#360Hours: The Last Moments of Reality.

Dearest Reader,

When I woke up this morning, I thought about how I envisioned my day turning out and knew I had to find some time between packing, washing and driving to write a post. Like anything I’ve recently undertaken and set my mind to, I had the intention of this post being your average ‘standard’ .

This thought lasted until I discovered I didn’t and still do not know anything about what your standard and average post is, in the online world of blogging.

So where do I find myself on this glorious morning?

My destination of choice is the dining room table, however it is unlike my normal area. An area that is highly decorated by bits and bobs, loose sheets of paper containing scribbles, jotted down notes for assignments and the highlighting instruments used to devour hundreds of pages. Instead, I find myself surrounded by the animosity of a complicated one sided relationships, the thought of what reality (or what appears to be reality) is really like whilst trying to grasp the concept of the last 24 hours.

The need for trying to grasp an understand of what had occurred within the last 24 hours, stemmed back to the moment I opened my eyes and looked out the window.

Looking past the fluttering purple silk curtains that were moving slightly in the morning breeze or from the after effect of the ceiling fan whirring; what lay beyond the wooden backyard fence was the glowing colours of pink, orange, red and purple that swirled and danced in the morning sunrise.

As I raised my torso from the nestled warmth of blankets and leant against the head board and pillows, I watched in silence after having switched off my morning alarm, the sky brightening and new day essentially begin. In that moment of breathing in the fresh air and slowly releasing it on an exhale, I knew it was time for me to start getting ready for my placement shift as a nursing student.

While reaching for my navy blue QUT nursing shirt, I thought about the last four weeks and how far I had come.

I thought about how I used to grab my meticulously folded nursing uniform from my messenger bag that was given to me as a Christmas gift from The Fairy Godmother and how I used to stand in front of a floor to ceiling high cubicles that contained scrubs of various sizes. This thought brought around how I used to squirrel away in a toilet cubicle to change into my scrubs and student uniform under the context of going to the toilet as I wasn’t comfortable putting my half dressed body on display for women of all ages to critique, criticise and form thoughts and opinions.

It would be only when I discovered one morning after walking into the change room that contained the nursing technicians of the peri-op world, no one actually gave a sh*t what you looked like and what underwear you wore.

As I laced up my standard black nursing laces on my equally black and boring leather no-nonsense shoes, I observed the way these women seemed to dance around one another as they got ready (both physically and mentally) for their upcoming shift and in return, learnt a valuable lesson about trusting your peers and developing a sense of confidence within yourself. Guaranteed by the end of that shift, I was stripping down to my white bra and black thong in the women’s change room without a care in the world.

For I felt comfortable with my body as I didn’t hold the fear nor care about being judged out loud for not having larger breasts, smaller waist and bottom. Or listening to the whisperings of comments being made about my stretch marks and cellulite because I happened to look around and notice that most women had stretch marks, cellulite and the dreaded ‘Mum tummies’ that occur when a woman carries, nourishes and supports a baby/babies and provides a protective environment.

In return, I learnt that although my body isn’t defined as being ‘heroin chic’, ’48DD, size 2, shaven’ or doesn’t display the physical road map of eating disorders and the self drive to recovery, I was quite okay with the body I had essentially developed after learning to live with said eating disorders.

After smoothing down my navy shirt before staring at the white embroidery above my left breast, I began the routine task of lathering my hands in a creamy, pale white moisturiser. That no doubt in an hour would be long gone after performing countless hand hygiene moments and scrubbing in to watch a medical procedure be done by my performing surgeon/s.

With the lingering trace of Olay cream rubbed in and the last sigh was sighed, I glanced back out the window and over the fence and thought about how quickly the past few weeks and years had flown by. Just like that, I felt as if I’d been transported back through time and like a fly on the wall, I watched as a younger me made the scary and yet, thrilling announcement to our parents, Lois and Red.

The announcement that would see my parents sit back in their chair after being told countless times that I would not be following the footsteps of my cousin and that I had made the decision to register for college. As a result of this decision, I was going to study a Bachelor of Public Relations or a Bachelor of Nursing.

Whichever degree gave me the first preference, I would be walking down the pathway to becoming educated and specialised in that industry of choice. Like the rabbit from Alice and Wonderland had suddenly turned the handles of time, I re-watched and  re-experienced the moment an anxious and nervous twenty something year old me jiggled our right leg under a brown, beaten up table as we waited with baited breath.

The same baited breath that would see me lurch from my chair, only for it to come crashing down on my pale cream carpet before sprinting down the hallway and throwing open my parent’s bedroom door. It was in the moment of flicking on the lights and staring at my parent’s sleepy faces that I made the biggest announcement of my life.

I knew as I made this announcement that I was not only going to make something of myself because I would eventually leave Redneck County without a backward, lingering look but I was going to become that educated woman, I had always dreamt of being. I was going to become a Registered Nurse who specialised in Cardiothoracic or Paediatrics.

As to the lessons that were located in a textbook and a lecture hall at 8 o’clock in the morning that featured a relatively nice looking gentleman, grandma porn and my obsession with wanting to write about sex, they were just some of the lessons I would undertake somewhat unwillingly. The lessons on having to re-sit and revisit two subjects because I had failed by a few percentage points after losing the eternal drive of wishing to be educated and successful soon paved way to other important factors within my private life.

I learnt by being a social butterfly who thrives on a positive environment, that it is important and an essential for me to have down time with girlfriends, a few bottles of vodka and Max Brenner. Outside of my blue nursing shirt with white embroidery and textbooks that showed the larger version of a micro penis, I discovered how to conquer my own world, weight gain/loss whilst developing an outlook view on what it is exactly that women want.

In my case: a 6’3 giant with a brown beard between my legs, who wears a batman suit for work.

As I pulled myself back from the edge of wanting to start a debate on why Christian should not have played Batman and why I preferred Heath’s Joker performance; I discovered as I sipped the remaining trace of brewed coffee that I had essentially lived four years as a nursing student and had learnt many valuable lessons over these incredible years.

My sheer amount of knowledge, strength and less time to have a mental breakdown would see me weave, spin and pull shit from my own arse, brain and Lois’ capacity to understand medical talk (Thank you Lois!) for my final assignment. It would see me spend a week prior to starting placement, researching and gathering information on my patient’s case from the beginning, just so I could pass this assignment.

The drive and emotional power would see me get up at three o’clock in the dark hours of the early mornings whilst on placement and I would sit at a desk, writing and rewriting my assignment and case study from scratch. It would be only on Friday morning, the day my final assignment was due, that I managed to find that last bit of strength and knowledge that would see me try to finish my assignment and send in something that I considered not to be ‘Scarlett finished’.

In return, I was bitterly disappointed in myself for it was the only assignment in four years of becoming an educated woman that I had not completed. That evening when I lay in bed with the blankets pulled up to rest before my chin, I sent up a prayer to God and after apologising for not being in touch with him, I asked that he grant me a pass for this assignment.

As if He were listening to my prayer, after three weeks of uncertainty and fear, I received my grades. Having refreshed my college page countless times while holding my breath, my score appeared in black writing and I collapsed against the couch. Sending up a prayer to God, thanking him for everything he has done for me over the last four years and for many years to come, I opened my eyes and stared at the score that had allowed me to pass my final nursing subject.

However during this time of writing, researching and editing my assignment while spending countless hours in an operating theatre, I was often found perched at the dining room table or on the lounge in my Aunt and Uncle’s house, reading my exam notes.  Although I was physically and spiritually drained after having just written a 2500 uncompleted assignment and cramming  6 weeks of research into 3 hours with Lois’ help; I wasn’t given time to simply come home, kick my shoes off and Netflix and chill every afternoon.

Instead what greeted me at the door was a white, fluffy cat known as Dan, the welcome greetings from my niece, nephew and Aunt and the thought of spending five hours with my head embedded in exam notes. As the final moments of reality seemed to be ticking away on the assumption I couldn’t forget, I found myself walking into my final exam last Thursday with a spring in my step, a sense of worth and purpose and the lingering effects of my melatonin in my system.

With four years of extreme studying, increased caffeine and calorie consumption and more miles walked in a hospital setting alongside meeting many people, I let out a sigh that I had been holding onto as I dropped my pencil after answering the 75th and final exam question on my paper.

I guess with four years of study and self discovery, a hundred pairs of scrub caps and crime scene botties, 860 hours of nursing placement undertaken, the vast and so many countless opportunities to interact with a diverse multicultural and multidisciplinary teams and patients and learning how to get dressed into scrubs in under 3 minutes, these are just some of the many lasting moments I have of being a nursing student.

The drive, desire and guilt of wanting to become a better and different Scarlett, who didn’t need a man to tell her what she can/can’t do and be given the ultimatum of ‘me or college’ has lead to a rather interesting five years in the making. These last few years have seen me grow friendships that shall last a lifetime and lose some in return, move in and out of home and discover what it was like living with two messy people and how bad my OCD can get when I am not happy.

My final moments have shown you, Dearest Reader, the ins and outs of my mental health conditions, desirability to simply walk away because it is appearing to be too hard and I don’t think I can cope any longer and openly admitting that I am human and not some cool, calm and collected cucumber who knows everything. I have openly discussed my Dyslexia, the strength it takes to get out of bed each morning while knowing that I am going to find it just that little bit harder to grasp the concept that is being spoken or discussed.

In return, I have been given countless opportunities to discover what life is really like outside of a small rural and remote country town located in Queensland, Australia and the lengths it would take to remove yourself from a relationship and learn to re-walk on your own. These four years have seen me cross off places of interest, board trains, cars, bikes and planes for various activities and the prospect of being given a graduate nurse placement for 2017.

Only to deal with the heart attack of being told that I was unsuccessful, that I was sometimes too emotionally involved with patients and I needed to discover ways on how to ‘stop being me to a certain degree’ and start thinking and formulating a plan of action for my life as a Registered Nurse.

As I walked out of that hospital for the very last time as a student nurse after watching a surgical procedure being done and helping a surgeon, I felt a sense in pride while wearing my QUT School of Nursing navy shirt, black skirt and no-nonsense black shoes.

It wasn’t my nursing uniform or the fact I had crossed my two preferences of interest off and that being cardiothoracic and peri-op that held my sense of pride. Rather, my pride stemmed from the knowledge that when I felt like things were incredibly rough and tough, I somehow found the strength to pick myself up off the floor, dust off the dust that had collected on my clothes whilst giving myself a stern, motherly lecture before applying a coat of red lipstick.


So as we take a minute to stare at two completely different photos of the same person, these are just some of the many thoughts I had in the last moments of reality.

Until next time,

~S xo

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