10 Tips for Surviving Jaw Surgery

A few weeks ago, I wrote a lengthy post about my experience with orthognathic surgery, which you can read here. In this post, I have decided to write about my top 10 tips for getting through the recovery stage. First and foremost, if you reached the recovery stage, it means the worst is over and while you may be in pain at the minute each day really does get a little easier!

1.Do your research

I cannot stress this point enough. While there isn’t a lot of first-hand anecdotal content online regarding UK and Irish jaw surgery experiences, the stuff that you can find is really helpful. Taking a day or two to get yourself together, make a list for purchasing your supplies and even reaching out to people who have been through it will make things all the better. Especially for your carers as they may find it hard to understand your voice when your jaw is locked together!

2. Get your supplies

Following on from my point above, you will have a very long list of things you will want to buy or borrow before you go in for the operation. A few of the essentials include extra pillows, a set of baby toothbrushes, medical toothpaste and mouthwash, a few sets of comfy pyjamas (Primark’s finest!), books, magazines, Vaseline, a Netflix subscription and the list goes on. Making sure you have sufficient towels, ice packs and hot cloths is imperative. Towels are perfect for the drooling and eating. Mixing up ice packs and hot cloths will also help to bring down the swelling (and subsequently, the pain). It’s well known that it’s individual preference for heat or ice, so just see what works best for you. Or if you’re like me, keep switching it up.

3. Have the right medicine

Supplies are one thing but medication is essential. Obviously, your doctor and dentist’s advice paramount, but any recommendations help! Your doctor will tell you to get liquid paracetamol and ibuprofen because you won’t be able to fit the tablets in your mouth. They will be your saviour. I also had problems with earaches and the best thing for this for me was antihistamines! They really brought down the aches and helped me to sleep, but beware they make you really drowsy with the condition you’re already in.

Vicks is also a fail-safe recommended by mummies and grannies across Ireland! Drop some in boiling water, put a towel over your head and inhale. This will help clear your blocked nose and sinuses.  

4. Get to Tesco

Choosing between what liquids you think you can eat is a LOT harder than it seems! Having as many foods and liquids in your house as you can will help with those crucial decisions. Bear in mind you will be on a liquid diet so a blender is essential. Foods that helped me were milkshakes, soups, complan (essentially a fattening powder), protein powders, M&S mashed potatoes (…drool), yoghurts, blended stew, ice-cream and anything you can possibly think you could drink! When you get to week 3 and can start eating soft foods, Skips saved my life- they melt on your tongue and are the closest thing to crisps you’ll get for a while.

5. SHOWER

I cannot describe the feeling of showers after you get jaw surgery. For the first week or so, it was the only thing that made me feel better and 3 or more showers a day was the norm. Your face will swell up beyond belief in the weeks following the operation and even the most confident person would find it difficult to be in public. Showers will bring this swelling down (just make sure you don’t put your face under the water) and as well as that, they clear you head!

6. Make a list of things to do

Most people will get a good chunk of time off work or university for the surgery and while this may sound relaxing, it can be very boring! Make a list of TV shows (The OA being my current favourite obsession), books (Dolly Alderton: Everything I know about love!- you won’t put it down), podcasts, magazines, YouTube videos and even tasks you could do around the house. Arrange for your friends and family to come visit and make sure you’re never bored.

7. Take the dog on a walk

Or your cat, or your dad, or anyone really! Short walks will help bring down the swelling and it’s really easy to get stuck in a depressive rut during recovery. One thing though- never go by yourself! You won’t realise how weak you are and I only managed about 5 minutes every day from week 2-3.  

8. Get ready for the aftermath

Make sure you have baby toothbrushes and good dental mouthwashes. The last thing you want is a dental infection so make sure to keep it clean. When your swelling comes down and you start to see your new face, it will be strange, but if you keep your teeth nice and healthy during the recovery it will pay off when it comes to getting the braces off!

9. Make a food bucket list

This will be the fun part! Write down all your favourite foods and make an itinerary for the week before your operation. You will never crave food like you do on a liquid diet so force all your friends to join you for a Nando’s.

10. Breathe and relax

It will be sore. It will be mind-numbingly boring. It will feel like a lifetime. But when it’s all over you will be so happy you done it! Relax and enjoy your time off with some well-deserved pampering and hopefully someone looking after you! It’ll be over in no time 🙂

Lauren Wilson is a third-year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University, currently undertaking a year’s placement at Belfast City Council. She can be found at: LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/laurennxwilsonn/

Orthognathic Surgery And Me

My journey for straight teeth began in September 2010 when I was just 14. When the orthodontist told me I couldn’t get braces until I was 18 I cried for hours on end. I never realised how self-conscious I was about my jaw until I was told I had to live with it until I was an adult. Why? Because I had a severe underbite that was only going to get worse as I grew older. Not only would I have to wait years to get the braces put on, I was also going to need double-jaw surgery to correct my bite.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I couldn’t get braces until my jaw had finished growing so I was transferred to the RVH School of Dentistry for treatment. Every appointment letter I got excitement rushed through me, as I thought this was finally the time. Each appointment trip I was eager and hoping, only to find out my teeth weren’t ready yet. My orthodontist was reassuring and understood why I was so impatient and eventually he was happy to inform me I could get my braces come February 6th 2014 (I remember this date so well as it’s also the night I went to that Hardwell concert).

After a year and a half with a brace-face it finally started to kick in that the surgery was real and it was happening. I was told in September 2016 that my jaw was ready and I was put to the top of the waiting list and so, I waited until 13th April 2017 before I was admitted to hospital. Thankfully Ulster Hospital had just been through refurbishment and I was given a private hospital room with my own en-suite bathroom. Not that it felt like a hotel in any way, but at least I was comfortable. On Holy Thursday I brought my teddy bear and pyjamas to hospital and waited for my visitors. McDonald’s was just across the road so when my friends came to visit me I got the biggest munch I could eat (this was the last time I would eat solid food for around 3 months). After my friends left I went back to my hospital room to sleep and I can safely say I have never been so terrified in my entire life. Alone in the room my only form of contact was nurses coming in to take my bloods and check my blood pressure. Before I went to sleep, a nurse came round to give me a blood-thinning injection. He gave me the choice between injecting in the stomach or arm, and terrified by the thought of a needle in my stomach, I asked for it in my arm. Boy, was this a mistake. I can reassuringly inform you it’s 10 times less painful to get it in your stomach- get it in your stomach!!

Come Friday morning I was awakened at 6am with toast by one of the nurses. You can’t eat 4 hours before going under anaesthetic so I was given toast to make sure I had ate something. I was so nauseated and nervous, I could only eat a bite. Nor could I sleep after this, and so a long day ensued.

My surgery was scheduled for around 1pm that day so my nanny arrived at around 10am to sit with me beforehand. Little did either of us know she was going to be waiting with me for hours before I finally got called in at 5pm. I remember very little of what my nanny and I spoke about that day, I couldn’t get my mind off the surgery at all. When the doctor came in at 4pm to tell me to get ready, I had to take off my clothes and put on my surgical robe. This was definitely the scariest part. Getting wheeled down in my hospital bed to the surgery room, I have never wanted my mummy so much in my life. I’m a worrier and the thought of going under general anaesthetic filled me with intense fear. I know I was in the hands of outstanding surgeons but I couldn’t help but feel scared. I remember the corridor down to the surgery room being unbearably cold and I must have resembled a sheet of paper I was that pale. When I got to the surgery room I was wheeled into place and the anaesthetist started getting my hand prepared for the injection. Uncontrollably shaking, pale as a ghost and holding back tears, he started talking to me about my degree and tried to distract me as best he could. I was then asked to take off my underwired bra because you can’t wear metal during the surgery (Not the kind of story you expect to hear when you tell someone you’ve taken your bra off in front of 10 people, is it?). Before I was put to sleep, the doctors had to fit an endoscope down my mouth. An endoscope is a small flexible tube with a tiny light and camera attached to the end which relays images to a connected screen so that the surgeons have a better view of the mouth and throat. To get the tube down my throat I had to cough every few centimetres, this was terrifying as I was still awake and could see the camera screen. They then put the tube in my vein on my hand and I could feel the anaesthetic fluid starting to drip into my blood. They told me to count to 10 and I prayed as they counted me out. They got to 7 before I was out cold.

Waking up in intensive care I had a nurse right by my side. She was with me as soon as I woke up, talking to me and asking me questions, trying to keep me calm. Shortly after I awoke, she asked if I was in pain and if I needed any more morphine. I had to say yes as I could feel the excruciating pain start to build the longer I was awake. After an hour or so in intensive care (which I hardly remember) the nurses wheeled me back up to my room. Equally unaware of the severity of the pain I was about to endure my mummy brought along my younger brother and sister. Needless to say they didn’t want to stay long after seeing the state I was in. Shook up, they left to get a lift with my daddy. The nurses stayed with me quite a lot for the first hour along with my mum. My mummy put my pyjamas on me and gave me my phone to text my boyfriend and friends and tell them all went OK. God knows what I typed into those chats given how high I was off the morphine. That didn’t last long though. When it started to wear off I began to feel the intense ache in my jaw. Just to add to that the morphine didn’t react well to my body and I began vomiting blood (which is normal given it’s an operation of the mouth). I don’t know what was worse; the pain in my mouth, the overwhelming sense of sickness or how dizzy I felt when I woke up.

At this point I was happy the surgery was over and I was OK, but the worst really was yet to come. My mummy stayed with me that night (and also the night after- mums really don’t get enough credit). I could barely sleep as the pain really started to kick in. I sat in bed awake that whole night, too sore or tired to reach for my phone. I just sat there. I have never felt more grateful for being healthy and able in my life than I did that weekend.

Recovery from the Friday evening until I got out on the Saturday afternoon was tough. I had one vein pumping water into my veins (I could barely lift my hand let alone get myself a drink of water) and pumps squeezing my calves to prevent blood clots. Every 4 hours the nurse came round to give me painkillers, again through the veins. I stopped being afraid of the needles then and actually longed for them as they stopped my pain, even if just temporarily.

Shortly after visitors had left, I got up to use the toilet. My teeth weren’t elasticated during my surgery and the swelling hadn’t started at that point so my face had looked fine the night before. It took me 6 minutes to walk 2 metres to the toilet and after I looked in the mirror I was astonished. Despite my face looking like an enlarged grape, I could straight away see I looked different. My nose was a completely different shape and my cheekbones were sticking out under my eyes. It was freaky to look in a mirror and not see your normal face staring back at you, but I was excited nonetheless. I poured cold water over my hands and splashed them on my face. As my face was covered in blood and roasting from the swelling this felt amazing.

Before getting back into bed the nurses wanted an x-ray of my jaw. I hadn’t stood for more than 5 minutes in nearly 2 days so I was exhausted from my walk to the toilet and the thought of a trip around the hospital was distressing. Luckily, they gave me a wheelchair and my mummy and the nurse wheeled me down to the x-ray room. If you have ever got a mouth x-ray before you’ll know you often have to stand and bite onto a small metal clip. I tried my hardest to stand for as long as I could but I could sense the fear on the radiologist’s face as he watched me. I went sheet white and knew I was going to faint. He rushed over and put me back in my chair, calling my mummy in. Thankfully I didn’t faint but along came another spurt of bloody vomit. This time was much, much worse than the previous. The doctors had been round to put the elastics in my teeth (attached to the braces) and somehow I was meant to be sick with a closed mouth. I’ll not go into any further detail here…

I was meant to go home on the Saturday afternoon but the nurses thought it would be better for me to stay. The 2nd night was easier. I slept for about half an hour every 3 hours and after the night before, this felt so refreshing. My mum left at around 4am that Sunday morning- she was wrecked and with no bed I couldn’t blame her. Being the woman she is, she was back on the Sunday at 11am so it didn’t matter much anyway. On the Sunday afternoon I was told I could go home, I had never felt so relieved to be getting out of that place but also scared because my painkillers were being reduced and I couldn’t imagine the impending pain.

 

 

 

 

This will be a long-winded story to someone who has never or will never go through something like this so I’m going to put my recovery story along with any tips for getting through the aftermath into a separate post. For someone who has never been self-conscious about their teeth this may seem a bit extreme for aesthetics but I can honestly say it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done. Being able to actually get your teeth out for a photo and smile naturally is something I will never take for granted again. It really is the silly things- like eating a steak (5 years without one!!), biting off a piece of sellotape when you’re wrapping a present, not living in fear that your jaw will get worse, being able to chew with teeth that aren’t your back molars, and not constantly looking disinterested or rude because your jaw is hanging from your face. I appreciate these things now, almost 2 years after my surgery.

 

 

 

 

If anyone is considering orthognathic surgery or who has relatives or friends who may be, please do get in contact. There are plenty of tips and tricks out there to help you along the way and I’d be happy to help in any way that I can, be it advice or just plain support.

Disclaimer: I am not, in any way, trying to scare people out of this surgery. Despite the horror story, it was one of the best things I ever did. I just wish someone had given me a more detailed account of the surgical procedure before I made that decision.

 

Lauren Wilson is a third-year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University, currently undertaking a year’s placement at Belfast City Council. She can be found at: LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/laurennxwilsonn/

Five Things I’ve Learned before Graduating

As my final semester with Ulster University and the stress of final year continues to loom overhead, the end is almost in sight. However, as I was procrastinating from my assignments last week, I stumbled across an interview between pop star Taylor Swift and Elle USA to mark her thirtieth birthday. The article is titled ‘30 things I learnt before turning 30’, with Taylor providing life anecdotes and advice from friendships to family. Whether you’re a fan of Taylor Swift or not, I highly recommend reading this article as I instantly felt motivated after reading it. You can read it by clicking here.

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Although I’m only 22, this article inspired me to compare Taylor’s anecdotes to my own life, and compare it to all the things I’ve learnt before graduating. It allowed me to reflect on how different I am now compared to the 18 year old girl who stepped foot at Ulster back in September 2015.  Therefore, I’ve been inspired to write this blog about 5 things I’ve learnt before graduating university. Although everyone is feeling the heat and is eager to finish, I couldn’t help but think of all the positive things that have happened since beginning my journey at university.

 

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  1. Positivity is key: Failing and rejection is normal

As clichéd as it is, and I know we hear it all the time, failing is a part of life that will never cease to exist. I remember being so afraid of failing things at university. I was very academic in secondary school, and I didn’t want this to change in university. I’d been warned by my older sister of how different university marking/grading  is compared to school, and I remember in first year receiving my grade for my first ever assignment and feeling slightly disappointed.  I’d predicted in that moment that I was failing my degree and that I wasn’t cut out for university, but in reality I was completely overreacting. It’s easier to focus on the negatives, however it’s how we deal with those negatives is the game changer. From constructive criticism on your style of writing, to improving your interview technique or even receiving criticism from friends, it’s always beneficial to use this to continuing improving and bettering yourself.

I’m a very big fan of the quote: “what’s for you won’t go by you”, therefore failing helps facilitate the opportunities that are meant for you. A positive outlook can go a long way, and you’ll never stop failing in life, so keep continuing on your journey.

 

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  1. Be involved: Take interest in your degree

I can only speak from my own experience, but to get the most out of university and your experience at university is down to adopting a pro-active attitude. Due to the nature of my degree, I discovered from first year that it is important to have an understanding of what’s out there in the industry, whether that is local agencies or companies and learning more about the work they do. The university is excellent for introducing us to key notable speakers from Northern Ireland and beyond, as well as putting us in contact with successful past alumni of the university. I’ve really enjoyed attending these sessions, and yes, although it may mean staying in university that extra bit later, it’s a great way to network and meet people in the industry. This is a brilliant way to help secure contacts for your placement year, or for later in life.  There are a number of competitions/ opportunities available through our degree. In first year I took part in the PANI (Publicity Association Northern Ireland) and had the opportunity of working with local advertising agency, Ardmore Advertising.  Fortunately, our team were lucky enough to win this competition, meaning that our campaign for local charity Shelter NI went live across Northern Ireland in September 2016. Not only did I get the experience of working with a local agency; I also got to meet new students I wouldn’t normally have been in contact with, as we completed the competition with two graphic design students from the Belfast campus.  Small things like that not only enhance your university experience, but allow you to find your feet within the industry.

  1. Getting the right balance between work/play

Undoubtedly, there is a massive jump between secondary school life and university, as well as a massive jump from first to second year in university. Especially in first year of university, I found myself with a lot more free time than I did in secondary school. I didn’t know what to do with my new-found freedom. I always found it extremely important to get the right balance between work and play when managing my time. For many, this means finding the right balance between partying and studying, but I saw this free time as an opportunity for personal development. Free time allows you to indulge in new interests. For me, I decided to use my free time to work on gaining more experience in fields relating to my degree, for others it meant taking up a new sport/hobby. As I am in the final stages of final year, it’s truly opened my eyes to the importance of having a balance between work and play even more than before. There’s always going to be an assignment you should be doing or a journal article you need to read but spending time with friends over a cup of tea, going to the cinema in the evening or going on a night out with friends shouldn’t make you feel guilty (although I know I’ve been there). It’s so important to not burn the candle on both ends, but instead enjoy everything in moderation. A motto that I’ve found myself adapting in university is: “At the end of the day, I’ll get it done.” – and you will.

 

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  1. “I need a dollar, dollar, a dollar is all I need!”

One of the best days in the life of a student is when they receive their student loan installments. I have thoroughly enjoyed these days, and I’ve even had count-down apps on my iPhone counting down the days until I receive the next installment in my bank account. (Sad, I know) The opportunities available for using your money are endless, and a new-found sense of generosity kicks in; both to yourself and others. “Shall I buy every item in my ASOS basket?” “I’ve had a long day, I deserve this Dominoes.”  “I’ll pay for the taxi, you can pay for the drinks inside!” – (this is NEVER the case).

One thing that I’ve learnt from university is the importance of budgeting money. University for many introduces a list of bills/payments, from paying for rent to buying groceries for meals. If you’re struggling to keep on-top of your spending,  simple things like creating budgeting plans or giving yourself a weekly allowance can help keep your spending in check. Just don’t go too wild with your overdrafts…

  1. If you need help – ask.

This relates to a series of problems. If you’re struggling with the workload and unsure what you’re meant to be doing on an assignment, your course director and lecturers are more than happy to answer any of your questions via email or meet in their office hours. I’ve never been someone to shy away from asking questions, as ultimately the only person you’re disadvantaging is yourself. University can be a tough time for many people, as it’s an opportunity to fully embrace independence and finding your feet in society. For many, it’s described as the best years of your life; however there is an unspoken pressure that you must be enjoying yourself and having fun 24/7 which is unrealistic. If you feel that you need to talk to someone professionally, the university has a ‘Mind Your Mood’ campaign on their website and work closely with Inspire to provide one on one counselling.  If this isn’t something you think you need, even talking to a friend and venting out your stresses will make you feel a lot better. A problem shared is a problem halved, even if the solution isn’t always clear.

In conclusion, I’m excited to see what the next stages of my career will be; however, I’ve had the best couple of years at Ulster University both on placement and with an amazing group of people in my class – I couldn’t have gone through university without them.

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Abigail Foran is a final year BSc in Communications, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @abigailforan ; LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/abigail-foran-755800118/

“But which one is right?” MY opinion on this generation

I’m here today to talk about snowflakes. No, I don’t mean the little white fluffy things we see at Christmas (more like March if you live in Ireland), but the delicate, precious, if-you-touch-them-they-melt, human beings that we have walking among us every day.

 

Now, don’t get me wrong, I could not care less about what religion or sexual preference you have; I don’t even care if you like to wear Tuesday socks on a Friday. But that’s exactly my point – I. Don’t. Care.

 

We live in a generation where people care too much. I will never understand why anyone would want to walk through this earth, getting offended by every minor thing they see or hear, when they would be much happier if they just didn’t give a shit. Likewise, I don’t get why people try to offend others for having different thoughts to them. As a wise man, Ricky Gervais, once said, “Just because you’re offended, doesn’t mean you’re right.” When people get offended by homosexuals, does that mean they’re right? No. When people get offended by someone else’s religion, does that mean they’re right? No. It’s all just opinion.

 

Once upon a time, there was a big bang (or so the theory goes) and this earth was created. There was nothing but plants and animals. Then society came along, decided what was right and wrong and this created opinions, and opinions, as we can see today, create offence. Now, if you are a woman and one day you wake up and you decide that you would like to be a man, go right ahead. But be warned, someone out there is not going to agree with it. In the same way, people who decide to eat a vegan diet would not agree with someone who eats meat. But which one is right? Neither, because it’s all based on opinion and personal preferences.

 

Let’s talk about Friends, the greatest TV show on earth (in my opinion). The show that was once so ahead of its time, due to the same-sex wedding and the transgender character of Chandler’s father, that it was actually banned in parts of the US when it first arrived on our screens in 1994.  But now, since its release on UK Netflix, some millennials believe that the show is offensive to this snowflake generation. One of the main reasons for this was that they found the fat-shaming of Monica to be extremely problematic. But when you think about it, should they really be praising someone for living an unhealthy lifestyle? (Don’t get me started because I could write a whole new blog post about people who praise obesity). Another issue that has been getting a lot of press recently, is the use of the word ‘faggot’ in the classic and amazingly-brilliant Christmas song ‘Fairytale of New York’. Now, this song has been around for years and yes, I know, times have changed, blah blah blah, but if you warriors stepped back from the keyboard for long enough you would realise that this song is about a heterosexual couple, therefore the use of the word faggot here could not mean a gay man, as this would not make any sense. If you then took the time to do a little research, you would see that early usage of the word ‘faggot’ actually meant ‘a repellent man’ which, when you think about the fact that this couple had a love-hate relationship, would make a lot more sense.

 

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In my 21 years of living, I have learned a couple of things and one thing I know is that if you have a different opinion to someone else, you should not get offended when they don’t agree. You also can’t get offended when someone carries out their own personal practises or beliefs just because you have decided that you believe in something different. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and just because yours goes against what society deems as ‘normal’ does not mean that your opinion has any more significance than anyone else’s.

 

I saw these Hindu words on an Instagram post today, and I thought it would fit perfectly here. “There are hundreds of paths up the mountain, all leading in the same direction, so it doesn’t matter which path you take. The only one wasting time is the one who runs around and around the mountain, telling everyone that his or her path is wrong.”

 

Now I am aware that this post has probably offended some people, but really, those people should have stopped reading at the word ‘snowflakes’. And that’s the point, if someone doesn’t agree with what you believe in, or if they are talking about something that is going to offend you, don’t take to twitter and tell them they’re wrong or ‘outdated’, just ignore them! Learn not to give a shit. Try accepting that everyone is unique and different and that maybe, just maybe, there is no right and wrong way to live your life.

 

But that’s just my opinion.

 

Niamh Doherty is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/niamh.doc.9 ; Twitter @niamhydoc

 

My Dad – The Strongest Man in the World.

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Growing up I always viewed my Dad as the strongest man in the world. There was nothing he couldn’t fix and he was always there to protect me. He worked away from home during the week as a stone mason so Friday nights were always my favourite time seeing his van pull up outside knowing he would have presents for me, my brother Daniel and my sister Sarah. After dinner he would take me out for ice cream and being in the van up high allowed us to drive down the country roads outside of Newcastle and see all the animals in the fields. Being a young girl I couldn’t have thought of any other better ways to spend my Friday nights.

A few years ago in 2016 my Dad started to struggle with headaches. He was coming home from work and going straight to bed because of the pain. As time went on and the pain of his headaches started to deteriorate my Mum booked him in with his GP who informed them that the pain he was experiencing was “nothing more than the common headache.” Relieved by this news Mum and Dad came home with a new set of painkillers hoping they would clear the headaches.

The next time my Dad had a headache he took 2 of his painkillers and waited for them to do their job… to kill the pain. As a few hours passed Dad realised the pain hadn’t eased at all and not being one to complain it was my Mum who decided to take him to A&E to see if they could help in ways a swift visit to the GP couldn’t. After a few scans and tests they were told again that the pain he was experiencing was no more than a common headache. However unlike their first visit to the Doctors this one was different as before they arrived home one of the nurses phoned my Mum and asked if they would be able to make their way back to the hospital. Then they were informed that it wasn’t just a headache but after taking closer looks at my Dad’s scans that they were sorry to tell him that he had a tumour growing on his optic nerve and across his pituitary gland.

The next few months insisted of frequent visits to the hospital and lots of medicine. After plenty of tests and scans Dad’s Neurologist decided that it was time for him to have surgery as his tumour had doubled in size over a small amount of time. Still working up until a few days before his scheduled surgery it was easy to see that the man I viewed as the strongest man in the world was terrified, and this scared me more than anything.

I’m not sure how to describe the day of his surgery other than it was strange. No one knew how to act but pretending to be normal didn’t feel right. As my parents were panicking we set off to the hospital a few hours early which made me feel more nervous. Waiting around for something is bad but having to wait in a quiet room in a hospital is worse.

A lovely nurse came out to get Dad ready for his surgery and informed us that it’s better if we go home as after the surgery we wouldn’t be able to see Dad for a few hours and that she would phone us when we were allowed to visit. The surgery was scheduled to last 2 hours as they thought it would be a simple procedure but after a lot of complications and 8 hours in surgery the Neurologist realised he couldn’t remove all of the tumour and the risks of having my Dad in surgery for any longer were too high.

Driving to the hospital we didn’t know what to expect as the Doctors didn’t tell my mum much over the phone. I remember standing beside my Dad’s hospital bed crying and praying that he would be okay. You never expect things like this to happen to you or your family and even though we had known for months about his surgery nothing could take the fact away that it was actually my Dad lying in the hospital bed and not someone else’s.

After a week in hospital post surgery it was time Dad could home which was the best feeling EVER. It honestly took a good few months for my Dad to get back into a routine. With the strong side effects off all his medication to prevent the remainder of his tumour from growing it was decided that instead of going back to work it was better for his health if he remained at home. I thought the hard part would be over now but it was really difficult to watch my Dad struggle with staying at home. He had worked his whole life ever since he was a young boy and being at home and feeling too weak to leave the house for more than an hour or so was really difficult for him.

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Like most stereotypical retired men Dad built a green house in the back garden which turned out to be a great distraction for my Dad and still is. It keeps him busy but in the comfort of our house so if he starts to feel unwell or needs to take a break he can easily do so.

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Even though I’ve always been a ‘Daddy’s Girl’ one positive thing that has come out of these emotional and stressful few years is that it has allowed me to realise how much can change in a short period of time. Being a teenager when this all started to happen I as always directing my attention to trivial things like nights out and social media etc. I feel so blessed every day to still have my Mum and Dad spoiling me and this crazy experience has only made me want to appreciate everything they do for me and my siblings even more.

Anna Grant is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Instagram – annagrantx

“If you work for a living, why do you kill yourself working?”

How many times have you asked someone how they are, and they answered with something along the lines of “Oh grand, keeping busy so I can’t complain”?

I don’t know about you, but it’s something that I hear a lot and I’ve noticed that it’s usually said with a positive connotation. But is it really a good thing?

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Living in a society where everything happens almost instantly, people are finding themselves under a new-found pressure to get as much done as possible in 24 hours. 

If we aren’t in work or university, we’re working on projects or assignments at home. If we aren’t at the gym trying to keep fit, we’re in the house trying to get the place cleaned up for a few more days. We’re living in a world of endless to-do lists, but yet this is portrayed as if it’s something to be happy about.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we should sit around all day doing nothing and I for one really admire a hard-work ethic, but have things gotten to the point that we feel guilty for sitting down to watch a movie on a weekday evening, instead of replying to the emails your boss sent 20 minutes after you left the office?

My mother always tells me that she can’t believe when I say that time is going too quickly, because she never felt like that at my age (and it certainly wasn’t because she was sitting around doing nothing). So I couldn’t help but think about why I feel like this so often; and to be honest I blame technology. Yes, I know what you’re thinking…“We all waste so much time on social media”. Which is true, but technology has advanced so much in the last thirty years, we now have fully-functioning computers in our pockets. Everything is so instantaneous. From our communication to our grocery shopping; it can all be done with the click of a few buttons. And I feel that this new quick-paced culture has created a society that is too impatient and expects everything and everyone to be ‘flat to the mat’ 100% of the time. We become aggravated when traffic isn’t moving fast enough or when the wifi isn’t working because we always have things to get done.

That’s what it comes down to isn’t it? We can’t spend too long chatting to our neighbours because we have somewhere to be. We don’t call our family because we can do that any time and there’s six assignments waiting to be finished. We don’t take time to relax after work because the housework needs to be done before bed.

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Personally, I have found myself in a continuous rut of planning every hour of every day so that I can go to work, go to uni, go to the gym, get my assignments done, do some housework, try and see my friends, family and boyfriend, get sufficient sleep, work on my personal brand and so on. We are under so much pressure to do everything all at once, that we don’t make time for the things that we’re essentially working for. You know the feeling; you have something coming up that you should be looking forward to but you aren’t because you just have too much to do.

There’s a saying that goes “don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today” and I can’t help but feel that 21st century life has put the wrong context to this.

We live in such a constant cycle of trying to catch-up or get ahead that we don’t appreciate what we’ve worked for so far. We need to take a step back and remember that life is not a race, it’s a journey. And by trying to take shortcuts all we are doing is losing out on all the amazing sights along the way.

Okay so yes, being busy isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But we need to stop glorifying busyness as if it’s a sign of success. Do your job and do it well. Do your chores and do them well. Do the things you need to do, and do them well. But do not prioritise the things that can wait, over the things that really matter.

As Eli Wallach asked, “if you work for a living, why do you kill yourself working?”

 

Shannon Hegarty is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/shannon-hegarty-594193172/ and Twitter: @shannonhegPR

Suite dreams are made of this

Public relations is a profound interest of mine and there are plentiful reasons why this area of expertise elevates me, particularly the communication aspect, as well as being exposed to so many interesting individuals. I am going to share my story with you, career choices and life experiences that have led me to believe that public relations is the ingredient that brings my ideas to a reality.

Anyway here’s my story (so far)…

The moment I realized that a career in public relations was for me was in 2014 when I took a year out from education; as I was unsure about which degree to pursue. I began working as a receptionist in the Slieve Donard Resort and Spa. The reason I decided to pursue a job as a hotel receptionist was with the intention of evolving my existing skill set and qualities as well as my interpersonal communication skills. With no prior experience in this field of work; I was dependent on landing the position solely on my interview and given the opportunity of expressing my ‘inner brand’. The interview was very formal and intimidating, however it was my time to shine and showcase what made me an eligible candidate for the position. The interviewers must have seen past my nerves as I was surprisingly successful and got offered a full-time position!

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The job opened me up to the public as I was the primary point of contact with the guests, meaning I was responsible for their first impressions as well as leaving the lasting impression as they departed from the hotel. At first the reception department was extremely daunting, It took me roughly three months to feel confident behind the desk, at this point my passion for public relations began to grow. I had soon become acquainted with the regular guests and catering to their needs became my second nature. I took pride in ensuring their stay was enjoyable and It wasn’t long before I started noticing my name frequently mentioned in trip advisor reviews, highlighting my ‘professionalism’ and being regarded as a ‘fantastic ambassador’ for the hotel. The recognition, gratitude and positive feedback was very fulfilling, and this was when I discovered that this was my major – representing companies whilst working alongside the stakeholders.

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Having proved my charisma, expressed my effective communication skills and established customer rapport in the business I decided it was time to enroll into university. I applied for my degree in ‘communication management and public relations’ whilst continuing to work for the organization. However, as my degree required me to move to Belfast, the company transferred me to their sister hotel – the world-famous Europa.

This environment was completely unknown to me as the hotel is twice the size of the Slieve Donard and I underestimated how demanding the job was and how busy I would be kept. This hotel is in such high demand and attracts numerous celebrities, who always must always be accommodated with VIP treatment. Over the 2 years I worked for the Europa I have checked in numerous celebrities including;  Van Morrison, Conor McGregor, Lee Evans, Jimmy Page and the entire cast of Game of Thrones. The public relations profession operates in a celebrity-driven world, and the very first celebrity I checked in whilst working in the Europa was Conor McGregor, and I can remember it like yesterday. I had only been working on the front desk for 2 weeks and can still remember the overwhelming, starstruck feeling that I got. I cant express it but every single guest that checked into the hotel, I had an overwhelming desire to go out of my way to make their stay great, whether it be a couple checking in for a little getaway for the weekend, simply upgrading their room and seeing the smiles on their faces made it worthwhile. Or having Game of Thrones stars phone down to the desk and request a wake up call at 4am to go filming, and ask to speak to me personally for knowing their room service order like the back of my hand. All these little things are what made my job wonderful.

 

Working in the Europa introduced me to so many amazing people and friends for life and even opened doors to new potential career opportunities. For example: One particular day I was checking out a lady and got chatting to her, she asked me an unexpected and extremely surprising question: “You have an amazing bone structure. Have you ever considered modelling?” I was evidently stunned by her question as I looked eagerly at my colleagues for an appropriate response to this bizarre enquiry. “No?” I replied as she handed me her business card shook my hand and invited me to attend an interview at her business ‘Alison Campbell Academy.’ I unknowingly just checked out the CEO of ‘ACA Models’ and had just been scouted as a model!

I was unsure how to feel about this proposition as the possibility of embarking on a career in modelling had never ever crossed my mind, but my colleagues were adamant that I attend the interview anyway, and I even managed to get signed onto their books. I have been placed onto various modelling jobs in which I have represented a specific brand for a certain advertising/catwalk events. Examples of brands that I have worked for include: Miss Northern Ireland, Danske Bank, Down Royal Race Course, Victoria Square and many more. It was very exciting to work as the spokesperson for established companies and represent their brand. I am frequently commended for my outgoing personality and charismatic nature working these jobs; I personally believe that my communication skills and devoted nature is what enabled my public relations abilities to blossom into a reality in the working front of an organization like this.

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Public relations is an ever-evolving industry that brings so much excitement and possibilities to the world. Public relations is deeply embedded into my personality. It is my lifestyle. Every given day is a new inspiration for me to undertake something new that will improve my professional and personal life. In the technologically advanced world we live in, there is an infinite variety of potential connections at our disposal. The  life experiences I have encountered have steered me to the realization that public relations is my bread and butter.

Thank you for reading,

© eline ®ussell

Celine Russell is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: LinkedIn –  https://www.linkedin.com/in/celine-russell-849ba4171/ ; Twitter –  @celine_russ; Facebook –  https://www.facebook.com/celine.russell.7