When she was younger, Tracey was determined not to become a nurse. Her grandad, mum and both her aunties were nurses but she felt she didn’t want to follow in their footsteps,
“Nursing was a big family thing,” remembers Tracey “and all the time I was growing up I thought I don’t want to be a nurse, I want to be an accountant! But when I started my A levels I realised that nursing was what I wanted to do after all.”
Tracey qualified as a nurse in 1998 and worked in haematology, caring for people with blood diseases.
“I loved every day when I was nursing. Meeting new people and being there for them when they were at their most vulnerable. I felt like I was achieving something by helping people.”
Tracey started experiencing back pain whilst at work which wouldn’t go away. She was able to transfer to a different ward, a special care baby unit, to see if the work was less physically demanding but bending down into cots and lifting babies didn’t improve things for Tracey.
She managed to get a desk-based role as a Research Sister but by 2012 she was experiencing pain in other joints like her knee and hip. After many appointments with specialists, Tracey was eventually diagnosed with hypermobility syndrome. Her joints were over-extending and causing excess wear and tear which was the cause of Tracey’s constant pain.
“I saw a geneticist and they said I had Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS), which a lot of people with hypermobility suffer from. My knee and hip would dislocate really easily, just pop out. My mobility was severely reduced so I ended up in a wheelchair.”
Eventually, Tracey had to give up her career as she was retired due to ill-health after just 15 years as a nurse.
“I mourned the loss of my career when I was retired, but it was a relief too not to be putting myself through so much pain every day.”
In the last couple of years Tracey’s daughter Charlotte has also been diagnosed with EDS and at 15 years old is wheelchair-bound too. Being in a heavy electric wheelchair restricts what Charlotte can do, especially going on school trips.
“The school can’t take her electric chair on the trips so she has to use a manual chair. But she doesn’t like being pushed around by others and being a burden to them. She says she’d rather not go on the trips.”
Tracey and her husband John wanted to get a lightweight, foldable electric wheelchair but simply didn’t have the money. So Tracey applied to Cavell Nurses’ Trust for funding and received money to pay for a wheelchair. The family were over the moon with it.
“When I heard we’d got the funding, I couldn’t wait to tell Charlotte! She was so happy to know that she’d be able to be more independent on school trips and properly enjoy them.”
Tracey and John were also excited as it meant that they would also have more chance to go out and about together. Transporting Tracey’s heavy electric wheelchair around meant using a large van which has always been cumbersome and difficult to park.
“It’s great knowing that we can fit the foldable wheelchair in the car and pop out when we want, instead of having to take the big van. It’s getting me out of the house much more which I love.
“The help has had a huge impact on Charlotte too, she is really looking forward to her next school trip!
“To know that there is a charity supporting nursing professionals is such a relief. We’ve tried social services, and other organisations and sometimes you think there is nowhere to turn. So it makes a huge difference to know that Cavell Nurses’ Trust is there.
“Just providing our family with a bit of money to buy this wheelchair has made a world difference to us. I’m so grateful to the people who are fundraising and donating to Cavell Nurses’ Trust to improve people’s lives like this.”