Monday, April 27, 2015

Polly Says: 'Yeah, I've Been Demoted. So What?'

In response to my last post which was so long ago that I don't even recall writing it I have been demoted. Apparently I'm now a lady of leisure with nothing better to do than sit around all day doing nothing...

Well, let me tell you a thing or two about being a lady of leisure. First of all this was not a matter of choice. Yes, I did spend rather a long time trying to persuade the lovely occupational health doctor that I wasn't fit enough to be working in a stressful and potentially dangerous environment as a registered nurse. And no, she didn't listen to me. Well not for the first three years of the conversation anyway.

They say that what matters most in all things is consistency. I was consistent from the first time I met the lady doctor who held my fate in her hands to the point of being boring. I was terrified that I'd make a mistake due to the changes in my cognitive function when I returned to work after a four year sabatical due to health grounds, my memory was rubbish and at times when particularly tired my ability to speak coherently was equally bad. This was from the very beginning of my return to work and had been like it for at least the preceding five or six years even with rest and relaxation - such as that could possibly be when being in charge of two school age boys and living outside of the village...

In the three years following my return to work my work life balance was non-existent. It consisted of my working around 15-20hrs per week, commuting for 1.5hrs per shift and resting for up to four days a week in order to recharge what was left of my battery! It was a stressful time which I had put myself through unnecessarily due to my inability to admit that I just wasn't able to do my work as a nurse any more. And so I went back to a working environment which would be stressful anywhere in the world without the unique demands of the staff in the hospital I used to work in.

As a junior manager I was expected to deal professionally with some of the least professional individuals I've ever had the dubious pleasure to work with. Think Dr Gregory House mixed in with the temper tantrums of your average four year old delinquent and you'd be at least part way to understanding what my colleagues and I dealt with on a daily basis. I've witnessed attempted physical assaults from disgruntled ex-employees. I've witnessed a senior colleague being humiliated to the point of no return by a consultant because she was doing her job properly. I've been blamed for said attack.

I've witnessed bullying of junior and senior medical staff for years. I've been thanked by a surgeon whose behavior towards me has always been abysmal because I supported him when he suggested that nurse management should review their practice at planning meetings. I've witnessed newborns in their unsuccessful struggle for breath. I've supported women whose prayers for death during surgery were not met. I've had my anonymity stripped from me by school mates and neighbours who's bodies needed either fixing up or investigating. I've performed intimate exams on members of family and friends.

I've consoled the inconsolable. I've nursed colleagues whose babies were born still. I've nursed colleagues following male and female sterilisation. I've expressed collostrum from a friend's breast so that she could nurse her baby who was too tired after the business of being born to suckle well. I've tutored staff and students, visiting paramedics and emergency medical technicians.

 I've suffered verbal assaults at the hands of one of the meekest gentlemen one could hope to meet. I've been reduced to tears whilst scrubbed for a case by the most talented surgeon because I don't know why. I've had it said to a junior colleague by a surgeon in a tone that left his distain for me irreconcilable "What's S H E doing here?" when I was relieving for coffee.

I've been told that "It's not your fault..." that I got the promotion I applied for by an attendent and "...that we're over that now!" some months later by my line manager when I told her what'd been said. I was on the verge of seeking union representation when after some six months that same contract had yet to be confirmed!

I've been shouted at by matron because somebody else lied about her. I've bee told " can't control everything!" when trying to implement infection control by reducing air and dust circulation restricting traffic and closing doors in the OR. I've been accused of falsifying my own time sheets in order to be paid more than I was owed because I hadn't been shown how to input them into the system correctly.

I've been separated from my family for 80 hours over a weekend and then been denied sick leave to go home early on account of what turned out to probably be cryptosporidia (clue: copious vomitting & diarrhoea.)I've been awoken at 4am for an opinion on labour which failed to progress - hey! I'm NOT an OBGYN, get over it...

The list is endless and it's not all negative. I've made new friends. Caught up with old friends. Had many pleasant surprises. Laughed a lot and cried a lot, sometimes for me, sometimes for others. But believe me that list just goes on and on, on and on and on, and on and on (just like this post!) I've done so much and learned so much I will always be grateful for who I am now and how each and every one of those experiences have shaped my life today and I miss it! Believe it or not I miss all of the above and so much more.

It's no wonder being a lady of leisure; having nothing better to do all day than sit around has been traumatic, is it? It's no wonder I'm unorganised and unmotivated. I miss my colleagues and friends, even the bad tempered ones! I miss the cut and thrust of the Operating Department. I miss the teaching opportunities. I miss the social interaction. I miss interacting with pre-, peri- and post-operative patients. I miss them all. I miss the routine.

I miss that sense of direction and purpose and the feeling of self-worth that goes with it. Or at least I did. Enter phase 3 of my life. I recently celebrated a landmark birthday. I've had my time for reappraisal. Now's the time to start living again. I seem to have found my balance and I can rest when I need to. I'm not getting better but I am managing my condition better than ever before.

I sit when I need to and work when I can, generally at something I like or enjoy which at the moment includes working in my wilderness of a garden. I've brought plants back into my home and I'm surrounded by a garden which is beginning to look less like a jungle than it has for years. The house is a mess and there's time enough for housework when it's raining, and for the present I'm going to focus my energies on getting fit and spending time outside...

Thanks for listening and if you recognize yourself as anyone I've written about in this post I haven't written it through malice, I'm just acknowledging your part in my life. Good, bad or indifferent? It doesn't matter. Your input has made me, shaped me into the person I am now. End of!

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