This International Nurses Day, I want to share my nursing story. My name is Karen Hampson, I am 49 years old and born in Radcliffe, Manchester. I have had dystonia, a movement disorder which causes tremors, spasms and incredible pain night and day, since I was born. This causes me extreme struggles with day to day tasks and personal care.
I struggled in school as people didn’t understand the issues around disabilities. I was left to my own devices at school and with no help, I left with no qualifications. However, I was determined and I went on to college where I managed to get some support and passed my Maths, English and BTEC National in Business and Finance.
I started my NHS life in 1988, working as a Nursing Auxiliary in Bury, Lancashire. I got to experience many different fields from maternity to medical during that time. In those days, I worked with many different characters and met many patients, from famous footballers to actors off Coronation Street.
I moved to London in 1993 and slowly moved out to Essex where I now reside. I spent many years as a first aider in St John Ambulance and visited areas in London from Sadler’s Wells to Hyde Park, covering anything from music concerts, ballet, trooping the colour to Notting Hill Carnival.
These years inspired me. I wanted to make my career in the medical field. When I first enquired, I was told I should never even consider applying for any sort of training but I went ahead and applied anyway. I fought through and managed to secure a place at South Bank University in 1995.
Nursing has been the best decision I have ever made. In 1998, I qualified and went to work on an oncology ward, going on to work in accident and emergency medicine now referred to as ED medicine/trauma.
I now work in the NELFT Rehab Hub as a Band 6 sister/assessor (Acute and Rehabilitation Directorate), going out in the acute services identifying patients for adult in-patient rehab.
I have later in life developed other conditions such as hypermobility joint syndrome, autonomic mediated syncope and recently, I have been diagnosed with cancer, which I am currently under treatment for. During this crisis I am working from home, with the support of my colleagues. I continue to battle on and I am thankful I am here today.
Nursing is one of my many passions. I am also a group exercise instructor, and I teach Les Mills Body Pump, Group Cycling and soon to have Les Mills RPM (cycling). I also like to think I am a rock god, and have taken up a program called Pound (drumming skills with exercise mixed in a gym environment). And not to forget the para-trampolining, roller skating and horse riding!
I have worked all over the UK and have loved all my experiences. I have evolved into the technical era and keenly embrace any change that is for the better. I am looking forward to what’s next in my life, both in nursing and exercise.