The perpetual student

nurse . writer . geek


August 2015

‘Melburn’ tourist

It’s not often I get the chance to play  tourist in my own city, so when the opportunity came up this week, I jumped on it! I had taken holiday time for my cousin’s wedding, however, when things didn’t work out, I figured that I could either mope about a lost opportunity or do some sightseeing of my own. I then built on that thought, and decided to introduce you all to my city. Therefore, here’s my online tour of Melbourne. I should first point out, that the title, is one of the ways we pronounce it. Either that or ‘Melb’n’. depending on how lazy we’re feeling. You may have noticed, we shorten everything. It saves time we could be using to drink our coffee… or chai, depending on what suburb you’re in

.20150813_072943 This is the best way to see the city. Public transport with a coffee. It gives you a chance to sit back and read (if you can find a seat for those silly enough to travel in peak hour). I really hate driving in the city. I can handle the hook turns, (an experience on their own), but the dance of the parking towers and the traffic waltz feature heavily in my nightmares. I would much rather have a coffee perched on the luggage rack as the farms turn into skyscrapers.


The first place you should probably go if you’re new to the city is Federation square. It’s a great place to pick up those maps you know you left on your laptop, and you’ll want to save your phone battery! It also gives you a place to sit down for a minute, and soak in the first impression of the city. The buildings are so different from one another it’s like an architectural timeline. If you’re starting at the front, keep an eye out for the hidden lanes. They hide some amazing street art down there.

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These photos don’t really do them justice, but I wanted to give you a taste of some of the talent we have. Our talent isn’t limited to art though, every street you walk down usually has at least one musician or performer out to impress the crowds, You won’t walk far without some kind of music to put that little skip in your step

Busking in Bourke st. Mall


On the topic of music, before we stray too far into alleyways that spit you out blocks away and turned around. If you take a peek down the back of Federation square, you find BIrrurung Marr. A place dedicated to aboriginal diversity. The walk leads you down past some spectacular landmarks on the way to the federation bells.

Federation bells
Federation bells

These bells are programmed to give you a beautiful composition with the sound of a series of church bells. It’s a little loud when you’re right among them, but in summer with a picnic on the grass beyond? It’s a highlight to the Melbourne soundtrack for me.

I’ve included some of the things I noticed, I won’t go into too much detail on the laneways as they really are an experience in themselves, and everyone who visits will see something different. I will say, that I asked about the second photo, and yes, apparently the warning labels were necessary! The fourth picture is of an animal I’ve taken to calling the Koalaroo. I have to go back in just to buy that!

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No trip to Melbourne is complete without a visit to the Queen Vic Market. A writhing mass of people dodging other shoppers as they peruse home-made goods and cheap knock-offs, fresh food and flowers. It has been described as the heart and soul of Melbourne for a reason. Here again, you’ll be treated to buskers, vying for airwave space with spruikers and families. You can even indulge in a little wine-tasting if you’ve been on your feet all day so far! I should point out that if you tell a local that you went there, they are more than likely to ask what you thought of the donuts. If you reply that you didn’t try them, you run a serious risk of shunning. It’s almost a crime to visit and not try these fluffy clouds of sugar coated bliss.

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Down a bit from the market, you’ll find Melbourn Central. From the outside, it’s an upended ice-cream cone covered with silver. When you get inside though, you can see that under the cone, is the preserved shot tower taking pride of place. If you have a minute, wait for the great big fob watch in front of it to ring in the hour. I forgot to take a picture of it, but I have fond childhood memories of begging mum to wait for it to go off before we moved on. I found something new here this time! There’s a little shop on level three that is the brain-child of a group of young people who are desperately wanting to do something about the homeless problem. While I was in there, I met Rich, (the artist in the middle) Who has been doing these amazing works. The boys at Homie are planning a gallery showing for him, and have asked him to illustrate a children’s book they’re working on following the life of a boy living on the streets. I can’t wait to be able to post a link here for you.20150818_143622

Downstairs from there, is the Max Brenner shop where I almost called it a day. The smells in here are amazing, andFB_IMG_1439865498161 who wouldn’t stay for the dipping plate! Unfortunately, I did eventually run out of chocolate and forced myself to move on.

Before you start thinking that my whole day was spent shopping and chasing sugar and oddities, The whole reason I went was because I found a public lecture that I wanted to attend as it was centered on Dementia. If you’re into more intellectual pursuits, and the bookshelves and hipster nooks aren’t enough for you to sink your teeth into, I highly recommend jumping online and finding one of the many… and I do mean MANY different lectures open for the public to attend.20150813_194054_001 Everything from mental health to history and culture can be found there, and with everything interconnected by public transport it’s so easy to get to. I can understand why we’ve been voted most livable city. Maybe I’ll see you there?


Missed connections

Never done this style before 🙂

The wall of books took up the back wall of the shop. As small as it was, her whole attention was set on the spines that turned their backs to her. New releases, old classics, books that didn’t deserve their best-seller titles.
“Travesty.” She muttered under her breath. At least she thought it had been.
“Completely!” She glanced sideways, taking in the tall figure. He, like her was focused on the floor to ceiling shelves, eyes skipping over one here, glaring at another there as though it’s very presence was an offence of the highest order.
Her face flushed. Useless in the art of flirting, her mind scrambled to put a coherent string of words together. He spoke first.
“It amazes me how drivel seems to consistently find its way into the hands of the masses.” His voice was soft, but even with the screeches and shouts of the nervous system of the city railway station fighting to drown him out, she didn’t need to strain to hear him. He plucked a book from the shelves, turning it over to read the blurb. If she hadn’t been trying to watch him from the corner of her eye, she would have missed his own glance toward her, and the suble flush that peeked over his collar as their eyes met.
“What would you recommend?” She ventured with a boldness she hopes he couldnt tell was faked. Turning to meet him fully, she sucked in a calming breath. He handed her the book in his hand. She reached out a hand, stupidly proud that it didn’t shake from nerves.
“Is it..” Her eyes widened as they fell on the clock behind him. “Oh no! I’m going to miss my train!” She was surprised at the strong sensation of loss that struck her in that instant. Letting her hair fall forward to hide her disappointment from this total stranger, She bent to gather her bag.
“You know,” he hesitated. “I’ve just finished this one.” He handed her a slightly dog-eared book, procured seemingly from nowhere.
“Really?” She stuttered. “Thank you!”
“A pleasure,” he muttered, meeting her eyes for a moment before glancing away. “Go on, you don’t want to miss your train.”
She manage to splutter out another ‘thank you’ as she ran from the store, handbag knocking a book to the floor as it swung out at her turn. Mortified, she waved a sorry to the harried shop keeper who just waved her off.

She made it to the platform with minutes to spare. As she caught her breath, she took the chance to look at the book still clutched in her hand. The cover gave nothing away, almost plain but for the title. As she turned it over, her fingers caught a scrap of paper peeking from between the pages. Curious, she opened the book, slipping a piece of a torn out notebook from the pages.
‘I’m sorry we didnt have time to talk’
She smiled as she read, absently hearing the train pull up to the platform in front of her.
‘If you want to talk more about books, I know a great coffee shop.’ His number was scrawled at the bottom. She felt people flow around her, a sea of self involved anxiety and impatience. A glance up to the bookshop showed the stranger standing at the door. She could feel his eyes locked onto hers.
“Miss?” Someone tapped her shoulder, a stressed man in a high-vis vest was looking up and down the platform. She was the only one standing there now. “Are you boarding? We need to move.”
“Actually,” she glanced once more at the man who had stepped towards her. “I think I’ll miss this one. ”

Subjective data

There’s nothing like a dying patient to put things in perspective. Where I work, we have all kinds of patients. Palliative patients share halls with patients under 50, sometimes younger. As the nurse, It’s quite difficult to change your mindset from one room to another, but if you don’t, you end up speaking down to someone unintentionally. Or shouting at someone who can hear you perfectly well. I think the biggest obstical though, at least for me, was heat. Well not directly I guess….

Let me put it to you this way. It’s 28C outside and you have been running around all shift. You’re hot. No, you’re melting. Now down the hall, you see a patient buzzing, so you go and see what they need. What they ask for, is a blanket. Looking at the patient, you can see they are already wearing pyjamas and are curled under a blanket, as well as sporting a classy throw rug over their knees. On top of that, they are flushed and sweaty. There’s not a chance in hell I’m going to heap another blanket on top of that.

I make my excuses and leave the room, Convinced I am acting in their best interests.

This is where I have to take a step back.

I am not her.

Who am I to decide that someone is too hot to have another blanket? Just because the heat is currently killing me, that doesn’t mean she is having the same issues.

I step back into the room and look again. This time, the flushed face is clearly grimacing. Fingers are clutching at the one blanket covering her shivering form. She isn’t cold, she’s in pain, She’s seeking any form of comfort she can find.

Needless to say, she got her blanket and her medication to settle the pain that plagued her. I found ten minutes in my day to sit with her and give her the comfort she needed.

She slipped away soon after that.

Looking back I like to think I learned from that. My feelings have no bearing on my residents. Now, I don’t go around giving blankets to overheating patients that ask for them. Some of them have no internal guage to tell them enough and will happily ask for blanket after blanket untill they sweat themselves out of the chair. What it has taught me, is to assess every case individually. Different things affect individuals differently. Some pain thresholds are completely different to mine.

If you are just starting out in a nursing proffession, there is a reason they stress the difference between subjective and objective data. My advice would be, take a step back and don’t put yourselves in their shoes. They won’t always fit.

(Footnote: I always assess a patient for pain. I just wanted to use an extreem case to highlight the importance of always looking at the whole picture!)

The professional pan-handler

I know I’m new to the blog scene, but if I’m going to do this crowding thing, I would be remiss to put a plea out to my fellow authors and artisans here.
As many of you no doubt know, I can proudly say I am a published author and a nurse. What I can’t say is I’m married to a movie producer millionaire and therefore have a licence to print money. This self-inflicted penury means my magnificent independent publisher and I are responsible for marketing, funding, promoting, pretty much everything that makes books sell.
Having sold my book as a self published project, I know that conventions are the best way to reach your chosen market. I also know that to consider yourself successful, you need to reach international conventions. This is why I need your help.
I am planning to take my zombie book to the WalkerStalker convention next year. Between buying product, organising travel and accommodation, the funds are likely going to exceed my budget. As an incentice, I am prepared to give a 15% discount to customers who can tell me where they heard about my request. Any little bit will help!

Hope to see you there!


I cop a lot of flack at home because of my apocalyptic writing. Dad in particular takes great pleasure in questioning my own ‘prepper’ tendencies as over dramatic.
I realised something though,  as he raced around the house getting ready  (he takes longer than mum and I combined). My boyscout dad is a prepper in denial. He doesn’t just stop at a bug out bag either! He has a small black bag that he stocks with things he might possibly need. Extra electronic pen that records notes to the cloud in case his main one dies? Check!
Not a prepper. Right. And Doctor Who only catches my attention now and then.
I questioned him on his bag this morning, before we got into his bluetooth enabled office on wheels -thats right, Mr. Not-a-prepper has a bug out vehicle too-. His response?
“This is not a bug out bag, its an everyday take to work bag.”
So.. an EDC?
Before my fellow preppers start jumping up and down pointing out that the lack of survival blanket, freeze dried food, and magnesium mean it’s not a real survival bag; I’ll point out that dads idea of primal living is having to rely on Macdonalds WiFi. The point here? Before you make fun of any prepper, turn out your handbags and backpacks. I’ll bet you’re a prepper too!

My existential fit

I wasn’t going to write today, I know that I won’t be writing daily so I didn’t want to start with unrealistic goals. Having said that though, I am currently reading Man’s search for meaning (Victor E Frankl) and was inspired to add another page to my blog/diary/thing; this one dedicated to musings and thoughts about nursing. Let me preface this by warning you that my attitude and demeanour is usually directly affected by what I am reading. If I sound snobbish, it is because I am reading the work of a brilliant man. I can assure you, it won’t last.

Dr. Frankl is a psychiatrist, and though I wouldn’t dream of putting my experiences on par with his own in the concentration camps, some of the things he wrote brought my experiences in aged care to mind.

He writes,

“A man who could not see the end of his provisional existence, was not able to aim at an ultimate goal in life. He ceased living for the future. […] Therefore the whole structure of his inner life changed”

He is speaking here of his experience in the camp. While I would not go so far as to dishonour my profession by equating it to a camp, I at once thought of the ‘provisional existence’ many of my own residents experience.  Aged care residents (certainly in high care) are put there when they are incapable of living on their own. They become dependent on the of staff to assist them in almost every aspect of life. Is it any wonder then, that when stripped of their independence, told that they cannot bring the possessions that made their house a home. Items that hold so many memories in each chip and scrape. Is it surprising then, that so many become listless and depressed?

This is not new to nurses. We do see it in our patients. Speaking for myself though, because of constant exposure to this, it becomes a part of life, something easy to overlook. I am adding this here because I need to remind myself to step back daily, and see my ‘workplace’ through their eyes. Old eyes that see no purpose in their ‘provisional existence’, and now must call their one tiny room home.

Our time as nurses on the floor may be limited. However, let me encourage not only myself, but those of you interested in pursuing a career in nursing. The patient needs a reason to continue on. Yes they are usually there to see their days out, Our role is to make sure that each of them are able to do it in as much comfort and dignity as we can give them.

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