised…. And you would be right. I *should*.

Anyhow, we were shown to the wards, orientated to the hospital, shown where equipment could be found, where handover occurs, where bags are stored and also a run-down on pathophysiology of some common conditions. I surprised myself as I relaxed into the day. I learnt that:

I know more than I thought I knew.

I know a number of different heart rhythms, what they look like on an ECG, and also I know how to call a code. I know what it means when they say a patient has rapid AF, and I know what many of the different medications do and how they act on different tissues in the body to bring about the desired effect and thereby decrease/rectify symptoms etc.

The second thing I learnt today, is that

I will never know it all.

Uni will only ever teach me enough of the basics to know when I need to call for help. Uni will not teach me everything. Because the simple fact of it is, I will never know it all. You will never know it all. I don’t know whether we as a human race will know all we need to know… But it’ll never stop me from wanting to learn it…

 

*Breathes a happy sigh of relief at all the new things I will learn this placement* *does a happy dance*

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I know I know. I’m a bit late to be talking about 2011. But here it is.. It_has_finally_BEGUN!!!!

Woke up 6am this morning… Too excited to sleep… Today is my first day back at UNI!!! I start 3rd year of my nursing/midwifery degree. I CAN’T WAIT FOR IT TO BEGIN!!!

I bounced out of bed with the excitement you might expect to see from Tigger in Winnie-the-Pooh and I jumped into the shower. I had breakfast and ran out the door on my way to uni.. Jumped on my bike and stopped to take a pic of the beautiful sun as it rose in my street… I then rode my little heart out to uni..

On my way I had a few thoughts.. I can’t wait to see my BFF, who has been busy as have I. And also just how pumped I am to be beginning uni again for the year.. I finally feel like I am doing something worthwhile with my time apart from meandering around. Being a lady of leisure is fine.. But just for how long can I do that? Let me tell you, I’ve been doing it since November last year. It’s got old now… :S

Last night I went to bed feeling sick. Not that unusual. I have come down with a bit of the flu and spent the majority of the last 48 hours in bed. But I couldn’t shake the feeling of sick. No matter how hard I tried to ignore it… This morning on the way to uni, I still felt sick.. Couldn’t shake it.. And then when I arrived at uni, it lifted…

I realise now that it was anxiety I was experiencing. I don’t know why. I mean, I am going into 3rd year at Deakin, I’m not even starting at a new campus like I did last year… I am just going back. Going back to where I have spent the whole of last year. I am going back to what I love. WHY AM I SO ANXIOUS??

Thinking through it now. I realise that the anxiety is related to uni itself. In a way, I can’t believe I am so lucky to find something I am so passionate about. Something I want to throw my heart and soul and into and be consumed by. Nothing in my life has ever felt so right than what I am doing right now… and I am so lucky…

When I finished school I didn’t get high enough grades to get into this course… This course was something I wanted to do before it existed. And that was a devastating blow. In some ways I feel like I am living a dream. Like I need to pinch myself so I’ll wake up. In some ways I feel like I still don’t deserve this… And in some ways, I feel like I am shooting above the possible. I feel like I will wake up one day and someone will tell me it’s all been a dream and it’s too good to be true… But it’s not.. I am here, I am living it. And it’s MINE!

I started with a dream. The rest is up to me to make it happen.. And that’s what I’m gonna do… I am going to grab this opportunity and RUN!! And in a few weeks time, remind me to think back on this… and how much I love it… 😀 The joy is so real you can  almost touch it! 😀 making you sick with my happiness now aren’t I? 😛

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Interesting theory really… I’ve been thinking about it a bit lately…. Being a single girl approaching my late 20s…. Here is my take… It’s what I’ve been feeling lately…..

I went to a private Christian school in the outer south eastern suburbs of Melbourne. So uncharacteristically of this day’s generation I have already seen many of my friends walk down the aisle. I know, I know.. A lot of them have got married young and early on in their lives…. I know that…. My little sister got married at the tender old age of 19 years young. She was a child bride. She is living her happily ever after. And I guess this is my point….

I read a brilliant post the other day over at the next generation. It was all about how this current generation has seen so much divorce and heartache and don’t seem all that keen to get married, settle down, have kids and all that rot.. I could identify with some of those things.. I mean.. My parents are still happily married, but to be honest I sometimes don’t know where I would manage to find time for a boyfriend/partner in my current lifestyle. And in more ways than one I am more than happy in my lifestyle… So to be honest I don’t want a boyfriend just for the sake of having one.. I think if the right one came along I’d go for it.. But thus far……?

Anyhow… I have noticed something of late.. I seem to be stuck in a void of people… Where on one side I have friends who are setting up their happily ever after’s and some who are partying like it’s 1999. It’s a strange place to be.. Cos I don’t quite know where I fit in.. Don’t get me wrong.. I am not saying that I never want to find my happy ever after.. I am just content to wait til it comes and I am not planning on rushing into anything. I don’t wanna rush into anything I wouldn’t be *totally* happy with.. I want to meet someone who is perfect for me.. Someone who I could see myself spending my forevers with…. Nothing else will compare to that…..

Until I meet someone to spend my forevers with. I am torn between hanging out with my friends and partying and doing the things grown up adults should do. In essence I am quite happy with how I live my life.. I just feel under. so. much. pressure. I feel like the community I find myself a part of doesn’t see me as a real true adult until I find some real true adult to spend my time with.

I mean parties will often offer a “plus one”… And I feel like a loser for showing up alone… When I catch up with ppl I feel more pressure. “Are you seeing anyone new, Emily?” Well yes.. I might be… But that doesn’t mean I want to talk about them with you. It doesn’t mean I want them to be invited everywhere. It doesn’t mean I want to live in their hip pocket. And it DOESN’T mean I might move in with/marry them.

It’s like I have to make all these decisions at once. I have to commit to one person forever in my early 20s. I have to decide what career I want to work in for the rest of my life. These are 2 of the biggest life decisions I will make. Not only that, what if I don’t meet someone in my early 20s that I think I could spend a week with let alone “my happily ever after”…

It’s not that I don’t want it. It’s not that I don’t need that person in my life. It’s that I haven’t found them yet. But I am holding out hope… I guess there’s someone out there who can put up with me? But just cos I haven’t found said person yet, does this mean I am incomplete? That I am not yet whole? No, I am quite happy as I am and who I am. Why is it that I am made to feel like something is missing?

I just don’t see any point in wasting my time with someone I don’t truly feel that connection with. Is that ok? Or is that fussy?

I guess I just get annoyed when some of my friends who *are* in relationships make it SO hard to catch up with them because I *am* single…. And THAT’s what I resent….. That and the loneliness my own family seem to perpetuate whenever we are together…. Go figure huh?

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