Not the normal night shift
Marie Curie Nurse Carrie Summers is returning to a place that’s close to her heart this weekend to do a 10-mile walk through Dartmoor National Park at night, to raise money for our charity.
“Having worked in healthcare for many years, I’ve always been drawn to end of life and palliative care”, says Carrie. “I’ve been a Marie Curie Nurse for over a year. I love the community side of the work, I love caring for people at home and giving them that choice to stay there rather than go to hospital.
"My work is upsetting sometimes, but I seem to be able to cope, and it’s an honour to be with people at the end of their life journey.”
Staying fit in body and mind
This isn’t the first physical challenge Carrie has done. Last year, she climbed Ben Nevis with her daughter, and tackled Snowdon the year before. She’s also walked the Dartmoor ten tors in the past.
“I’m fairly active and pretty fit”, she says. “Staying fit is important to the job, as being a night shift worker does put strain on your body.
“Being up all night interrupts your circadian rhythms, and this can result in health problems. So I do try to eat and sleep at the times I normally would to manage this.
“Keeping fit means the body can repair itself, and it certainly helps you mentally as well. Going for a nice walk can lift your spirit and makes you feel better. If I’m feeling a bit down, it really helps.”
Spending nights in the homes of others
Carrie, like many of us, has experienced bereavement herself – so understands how important care and support overnight can be for people living with a terminal illness and their families.
“In hospitals, not everybody has the same level of time to give to a dying person,” explains Carrie. “In my work I help to manage their pain, and we help patients and families not to feel afraid of what is coming next.
“Many patients fear the pain that comes with being ill and at the end of their lives, so we do our utmost to manage it and help them be as comfortable as possible. To be with people at that time of their life, and at the end of their journey – it’s quite big thing.
“And families can have a hard time coping too – they need that support and someone to be a kind, empathetic presence.”
Returning to a special place
Rather than giving bedside care, Carrie will be out on the wild heather and footpaths of Dartmoor this Saturday night.
“Dartmoor is close to my heart. I lived in Cornwall and Devon for many years, married in Okehampton, and my mum lives in Tavistock – so the area is a special place for me. I think I will really enjoy the experience.
“I’m fundraising among family and friends and aiming to raise a bit of money. I don’t want people to get fed up with me asking! I do have some very generous friends and family who always support me.”