The Health of angels


‘How long have you been on duty?’

‘29hours.’

‘That must be against the law. You should go home.’

‘It’s just my job.’ she stated.

No, it is not just a job.’ I whispered. ‘You must be an angel.’

When your four-year-old child is fighting for her life in a closed intensive care ward because she has contracted meningitis, the young French doctor refused to go home until she was satisfied she was stable.  She looked shattered, she clutched a plastic coffee cup in her fragile hands, her white coat hung limply from her shoulders and her dark hair framed her sallow and weary face. Still, she found the time to hold my hand and put her arm around my shoulder.

I must have asked some heart-breaking questions that night. Looking for reassurance, I wanted her to confirm and promise me my daughter would survive the night but this Angel was dead on her feet. She smiled re-assurance through her eyes, I knew she was 150% there for all of us. My daughter was not just a patient, but a little girl, with a Mother, a Father, and two brothers  It was going to be a long night and I have never forgotten her dedication to what she called ‘just her job’ This had to be so much more.

The French doctor had put my daughter’s well-being in front of her own.

That was 14 years ago, and I am happy to say my daughter survived her ordeal which I have to admit was touch and go at the time. Her survival chances were estimated at only 5%. They did not tell us this until she had recovered. Without any shadow of a doubt, the doctors and nurses who worked in the intensive care ward along with the paramedics who came out in the middle of the night saved her life. The French doctor had put my daughter’s well-being in front of her own. Being awake for 29 hours puts her health into a vulnerable state, not to mention her decision-making ability. This cannot be right even though we remain eternally grateful.

Maybe this is why my daughter is now studying to be a nurse and I wonder if this is her special way of paying back her gratitude to the medical profession. 

However, is this not built into the psyche of our nurses, doctors and health workers?

They certainly do not do the job for the pay, or the favourable working conditions. Yet there they are, working on our front line of an ongoing war against disease, and how do we show our appreciation?

When their passion affects us personally, we often show our gratitude with an emotional thank you, a hug and maybe a box of chocolates.

Just lately we have been seen and heard on our balconies clapping our hands. Talking recently with friends working in the profession we can support them in various ways

With the current crisis of COVID19 challenging our society and our health, my first thoughts have been we must take more responsibility for our health. We have been made aware of the guidelines of washing our hands, wearing masks and social distancing, we should also be conscious of making provisions to ensure our immune system is functioning well.

Most of my friends know I am a bit of a health nerd and running my independent health and nutrition business as an associate for a leading company of tried and tested products. I have been working with them for two years and have experienced first hand what a difference to your well being, a good support system can offer you.  I have never felt better and have no issues with my health. I am 62 and compared to some people my age, I am doing ok.

Taking care of our immune system seemed like an obvious precaution to take. I was shocked following a conversation with a couple of people I know who were working with carers and nurses to find out that the very people we look to for our health needs are struggling to stay in good health themselves.

Long stressful shifts, poor eating and insufficient exercise habits lead to weight gain and obesity.

Working within a hospital environment or health care facility has an increased risk of a negative impact on trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Long stressful shifts, poor eating and insufficient exercise habits lead to weight gain and obesity. This lifestyle often leads to further health complications. Medical staff often reach out for quick-fix sugary snacks.

In one report I read ‘Nightshift nurses frequently identified weight gain, they also stress that living with non-communicable diseases such as hypertension is one of their main health concerns. 

One nurse told me that often during a busy shift there is not even time to go to the toilet and to even make a cup of tea.  Families of patients want to show their gratitude by bringing us in biscuits and sweets. They think they are treating us, and we are grateful, but if you are already struggling to stick to a healthy balanced diet these little treats can be more of a hindrance as we reach for them whilst working on long shifts instead of more healthy options. One Nurse told me she got through a 12-hour shift just eating cake and when she arrived home, she was so hungry she binged on a big meal before she went to bed. This is why we pile on the pounds she said. As Nurses we should be setting an example, I see the heart attacks and other people who come in with obesity related problems, we should know better, but we lack the motivation because we are so worn out.

At a care home where a group congregate during their break, the majority are smokers and suffer from backaches and levels of obesity. The job is stressful, and most will justify this is a way of coping with their workload. One of them has bought in a cake to offer round so if a member of the group is trying to address their dietary nutrition needs, it will be a constant battle and refusing makes them feel like they are missing out on something deserved.

But the question is, do they deserve to work in an environment that prevents a healthy eating regime.?

With over one in four (25%) of nurses classed as obese in the UK and 54% in the US according to studies. I find it worrying.

Helping with our Angels Health, what should we be doing?

Nobody should be telling our health care professionals how to eat and take exercise, nor should they be refusing gifts from grateful families of patients. However, I think we should be aware that maybe buying the big box of chockies for the bubbly nurse with a kind face would not be so welcomed as a treat. Especially as it is probably not the first she has been gifted that week.

The medical profession should be taking care of our Angels, Healthy snacks should be laid on so they do not reach for a sandwich or a packet of crisps. We can eat healthy options just as quick.  Protein Shakes should be available, full of the right balanced nutrition to fuel their bodies,’ so they have enough energy. Easy and quick to make and so much better than a soggy sandwich from a vending machine.

26% of nurses are more likely to make a mistake if they are tired or even depressed. We need them to be on form and any medical worker or carer that looks after the sick or hands out medication needs to be able to operate with a clear head. Long working hours with limited access to healthy food and exercise will lead to exhaustion and stress.  Wouldn’t it be more effective if they had access to a place in the hospital where they can do yoga and meditate or even have access to a gym?  A much better way to unwind compared to a coffee and a quick fag. Longer breaks would be needed and as any doctor would tell you the benefits would far out way the normal unhealthy practices

An exhausted nurse would grimace at the thought of dragging her tired body to a gym after a long shift, but it is time to work these practices in. The cost of an unhealthy workforce, one where we constantly read about the drop in new recruitment. Could this be because of the un-attractive pay and working conditions? or perhaps because we hear of stories from people in the profession dissatisfied with doing what sometimes can be looked upon as an impossible job. Do we see how detrimental the career would be to the health of its workforce? and do we exploit our career carers because we know they do not enter the profession because of good pay etc? There are many reasons we could talk about concerning the mismanagement of a national health service, the health of the medical staff is only a small part but one I feel needs addressing.

A worthwhile profession promoting good health.

My daughter is facing hours of study to enter this profession. She works out and tries to stick to a healthy energising diet. She works part-time in a care home and often remarks about the health of her colleagues. She packs her protein bars and salad snacks into her packed lunch, I feel proud of her commitment to staying healthy. She has the freedom to do this now, but I worry as a mum that she is going to enter a career that promotes good health but would be at a cost to her own.

Maybe that is why writing this has interested me.

It begs us to question, is there a contradiction in the health care industry regarding obesity. Making simple changes to the work environment would help reduce the high incidence of poor health to its workforce or can the workforce take matters into their own hands by overcoming the stress levels. Perhaps this needs to be a joint task, after all, you can supply a gym, but how do you get people to use it? You can offer healthy options in the canteen, but is that enough to stop healthcare workers from picking up a kebab on their way home from work?

Healthcare workers cannot and should not always blame the system.  Feeling tired and exhausted from a long shift is part of the job. What they fuel their body with and how they manage their nutrition, is down to them and their own responsibility.  

The support that our health professionals need, is the knowledge that they are valued by an industry that will do everything to keep them safe, give them the know-how to look after their nutritional requirements and that they get what is needed to do the job properly.

Health care is not free

Somebody somewhere is paying for it. From our taxes to the people who work within it, the cost of bad health is far greater, this cannot be argued

The best thing we can do to lower the stress and the strain on the people who are there to take care of us is to stay healthy ourselves. It should be our duty and care. If our health is in poor shape, it doesn’t just affect us but our loved ones, our friends and the people who pick up the pieces.

A major joint effort, I would say.

If you are interested in committing to a healthy nutritional support plan please visit my website. laurenstaton.Isagenix.comPlease follow and like us:

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