Today I had the most amazing experience and was able to co-present at the NHS Research Scotland conference in Perth.
In the lead up to the conference I was so nervous and got myself a little bit worked up. Looking back I had no reasons to be nervous or worried. I could rationalise why I was feeling nervous and that was because this would be the first time that my 2 worlds were coming together. I do a lot of public speaking, and lectures but it has been for the Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research and associated groups but this was the first NHS event. I was worried that because I was exposing myself to people who are potentially colleagues and people who see me in a professional capacity rather than in a patient capacity. I have always been very open the majority of the time about my health and thats mainly because I can’t hide my asthma and the attacks I have because I get admitted to the hospital I work in but speaking at this event it would be to people who I see when I am in ‘nurse’ mode and not ‘patient’ mode but today I was in patient mode in front of people who normally see me in nurse mode. I got over myself and a restless evening yesterday worrying I was then excited this morning and was really looking forward to the conference.
It was such a good experience being able to share why I get involved in research and some of the projects I have worked on and the evolution of the SPEAK Asthma group within AUKCAR. The time went so quickly. I had so much fun. It was a little daunting at the start as our group was fairly large and had been booked up really quickly so being up on the stage of the main auditorium was a little bit terrifying but once we got into the swing of it you don’t see all the faces looking at you and just enjoy it. It was great to see James Cant again. He used to be part of the British Lung Foundation but he is now with the British Heart Foundation and chaired our session.
The feedback I got from people who attended our session was amazing and all really positive. It was strange being the only ‘patient’ in a session which was titled “Patients at the heart of research”.
If anyone has ever been given or asked to speak at such events but it nervous about it- don’t be and take the offer up. It was one of the most enjoyable and rewarding days. Being able to make links with people who want to spend their careers making the lives of people like me better. Being able to give back and help people is so amazing, it really puts a huge positive on what has been a pretty negative disease in the way it has impacted my life but doing events like this is so worthwhile and makes all the hospital admissions and traumas worthwhile when you can just get up talk and enjoy yourself.
The achievements of some people in their careers and listening to the research they do is fascinating because when researchers speak they speak with so much passion and enthusiasm about their projects it makes you feel enthusiastic to help them with patient and public involvement for their project.
As you can tell I am on a high after today and I am really wishing I hadn’t got myself all worked up and spend lots of time writing and rewriting what I proposed to say- of course I said none of what I had written but I was able to say what I wanted which is all that matters!!!