"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"
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
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".