To celebrate International Nurses Day, we caught up with Beth who has been coming to Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) since she was only 18 months old. Now 19, she’s studying to become a children’s nurse and wants to work at GOSH when she graduates. Here's her story:
Inspired by GOSH
“I decided I wanted to become a children’s nurse when I had my spinal fusion three years ago. Everyone I met at GOSH, both children and adults, were so inspiring.”
19-year-old Beth has been coming to GOSH since she was only 18 months old, after a routine check as a baby revealed problems with her hearing. “I was referred to a special paediatrician, who realised I couldn’t turn my head to the left. They referred me to GOSH, and I’ve been coming here ever since.”
Doctors at GOSH diagnosed Beth with a very rare condition called Wildervanck syndrome. “It affects my hearing, my eyes, my jaw and my spine,” explains Beth. “I’m deaf in my left ear, but the biggest problem I’ve faced is scoliosis. I’ve had lots of operations on my spine at GOSH, with the last one being three years ago.”
Since coming to GOSH, Beth has had six operations to treat her scoliosis. “I’ve got a massive fear of being put to sleep,” says Beth. “However, the same anaesthetist has been putting me to sleep since I was three. He’s got so used to me and can really calm me down. It’s so great that you get to know them, because you get to build up some trust.
“Hospitals can be so horrible, but it’s really different at GOSH. Everyone is so friendly and lovely, and you’re really made to feel at ease. For example, I also remember that when I was really little one of the nurses would dye my medicine pink to make me want to take it.”
Now, after all her operations, Beth’s condition hardly affects her in day-to-day life. “I’ve got spinal rods in my spine, so I have to be careful, but otherwise nothing majorly affects me. Although, maybe I’ve just got used to it!”
A bright future
After her final operation three years ago, Beth decided that she wanted to become a children’s nurse and come back to work at GOSH. “I was advised to take a year out from college whilst I had my surgery, but I chose not to,” recalls Beth. “As a result, I didn’t do very well in my A-Levels, so I did a BTEC in health and social care. I still can’t believe I got into university!
“I never thought I’d be going to university and doing a career like this. I’m currently on placement at a school for children with additional learning needs, and I’m absolutely loving it! I’m also really excited to work on a children’s ward for another placement in the summer.
“My main piece of advice to others is to never give up hope. Life always sorts itself out, and you should never give up on your dreams. A diagnosis may seem like the end of everything, and that you’re not going to be able to become what you want to become, but it really isn’t!”
Six months later
Six months on from talking to Beth, we caught up with her to find out how her course is going.
"I am still loving it," she says. "I'm about to start a placement on a children's ward at James Paget University Hospital in Great Yarmouth – I'm so excited and nervous. My first proper shift is a night shift..."