Friday, 9 November 2012

It's all in the mind

A few months ago I was given a great opportunity to spend a month in a pharmacy department at a psychiatric hospital. It was definitely an experience! Here's a little snippet of it...

Talking about mental health and accepting it is increasingly becoming encouraged in society, however there is still a stigma associated with it. I chose to apply for a placement in a mental health hospital partly because I find learning about mental health and its treatments interesting but also because I wanted for myself to see first hand what mental health actually is and meet individuals with some serious mental health problems face to face. It was at times uncomfortable , much more than I expected it to be, however I learnt so much about pharmacy in mental health as well as about patients and discovered a new found compassion for patients with mental health.

My placement began just over a week after my last exam , which didn't give me plenty of time to rest and prepare. I found the first week especially exhausting as I got adjusted to the two hour bus ride there and back.

Anyway, as it got closer to my first day I was begining to become more aware of what I would be faced with , especially after some conversations with my med student and pharmacy student friends, the task became more daunting than I expected. However I knew it would be a great experience and it was.

At first I may have felt a little out of place and that I was getting in the way. I soon began to  learn how the dispensary worked ; understanding hospital prescriptions and getting to grips with clozapine! Some of the staff were unaware of how much I knew, considering I had only had a few lectures on mental health and they had years of experience- not very much! However they were very patient and extremely hospitable, soon enough I got the hang of things and felt part of the team.

I soon found out that ward rounds were very different to the ward rounds in general hospitals and the way the wards are organised is very different. Due to the fact that the patients tend to be physically fit they dont need to be in bed all the time so they walk around the wards, can watch TV and socialize, in fact at times the atmosphere was so relaxed that it was difficult to identify between staff and patients.(however most of the time I was quickly able to identify the patients and the staff) The patients also tend to be in hospital for longer periods of time or are returning patients so its obvious that the staff get to know patients pretty well and pretty quick.

The ward rounds can take between three hours to almost a full day , depending on how many patients the consultant wants to see. Sitting in on these ward rounds with a multidisciplinary team it became obvious that there was a lot more to mental health than I may have first anticipated.
Clearly I was particularly interested with the  drug aspect however this was a minor part of the holistic treatment of the patient, the patients home life has to be considered; who are they living with? (if anyone) and if alone - are they able to look after themselves , if not- who will help them? - what services are available? It was encouraging to see that even the patient's spiritual life was addressed, as some patients were taken to a local church and visited by chaplains on the wards.
 I looked forward to seeing the patients themselves and hearing what they had to say , although at times it may have been difficult to grasp what they were actually talking about or trying to get across , there was always a common sadness to their stories;  a need for recovery and independence.

I found it particularly hard to see how the patients were; "locked in" unable to leave the wards to go outside without the approval of the consultant and even then it may be escorted leave and at a time limit. Clearly I understand why it has to be done , but it was just strange to see it happen in front of me , it made me realise how much I take for granted the independence and freedom I have.

There was also a forensics ward for mentally ill patients that had committed crimes, I was a little apprehensive at first about going into that ward , especially after learning about all the safety measures that are put in place , and I admit that it may have been a little frightening to lock eyes with some of these patients. However when on the ward round the consultant was great, she briefed me on each case that was discussed before meeting the patient. I got to see especially how reliant the staff were on the ward pharmacist , it was clear how he was able to intervene with recommendations on alternative drug treatments and suggested treatment plans.

It was great for me to see first hand the involvement of pharmacists in mental health, and for me to meet patients rather than just basing my views on what I had read/had been told. "There's no health without mental health"- Department of health seems a fitting statement for what I have seen.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

A poem and a painting

There's a stillness to the night. A stillness that's light.
Fading figures hide behind this stillness until they are exposed by lights.
On summer nights the garden glows following gatherings and the like- echoing former sounds of laughter  and delights.

The stars sit pretty in the thickness of the dark sky. Almost like trophies of the night.
The night can dim the noise of the hustle and bustle of the cities afar - allowing children to sleep tight.
Oh to be a child - and not to have the constant thinking about the; what ifs and what could have beens-  in the stillness of the night.

The stillness is for those late night workers and thinkers , the nursing mothers and the worriers.
A lot happens in this stillness - it's kind of deceiving-this night.
But it does not last this night- the sunrises  anew on a day with fresh mercy and joy - a day that's yours.
Lift up your eyes to the morning!

Lift up your eyes
(Acrylics and chalk pastel) 

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

say cheese!

Over the past year I have found that photography is something which I am really beginning to enjoy whether that be me taking the photos or simply enjoying other people's snaps.
 I have always enjoyed looking over old family photos ; ones of my parents when they were younger- especially their wedding photos.

Old photos of my mum when she was young give glimpses of glamour and youth where as pictures of family gatherings ooze love and care.

I have tried my best to take pictures of friends and family over the past year although people aren't always happy about me annoyingly pointing a  lens at them which is understandable,  I for one hate pictures being taken of me until I think I look my absolute best or there abouts!

So I have begun to take pictures of nature and my surroundings when back at home- at least I know that trees will not be asking for a touch up!

They aren't by any means evidence of an amazing photographer I am purely an amateur who enjoys snapping away on an inexpensive camera-  Enjoy! 

let there be light!

peek a boo

Crisp & white

Tree hugger-not!

My beautiful mama took this  - I think I may have zoomed the camera in a little too much for her - like I said- amateur! 

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Sunday, 26 February 2012

A little bit of poetry...

Your Beauty

Your beauty is the early morning sun which shines through my dainty curtains.
Your beauty is the roaring clouds which follow me .
Your beauty is the distant horizon peeping through the rising city
your beauty is the shockingly fresh wind that hits me.
Your beauty is in the dancing eyes of your children.
Your beauty is in your decadent offerings.
Your beauty is in the smiles which comfort me.
Your beauty is in the love you sowed in me,
Your Beauty is in the gift you graciously gave me,
your beauty surrounds me.


Thursday, 19 January 2012

Broken hearts and early starts ...

Ok so I know it's been a while , but I have finally got some time to blog as my second semester has begun , I thought that this would be a great opportunity to write. (one of my new year resolutions is to blog more often when I can)

I get so many different ideas during each week about what I could blog about , whether it be Pharmacy related or not , but there always seems to be something else which requires my attention urgently , and so I store these ideas in a place deep in my mind and forget about them until I come across other people's blogs and think; " wow I really should start writing something soon !"
So here it is .. this time its a mix of both Pharmacy and non Pharmacy , enjoy ...

A few days before Christmas I had the privilege of spending a couple of days in a busy Pharmacy hospital department .
I managed to secure this placement after applying last summer . I can say that it was definitely an eye opening experience; learnt so much about not only the role of a Pharmacist but also the role of a Pharmacy team in hospital .

The first part of my first day began with me shadowing a Pre-reg Pharmacist in the dispensary , I couldn't help but feel like I was in the way , like an annoying shadow following him. However he was very considerate and helpful , he showed me the process of preparing a prescription ; from picking up the script , to forming the label , dispensing and then eventually checking . The dispensary ran like clockwork , with each person knowing their role but all having a common goal .
The smooth running of the dispensary I found was all down to organisation, this not only made it easier to mange everything for the staff  in the dispensary but also for the staff and patients on the wards.

Later that morning I went on my first ward round , with a Pharmacist on the neonatal unit , I saw tiny babies who were on multiple medicines who would be in hospital for a while , some had previously been in hospital for ten weeks.  I found it strange that many of the babies were given caffeine , I was told that this would stimulate the lungs to work and so allow them to breath.

I was allowed to look at various medicines charts whilst I was on ward rounds with various Pharmacists. The ward round on the cardiac ward was interesting because there was only one Pharmacist for the whole cardiovascular unit which meant that he wasn't short of queries from staff on the ward , this hilighted to me again the importance of a Pharmacist in a clinical setting.
He explained to me in an easy and understandable way how stents work , gaining a quick insight into  cardiovascular Pharmacy was great because I'm now  studying a cardiovascular module, and the small amount of information I was given by the Cardiothoracic Pharmacist helped me quite a bit during a couple of lectures last week.

When on both the Infections  and the neurology wards I came across many elderly patients , many of which were on medicines for Parkinson's disease and in the neurology ward epilepsy too. After doing a module on the Nervous System I have come across these illnesses/ disorders however it was made clear to me by the Pharmacist that treatment for Epilepsy and Parkinson's varies so much from patient to patient.

I am now looking forward to learning more about this side of Pharmacy which I knew so little about when starting the course , seeing how all the hard work of training to be a Pharmacist is put into practice motivates me so much .Exciting times!

Friday, 28 October 2011


Sorry I haven't written a blog entry in a while, have been busy with work,  I do have one coming up soon I hope