Being a nurse is more than a job, it is the very heart and soul of caring selflessly for others. This month, Vivo wanted to give back by pampering a group of nurses across New Zealand and telling their stories. The first nurse we interviewed for this series, Nicola Roy shares some of her story below:
Hair by Senior Stylist Jayne Rakete from Vivo Hair Salon, St Heliers, Auckland
I went in to nursing straight from school, my mother was a nurse and for that reason I decided from a young age I wanted to be a nurse. I studied in Dunedin, then spent time doing a nursing graduate program in Dunedin Hospital, which was working in three different areas, after your training there is still a lot to do! I did some general neuro surgery, paediatrics and general surgery. I found I enjoyed paediatrics and went into that for many years, in Christchurch. I enjoyed the complex diseases and situations. I did that for years and then a child cancer unit opened in Christchurch hospital, so I spent some time there nursing kids with cancer. I am still friends with the nurses there and we smile and laugh at the memories! I used to get the lolly trolley, lie on it and wheel past the windows like a Superhero. The kids LOVED it. It was a lovely time we had. From playing superheroes, we would put on little concerts and sing songs. While we did all the important cancer care, there was still the element of caring for them emotionally.
"Finding little bits of joy was rewarding, a privilege"
One day I remember one of the boys was very miserable, he had mouth ulcers in his mouth and gut, though getting pain relief, he couldn’t talk for about a week. It was a quiet Sunday afternoon and I propped his head up looking over the Avon River, I gave him a little foot massage and he lay there looking out to the river, it was just lovely. Whilst taking care of those children it was those little relational things and chatting with the parents, getting them through another day, finding little bits of joy was rewarding, a privilege. I had a ten-year gap between my kids and overseas for my husband. I did help in a school clinic as a volunteer helper which was fun. I did some work at Starship and I enjoyed the time I had there. It has been 23 years since I started this journey. I was with Sweet Louise coming up to 2 years, before then I had been living overseas, so I was looking at getting into a nursing role, thinking about what I wanted to do. I wanted something meaningful for me. I came across Sweet Louise through chatting with someone at hospice. I had done oncology nursing at hospitals in the past, so I used that cancer nursing experience. But to me, out in the community, spending time with these ladies, being with them, on the emotional side was rewarding. I was thrilled to get the job there. Two years doesn’t feel long enough, having to move has been disappointing.
I feel I am lucky to have my kids and my husband, I know a lot of our members and my friends don’t have that. That is enough for me in a funny way, spending time with them, taking the dog for a walk. We have a happy loving family and that is enough for me to feel satisfied and fulfilled. I enjoy spending time with them, my girls are all close in age and they are joyful. But they are beautiful girls and we spend time together as a family and we have a full life with friends and just being involved with lots of things and I find it easy to de-stress in that way. Ultimately, I am thankful for what I have. I am thankful for what we have, and I enjoy it.
I will keep on nursing, I got spoilt with Sweet Louise being such a cool organisation. And great characters. would love to get back into it, after we move. I would love to work in a community setting, to be able to be part of a support system. Its good to have a haircut and a style that allows me to have long hair, so thank you Vivo!
Hair by Senior Stylist Bethany Woods from Vivo Hair Salon, My Eden, Auckland
I have been working at the children’s hospital Starship, for one year and five months. Nursing was my second degree, I studied Marketing before this and had started looking for jobs but found I needed something more fulfilling. I had been at Starship as a child, and thought of the nurses there. Through the years I met a lot of nurses, they told me about their jobs and it resonated with me. I studied at AUT, and so far, it has been a mix of things, rewarding being one of them, you learn so much in your first year. It is a big jump from student to nurse, in terms of knowledge and responsibility. I guess, my most challenging experience so far was in the hands of families who are given a difficult diagnosis. A family I had worked with, their young child had a tumour and they had just received news that not all the tumour could be removed, so they needed to go back and for more surgery. I felt so sad for that child. That really stuck with me.
It is hard to not get emotionally connected, my sister told me she didn’t think I would be a good nurse and that it is a hard job. She was right in some ways, while I know I am a good nurse, I take things personally and let things affect me, but I surprised myself by going in with a different mindset. I just wanted to make these children feel better.
I have realised it is about the journey, even in the smallest of ways. Helping them have a bath, feeding them, a small gesture that creates milestones in their road to recovery. A more recent case was a very ill three week old baby, who was the first born to young parents. It was only a couple of weeks ago they came back in for a check-up and the baby had grown so much and is so much better, it was an indescribable feeling. I had been there to see this baby get better, that made my day. I now understand why the other nurses would be so happy when they saw patients come back.
If I had a choice, that’s a hard one, I like paediatrics, I love children but when I was a student I liked my placement at rest homes. Seeing different ends of the spectrum was good. I like working with children though, because you can see an entire future ahead of them. Having said that, we do get terminally ill children, but my ward has so many positive outcomes. I haven’t had a hair cut in over a year, so this is great. I have only ever had long hair. Give me the waves, I love the waves!