I landed in Canada last night at around 4:00pm local time. Needless to say my body wants me to slow down for a few days…I came down with some sort of cold and/or sinus infection on my last night in Eldoret. It’s perfect timing, because I wouldn’t have been able to go to the hospital if I was feeling this sick. I will be staying home for the week to recover, unpack, and spend time with family. On Saturday I will be moving to Toronto and will be beginning the remainder of my internship with Morgan.
This next chapter is equally as exciting as the previous because I will be working in the community and in patient homes, providing various child life services and consultations. This is an opportunity not many CLS’s get to experience so I am very excited to see the similarities and differences between that and the traditional hospital setting.
Being home from Kenya has brought on a little bit of a culture shock. I know I was only away for a couple of weeks, but I was really immersed in the culture and saw a lot in the way of how people live over there compared to us here in the West. It’s really interesting but also a little sad. I met so many people who are so happy with so little, and know many people over here who are so sad with so much – it really makes you think. I’ve been home less than 24 hours but my mind is already filled with comparisons and reflection.
The last few days at the hospital in Eldoret were very challenging for me. From my experience in the burn unit and my experience in oncology the day after, there is a lot I need to consider and reflect upon. Being in the burn unit, as I mentioned in my last post was challenging for a variety of reasons, but primarily because I have never been witnessed to such trauma before. However, the difficulty I experienced in the oncology procedure room was brought on by something entirely different.
I have not been thrilled when it comes time to document challenges or difficulties I face along the way to certification…but like I have always said, I want this blog to be an honest reflection. If I’m not honest about my experiences, how is that fair to those following along on their own way through the field like myself? Being open about the trials and tribulations is important, even though it is not always easy.
As a former paediatric oncology patient, having to witness painful procedures was almost tormenting for me. I love to provide a beacon of hope and pillar of support for those facing cancer diagnoses, but watching physical procedures was a lot for me to handle. I had major flashbacks and a lot of anxiety, and although I made it through each procedure and felt as though I provided good support to each patient, I did not feel physically or emotionally good after I left the room. The hallway felt like it was spinning in circles, I felt overheated, and sick to my stomach. It all came screaming back at me in a way that has never happened before. This was extremely upsetting and disheartening because I have always envisioned myself working in an oncology setting, but after that experience I wasn’t sure I would ever be able to.
After some reflection and wonderful chats with my amazing supervisor, I’ve decided that maybe my dream of oncology needs to be put in a box on the shelf for now. Self care is incredibly important for anyone working in a caregiver role, and while pushing yourself and setting high standards is great and very important, there needs to be a line established. I have established that line and decided that while I may be able to work closely with oncology patients one day, that day is not today, and I will need to take time to build up the emotional strength to be able to do so successfully in the future.
This journey has not been as simple as I thought it would be, but I am learning so much about myself and the profession as a whole, as I continue to fall more in love with the field each and every day.