Through My Covid-19 Eyes

I think more than anything, I wanted some form of positive vibrations.

I didn’t plan to be a nurse. It is a fact I never shy away from. In fact, my mother had earlier in life written me off in any medical course. I had been an angry, impatient and particularly rebellious little girl.

Mother dear couldn’t wrap her head around my lack of manners. She kept moaning in tired resignation, ” you’ll never be a nurse or a doctor. Because if a patient presents with a headache you’ll inject medicine into their heads.”

Years later I’d discover that she wanted to be a nurse herself so I’m here living her best life. Parents!

This noble profession prepared me for several things in life. It especially taught me to be flexible and accommodating. It is gloriously refreshing when I can swap my shifts with a colleague and get an extra day off. I did exactly that on that fateful Wednesday the 13th of May 2020.

As I stepped from my apartment, the late spring freshness wafted into my nostrils like fresh roses. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath and held it in for a precious few seconds smiling to myself. Gingerly, I made my way across the road and onto a lean concrete pavement that wound itself across the sleeping Dalry Cemetery in Edinburgh city heading off to my workplace.

Instinctively, I stopped near a once white tombstone and gazed towards an imposing Scottish spire. Its gothic stained glassy top shone in a beautiful spectre of a million dazzling rainbow lights behind the burning golden ball of the morning sunrise. In childlike wonderment my eyes glistened as iridiscent rays stretched over this tombstone. Whoever lay here must be a happy soul. He attracts the morning sky.

I shook myself from this unending, stupefying reverie and reminded myself that at this rate, I was going to be late for work. Determinedly, I trudged forward and a sense of foreboding suddenly gripped my heart. Just as fast, it left me. Momentarily, this got me very puzzled. Perhaps it was because everyone else is fighting Covid-19 one way or the other. Perhaps because like many other frontline workers, I am very nervous.

I consoled myself knowing that we didn’t have any Covid-19 positive case at the care home I worked in.

I spent the day with two health care assistants who are wonderful at what they do. For the period I’ve worked in care homes, I have enjoyed the magic of team spirit. Being a team leader during a crisis needs you to believe in your team. To have an outsized sense of possibility whipped together with a diminished capability for pessimism. We had to pull through our 12 hour shift.

But even the best laid plans go haywire, don’t they?

I had a day off on Thursday and Friday, I was meant to go back to work on the weekend. I woke up feeling lethargic on Thursday morning. Through my Covid-19 eyes, this is my zero day.

Day Zero

After the shower, my neck itched. Either I’m suddenly allergic to my shower gel or something is wrong with my towel. I decide the towel is guilty without letting it have its side of the story. I popped it immediately into the dirty linen basket. I would get to it later. I do not know why my throat is so dry. My lips are cracking and the Vaseline lip moisturizer isn’t helping. I think I’m coming down with a sore throat. I can’t stop clearing my throat.

Day One

It is my hair wash day. Oh I love washing my kinky curls. I have a certain unhealthy obsession with washing my hair. I relish the scent of my deep conditioning cream. I savor with orgasmic delight the different fumes of the flowers and oils that make up the natural hair moisturizer. Just that today I can’t smell it. It surely isn’t expired? I check again. Expiry date is sometimes in 2022. That’s odd. I tell myself. I can’t stop clearing my throat either. And is it me or is this place getting hot by the minute?

My appetite is almost non existent. It is now 1307 hours BST (1507hrs EAT). I have not had anything to eat. I make a cheese omelette and it miraculously has no smell. I am at peace with that because I like eggs just not how they smell. However, they are tasteless! Whatever games my body is playing on me they have to stop. My neck continues to itch. I apply some antihistamine cream and make a mental note to pass by Lidl to buy some skin-friendly detergents.

By 1900hours the itch is gone. The constant clearing of my parched throat has been replaced by a deep hacking cough. I feel cold alternating with hotness of body. It is officially a ping pong. Hot cold. Hot. Cold. Cold. Hot. I have this aura of darkness around me.

Day Two

I wake up at 2.30 am covered in buckets of disturbingly drab sweat. I do not sweat easily. My Zumba instructor, before the Covid-19 pandemic, kept pushing me harder than everyone else because he thought I was not giving it my all. I did. I always do. My sweat glands are just too fussy and they play hard to get. You can’t easily excite them. Until tonight.

Perhaps it is because of the dream I’ve just had. In this dream I’m strapped onto a ventilator and I keep trying to ask the attending nurse to let me see my heart’s rhythm on the cardiac monitor. The nurse is busy splitting tubes to use on the next patient. Come on, I silently pray, I need to see that rhythm. I am not very good with cardiology so I want to ask my Critical Care Nurse instructor ( mentor) what in the world that rhythm is. But the nurse is very busy and I wake up.

There are smouldering embers in my throat and someone is intentionally fanning them to life. I suddenly cough again and this time it hurts like broken promises. I go to the kitchen and get some warm water from my mini flask. It soothes the throat albeit temporarily.

I had to change pillows because the one I laid my hot head on was drenched in sweat. I love pillows. My bed has six pillows at any given time. Yes I need to hold something (until someone shows up) as I sleep come beat me. Some girls have boyfriends and husbands or partners. I have pillows.

I am working today. I head to the carehome with heart in my hand. Even the sun seems to have left my skies. It is ominously sulky. I don’t care how much workload I have today. All I know is I’m tired and my legs feel like pins and needles. From the calf muscles to the soles of my feet it feels like some fire ants are having a post lockdown party. I try stretching and running as I go to work but I’m as uninspired as a politician after elections.

The News

Just after washing my hands, on my way to my locker to get changed, the manager summons me to the office. She stands two metres away and tells me one of the residents had turned Covid-19 positive. This is the resident I had been worried about (she had read my documentation and reports and everything a nurse should write in case of concerns) on Wednesday.

Residents refer to the people being cared for in a care home. I am saying this for the sake of Dr.Mary, my close friend who thinks a resident is a doctor undergoing his or her residency program in a hospital. It is a homonym Doc. Tembea dunia Mary, tembea ha ha.

I immediately tell Nurse manager R what I’ve been feeling. She makes the right call and tells me to go back home, self-isolate and phone NHS 24. Now, fellow Kenyans, NHS 24 is a phone service for the national health service of United Kingdom. You get to consult a doctor on phone and you may be advised to go to the hospital or something like that.

The Phonecall

It took about 5minutes for the doctor to get back to me. I explained my symptoms and she dropped the bombshell unapologetically. “All your symptoms are suggestive of Covid-19 infection especially now that you’ve been caring for someone who has turned positive.” She goes ahead to outline things I should do including a test to confirm but I’m not listening. Suddenly I can’t breathe through my nose because it feels congested. She keeps asking if I’m there . I am there. Just not there.

The Test

I didn’t handle it well. I didn’t handle it well at all. It feels like scratching your brain through the nose. It feels like being forced to gag on your tongue. When they trained me how to collect the swab for Covid-19, they didn’t mention it would make me squeamish too.

There is a beautiful aspect nonetheless. We have a Drive thru testing centre. It is for key workers and healthcare professionals exposed to Covid-19 in need of testing. You get swabbed while in the taxi. The Council (government) organises for your transport from your house and back. Therefore swabs are taken whilst in the car.

But Satan had other plans. The taxi never showed up in my case. They only offered half-hearted apologies an hour after I had already undergone the test! I booked my own Uber and was careful to stay masked and come straight to the house after the test.

I keep praying that I didn’t expose the two Uber drivers I used that day. I didn’t even know where the test centre was. I got lost and kept circling it until a kind missus directed me. Story for another day.

Day Three

Self isolation ongoing. I feel very tired. My joints ache including these tiny finger joints. The pins and needles feeling intensify on my legs. I was too tired to exercise. I slept for ages. I struggle to breathe through my nose. It is blocked. My brain automatically wants me to use my mouth. However I know if I do so I may never get better.

I keep saying to myself: the nose is for breathing and the mouth is for talking. This is the mantra that saves me. I repeated it the entire duration of my isolation. I wasn’t having this virus change things.

I know I have Covid-19 even if the results are not yet out. This is no normal flu or cold. I confide in Dr.Mary. She tells me I’m overthinking though I know she is playing safe. On one hand she is my friend and her unwritten job description is to make me feel sweet in this unforgiving world. On the other hand, she is a paediatrician and she knows better. Gotcha Mary make up your mind! Doctor or friend? Haha

I also confide in another friend who’s like a big brother. He prays for me and tells me to stop imagining things. I guess friends generally don’t want to help us in our journeys of overthinking. They just want us to be calm and see the best in everything.

However, these two friends were wrong and I think they knew it. They just didn’t want to confront their fears. After all, they hadn’t met anyone close to them who’s Covid-19 positive. They sure didn’t want pretty lil Cate to be the first one! But I have done them the honors.

Day Four

I still teach Hypertension on Facebook. I pretend all is well. I can’t allow this to stop me from writing. Honestly if there is one thing God gave me as a gift, not only to the world but to myself, is writing. Writing keeps me from going nuts. Writing helps me go nuts safely. Writing saves me from myself. Writing calms down the voices that would otherwise be too loud inside me. Informative writing aimed at sharing knowledge is borderline orgasmic to me.

The Results

That is when the birds sung but I couldn’t hear them.

Aftermath

I didn’t handle it well either. I posted on Facebook right when most of my Kenyan friends were rubbishing the Ministry of Health’s daily briefings. They said and I quote, “I’m yet to see or hear of anyone who’s Covid-19 positive. Kwani where is the government getting all these numbers from?”

I posted that to, one, make people know Covid-19 is not an imagination and two, help myself process it.

I had to pull it down. The curiosity was from outer space. The ignorance in how people handled it too much for me to bear. More than the toll the virus has on everyone, the fear and stigma and generalized doom will be the end of us.

I remember listening to Chris Cuomo (CNN Prime time News Anchor and brother to New York City Governor Andrew Cuomo) when he had the virus.

He had intimated that the virus wants you to sleep and lie down for it to thrive. So he had to move and work out no matter how he felt. He had to do deep breathing exercises no matter the resistance in the airways. I decided to be Chris Cuomo. Just the female version. Without the money and definitely without the experience.

I ChrisCuomod my body. I even managed to do push ups. Two and a half and now I want an Olympic medal. Or a Head of State Commendation or a Medal of Honor, come on folks, get me a medal will you? The fact that the second one is done while I’m half alive doesn’t count. The baseline is that it gets done and I manage the remaining half by collasping on this old grey carpet that needs vacuuming asap. I danced Zumba. I also tried jumping jacks. Youtube became my darling. Thank God for accessible and affordable internet in the UK.

You should have seen me arms raised high above my head, neck straight like an experienced swan; balancing on the balls of my feet as I deeply breathed in and out. In then out. Then cough like the world was coming to an end. Cough some more. Consistency is the key here, so I coughed my lungs out.

I’ve done more series of exercises in my period of isolation than I’d ever done before. This was purposeful. The possibility of deterioration and death were lingering at the back of my mind. More ChrisCuomo to me yay!

I had lengthy talks with the virus. I reminded it that my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit and that it can’t accommodate both light and darkness– my body, not the virus Karen. So I gave it an ultimatum. I told it to push me down for the period I am in isolation because that’s all it had. It responded by giving me more rigors. I shook like a twig in the wind. I was as hot as I was cold.

It sent me a memo in the form of blinding headaches, constipation with zero appetite. It fired off messages in the shape of deeper and more frequent bouts of continuous cough. It sent me to my knees with crushing joint pains. Everything that can hurt hurt.

The virus cackled maniacally and intensified pain in my throat. My nose suddenly had a river of life that never ran dry. My disposable tissues had nothing on it. I wrote ‘more tissues’ as what I needed most when manager R asked me for a shopping list. She brought boxes upon boxes of them. These babies should last me till eternity. Hehehe. The virus was deciding how I lived my life.

I had moments of extreme sadness. I wanted my mother. I also wanted to sleep and be told I’m going to be alright. I hated being alone in a foreign country. I wanted my neighbors. Why am I single? I wondered. I felt ugly. I hated my dry lips. I wanted people to talk to me but I also didn’t want to talk. The mental torment of this monster is beyond description.

I was grateful albeit begrudgingly to be single and live alone. I didn’t think I’d handle the thought of exposing other people. Glad I was to be away from my mum and dad who I’d expose to this virus. Happy my siblings were away from me.

I missed the sun. As if on cue, it dutifully rose every morning before half past five. It peeped through my bedroom window, mocking my sadness. I opened the curtains to allow it in. I badly needed to see the sun, my flaming ball of orange every spring morning. I wanted to gaze at the feathery blue skies. I wanted to see other people.

I used paracetamol 6-8hourly because of the fever and rigors as advised. I also bought a mouthwash which I used to gargle and this greatly eased the pain and discomfort in my throat.

I had to rehydrate too. I downed numberless gallons of lemon,ginger and honey concoction. Being a renal nurse only complicated matters for me. I started a fluid balance chart for myself. Stop laughing…I recorded my input and output. I watched the color of my pee and panicked one morning when it was deeply saturated. The only thing I lacked was a urine measuring jug. Okay, now I am laughing.

Today, I watched the rising sun again. I paused again at the same spot –that tombstone. There was no foreboding.  Just a deep gratitude that the sun has kept shining.

Never before had the morning sun’s kiss felt so life-giving.

Tantalisingly, it curled beneath the rustling birch trees casting shadows so replescendent and gratifying that my heart melted. I almost touched it. The magic after a mirthful winter, the sweet smelling flowers along this path that permeates the air with warmth like that of a hug from a dear friend.

The Call To Nurses

Let your Better dreams fly you to your destiny.

Despite the constant din that drowns it, the human voice is the only sound able to penetrate the layers of any solid to reach its audience. The firm call to a listener constantly pushing , encouraging and sometimes seducing him to open that next door. This video e, even if a whisper, is loudest when it is speaking the truth.

It is that voice that I have always listened to. Amidst the bedlam that characterises modern living, the small still voice has always called out to me. Like an evening breeze wafting the smell of pine trees and romance to my nostrils. Like the stray rest of dawn that pierces through my drab window curtains every Summer morning. Unfazed. Unintimidated.

The sheer audacity to not only dream but wake up and pursue the same with an athlete’s single minded focus. Taking pleasure in the small acts of daily living. Of daily nursing procedures. Winding paths of my career and personal life never once deterred me from the goal labelled BETTER. Elusive sometimes it has been. But it has always felt like BETTER has always waited for me but at the same time hiding from me.

Better nursing standards. Better nursing roles. Better me and a better shot at credible educational opportunities. If you are like me, then the bodacious hum of the human voice is calling unto you and you want better. What better means is very subjective. My better came in the form of Nursing in the United Kingdom.

This article seeks to inform you of my footsteps at every stage. Fall right in and wear my rather ill-fitting shoes. Who knows, maybe to move this mountain, these little stones will count for something someday.

Prepare

United Kingdom is one of the countries globally that has elevated the profile of a nurse. Unashamed of resting responsibilities on the nurse, UK has made virgin discoveries into what a nurse is when all limitations are withdrawn. Not only does she train her nurses, The Kingdom (Queendom maybe? Haha ) has gone ahead to let nurses practice within laid down schemes of service. If sexy was a profession, nursing in the UK is.

The possibilities are ad infinitum. From the clinical setup, to being a first assistant in theatre to aesthetic nursing, you’ll be limited by yourself and not the lack of empowerment. National Health Service (NHS) offers an aromatic buffet of options to sample from. Private hospitals and care homes challenge one to be more than they ever believed they could be.

The prerequisite is meticulous preparation. Deciding your basic motivation and diving deep into the process that becomes your new normal. Even now, I remind myself why I am in the UK. If money is the only motivation, then I should pack my bags and leave for a better economy. I am spoilt for choice anyway.

The pursuit for money is there though. Like haemoglobin, it is attached to every biconcave corpuscle of my red blood cells. How I decided to go about it led me to finally settle my heart in the land of her Majesty the Queen. But we are not talking about my escapades, are we?

Each choice you make carries with it a truckload of pros and cons. Every NO you say to a job offer allows you an opportunity to say a better YES when it happens. As a very loose translation if you’re interested in career progression, go for NHS hospitals. If you want some instant cash,maybe you want to go into the care home and private hospitals setup. Do your research. Ask people who are genuinely interested in informing you and not recruiting you.

For the nurses that hold specialised Higher National Diplomas, decline offers that do not place you in your area of speciality. Rejection is the very essence of acceptance. You must be able to reject. Be willing to be rejected too. Above everything else, what you’re bringing to the table is a wealth of skills and unmatched ocean of knowledge. You are complete and I want you to have the courage to realize it when negotiating for a job offer.

International English language testing system (IELTS)

This is undoubtedly the elephant in the room. It seeks to show that you have no idea what English as a language is. Yes I’m kidding. It tests you in Speaking, Reading, Writing and Listening.

Booking the correct exam is as critical as air is to a plant. Without it it wilts and dies. A sad, lonely plant. An unspoken plant. We will never know if it had babies. Oh poor plant…

Book the UKVI academic IELTS. The only difference between this and the other Academic IELTS is the presence of United Kingdom Visas and Immigration number (UKVI). For some weird reason, to have your visa processed at the Embassy you’ll need a UKVI reference number.

If you have had a previous satisfactory Academic IELTS, you will still need to sit for a general UKVI Ielts to facilitate your visa application and processing. To avoid this double whammy, why not just sit for the UKVI academic IELTS? More information is found on www.nmc.org.uk/registration

Talking of which, use this same website to create an account ( use your email) with which to communicate with the Nursing and Midwifery Council of the UK (NMC).

Competence Based Test Exam (CBT)

This is an online, computer generated exam. It is offered by Pearson Vue at 9 West Building in Westlands. Set at multiple choice questions of 120 in 2 hours, it covers the entire nursing process according to the NMC. The reason is because NMC UK does not have the ‘Diagnosis’ part of the Nursing Process. Think about Assessment, Planning, Implementation and Evaluation.

Please note however that the Nursing setup in United Kingdom differs in that you would need to do a different CBT exam for Midwifery if your target is to work in a Maternity set up.

Tip: Most recruitment agencies will not tell you about this. They will let you think you can work anywhere. As a midwife, ask about the Maternity department and how to get there. They even pay a higher starting salary!

You would need a different CBT if your goal is mental health Nursing. They managed to split the pie of nursing into small pieces which when whipped together, materialize into a giant pizza.

Get That Job

You really will need an agency to help you break down the contracts into small chewable bits. I will not recommend any agency at this point. I suggest you use your search engine to look for ‘Agencies that recruit nurses in UK.’ The choices are as many as the blinking stars in heaven.

Your agency should be able to advise you on where to live, the salary, the expectations and any other hidden clauses in your contract.

Decide where you want to live. England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are what makes up the United Kingdom. Perhaps the most famous destination is London. Mainly because when one hears of UK while in Kenya, we all tend to think of London and nothing else. How mistaken I equally was!

Again, do you want to be a city darling or a rural town specialist? Take your time. Nurses are in high demand in UK and you’ll not regret taking your sweet time to sign a potential contract.

Do not be intimidated into accepting a job offer. The agents are trained to make their offers sound like the dreams you’ve always had. Majority are fantasies, despise them.

Verification of Academic Documents

With the account you registered at NMC, you can now approach the Nursing Council of Kenya (NCK) and ask them to send your papers to NMC, UK. This is done at a fee payable via mobile money wallet at the NCK offices. Once received, verification should take about two weeks. NMC will write to you with what is called a Decision Letter.

Decision Letter

It refers to official communique from the Nursing and Midwifery Council of United Kingdom inviting you to the UK to sit the next part of the registration exam called the Objective structured clinical exam (OSCE). You are even bound to get more serious job offers if you already have a Decision Letter!

I think we have been chained by people who went ahead of us so much that we do not know we can do this by ourselves. We have been shackled to the chains of local agencies which charge us an arm, a leg and a slice of the left kidney to help us get here. So imbued we are in the politics of ‘godfather’ that we forget the power that we possess in our very hands.

It is those cages that have you and I detained and deeply pained that I seek to break. You can do this.

Work Permit

After a job offer, you will get what is termed as a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS). The CoS is a work permit allowing you to live and work in the UK. For the purposes of this blogpost, your work permit is issued under the General Occupation Shortage List. That qualifies you for a Tier 2 Visa. With the CoS, you can apply for Visa.

I reiterate the need for a good agency. The agency should facilitate all your visa fees by your employer. Perhaps this is where I mention that a credible A-rated employer will pay your agency for your sake. Therefore you will not need to pay any fees to the agency. Watch out however for the fine print of your contract.

There must be a clause that binds you to your employer for a period of time. Also check out if you would need to pay some money to your employer if you left them before your contract expires.

Visa Application

You will have all paperwork in order because you’re an amazing nurse by nature. If you are married, please supply your marriage certificate. I insist on veracity. Tell the truth about you. Do not worry about your finances. Your CoS already has it covered. The application for a Visa is carried out by TLS Contact Centre in 9 West Building, Westlands. You will get the visa I have no doubts.

Welcome to The UK

Congratulations on your Visa. The ocean and the sea are calling out for you. Perhaps you want to do a farewell party before this? Maybe tell us hopeless things like Majuu here I come. Ha ha. However if you’re me, just pack your books, your treasured possessions and leave. You can tell I am too good at goodbyes, no? Come on, stop breaking my heart. Insert a smiling emoji here…

Have your itinerary clear to a fault. As I strode down the steps of the baggage bay Aberdeen International Airport; suitcase in hand and a backpack strapped on my tired shoulders, the last thing I wanted was a no show by my agency staffs. It happened.

The Finals

You will have a practical exam as I had intimated earlier in one of my articles. It will be booked by your employer. You will have to be trained for it and finally take it at a centre near you. If your employer is as adventurous as mine was, you might find yourself in Belfast, Northern Ireland taking the exam all the way from your chosen work station.

This is when you will receive your license. It is known as a Personal Identification Number (PIN). You now carry with you expert power to exercise and demonstrate the NMC Code of Conduct.

Having listened to that bold voice that dared me to dream, I haven’t once stopped. I have learnt I can as well be a student too. I can absorb as much nursing education as possible. I can learn the ways of my mentors from Kenya to the UK. I am still learning. I endeavour to raise the profile of the Kenyan nurse and I will not do it by sitting pretty and watching my painted nails dry. I must put in the work. You too.

Basic Levels of UK Healthcare

Real heroes and heroines stopped wearing capes. They wear uninspiring scrubs and dangle stethoscopes from their oversized pockets.

The time is 1430hours. I have been checking the world clock on my screen every minute. Partly because I can’t sleep and partly because I have no headphones. I left mine at home and the airline is not providing any.

The couple next to me are having a beautiful moment together watching whatever it is they are watching. The man is American and the lady is Spanish. I have become a connoisseur at telling accents. Before, all whites were ‘mzungu’ but nowadays I appreciate their different backgrounds.

They look so sweet together and I suddenly miss being in a situationship of some sort. It is a fleeting thought and I banish it as soon as it appears. Because it is liberating to not have to share my bed, yes? Yes I’m joking Karen.

I am aboard KQ Flight 0390 to Heathrow, London. We taxied off at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) at 0930hrs. I have no idea where we are but I see clouds outside my window seat. Fat clouds. Wispy, feathery clouds. Clouds that look like a hybrid of a cat and an eagle. Small clustered clouds. Undecided clouds.

This is the second time I’m leaving Kenya for UK. The difference is that this felt like an actual goodbye. This time, I could taste the colours of my light face powder in the tears that streamed down my flushed cheeks. I still could smell my elder sister’s love on my shoulder when she embraced me that morning inside Paul Caffe Coffee shop at JKIA.

My sister has always looked out for me. She is older by two years or thereabouts but we grew up together. Fraternal twins of some sort. She is the brains where I am the muscle. She strategizes, I execute. She thinks before leaping, I leap then think later. We are complete opposites of each other and maybe that is why we are so intertwined.

Shii (my sister) is not one to show emotions. She cries and laughs in silence. The ultimate prim and proper EnglishLady. I display my emotions. All barrels out. That is until I jeed a recharge where I withdraw into my cocoon of silence. Shii is witty as a housewife’s bucket and takes a backseat wherever I’m involved. Allowing me to rush ahead and knock my head off.

It came as a shocker then when I came from the lavatories at the said coffee shop and found her in tears. That is the first time I saw my elder sister unashamedly break down in my presence.

At first I thought it was her eyes. Her eyes have recently decided to be wee devils and they tear up. It wasn’t. I pushed away my suitcase, crossed over the hard, cold table and sat next to her. I am the queen of public display of affection. She loathes it. Ha ha.

Nestling her dreadlocked head on my left shoulder, she cooed up amidst sobs,” I will miss you.”

I may have heard many warm things in life but those words chewed me up raw. My insides trembled and the pieces came out as hot tears that soaked onto her white and red-striped cardigan. “Me too Toto, me too.”

Father calls all his children Toto. It is a contraction of Mtoto meaning Child in Swahili. We have adopted it as a family.

I would miss her. I do. I always will. But I had to leave Kenya and fast. My Endocrinology appointment awaited and I had a follow up interview with a Trust in the National Health Service(NHS).

This departure was emphatic because I had finally tied all the loose ends in Kenya and I was ready to settle down in Edinburgh, United Kingdom.

Even as I formed shapely images of the clouds that rose invitingly in the skies, I knew I had made a definite decision. That decision involved me missing my elder sister more than anything in this world.

The NHS is a government funded public medical and health service anyone living in the United Kingdom can access. This is without being asked to pay upfront. What they don’t tell you however is that as an immigrant worker, you pay an Initial Health Surcharge (IHS) of about 500 Sterling Pounds for every year you’ll be in the UK. This is at the Visa application stage. Last I checked the current government plans to increase that fee.

It baffled me the first time I came here. My appointment with the endocrinologist had been occasioned by a referral from my general practitioner.

Health systems in UK are tiered up into different levels. At the most primary one is the community. That is equivalent of community health nursing in Kenya. It however is very formal and organised unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed.

In hot pursuit are the health centres. Only that they are not called health centres. They are know as General Practitioner’s (GP) medical practice or GP surgery. Why someone in Britain thought it is cute to call a health centre a ‘surgery,’ I will never comprehend. Just like I’ll never understand people who don’t eat avocados. What is your problem guys?

The interesting thing about health centres, is that they have a GP (a medical doctor) in charge as opposed to the health centres I was used to back home. There are imaging services and specialist services like physiotherapy and podiatry. Some clinics are run entirely by Nurse Practitioners.

This is the first place I interacted with a Nurse Practitioner. I always heard of them but I never knew it was a real thing. Stella Donohor (name changed) was her name. She was a Reproductive health nurse practitioner. When I booked an appointment, the medical receptionist sweetly informed me that Nurse Donohor would be the one to see me.

Raised up in a culture where a nurse isn’t really appreciated or viewed as someone who knows her or his trade, I was mesmerized. Coming from a tribe that sees nurses get short changed at the table of opportunities, I was impressed.

She let me call her Stella and because I accused her speculum of being too tight in my lady parts as she did my Pap smear,I tricked her into answering some of my burning questions. Ha ha. Yes I know how to strike up conversations in the middle of uncomfortable procedures.

A nurse practitioner, she told me, had to have a Bachelor’s of Science degree in whatever field of nursing she chose. She also had to undergo a Prescribing Course. I will revisit this topic some day in the near future.

The doctor handles all other cases. Doctors are few (so are nurses) hence the nurse practitioners help the entire citizenry by handling some cases and referring the rest appropriately. The teamwork between the Nurse practitioners and the doctors is to die for.

My GP had handled my other cases and referred me to the endocrinologist. I remember chatting with a nurse friend back home who told me it cost her an arm, a leg and a slice of her liver to afford the services of this highly trained specialist of glands and hormones of the body.

Therefore when I waltzed to The Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh hospital to see my specialist, I was sceptical if I was to cough up some Queen’s pounds. I did not.

As you’ve noted, we have graduated to the hospital. Hospitals are grouped into private and public ones. Private hospitals are not popular in the UK. They are mushrooming like bushfires because the NHS is overwhelmed but still, they are playing catch up. Worthy to mention is a branch of NHS that is the social care. This is where Care homes and home based care fall. They are either privately or run by the government. Majority are privately owned but regulated by the differed Health Care Inspectors of the government.

The inspection and regulation is a serious business and I’m full of praises for the way the UK as a whole has decided to take care of her geriatric population. That and the terminally ill.

NHS hospitals are then clustered into groups depending on the locality they are in. These many hospitals form a TRUST. Why the name Trust you ask me? I’m asking the same thank you very much. Perhaps the most famous one being St. Guy’s and Thomas Trust in London. One of its hospitals, St.Thomas, is where the good Prime Minister Boris Johnson got admitted with and recovered from Covid-19.

My hospital, The Royal as it is colloquially known falls under NHS Lothian Trust. The different Trusts across the UK run under different managements but all subscribe to the guidelines of the UK government. We could classify all these further based on the four countries that make up the UK. I feel doing so would be belaboring the point and akin to a broken record.

After a chat with Dr. Graham the Endocrinologist, I left for home feeling much better. I wished my sister was here. To hear what the good doctor had to say about me and to also accompany me home. She wasn’t. It was just me and my hopes and dreams strapped in a light backpack.

I did follow up with my interview and got the job I desperately needed. It keeps opening my vistas of healthcare in this country. I get to fall in love with a government funded, public owned healthcare without a cheap private option. Ranked as one of the top ten healthcare system by World Health Organisation, the NHS offers so much for a greenhorn like myself.

Chronic diseases are managed at the health centres only being sent to the hospital if and when acute. Community health is the heartthrob of United Kingdom’s healthcare. Without it, all patients end up in the hospital and cripple it. I have had a beautiful opportunity to be part of a community dialysis team. Accompanying renal nurses to deliver services in patients’ houses. This couldn’t get better.

Any emergency warrants a visit to the hospital while a minor concern sees you at the health centre. I can’t bring myself to say ‘surgery,’ sorry Your Majesty. Emergency services work. They are not a suggestion. The ambulance, fire, police departments are not flimsy afterthoughts. They are stark naked realities and I am mesmerized as a nurse.

When I asked Google to show me hospitals in the UK, he didn’t tell me about the mystery of Trusts. Now that it makes sense, it is prudent to think about the area you want to settle in then look for Trusts near that locality. Afterwards you can apply for a job in any of the hospitals mentioned. I think this is where you raise a glass to that.

Nursed Differently

Nursing is not about pills and potions, charting and call bells. It is about being able to love people when they least expect it, when they most need it, at their lowest.

Pain is a great motivator. Towards making great decisions or dumb ones, or both. Therefore, when I willingly chose to leave the Renal Unit, it came as no surprise.

Huntly is a rural town in the middle of Aberdeenshire County in the City of Aberdeen, Scotland. There is United Kingdom weather and then there is Scotland. Scotland’s weather is so beautiful that it breaks my heart again and again. That is actually a joke.

It is wet in Summer and wet in Winter. Wet in Spring and it badly wants to be wet in Autumn. Even the sun here rains; too intimidated to shine.

I arrived in Huntly in late summer and I was fascinated by the long daylight hours. Sunset at 9pm was marvelously beautiful. My web of intrigues was to be woven further by the system I found myself in at work.

Having left a specialised unit, it was difficult to adjust to a carehome. This is a home for the elderly. United Kingdom gives a damn about her elderly citizens. The closest I had been to this was Bethany House in Sagana, Kenya. This was several decades ago when I was still young, fresh and juicy.

I was wowed. Several tens of residents all comfortable in what I’d call a retirement home. If this was explained to me at the interview stage, I conveniently forgot about it. All I remembered was someone saying nurses get paid more in a carehome as opposed to a hospital and money was a motivation. A jolly good one.

I settled gingerly. It is not easy being black in a sea of white. It is a tiny drop in an ocean which is constantly in motion. To many colleagues, I was the first black nurse they had ever seen. Worse, the first ever Overseas Nurse to ever be sent to their rustic carehome. To some of them (read most) , Africa is a tiny village and we all live in even tinier huts and we sing with monkeys and lions.

We also wear silky loin cloths and speak Zulu and Xhosa. Well, The gods Must Be Crazy is a famous film and it looks like that is all these my colleagues knew. Talk of excellent acting. However the ignorance tasted like fermented bitterness.

I marveled at the disproportion between technological advancements and the level of ignorance about the rest of the world. Fast and furiously came the questions. Did I train as a nurse in Africa? I kept correcting them to say Kenya, not Africa. It was futile. Did we have hospitals in Africa? Did we wear clothes in Africa? How did I speak such good English? How long have I spoken English?

Then came the nursing team. Am I really a registered Nurse? Do they have hospitals in Africa? ( Side note: Do we? Do we have hospitals when our leaders keep running them down and rush to London or India for treatment, do we?)

Would I know what I’m doing at the OSCE exam? And the cherry on the cake, am I REALLY a nurse? It was too hilarious as to be dumb.

I worked under the registered nurses but mostly as a health care assistant. That was before I passed my OSCE exam and joined the register of UKRNs. I shadowed nurses as they did hand over reports and shadowed carers as they helped residents with various activities of daily living.

It was a normal Tuesday morning when I listened to Tracy the night nurse complain about a resident’s urinary catheter that kept falling out. Tracy was as white as snow. True story. She spoke through her chiseled long nose. She gestured a lot too with her perfectly manicured hands. Her short cropped silky hair had a fringe which she kept pushing away from her face. A modern day Snow White–with a nursing uniform.

While she described the catheter problem, I counted the number of tattoos on her arms. There was a baby elephant that was blowing bubbles on her left wrist, those bubbles were being eaten by a tiny dragon that was three centimetres or so below her elbow. I was just getting to a match of an eagle and a lion tattoo when Juan, my mentor interrupted my fascination.

“Catherine I want you to observe as Amber inserts the catheter then you can join the carers in serving breakfast, ” she sweetly chimed.

Amber happened to be the most qualified nurse of the day. After gaining consent from Betty, the resident, Juan, another nurse whose name I can’t recall, Amber and I went into the resident’s bedroom.

Betty was a big girl. At 68 years she oozed folds of confidence and chunks of hope. She had divorced exercise many years before her car crash which injured the lower segment of her spinal cord. She was doubly incontinent. Betty adored her snacks and even as Amber explained the procedure, Betty munched on a delicious-looking piece of Maltese chocolate bar.

She gave me one look and winked. Oh sweet soul! Trying to make me feel at home. I immediately took a liking to her. Amber confidently aimed the tip of the catheter into Betty’s private parts. I looked on as Juan and the other nurse kept me company.

That is when it struck me that Amber was not inserting the urinary catheter into the urethra. Juan and her pal were dutifully observing and encouraging her as I stood there flabbergasted. My mouth took over my mind.

“Nurse Amber please remove that catheter and insert a new one. Here,” I said as I suddenly took a new silicone catheter from the lower shelf of her working trolley and opened it for her. ” I will use my phone’s flashlight to give you more lighting. That is not the urethra. “

Uh-oh. I forgot the rules of engagement. I was to watch not talk. I was to be seen and not heard. All I wanted was the catheter in the urinary bladder. We weren’t going to achieve that if we inserted the catheter into the vagina. No wonder the nursing team was complaining about the catheter falling out. It definitely would fall out if what we were targeting was an opening bigger than a female urethra.

Amber silently allowed me to use my light to help her maneuver through Betty’s folds to locate the urethra. The female urethra is one canal that confuses many a healthcare workers if not the public themselves.

Located just below the clitoral fold and atop the vaginal orifice, it is easy to miss. Many may be forgiven to think urine is expelled through the birth canal. It is not. It is expelled through the urethra. It is what leads up to the urinary bladder,where urine is stored.

A urinary catheter is a tube used to access the urinary bladder so as to remove urine. Many reasons make the use of a catheter vital. Betty had had an injury which had severed the nerves that tell the bladder to release urine. The nerves that tell the brain that it is time to pee.

After leaving that room and washing hands, the atmosphere was ripe with palpable tension. Like slimy okra the team was unsure what to do with me. To love or hate? They decided to make independent decisions to be indifferent. How exhausting.

Betty was so appreciative and she would later joke with me about me being the first black nurse she was seeing. She however was to ask me if I trained in Africa as a nurse. If Africa had catheters. Ah, here we go again…

Juan my mentor didn’t chide me for talking during the procedure and she did not acknowledge my helping save the day. It was like nothing had happened. However, the nursing team gave me a wide berth. The hours I would shadow a nurse were greatly reduced. I was also not allowed to attend the handing over reports until I qualified as a UKRN. Amber also stopped talking to me.

It would later therefore come as no shock when I was on shift with her when a resident called me a few racist terms and Amber was silent about it. It happened twice. And twice in her presence, she didn’t intervene.

That was the straw that broke the camel’s back and I was the camel. I wrote to the powers that be and gave an ultimatum that if I wasn’t transferred from that carehome, either of the following two things would happen. A) I would lose my mind or B) I would book my next flight to Nairobi. Where skyscrapers and cars do exist,to everyone’s surprise.

Nursing in a carehome is different because it demands autonomy. The hospital will always have a team of fellow nurses but more often than not, carehomes are run by a single nurse on each unit. Every decision is made by that nurse and therefore accountability starts and stops with the nurse.

That experience horned my leadership skills and increased my problem solving capabilities. Geriatric Nursing is a broad area and I was able to integrate my theory into practice.

I consider myself very lucky to have begun in a carehome and as a care assistant. It helped me learn different things I only saw in textbooks. For instance mobility assistive devices. Take a Zimmer Frame for example, I had never used one or seen a patient use one. I know they are there in Kenya but for the chosen few. Money talks, doesn’t it?

I learnt the basics of moving and handling residents and patients. I appreciated how utterly incapacitating old age, frailty and dementia are.

I remember calling my best friend and sharing how one day I’d run a carehome in Kenya. That our elderly parents and grandparents have been left to fend for themselves in the rural areas while we could do with a formal system of care for their needs.

There is a desperate need for such as well as home based nursing care services in Kenya. The gap between hospital admissions and rehabilitation in the community for the elderly and terminally ill is valley-wide. A dry expanse of nothingness. It smells of loneliness, memories and anxiety for our grandparents and the terminally ill.

Perhaps this pool of silence on how we take care of our elderly needs to be poked. Maybe then it will cough into life.

One Exam in Belfast

Bangor is a coastal town in the Southern side of Belfast City, Northern Ireland. My hotel room overlooked the sandy Marina Beach. If it wasn’t the silly seagulls calling out, it was the whispering breeze from the salty waters.

Belfast is the capital city of Northern Ireland, one of the Four countries that make up the United Kingdom. She houses the Titanic Museum and the now all too famous setting for the Game of Thrones.

Bangor is half an hour from the Capital and less that via train from the George Best Airport in Belfast.

Funny how one Country can be split and give birth to two. Sudan, you weren’t the first one. Ireland did it for us ages ago. We now have Ireland the Republic which is different from Northern Ireland. Welcome to Europe.

I was here for the sole purpose of training for Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE). This is the final exam towards Registration as a Nurse in the United Kingdom. My employer, for some humorous reason, found it fulfilling to have me transverse the Irish and Northern seas in search of knowledge and skills at handling this exam.

There are numerous testing centres in the entire UK but my employer had booked our test at Ulster University in Londonderry. Londonderry is where you visit the Game of Thrones sites and moments. You are welcome.

I owe it to them for allowing me to tour a slice of beauty from the heavenly pie that is Belfast and particularly Bangor. Coupled with sights at the vintage museum, my mind was pacified and ready to handle my reality.

Visiting the beach was one thing but practising for the exam was another. I have always been horrible at practical Nursing exams. Not horrible in the sense that I don’t pass ; horrible in the sense that I can’t think when I have someone hovering over my shoulders.

I feel imbued with disparaging anxiety and my examiner can touch my disorganized thought bubbles; hold them in his defty hands and drop them like the hot mess they become. What made OSCE even less attractive to me is the fact that one is required to talk through their actions. There is audiovisual recording of every step and somehow time runs out before you can say OSCE.

In retrospect, this employer knew what lay ahead and decided to entice me with beautiful scenaries and free flights to and from Huntly in Aberdeen City, Scotland.

Talking of which, Huntly is the Turkana of Scotland. Why they sent me there is still a mystery to me. Why I accepted remains a parable of Biblical proportions.

I without a doubt believe that pain obscures one’s judgement. It also leads to sinister decisions. My settling for that tiny town in the middle of civilisation’s desert was a quintessential example. Let us go back to the exam.

Nursing process encompasses four or five steps depending on who you’re asking. If you ask the United Kingdom’s Nursing and Midwifery Council, they tell you four steps are enough. These include Assessment, Planning, Interventions and Evaluation. Do not ask me where Diagnosing went because I was as perplexed as you are.

OSCE therefore, seeks to determine your ability as a registered nurse to safely practice within these steps.

Each step is acted out either by real patients (patient actors) or by mannequins. Fair enough, right? Wrong!

You’re required to speak. Suppose you’re washing hands, naturally you just do it and dont bother explaining the steps. Even in my basic Nursing exams in Kenya, not once did I have to talk through the entire process of handwashing. I had only been required to say I’m washing my hands.

OSCE expects you to say something akin to the following:

“I have opened the tap now I’m checking to see if the water is at the right temperature for my hands as I wet my hands. Now I’m putting soap onto my hands to cover enough surface. I am now rubbing palm to palm,now back of each hand with fingers interlaced. Now washing in between the fingers with fingers interlaced, washing my thumb and web of each hand,knuckles of each hand. I am now rubbing my fingers onto the palms of each hand, washing my wrists. I am rinsing my hands then drying with disposable tissues. Now I’m closing the tap with my elbows. “

All these is said as you do it and also as the clock ticks and tocks down from either 15 or 8 minutes depending on the particular situation presented to you.

That is not all, there must be Skillset stations where the examiners and their camcorders watch you save life or quash it. To practice as a nurse we must ensure you’re a safe nurse. Safety is only measured in practice not on paper.

From Basic Life Support to Aseptic-Non- Touch-Techniques, one must demonstrate ability to deliver quality care and do so efficiently. That informs the timing of these actions. You must be nimble in thought and fingers.

Practice therefore, is paramount. Many nurses I’ve talked to cite the English exam as the hardest part of the entire process. For me, it was certainly the OSCE.

I excelled in it much to my own amazement. Perhaps the promise by my employer that they’d transfer me to the city if I passed on first attempt added to my zeal.

There are unfathomable pressures that come with training for an exam in a far flung place. They didn’t matter though because I met lovely souls from every corner of the world. I made friends from the Philippines, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Israel and my country of the day– Grenada.

I didn’t know Grenada was a country. Heck, vicarious travel makes one think they know squat about the world they live in while they don’t. We shared different values but our love for nursing was universal. That plus Filipinos are excellent cooks. Yes I had to write it here somewhere. Food and I are in a stable relationship. Ha ha.

Their scrumptious chicken curry and chicken SomethingSomethingElse is to die for. I ate unreservedly. It allowed me a great chance to learn about the difference between Nursing education in the Philippines and in Kenya.

Being a sucker for Education, it marveled me that the Philippines abolished any other level of Nursing education less than a Bachelor’s degree. That to me is classical of a people interested in career development.

It explains the seamless transition of Filipino nurses into Western and Eastern healthcare systems. They have the papers to prove their qualifications. I nostalgically wished Kenya would one day get there. Where students upon graduating high school confidently approach University for a Bachelor’s degree in nursing.

The presence of Diplomas and Certificates in Nursing waters down the very profession we keep trying to herald forward. We will get there someday.

As the train galloped to George Best Airport in Belfast, I soaked in the earth-red houses adorning the shoreline of the city.

What a contrast to the humourless grey houses of Aberdeen! Aberdeen is famous for oil and granite. Granite therefore is the very mineral that coats the building bricks. In summer it sparkles in the sun. However, if you’re not looking, and I wasn’t, it is all backwater. Nothing ever happens there and it happens all the time.

For the purposes of information, there was a total of three examinations before I could finally call myself a UKRN. It started with the English Exam, a Competence Based Exam and finally the OSCE.

The first two are done in Kenya. They are easily available and unnecessarily expensive by my metrics. Lately, the Nursing And Midwifery Council subsidized the cost of the Competence based exam. It is cheaper today than it was when I did it.

YouTube offers great tutorials on the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Exam. I prefer that to lecturers who will more often than not take your money and not deliver. Have confidence in yourself.

The difference between the English exam and OSCE is that the former seeks to prove that you don’t know a thing while the latter seeks to demonstrate that you know more than you give yourself credit for.

As I pulled the covers over my tired body in that shared apartment in Huntly, I envisioned myself passing the OSCE. The feeling of listlessness warmed my duvet and allowed me to have a fitful sleep. I needed to get out of that living death.

In Search Of A god called Peace

Not all who wander are lost. ~Lord of the Rings

I spat out the second bite of my lunch. It was potatoes and rice. Again. I keep telling mother that I hate this mishmash of ineptitude and discouragement. She doesn’t care. We come from Central Kenya and a meal without potatoes is a crown-less princess; she is just any other girl. Mum had packed this for me as I headed out for work in the Ward as a registered nurse.

I gave up on this meal and attended to one dialysis machine which had decided to burst my eardrums. I disliked the blaring alarms. The water plant had run out of water — third time this week. Julieta,my colleague and a damn great nurse, hurried out to refill the water tanks.

The other nurse was helping me circulate the blood manually by turning the machine pump to prevent blood from clotting.

We should not have been going through that but this is Kenya and here we do with what we have. We got tired of complaining.

After this ordeal bland as my lunch, the Nursing manager sent me a text that my transfer request had been accepted. I was finally going to Garissa County!

I had pushed this request to the recesses of my mind just like I had many other alternative versions of my reality. This was a wake up call. I had wanted to transfer to Garissa county but now I had a choice not to. A choice beyond Garissa. Beyond Kenya.

See, I had always wanted to leave my country. For better terms and conditions of employment. For betterment of my career and to see what else a nurse can be apart from a clinical nurse.

I knew I am an old school wannabe writer trapped in the body of a modern day Renal nurse. I have been very curious as to what opportunities the world has to offer a nurse who holds a pen. Kenya, understandably, limited that into clinical work and teaching if not research and marketing. I have no idea how the seed of a mysterious MORE was planted in my head but I sure watered it.

Going to the famously loved Nurse destination–United States of America. was out of the question. The process would take at least an year to immigrate. I had many things with me but time was not one of them. I needed out. My world was collapsing and the walls that held it were belly up.

The kitchen of my personal life was melting and I needed some ice on my tongue. I just wanted to go. To. Go. Anywhere. The god of peace, I needed him. If he couldn’t come to me, then I would go to him.

United Kingdom was floated to me by a former colleague. The problem was that I didn’t know what to do about UK. How did nurses immigrate to the UK?

I had a week earlier received a Skype interview invitation with a potential employer in the UK. I knew I’d ace it. My former colleague had said it was easy peasy.

I therefore wrote to the County Secretary to suspend my transfer to Garissa County. I would stay. I would stay long enough to eat my lustre less lunches and refill the water tanks in the water treatment plant.

A few days after my 28th birthday, I bade farewell to Kenya. This was done in complete secrecy. Only a handful of people were made aware. It felt like I was leaving for some vacation. Like I would be back soon.

Being conspicuous on social media, I continued a charade of someone who was still in the country but having some time off work. It worked. I never made it to the Broadway so social media can as well be my God-given stage!

There is nothing as testing as being alone in a new country and a different continent. Now I know. Now, I surely know. I however had too much pain back home that a change of scenery was welcome.

Offered a choice between drinking my own blood and going home to the embers of a dying personal life, I’d gladly have slit my wrists open.

Starting out where nobody knew me or my story was a plus. Because time is the great equalizer, the reality of the mistakes I made in accepting the job offer I received started showing.

The half-hearted explanations and witty exploitations from coworkers started manifesting themselves. It did not help that I was yet to get my Personal Identification Number (PIN/LICENSE) as a UK nurse. It was exasperating.

The United Kingdom became icy for me. But if I went back to Kenya it would be icy inside for the rest of my life.

As the days bled into nights,I spent some on the floor of my shared apartment crying and rocking myself to sleep. I longed for mum and her craftly uninspired packed lunches. I needed someone to talk to and I was in terrible shape. Home sickness they called it. It was more.

It was the feeling of worthlessness. The fangs of hopelessness dug into my flesh and ate away at my very core. It took me a minimum of three months to fully settle my mind and get my bearing . It took an even longer period of time for me to know my space as a nurse and fully exercise the authority enshrined in the Nursing Code of Conduct.

I used what I’ll call backwards strategizing. I was so encapsulated in my own misery that I failed to research well about Nursing in UK while I was still in Kenya. Emotionally fraught with all the things happening in my life then.

There are gaps that I did not identify and fill. There are potholes as sharp as any double-edged sword in the scanty information regarding migrating to the United Kingdom as a Kenyan Nurse.

It has been long but I love this country of the Queen. I have hopelessly fallen in love with Nursing here. I love the autonomy. I love everything that a nurse symbolizes here. I have had to learn and unlearn a few things but all in a day’s work!

My lessons I’ll share and more. We will laugh and discuss different aspects of this journey going forward. Every Wednesday will see a snippet of this process surface on this blog.

About my god of peace, he had always been in a cage in my heart and I finally broke the lock and set him free. I’m bathed in his iridescent golden rays of serenity.

SITE FORMATTED

Even when you are not nursing, you are nursing.

Folks,

Thank you for walking with me when I’ve been stumbling over my words. I have had a beautiful run. Bumpy yes but indeed magnificent.

I have chosen to refocus and fine tune my blog towards health issues and medico-nursing matters. Time is ripe for me to give back to the medical and specifically nursing world as a Kenya and United Kingdom registered nurse.

I have shelved my personal anecdotes for future references. I believe time will come too for me to take a deep dive into that. This is a transition for me where I need to focus on one issue and commit to it. I couldn’t be happier that I’m finding my voice as a scribe.

Thank you for always being here and reading what I have to write. I promise to be annoying as always. Every Wednesday will see a new blogpost. Some will be equal to chewing my own teeth but at least we will have some words every week to keep us going.

I will take a journey from Kenya to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and eventually we shall compare and contrast or simply laugh at the experiences of nursing. We shall together laugh and learn from different diseases. I will try my best to break down the sombre medical language into lay terms for all to understand.

I must reiterate that my target audience is not medics or aspiring medics primarily. My target audience is people like my mother who have never seen the inside of a college, my neighbor who still believes washing hands is a waste of time and finally, my renal patients who have to live with a disease they barely comprehend.

The caregivers who have to take care of patients without knowing what to do or not do. Students graduating high school and not knowing any other thing apart from they want to be medics. Student nurses choked by the system such that they feel all they will be is a clinical nurse. My audience, friends, is as diverse as it is wide.

In a world where everyone is trying to be technical and appear more educated than the next Jack or Jill, I want to be simple. I hope to be (wink).

Welcome to my renovated site.