The Diary of a Dietitian……where it all began

This picture was the last time I worked as a dietitian for the health service in the UK……2 years to be exact……and a lot has changed since then!

Today marks the day I graduated as a Dietitian after studying for 4 years at the University of Nottingham, England. Ten years ago my dream came through after a lot of hard work, sweat, tears and determination!

From the age of 13, I knew I wanted to be a Dietitian……many people have asked me how did I know at such a young age and my answer is simple……A Dietitian encompasses all the things I was passionate about……helping people, my love for science and my passion for food! No other career could contend with how precise this fit was! At 16, I contemplated nursing but decided not to follow this career path, mainly due to my soft nature and knew I would get close to my patients…..don’t get me wrong, a dietitian does build a relationship with patients but I felt it would be one step removed.

I applied to the UK as 2 of my sisters were already at university there and also the only course in Ireland was impossible to get on! So after just turning 19, I packed my bag and my adventure aboard began! To say it was a tough 4 years is an understatement!!! Many late nights in the 24 hour computer library along with super early starts were regularly part of my schedule……obviously there was still plenty of time for socialising and I never let that aspect suffer! At times, I felt I wouldn’t/couldn’t continue due to the high expectations of the course along with a massive dose of home sickness and the huge cultural differences….but I preserved (as I am as stubborn as a mule and will never give in!!) and got my degree with a sigh of relief……receiving a 2:1 honors along with a 1st in my dissertation ( which later went on to be published!).

I was full of enthusiasm, motivation and passion and loved nothing more to be flying around the hospital covering up to 10 wards at a time! I almost got a high from helping those and watch them return home to their loved ones having made some remarkable recoveries. However, it wasn’t always a bed of roses, and often I saw many people pass away. Even though I had experienced it first hand with loosing my own mother, nothing prepares you this……even though I wasn’t related to them, it still had a massive impact on me leaving me hurting for days to follow.

The first patient that I really had gotten attached to was a lady in her late 60’s who had had a severe stroke…..she had lost her speak, mobility and swallow and was fed all her nutrition via a tube. Her husband would visit her daily and always made a point to see me and speak to me and was so adamant that his beautiful wife would have a full recovery to return home to him where they could continue their lives as before.

Sadly this lady never recovered and passed away. I vividly remember the morning walking onto the ward and went to look for the patient. It was only then that the nurse informed me she had passed away a few hours ago and she was in a side room, embalmed and waiting for the undertaker to take her to the morge……at that moment my heart broke and my eyes filled with tears….all I wanted was to see her, to pay my respects and to say goodbye. I stood by her bed for some time, and cried silently before leaving to return to my many other patients that needed seeing that day.

A dietitian isn’t somebody that tells others to stop eating chocolate!!! If it was that easy, I am sure I wouldn’t have changed careers! People become attached to you as they cling on for hope to get better and get their lives back to what they were before the became ill. Being a dietitian, I almost wanted to ‘fix’ everyone and got frustrated, angry and upset when I didn’t or couldn’t achieve this.

This blog is the first of many of my Journey as a dietitian……the highs, the lows and even the funny stories (my god there’s plenty of them!!!)……sharing my experiences as a dietitian will be a mini journey for me… reflect, reminisce and acknowledge what I achieved in my 8 years and how hard working, determined and amazing dietitians really are……they truly do not get the recognition they deserve! I am proud to say I am a dietitian and proud of the work we do……so much so that I reregistered for another 2 years and don’t think my time as one is fully over!