by Nora van Genugten Msc DVM MRCVS NVS
Hi everybody. This is my first blog post on here. Thanks for reading it! Well, so far. You may not know me, so let me introduce myself. I’m one of the admins on NOMV. My name is Nora. My professional interests are emergency medicine and exotics. I’m a Dutch transplant who lives in the North East of England.
I love contrasts. The differences between day and night, summer and winter, warm and cold. Between super busy and very serene. When I work, I don’t mind working very, very hard. I love the adrenaline and the satisfaction of the ER. Caesareans, GDVs, blood and plasma transfusions, pneumothorax, intoxications, status epilepticus. You name it. If you find it stressful, I’ll find it delightful. I love really being able to make a difference immediately. It’s my niche and I don’t mind working nights. I guess this turns me into a bat of sorts. Don’t worry though. I don’t transmit rabies. Often.
Just kidding. I like GP work too, but the pace and the challenging cases I see in the emergency setting are just my thing.
This can however lead to a fair amount of residual stress to spill over into my daily life if I let it. Sometimes it’s easy to block out the stress and negativity, but sometimes it’s very difficult. I am still trying to find the perfect way to keep work stresses away from my private life. If you’ve found the secret, please share it in the comments below.
Which brings me to what keeps me sane. SomethingI find exhilarating but which can also be very serene. I’m a water baby. I love being close to, on (skating, ice hockey) and in water. I live in a Cathedral city in the North East of England with a large river running through it. I live close to the North Sea with its long and beautiful coastline. I grew up in Utrecht, a beautiful medieval town in the Netherlands with lots of unique canals. Going to the beach has a calming effect on me. I love it.
The best thing about water for me is surfing. It’s very difficult to master but it’s also a totally awesome thing to do. This area may not be very well known for its surfing so please keep this between you and me, but it’s actually great for surfing. There are some good beaches that are often quite empty, the people are nice and it’s close to home.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not quite Hawaii. To stay comfortable and warm I have to wear a 5 mm full length wetsuit, a hood, gloves and boots. To non-surfers I might look a *bit* odd. To me, it’s my superwoman suit that sometimes takes a bit of a struggle to take off after a long day’s surfing.
The reason I love surfing is that it puts everything in perspective for me. It’s just you and the wave. Nothing else matters in that moment. And when you catch the wave and ride it, that’s the best feeling in the world. It’s addicting. I love that feeling. It makes all the negativity just melt away. Sometimes you can’t catch the wave but that’s a great metaphor for life. Just keep trying. If you give up, it’ll never happen. And when you succeed again, it’s pure bliss. You don’t even have to catch waves if you don’t want to. It’s nice just to sit on your board in the sunshine, letting go off all the stress. I find water very spiritual.
Surfing is one of the things that keeps me going. To me, it makes all those cases that didn’t quite go the way I’d wanted them to, the interactions with clients that really bug me well after the client has left the building and the sometimes gruelling caseload and sheer exhaustion all OK. It keeps me from burning out. It allows me to connect and form friendships with new people.
Surfing is a health sport, both for the body and the mind. You’re forced to use your brain and your body in harmony. It’s introduced me to yoga and forces me to focus more on healthy eating and other ways to stay fit, like running and going to the gym.
The other great thing about surfing is that you can keep doing it until you’re pretty old. Way older than other sports by comparison. I’m not saying you can’t get injured and you have to be aware of how to protect yourself during a wipe-out, but overall it’s a low impact sport. It’s easier on your cruciate ligaments and menisci than say snowboarding.
Anyway. I could keep talking about this for days but that’s it for me for now. How about you? Do you like water too? Do you surf?
The Admin Team of NOMV is a group of veterinarians dedicated to improving veterinary mental health.