I’m no Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale, social reformer, statistician, prodigious writer and the founder of modern nursing.
florenec nightingale

I am not on money.

I have never been to Crimea.

I am not a nurse. (While I watch all the medical dramas on TV and sometimes make fictional diagnoses, I never look at reality medical shows- that’s real blood and guts and gore. No thank you. Paracetemol, plasters and healing kisses exhaust my nursing repertoire. I’m super at hugs and ok with the sick basin. Anything more complex is outside my range.)

You may be surprised that Ms Nightingale and I have anything in common at all. Fatigue?Pain?  Oh, yes. The founder of modern nursing was bedridden for years with symptoms now recognised as similar to ME and Fibromyalgia. That’s why 12 May, Florence Nightingale’s birthday,  is an international Awareness Day for those conditions.

The regular reader is familiar with my burblings about ME. It’s part of my life and I have had to adapt my everyday expectations to the reality of long term exhaustion, brain fog, random aches and pains, the feeling of being cloaked in lead, the utter boredom of it all.

I just can’t imagine Florence Nightingale complaining about the boredom, even as she struggled to move in the bed. By any standard she was a remarkable individual, with world changing achievements.

I’m all for awareness raising, but the date? I’m not so sure about that. I feel set up to fail.

Imagine the conversation…

‘Why today?’

‘Florence Nightingale’s birthday. She had these symptoms. It’s really not a new thing.’

‘Oh, I didn’t know that. So she created modern, trained, nursing, was highly influential in politics, health and planning and was a statistician. What did you do today?

‘I changed my pyjamas…’

From an earlier post : There’s no formula, just trial and error. Stopping and starting. Resting. Re-framing ‘doing nothing all day’ as ‘pacing’. Considering being able to get out of bed before lunchtime as an achievement. Being paralysed with anxiety, unreliable, weepy. Pains in random places. The room spinning even when I’m lying down. Never feeling good enough for the people in my life.

There’s a reason I’m not active in ME groups. I hate that this is my life. I think about it as little as I can. Despite what you may think from the mumblings and moanings on this blog, I refuse to be defined by my ME. It is not me. I’m still angry and resentful and not able to do what I want to do. I don’t want to honour it with any more of me than it already has.

Take away messages from ME awareness day? ME is rubbish. Loads of people have it. There’s no effective treatment. It changes life totally. Not a bit wonder so many of us develop anxiety and depression after a while. And most of the time we don’t even look sick.

10 thoughts on “I’m no Florence Nightingale

  1. ” Re-framing ‘doing nothing all day’ as ‘pacing’. Considering being able to get out of bed before lunchtime as an achievement.”
    Oh yes. I have labelled this as A.R.T. = Aggressive Rest Therapy.
    There’s also Jason Bourne: “Sleep is a weapon”.

    A fellow 12th May Blog Bomber, slowly and gently working through the other contributions.
    This I can do. I’ll pay tomorrow.


    1. I am going to steal ‘aggressive rest therapy’- it will make me feel like I’m being proactive 🙂
      The blog bomb has sent me to all sorts of interesting places (including yours) but it may take me a while to get through the lot- a great idea!

  2. I didn’t know any of this about Florence Nightingale. How fascinating. And I didn’t know her birthday was commemorated. I must correspond with Nurse Appreciation Week, which I probably wouldn’t know much about except my daughter is a nurse. Just look what you’ve taught me!!

    1. She seems to have been a very driven woman- wealthy enough to not need to get married, interested enough in change to design it, fund it and make it happen. Interesting too, that her father taught her maths and she was able to promote the use of statistical evidence.

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