The Untold and Unheard Feelings

Monday, 19 April 2021

I have been extra emotional lately due to a few things that have been bothering me, mainly about my mother. It has been rather difficult for me to share any of my feelings to anyone because I know that no one will ever understand how I feel. So why am I here, you may ask? The simple answer is because no one is obliged to listen to me and understand me when I write. So, please allow me.

Firstly, I feel guilty that I didn't make an effort to go home to my parents in the past six years. And with the virus still raging (especially in the Philippines), I am unsure when I will be able to go home safely. It is very hard because I know that my mother is not very well, and all I want is to see her and hug her one more time. I didn't go home for six years because I was selfish. The only time I decided to prioritise myself because I finally realised that I've given so much to others and so little to myself, was the time fate played its trick on me. I would blame it to the circumstances, but still, I should have tried harder. 

Then the most unexpected thing happened early last year. My mother was diagnosed with a medical condition that is rather dangerous. As soon as I found out about this, I made plans to go home that April, but then coronavirus came. I have been speaking to her most days, if not everyday since then. I want to make up for the days I lost in not going home to see them- and this is the only way I know how. I felt very guilty and even guiltier when she had an accident in October last year which limited her mobility. 

I know my mother is suffering physically and emotionally, but she is trying her best because I know she still wants to see me. It breaks my heart every time I speak to her on the phone. I avoid video calls as much as possible because I don't want to see her in bed. I don't want to see her that way. 

You see, my mother is far from perfect. She has said things that hurt me and other people. She says things that make her sound ungrateful, but I know she just can't express herself that well. No one, not even herself expected this to happen to her. Her health was obviously declining, but we didn't anticipate her to be in this situation. And knowing my mother, this is very hard for her. Hence, her defence is to give in to the situation and (very reluctantly) accept that she is not going to walk again. My mother is not normally a negative person. She instilled positivity in me since childhood, no matter how difficult life was for us back then, so it is quite painful for me to listen to her utter words that only mean weakness. That's why whenever she tells me that she has accepted  her fate and that she is now going to be like this until she dies, it hurts me. My mother is one of the strongest people I know and it breaks my heart to hear her speak like there is no hope left for her. 

My mother without a doubt is showing signs of depression. It is not easy for an independent and sociable person to suddenly be confined in a room on her own majority of the time. She is feeling sorry for herself, and I can hear and feel her sinking deep into self-pity. She feels helpless and hopeless. So hopeless that she is even willing to sacrifice her own comfort, because she feels bad that other people are having to care for her. But has she got a choice? No. I know my mother would rather look after herself -if only she could. 

And here I am, thousands of miles away from home, looking after other people when I cannot even look after my parents, especially my mother. Every time I hold a patient's hand to reassure them that everything is going to be alright, my heart sinks. I always wish that it is my mother's hand that I am holding, and it is my mother that I am saying those reassuring words to. Lately, my morning rounds have become sort of a torture. My staff would address complaints to me and whenever I speak to a patient about their complaints, I think of my mother. I spend time listening to patients complain about little things- how I wish I can do that with my mother, too - in person, so that I can hold her hand and reassure her that I will do my  best to make things right. Being a manager has helped me gain a better understanding as to why some patients complain- because they are not in control. And my mother is definitely not in control of her life and her health at the moment, and this is why she expresses herself so negatively sometimes. My mother is not a bad person. I know there are worse people out there. In fact, when my mother was able, she helped a lot of people. Kind of made me realise that when you are no longer able and are the one in need of help, there will only be a handful of people who will genuinely pay it back to you. Not that you're asking for anything in return, but reciprocity should be given.

Honestly, this is very hard on my part. God knows that if given the choice, I would rather go home and look after my own mother. I feel guilty that I am not there for her when she needs me the most. I know my mother feels that she is alone, but she is not because she has me even if I am not physically with her. There is nothing worse in life than being surrounded by people and yet you feel lonely. Sadly, this is my mother's truth. She may not say it, but I know. She is my mother. She brought me into this world. 

It's really difficult for me to express exactly how I feel, because all there is is guilt. I have never felt so guilty in my life before. I know I have been mumbling throughout this blog, but my emotions are all over the place right now. So please forgive me if you're reading this and it doesn't make sense to you. Ultimately, there is only one thing that I am hoping and praying for- to hold my mother's hand once more.

TIN x

My COVID-19 Vaccine Experience- First Dose

Sunday, 7 March 2021

It's been over a week now since I finally had my first dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Just like some people, I was skeptical about the vaccines when they first emerged because there was not enough clinical studies to evidence their efficacy and the side effects that they may potentially cause. I felt that the scientists rushed the production of the vaccines. But one of my closest friends who is very sensible and is a doctor told me to believe in science. And why shouldn't I? After all, I am in a profession governed by science. However, I wanted to wait until there was enough study at least for the side effects. And then COVID-19 hit me. That's when I realised that maybe I should get the vaccine sooner than later, but I was told that I couldn't get the vaccine until 21 days after my positive COVID test. Unfortunately, there were no longer appointments available at work when I finally could have the vaccine, so I had to book via the NHS.

And so, two Thursdays ago, I arrived at a pharmacy in Marylebone to have my vaccine. The process was a breeze. A pharmacist went through some safety checks including allergies, current COVID symptoms, medications, bleeding problems and whether I had a vaccine seven days prior- all of which was a no. And then I was asked to wait. A young lady came to hand me a leaflet regarding the vaccine. When I looked at the leaflet, I figured the vaccine I was receiving that day was the Astra-Zeneca. I would have preferred the Pfizer vaccine, but with a lot of people waiting to have their vaccines, I was not in the position to be choosy. At least, Astra-Zeneca was proven to have 76% efficacy after a first dose. Then I was called in a booth where they administered the vaccine. It was not painful as such. I felt the prick but that was it. The lady then said I was good to go. I didn't wait for 15 minutes like the others, nor did I get a vaccination card. The vaccination card didn't occur to me until I got home. It was only a week later that I was able to go back and get it. 

Now, let's talk about side effects. Unfortunately, I was one of those who experienced side effects but not straight away. The day after I had my vaccine, I experienced muscle pains, most particularly on my legs. Throughout the day, my legs felt achy and heavy. My left knee felt like I had an injury. I felt very cold and felt like I had a fever. I didn't check my temperature because I knew I was experiencing side effects from my vaccine. I only took Paracetamol. I didn't do any exercise that weekend because I didn't want to make things worse. My arm was still heavy at this point. I had my vaccine on a Thursday and on the following Monday, I woke up with a very painful arm. When I checked my vaccination site, it was red. It was elevated and although it was not itchy, it was quite painful. I couldn't even lift my arm. When I got home that evening, the redness was worse. This was after four days of having the vaccine. The swelling and redness lasted for 48 hours. Apart from those symptoms, I was totally fine.

As much as I was initially reluctant to have my COVID-19 vaccine this soon, I am glad that I made a conscious decision to do so. I know the vaccine does not give me 100% protection from the corona virus, but at least I have some protection. These days, a degree of protection is better than no protection at all. And having had the vaccine also gives me half the passport I need to finally go home and see my family. 

I am happy that I finally had my first dose, but this does not mean I am complacent. I will still continue to wear my mask and take extra precautions because the world outside remains dangerous.

Until the pandemic is completely over, we must stay safe.

TIN x

6 Books That Helped Me Get Through Lockdown 2020

Sunday, 7 February 2021

I have been blogging for sometime now, but I've never written about books. So, this blog is my first. Just to be clear that this is not a review as I am not a book critic. I just thought I'd share the books that I read in 2020 which helped me get through the lockdown, one way or the other.

Back in high school, I used to read a lot of books- from the Bible, to Sweet Valley High, to Danielle Steel and Sidney Sheldon. Somehow I lost interest when I started university. I very rarely read pocket books, if not at all. Perhaps because I was focused on my studies- too focused that I used to cram for my exams quite a lot. Hehe. Seriously speaking though, in hindsight,  I shouldn't have stopped reading pocket books because it would have helped me with my writing. But whatever. Here we are now. A few decades later, I am actually writing about some of the books that I've read. Another milestone in my blogging adventure. :) 

Actually, I have already posted these on my Instagram account, but if you're not following me there, then here they are:
 
1. Help Me by Marianne Power
- "Help Me" is only one of the five books that I read in less than a week. It is an easy read and made me laugh out loud a few times. This book reaffirmed me why I never followed the advice of self-help books before.

Anyway, at one point in my life, I resorted to some self-help books which didn't necessarily helped me. I realised that I didn't have to be someone other than myself to get through a difficult situation. I learned how to follow my heart instead, and believed (and I still do) that life is a trial and error. If I made mistakes along the way, I tried again until I got it right. Also, I dated a man who saw one of my self-help books called "Why Men Love B*tches". He told me that I didn't need to be a b*tch to be loved by a man. And almost 6 years later, I am still with him. So yeah, just like Marianne Power, I learned that all I needed to do to overcome the challenges was to be myself, and to accept the situation that I was in. After all, acceptance is the key.

2. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy
- The first ever book that I finished reading inside a bookstore. Once I started reading it, I just couldn't stop. This book reaffirms everything that I have been trying to do (all this time) in order to live a happier and a more meaningful life. I am still a work in progress, and this book will now be one of my constant reminders of what life should truly be all about. And oh, the illustration is just wonderful. Every household should have a copy of this book.

3. Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All by David Kelley
- "To ultimately reach creative breakthrough, you just need to start, regardless of small failures that may occur along the way. It's unlikely that your first try at anything will be a success. But that's okay. It's hard to be "best" right away, so commit to rapid and continuous improvements. The messiness of such trial and error may seem uncomfortable at first, but action allows most of us to learn at a faster rate; it's almost a prerequisite for success. Otherwise, the desire to be best can get in the way of getting better."- Tom Kelley and David Kelley. Although this book is very corporate, this book reaffirmed the way I think and act as a leader in healthcare.

4. The Secret by Rhonda Byrne
- " The law is simply reflecting and giving back to you exactly what you are focusing on with your thoughts. With this powerful knowledge, you can completely change every circumstance and event in your entire life, by changing the way you think". I have always believed that I am a positive person and knew what I wanted in life. But, I think I have always been wrong. Or perhaps I didn't think about them enough. Or maybe because I didn't have a vision board. Whatever it is, apparently it's something to do with the state of mind. So, yes I am still working hard on this one. And apparently, it's never too late. All I need to do is learn how to control my thoughts, and think and act with conviction. 😉

5. Dear NHS by Adam Kay
- Not quite sure about this book, but thank you NHS. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to work and live abroad. Thank you for building my nursing foundation in the UK. Thank you for shaping me to become the nurse that I am today. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to meet and work with some of the most amazing nurses, nurse assistants, surgeons, doctors, allied health professionals, admin staff, cleaners, porters, etc. Thank you for all the wonderful things that you do. I will always be grateful and proud to have spent most of my nursing life with you. I hope to return one day. For now, I pray that the universe will keep you and my friends safe.

6. Sex and Vanity by Kewin Kwan
- I loved the Crazy Rich Asians movie, but actually haven't read the book series yet. Sex and Vanity is the first Kevin Kwan book that I have read. Despite the mixed reviews, I actually liked it. It's light and funny with a heart. A perfect summer read if I may say. Everything in the book is over the top extravagant- and loads of name dropping! I wonder who will play my favourite characters Freddie and George if ever the book will be made into a film, and oh, the Ortiz  sisters from the Philippines! And guess what? Kevin Kwan himself actually liked my post on instagram, so yes!

So, those were the 6 books that I read during last year's lockdown. But I don't want to end this blog without sharing the book that received the most likes on my instagram feed, although I finished reading it in 2019. I am not actually sharing it just for that, but also because the photo is one of the best photos I've ever taken. In fact, someone from California (Magnolia Wellness in Costa Mesa) actually used my photo (with permission) to promote their virtual book club. It also stayed in top 5 photos of #goopbookclub for a few weeks. And if you check #lauralynnejackson, two of my photos of the book are currently in top ten. So yes, I am proud of myself for those little things.

The book is called "Signs" by Laura Lynne Jackson. It took me a month to finish the book and I finished it whilst I was in Montreal, Canada.  For me, it was worth the read because it somehow made me reflect on the "signs" that were sent to me by Keith when he crossed- and there were so many of them. There were stories in the book that validated my personal experiences and made me want to fully believe in signs. I guess this book becomes more meaningful if you actually have lost someone really close to your heart. There is definitely something beyond this world that is quite hard to understand. And the signs that the universe is sending us may just be the answers to a lot of our questions- we just need to be more aware of them. Maybe, just maybe. There is definitely no harm in believing anyway. 

My aim is to finish at least one book a month this year. So far, I have finished two books, so I'm crossing my fingers that I'll be able to reach my reading goals this year. 

TIN x
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