13000 days: Turbulent Tough Trying Times

The last 1000 days were considered uniquely full of learnings through challenging experiences and personal struggles. I never really expected that to happen as I actually believed that I am optimistic, resilient and robust enough to withstand anything, given my humble beginnings and seemingly impossible journey to where I am now. However, it is still noteworthy for me mark the end my 13th chapter of my life that started 1st of August, 2020 until today.

The pandemic that changed all of us.

The first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic started to ease as this period began. I was actually feeling comfortable living alone, and dealing with the restrictions at first. Then the second wave hit my workplace, and the experience of being a frontliner in a pandemic is something I underestimated. I could still feel the after effects of isolation, quarantine rules, digital meetings and being too careful for others. I regret being too hard to myself, unlike the others who lived a little bit less tensed than I do.

However, I became a better and more independent nurse. I got more self-confidence in what I do. After the restrictions were loosened, I took the challenge to explore other nursing fields. I was feeling uncomfortable and uneasy at first, but later on I understood how important my work function is. I never really thought I would be able to experience working in various nursing settings in a short period of time. Honestly, the variation keeps me motivated to work everyday.

However getting Covid after two years of avoiding it was quite a liberating experience. My first educated guess was right. It was like influenza, killing thousands annually but less likely to give me negative consequences. I witnessed several deaths though related directly and indirectly to Covid. It is not a pleasant experience though. As a nurse, in my head, there would also be "what-ifs", but I am accepting my Covid experience as part of me. I was quite different before and after Covid pandemic, I can say.

The habits that changed the way I saw myself.

This life stage is epic for me. I ended up learning and doing interesting habits that pushed me to my personal limits. It affected every aspect of my life. Fortunately, I made major changes with the help of family, friends and even workmates. I was liberating myself from bondage of the thought of being another person than I actually am. I am thankful though for all the people that aid me in redirecting my path.

The most evident habit in this period is that I became more workaholic. I never I would endure such long hours at work. With the variety of work I am doing, with varying levels of urgency and importance, I can still say I managed quite well despite the risk of exhaustion and burn-out. I learned though to "choose my battles" at work. Should a situation become energy-draining, I try to finish it as fast as I could, or even avoid it, or ask help from others. I definitely improved my work stamina and motivation. I was far from perfect at work though, but I see I made a significant progress there.

A good habit I gained this time is that I started reading again. I learned also to appreciate music. Interestingly, I was not experiencing the discomfort of reading after I used eyeglasses continuously. I never thought that a small change could make a huge difference. This applies to music as well. I used to playing music to help me relax, reflect and sleep. It is quite useful for me nowadays.

The incidents that changed my life path.

My 35th birthday was the most unique birthday I had. I stayed at home without celebration, with literally lights off. I did not talk to my family and friends, and I was struggling to find myself. The absence of birthday celebration pushed me to serious changes in my personal life. I realized who are the people who really matters - my family and selected friends. They were still there for me unconditionally, and what keeps me going is definitely them. 

An interesting incident in this period is when the Covid restrictions were loosened in Oslo in the middle of the cold season. I felt really anxious, not for others but primarily for myself. I felt that I sacrificed a lot as a health professional, and then suddenly people could just move on easily as they did. That was a disturbing thought that I do share with others working in the health care sector.

There are few incidents that happened that resulted me learning to value myself more than I did before. I came to conclusion that nobody would take care for me unless I value myself. I could extend my sympathy and allocate my time to others, but the key to happiness lies on myself. It is still not easy though, but I am getting there slowly.

The discoveries that changed my beliefs.

There were truths that were obvious since then, but I neglected. However, these truths made themselves clear and more obvious for me not to ignore anymore. I ended being hurt. I trusted people who were just playing around. I am aware of that, but I allowed myself to engage myself in a losing battle - the search for something good in the situation. It kept me in the loop, and until this day, I am dealing with some adverse after effects in a daily basis.

On the positive note, my perspective on the concept of money drastically changed. I was not just focus on earning more, but using money wisely and according to a set of priorities and preferences. I started investing and saving for my future expenses. I am actually learning more each day, and becoming better in investing my earned income. To where this would lead, no one really knows, but I am very optimistic.

Moreover at work, I discovered a lot about a new patient group - those struggling with alcohol and substance abuse. This discovery is something unexpected. I admit I had some prejudice before I started working with this patient group; but now, I have deep understanding of their concerns, struggles and preferences. I really do not know how long I would be working with the field, but this field has tremendously influenced positively my compentencies as a nurse.

The experiences that changed who I am.

I travelled less in this period due to restrictions brought about by the pandemic. However, I was able to travel to TrΓ¦na for three times. I visited seven countries (Denmark, Italy, San Marino, Malta, Spain, France, United Kingdom and Ireland). These travel experiences somehow reset me to nil. After working extremely during the pandemic, I can say I deserve a much-needed break. I vow to keep traveling in the future. Cheers to 41 countries so far, and many more to come! 

Being alone in Oslo during the pandemic changed me permanently. I learned how to cook and do household chores more effectively. Now, I admit that I need at times people to talk to, to listen to and make conversations. But it is still long way to go. I can still improve on this aspect of my life. I look forward though inviting my family to visit me in Oslo, or visiting them more often in the future.

And yes! I became an uncle for the third time. The lessons I learned during this period revolved around family and friends. The pandemic created the physical distance between us, but erased the emotional gap between me and them. Turbulent as it is, my relationship with my family was tested and thereafter strengthened. I became more open to them. That is a big step for me.

The loss that changed the way I see life.

The deaths of my father and paternal grandmother were life-changing. Those unfortunately events had an interval of just 44 days. The family still was not able to cope with the sudden of my father, then my paternal grandmother followed. It was exhausting for me, but I know it is worse for my mother. I worry a lot, but I feel that my work habits is taking away a lot of my time from my family. However, I realized the extent of how I could help another in critical life situations. Through work, I could say I am able to provide for and support my family.

Furthermore  I cut-off some individuals in my life. Some of them I have at one point became very important to me. I was focusing too much on them, more than my family. That was a mistake. I attempted to please these individuals, but I still felt not enough. I thought the solution was to double my efforts, or change myself. That was my ultimate mistake. I lost myself in the process of losing people. Cutting them off was more of a necessity than want. I just have to continue.

As mentioned, I lost control of myself (literally). I was pushing myself to be liked by the people whom I thought I could trust. I was naive to think, I really did not have the need to this, because my greatest asset is my family and lifelong friends. They knew me at my worst, and accepted who I am willingly without me changing the way I am. I just have to accept that some people like us, some don't. That is just the way life is.

The gains that changed how I live my life.

As mentioned earlier, I started at new workplaces. I began working in another nursing field - substance abuse. I got a tenured job in another nursing home, where I worked for over two years. I made a decision though to change workplace recently. I can say I am nurse in two different fields. There exists ofcourse elderly with addiction problems, but still I consider my mix of nursing knowledge and skills unique - the junction of the physical and the psychological.

Furthermore, I made progress in my Masters degree. I was laging at first, but got the needed boost after the sudden deaths of my father and grandmother. This progress was quite surprising given that I work way more than the average, and taking my studies on my very limited free time. I really hope for the best. I am about to submit my masters thesis on few weeks, and I hope I don't get stuck on this "again". πŸ˜πŸ˜‰

Interestingly, I gained weight recently. My weight was quite stable in the first months of this period, and then suddenly went down then accelerating again. I am at the same weight level as I did in 2016. I managed to stop the acceleration again through intermittent fasting. However, unfortunately intermittent fasting has not been quite effective in reducing my weight to that during the pandemic. I will just take one day at a time until I lose at least five kilos. 😁 Work, unhealthy food choices, sleep deprivation, and obviously declining metabolism due to aging hinder my weight loss journey. But I am determined. 

The last 1000 days can be compared to riding a rollercoaster. There were major bumps that made me realize what are the most important things in my life. This life phase made me recognize my limits, and how to set my boundaries. People indeed come and go. Let them be free, as we make ourselves free. Lastly, I realized the value of life. We are all mortals. We will all die one day. We just have to accept that the decisions we make each day should make us happy, free and live life to the best of our abilities.

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