Happy International Nurses day to all the great nurses that I know out there, to the nurses I have worked with, who have looked after me, and every other nurse who has made a positive impact on somebody’s life.
Nursing is such a privilege but also a really difficult job. I have had the great pleasure of working as a high dependency nurse for the last 6 years and 3 months and today marks the end of that adventure. Although the last year or so hasn’t been the most pleasant to go through, I definitely look back on my time as a HDU nurse overall as amazing experience. There have been good times and bad, I didn’t think a job could be quite so stressful, but then it also brings the greatest rewards.
A lot of my memories of work are full of laughter. The highlight of my whole time there was a night shift with one of my best friends, we were in a room together with 2 patients each and everything just went crazy all at once. We had 3 patients we needed to sort out at one time, we were tired, the patients were confused or shouting out, it was early hours of the morning and we stood in the middle of the room just wondering which problem we had to sort out first. I’ve never laughed so much afterwards, I think that night shift made us completely delirious! Night shifts didn’t agree with me at all! When I first started driving I offered somebody a lift home in my car after a night shift, I bet she regretted it after we got into the car and the first thing I did was back straight into a van parked behind me! The man in the van found it funny, but I never did take that person home again! i wonder why?!
One of the people I work with is the funniest person I have ever met in my entire life. She literally made me laugh every single shift we worked together. Without fail she could make any shift fun, even if the ward was absolute bedlam, you could always count on her to keep everyone going. Even if the only way she could make people laugh was by insulting me, pointing out my moon head, or apologising to patients that they had to have a Mormon look after them because she couldn’t find anyone better to help. I’ve never felt so “accepted” as I did by being insulted so much!
Some days we have to make the days pass with laughter, nursing is a tough job, and if you’ve been a patient and listened to the nursing staff talking to each other, you will realise they are completely normal, insane people. We talk about things happening in our lives, whats going on on the ward, our plans etc, but then we also find out exercises to banish cellulite, or laugh when a certain someone confused the word claustrophobia with chlamydia and shouted that they had the latter loud enough for everyone around to hear!
I’ve stood a patient up from a chair to get them into bed and the flood gates open, all hell breaks loose and it splashes up your legs, on your shoes and tights. At the time, you think it is soaking deep into the layers of your skin never to be scrubbed off in your lifetime, but it sure makes everyone laugh. I made a quick stop to Tesco on the way home, took my tights and shoes off, threw them away and went home wearing a new pair of shoes with no tights on.
I’ve had more nicknames in work than I have in my lifetime! Cainy, Miss Cain, Jo Bob, Josephine, Josephina, Sick note, Moon head, Mormon sl……I’ll leave that one there! But seriously, some people didn’t know my name was actually Joanne because I go by Jo or one of many other names. One of the girls from work actually came to visit me on the ward once when I was a patient and asked if Josephine Cain was on the ward!
Did you know they made a brand new tape for the hospital that wouldn’t pull hairs when you pulled it off a patient? Well they didn’t, but that didn’t stop me from persuading someone that they actually had invented it and quickly sticking a huge piece of tape onto her arm then laughing for so long as she tried to pull it off.
Sometimes patients cause all the laughter, sometimes on purpose and other times they don’t know. I’ve had a patient convinced the suction was his magic stick of power and proceeded to try and poke and stab everyone with the magic stick of power. Didn’t end too well when we tried to get the magic stick of power off him so he couldn’t hurt anyone but it did make us laugh later. Or that one patient that insulted everyone in the worst possible way, but then went on to embarrass me way more than I thought imaginable. She had to pick the most innocent one to insult so horribly! I didn’t live down what she said for weeks, and it still gets brought up from time to time.
We’ve flooded rooms with blocked sinks, compared scratch marks off patients, walked around with wet feet all day after showering patients, I’ve educated the staff with all my mad skills of knowledge about the pylorus. A young patients family asked me what happened during the operation the patient had had, and what had been taken out and what was left behind. I read the scribble in the notes not making head nor tail of it and said “well she’s has a pylorus preserving pancreatoduodunectomy, so whatever the pylorus is, you still have that!”. Honestly. I am a fully trained nurse. I am capable of looking after patients, no matter how bad I sound! I quickly found out what a pylorus was, and kept my head down the next day when posters appeared around the ward labelling different parts of organs and the pylorus was highlighted. People were asking why they were up and who didn’t know what was on the posters. It was me guys! I know now though! And I tell everyone.
I’ve always tried to enjoy my time in work, we always try to make the day fun because sometimes the things happening around us can be so stressful, we can’t let it take over and effect us too deeply or we would never be able to face another day of work. We really do get to know some of our patients and they become part of our HDU family because they’ve been with us for months. We have some lovely patients and relatives that I will never forget in my lifetime. I have learned so much from nursing patients, interacting with families and working along side a great team of people.
I’ve had the unfortunate experience of being looked after by my colleagues too. Every single person made those times easier. Parts of it will also live with me forever, and I definitely changed the way I nursed after the experiences I had. I knew what a good nurse was, how it felt to be a vulnerable patient, and I know just how amazing some of the people I work with truly are. I already knew they were great working alongside them all, but receiving care shows me that our patients would know what I did, that these people are not just doing their job, they aren’t nurses for the pay, they truly care, and are amazing people.
I made friends in the strangest ways sometimes! Like the time I honestly thought my lack of knowledge had caused a patient to get sick, the patient was always safe and a sister helped out and sorted everything, but at the start of my HDU career I thought it was over! I cried in the cupboard when someone asked me was I ok, and that happened to be the start of a great friendship! Another person was literally just as sarcastic and “jokingly” mean as I am and we clicked right away with our mutual love for sarcasm and food. I’ve loved corridor chats with my favourite mentor, being in a bay with my carer, causing trouble and having fun wherever I went. I swear most of the people I worked with probably thought I was uncontrollable and a pain! I know you all think I’m stubborn too, and I am, I am so strong willed, I was determined to carry on in work.
So I’m gonna finish this by saying THANK YOU to the amazing nurses I worked with. To the amazing friends I have made forever! I haven’t mentioned memories with everyone but trust me, I have so many great memories, nobody would read this far down if I mentioned everything. To anyone who has nursed me, thank you for your help. I literally wouldn’t be here without you! To anyone who gave me words of encouragement or support, or let me cry, thank you, you kept me going. To people who have met up with me outside of work, who have visited me when I’m sick, thank you! You made me feel loved and missed. To anyone who let me have fun in work, or laughed along with me, or made me laugh, thank you for letting me be me, and be comfortable and happy in work. To anyone who ever taught me anything, thank you! I would have had way more embarrassing moments of not knowing what was going on without our help. To all my friends, thank you. I’ll miss working with you so much! It’s been a pleasure, even the hard times, and as much as I wish life hadn’t gone this way for me, I wouldn’t change the last 6 years for anything.