Tuesday, 29 March 2011

First Bank Shift

"Everyone gets everything he wants. I wanted a mission, and for my sins, they gave me one." - Capt. Willard, Apocalypse Now

"Hi, Absentbabinski? Are you still available to work tomorrow?"

It was 8pm on a Friday night and I was just starting on my first drink. I could say no. I could get my drink on and have a lie-in tomorrow. I could also start paying my credit card bill off.

"Sure, what ward?"
"Jeremy Kyle - It's Elderly Care (ah, shit) or there's A+E?"

I've never worked A+E and I'm not cleared to give IV meds at St Clabert's, so I'd end up being an annoying, over-paid HCA. I guess it's eldery care, then.

"I'll take Jeremy Kyle. Long day?"
"Long Day, 0730 start"
"Okay, thanks"

A quick bit of mental arithmetic tells me I'll have to get up a bit before 6am. So time to stop drinking, get my Best Dress together and pack my lunch.

I end up in bed at 10pm (a personal best for me), dreading a ward full of crazy old people and staff who couldn't care less. It's a bit of an open secret that (at least in the NHS) elderly care is staffed with either the most caring, skilled and professional nurses who will always be ready to help or... Well, people who aren't the above.

Cue a night of broken sleep and fear.

When I get on the ward the night staff are smiling. Smiling. They had a busy night but they're friendly and helpful and explain how the ward runs. They point out the changing room and when handover will start. I quickly realise they are the former of the two classes of nurses and I think "I'll be able to do this".

We get handover, I introduce myself to my patients and grab a drugs trolley. I've got two patients with IV Abx, but everyone else is on the usual blood pressure meds, anti-arrythmics and laxatives. I can do this. I only have to argue with browbeat encourage one patient to take their tablets. My patients are by and large lovely. I take waaaay to long to finish my drug round (my motto for the day is "I haven't done this for six months!"). There are only a couple of washes I do because the HCA I'm working with is efficient (more so than I am) and industrious. I get two admissions but they are straight-forward, old people who've fallen down. As per elderly care I have more than my fair share of pooey bottoms but I don't care - in fact on some level I like it. It's one of the bits of nursing I've always loved, helping someone do something that they can't do for themselves. And making the experience as normal and natural as possible. 

The shift was really good. I liked the people I was working with, and to their credit they decided I wasn't that much of a liability and asked if I'd like to come back next time they're down a pair of hands. 

I said "sure".


  1. Aww see that's great Absentbabinski, way to be a helper!

  2. email me your email address at frazzledrazzlern(at)gmail(dot)com