Finding a purpose

Mid November 2017

It was mid-November and I had been in hospital for over three weeks now. I was definitely getting better by the day as I couldn’t wait for visitors to come then I could go and get some exercise, freedom or a bit of fresh air at the entrance of the hospital next to those patients smoking a fag! My medicine had changed and the swelling and the rash had started to die down. I was on some strong steroids along with a cocktail of other stuff which I can’t really remember but it seemed to being doing the trick. I was told I would be monitored for another week just to make sure I was on the right medication. I was gutted in a way but at least I knew I was in the right place if things went a bit Pete Tong again.

I was asked if I would move back into the bays as there was an extremely poor gentleman who needed it who had just been admitted. Despite all my luxuries and home comforts I jumped at the chance I couldn’t wait for a bit of company in all honesty.  This time I was allocated one of the beds in the first bay which was great it meant you generally got your medication first and with the added bonus of being fed first.

This time on the bay there were about 3-4 ladies. All somewhat older than me but company nevertheless. One was over 90 and extremely terrified, one was late 70’s and deaf as a post and one was around 50 or 60. The others weren’t there that long so I can’t really remember them. On face value we probably had very little in common but I made it my purpose as the ‘fit one’ in the group to chat to everyone, find some common ground and help out as much as I could. The lady across from me was lovely unfortunately however she had just had her leg amputated and had been diagnosed with bowel cancer. She was clearly in pain a lot of the time and it upset me to see so I tried to help her as much as I could to make her comfy.

It was in hospital and whilst being ill that made me realise how having a purpose is so important in everything we do. My main purpose in hospital was to get better and basically survive. For instance, I didn’t want to be on a drip anymore so I decided to drink as much water as I could to avoid this. One of the nurses was really helpful with this and I would go through bottles and bottles of the stuff. I don’t think they realised how much I had until they had to record it going out. I was like a fish and I think I could have survived a spout (excuse the pun) of waterboarding had I been put under enough pressure. See once I set my mind to do something I was determined or as my husband and parents might like to call it a stubborn little so and so.

Being in hospital meant I was sort of shut out from the outside world and it was my prerogative to be selfish for once. The outside pressures we normally deal with on a day to day basis just weren’t there. I didn’t have to worry about bills, sorting the kids out, work, cleaning, making dinners. In some respects it was a lot easier as a patient (aIthough I  wouldn’t advise to go to these extreme measures to text this theory). In hospital if I wanted to exercise, I did, If I wanted to relax, I would sit and colour, meditate or write. I even built a Lego caravan complete with car to tow it (I always wanted a campervan or caravan so Ste bought me one, not quite what I had in mind but the thought was definitely there). All these things gave me purpose to my day and kept me focused enough to see the main prize of getting out and home.

Now that I was getting better, I found that I wanted to help people. It gave me a purpose and certainly felt rewarding. In a way I can understand why health care assistants, nurses, doctors and surgeons choose the profession they do. It’s certainly not the best paid job in the world nor is it the most glamourous but the feeling of knowing your helping another human being just feels so rewarding. I bet even if only 1 in 50 patients ever actually truly acknowledges their appreciation of these every day heroes all the crap (literally) that they deal with on a day to day basis would feel worth while knowing they made a difference in someone’s life. Now I only got to do a snippet of how this might feel to help someone. Of late I was more on the receiving end of these acts of kindness. My offers of help were going to talk to the old lady who was next to me when I first went in, or switching on a fan to cool someone down and opening a window for those who couldn’t get to it. It did feel good though to feel like you were doing something useful however small it was.

One of the most rewarding moments in hospital was when I redesigned some of the cardboard urine collection bowls for the lady and my new friend in the bed across. Since having her leg amputated, she was often bed bound to go to the toilet and told me she had really painful bed sores in areas which were pretty uncomfortable. It was awful to see, she was such a lovely lady that I couldn’t understand why she should even be experiencing this sort of thing but that’s cancer, it doesn’t care who it affects. I wanted to help her and I had a Blue Peter moment when I spotted some massive sanitary pads in one of the cupboards. I got some scissors and some medical tape and I got to work. Thirty mins or so later and ta dah…. the all new padded urine collection bowl Mark 1. It was the Dyson of the cardboard urine sample world. Turned upside down it probably did resemble Tracy Island in some way so worthy of a Blue Peter badge in my opinion. I showed my friend and she was delighted, she loved them so much we made quite a few. Unfortunately, the production line wasn’t as consistent as I would have liked and some may have only just scraped through the quality check but they served their purpose and I know they made a difference to my friend and that felt good to me.

 I often thought and daydreamed of a career change in the NHS once I got out of hospital but there were a number of obstacles that I would have to get over first for this to be a reality;

  1. My phobia of people’s germs and potentially sharing bodily fluids with anyone (by that I mean drinks, food and salvia!)
  2. I faint at the sight of blood
  3. I don’t do sick
  4. I literally don’t know my arse from my elbow.

So, as you can tell from the above points a career change in the medical industry was most likely out of the question, however I started to think I did have a purpose. I hadn’t gone through all of this for nothing, I needed to turn something negative into a positive.  What was going to happen in the future I didn’t have much certainty on at that time. What I did know is that if I could make sure people were aware of some of the symptoms I had, then I could reduce or minimize the likelihood of it happening again. That’s when I really committed to writing a blog and wanting to raise awareness and hopefully some money for charity in the process.

See we all have a purpose in life, we might have more than one.  Sometimes our purpose is so small it may seem on face value irrelevant but the smallest gestures can sometime have the greatest impact on people. Some people go through the majority of their life wanting to find their ‘purpose’ or ‘true calling’ we often do this in our search for a career. I think it’s great to have dreams but if there’s one thing I’ve learned is not to waste your whole life trying to find your ‘true’ purpose in life. 

In doing so you might overlook those small little moments where you were needed as a mother, a friend, a kind stranger, a cleaner, a chef, a delivery driver. Those moments where you’re input could have just had a life changing impact on someone else’s life however insignificant it may have seemed at the time. Now at the age of 39 I still don’t know my ‘purpose’ or ‘true calling’ in life but what I do know is that I’ll keep finding ways to make myself useful and find a purpose to each day. Who knows by doing so one day I might just stumble upon my ‘true calling’?

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