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When The Nurse Becomes The Patient


Thursday April 26 2018 11:00 AM

This week we welcome new writer Ciara O’Meara to MS and Me. Read on for her unique perspective on the MS patient experience

A 23 year old, 4th year student nurse is a dangerous thing. You know too much but not enough. You’re an integral part of the ward but not yet qualified. You’re still a student but yet expected to be a responsible adult. Throw a diagnosis of MS into the mix and it’s chaos!

When the general consultant said, “Ciara, we think it’s MS”, my initial reaction was ‘They are going to keep me in now for tests and I am going to miss the nurses ball’.

When my neurologist gave me the official diagnosis, I knew it before he did. I had read the MRI report upside down on the table and got a good peripheral read of the medical notes all within the time it took him to wash his hands and grab a biro. When I told one of my closest nursing colleagues about my diagnosis she said, “Right, will we go for a pint?” Typical Nurses one might say. But that is exactly what I needed; I needed to be a typical nurse. I needed to focus on the end goal, Graduation and Registration. I had a ward that needed me, patients that needed me and I needed to get through this for me. 

Trying to find the balance between ‘nurse’ and ‘patient’ is not easy. I am quick to give advice to others, but slow to take my own. I passionately care for others, but often neglect to care for myself.  I find it difficult to be the vulnerable patient, sitting on the chair in the Tysabri clinic, watching the nurses’ draw up the infusion, insert the cannula and start the pump. That should be me. I was trained to look after Ciara as The Nurse; I wasn’t equipped to look after Ciara as The Patient. 

However with that said, I wouldn’t change being a nurse for anything. Nursing gave me experience, knowledge and patience to deal with, and accept, my diagnosis. It gave me access to evidence based scientific research, access to multi-disciplinary team members and access to resources and supports that I might have otherwise been unaware of. Nursing has given me confidence to deal with challenging situations and to question care-delivery and practice.

And as much as nursing has given me, MS has now given me that extra advantage, that little edge over others. MS has made me a better nurse. I won’t ever know why MS decided to land at my front door but its arrival has produced a more caring, empathetic, appreciative, sensitive and inquisitive nurse.  I now just need to ensure that this nurse starts to prioritise and care for her most important patient… Me!

Author: Ciara O Meara



Thursday April 26 2018 11:51

Great read Ciara and you're 100% correct you must look after Number 1


Thursday April 26 2018 12:40

Really enjoyed reading your blog Ciara. Keep nursing!


Thursday April 26 2018 20:36

As a retired Nurse myself and somebody who was diagnosed with S.L.E. myself many years ago I know first hand how this feels for you Ciara. It sure is not easy to deal with however I am pleased to say that I have done well and I know M.S medication is now very advanced in the treatment of this condition. Best Wishes Regards Maura


Thursday April 26 2018 22:53

Just goes to show you never know what other people are going through. I'll be extra nice to my MS care team now! Really interesting to see MS from your perspective.


Friday April 27 2018 16:05

I know you there...! I also found out my own diagnosis, as a university librarian...
You are getting Tysabri? Good! I am nearly 3 times older, I still work half days. Keep up!


Sunday April 29 2018 12:41

Thank you for sharing. Our stories have many parallels. I too was diagnosed with MS in my last semester of nursing school. I was reeling from the shock and made it through with help of my friends. I continue to practice nursing here in Lansing, Michigan. MS too has made me a better nurse. Again, thank you for sharing.


Wednesday May 23 2018 09:48

Great post Ciara. I love that you have used your MS to make you a better nurse. Keep fighting.

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