Saturday, 31 May 2008

Fuel: A feminist issue?

No. No, it's not.

I post the full article below, in order to rip it to pieces.

May 31, 2008
Fuel is a feminist issue
Forget the hairy truckers. A car is a handbag, a creche and nappy bag all rolled into one
Sarah Vine

Fuel duty: it's a man thing, right? Hairy truckers, revved up on double egg and chips, squaring up to Gordon Brown in the grey London drizzle. Tanned Spanish fishermen, biceps glistening in the sunshine as they hand out fresh fish to baffled Madrileños. Grumpy Frenchmen blockading oil depots; Italians, Portuguese, even a few bus-driving Bulgarians: all the manliest men in Europe, furious at the rising cost of fuel, voicing their anger in a single, testosterone- charged roar of discontent.

They certainly make an impression, these tough guys with their big hands and their bigger beer bellies. But if you thought fuel excise duty was purely a male preoccupation, you would be sorely mistaken. In fact, fuel duty is as much a girl thing as the overhyped Sex and the City movie, or rooting for Strike in tonight's final of Britain's Got Talent. (For those of you not in the know, Strike are a pair of young martial arts teachers who do tremendously athletic things with their shirts off. Definitely worth a look, actually, if you've nothing better to do on a Saturday night.)

Right. Come on, folks, concentrate! This is serious journalism!

The image of the motor car as a throbbing instrument of macho power designed to impress the ladies by taking off at the lights a fraction of a pointless second faster than anyone else is an outmoded cliché. Sure, cheeky Jeremy Clarkson likes to do 186 miles (or thereabouts) an hour on the motorway, and Andrew Flintoff recently had to hire Mr Loophole to get him out of a speeding fine; but these two gentlemen, glorious examples of British manhood that they are, nevertheless remain more representative of the motor car's past than its future. Because really, when you think about it, modern motoring is all about women.

This bit is fantastic. Basically, she starts by making light of the idea that motoring (note she's talking about the fuel crisis, not just cars, from the outset) is a solely male issue before making sure everyone knows it's solely a female one. I love the smell of double standards in the morning.

Forget diamonds; in the overcrowded, time-pressured, work/life balance nightmare that is the average female's life, the motor car is a girl's best friend. To a woman, a car is no shiny penis extension; it's a handbag extension. For those of us with children, it's also a nappy-bag extension, a mobile crèche, a soft play centre and, in times of extreme need, a breast-feeding cubicle. A woman's car provides protection from the elements, useful free mobile storage and, crucially, security (show me a woman alone at night on public transport and I'll show you either a WPC or someone who has fallen asleep after a hen night). Above all, it represents personal freedom of the kind that public transport, still grotesquely inadequate despite repeated promises from government, simply cannot provide.

I don't argue that people in this day and age, including women, depend on their cars. I personally think this is their choice, their bed and their place to sleep, but that's only my opinion. I don't think the above is a feminist issue. The concept that the above things, such as protection, storage and security, aren't required by men is a outdated piece of tripe along the same lines of: 'All men can walk home on their own because, being men, each and every one of them is born with knowledge of ancient kung fu and can therefore protect themselves.' Neanderthal shite.

This is why women should be just as concerned, if not possibly more so, about the soaring cost of petrol as the hauliers. At least everyone seems to think that the brave truckers have an inalienable right to cheap fuel (not least, perhaps, because they're too scary to argue with). Women motorists, on the other hand, are somehow branded as frivolous, vain creatures whose only reason for getting behind the wheel is to safeguard their blow-dries as they potter from one coffee morning to the next.

Right. Firstly, hauliers are important as they... transport things. They transport the nappies to be stored in Sarah's fictional cars, as well as the cars themselves. Logistics are a vital part of living in a consumerist culture, so they are arguably more important to society as whole. I don't argue there are people out there who probably do fall into the cliché of deriding female drivers, but those people are wrong for generalising. Not that Sarah Vine has a problem with generalisations.

With a few notable exceptions, this could not be farther from the truth. For many of us, especially mothers who work, life would be nigh-on impossible without the use of a car. It's unfashionable to admit it, since we are all supposed to be committed to a green agenda, but the way our lives are structured make it inevitable. Sustained de-localisation, not just of shops and services, but also of schools and workplaces, has done more than simply degrade community spirits: it has consolidated the role of the car in our day-to-day lives.

"A few notable exceptions" is a statement with absolutely zero evidence behind it, so I'll politely try to skip past it. If this was a pub anecdote, then yes, such sweeping statements would be passable. But this is supposed to be serious Polly Filler! I mean... hack work. Sarah goes on to groan at the way 'de-localisation' has changed the structure of people's lives, as well as throwing in the green agenda for fun. Sarah, like a lot of people in the media, seems to view 'de-localisation' as something that happened overnight with a gun to our collective heads. The first bits she tries to argue (shops and services) is vaguely relevant. Over recent years supermarkets have grown used to setting up large super/mega/uber stores out of town centres. But these things are usually so big that they have some sense of transport link anyway, so I'm not sure how well her arguement works on this front. The latter two, work and schooling, don't stand up at all. Schools have been a sticking point for the past ten years of New Labour, with well to do families aware of how difficult it is to get a child into a 'good school'. Anyone with half a brain should have some knowledge of this before they had kids, so arguing about it after the toss is somewhat silly. As for work, well Sarah Vine can fuck right off. Big hack hives have always existed in London. Anyone getting into journalism surely realises they might have to, one day, commute into London if they can't afford to live there? Again, arguing after she's already made a choice.

Crippling fuel tax won't solve this problem; slowly and sensibly restructuring our lives so that we come to rely less on the car will. But that takes time and careful planning, something that the Government, on the whole, would rather avoid.

Fuel tax in this country is high, but that's how we've always worked. I don't really have a view on what should be done, as I'm not an economist, but the fact that other countries are demonstrating against massive oil prices shows this is not an A) British issue alone and B) One of tax alone. I think Sarah could do with a lesson on the Free Market Economy. If prices for a product rocket, fewer people can afford to buy it. Demand begins to drop. Prices begin to drop, soon after. This is a basic but realistic and workable model of looking at things.

Meanwhile, many children now travel unwalkable distances to get to school; their parents commute even farther afield. At the end of the working day, being late to pick up a child is simply not acceptable - or fair. I would love nothing more than to be able to get myself and my children to work and school on the bus; in reality, however, it would not be practical - not without all of us being hopelessly late, and one of us quite possibly getting fired. Without the flexibility and reliability of a car, life would grind to a halt.

At least I have the advantage of working in a city, where buses are not considered novelty items; for women living in the countryside, where public transport is as rare and as unexpected as a swallow in January, the car really is a lifeline. Village shops and schools have closed (or been closed) down, there isn't a post office for miles around, everything has been relocated to somewhere large and concrete and out of town - even obtaining a pint of milk requires a trip in the car.

More anecdotal Polly Filler. I used to work at a school and knew a large number of children who would take the bus to school, on free bus passes no doubt. My original point still stands, really. If you're going to set up a family, then plan things properly in advance. I would. Live close to schools, and close to work. If you choose to live far away from these vital facilities, you surely know what you're getting into before it even starts. If you are one of these anecdotal working mothers living in a village in the middle of nowhere, bereft of schools, shops and public transport (I'm assuming this imaginary village is just a pub and a few houses) then curse the modern world and deal with it. We, unfortunately, live in a centralised consumer society. If you, as a member of said society, have lost services from your area then they were deemed unsustainable. Way of the world, I'm afraid. Public transport could and should be better, but it's hardly in a shambles all over the country. If buses don't come often, then get an earlier one. That's what I was told when I was ever late for work.

Fuel duty is not just a political deal-breaker for Gordon Brown; it is a genuinely feminist issue. Without the short cuts afforded to women by cheap, flexible, personal transport, many working mothers would simply not be able to honour their various commitments to home, children and employer. Until someone can arrange the establishment of a Utopian Britain, where children cycle half a mile to school down empty, safe country lanes and mums work just around the corner, the car, for better or for worse, is going to remain king - and fuel duty an issue that affects even those sections of society without tattooed forearms.

The last bit is the first sensible thing she's half-said. Fuel duty effects everyone who has a car quite directly, but not as much as the rising cost of oil and linked economic factors help make absolutely everyone's life a pain in the arse. And while the point that said mini-crisis effects more than just big, hairy hauliers is a good one to make, the topsy-turvy switchover to the idea that it's a feminist issue is ridiculous. Women are effected. Men are effected. Individuals are effected. In all their lovely, silly, adorable ways. Let's stop cutting down gender divisions, it's both naive and boring as fuck.

Friday, 30 May 2008

Football Quotas

Right. My day wasn't too exciting, so I'll weigh on the idea of national discrimination within Football. Or, rather, Blatter's "5x6" idea.

If you're unaware, FIFA want to make it illegal to field more than 6 'foreign' players in a competitive football match. It's to stop the wealthy clubs (who keep FIFA and football itself alive, let's not forget) buying up all football talent from around the world.

Rich clubs = successful clubs and vice versa. If a club becomes rich and successful then it should be able to expand in whichever way it wants. Rich football is more like a free market economy than some kind of legislated socialism and so it shouldn't be treated as such.

The bottom line is: The Premiership is a honeypot, attracting all the biggest players. Other leagues are jealous. They try to blame rich owners, but how much are Real Madrid paying for players these days? Lots. They try to dress this new regime up as equality within football, but positive discrimination never changed anything.


Thursday, 29 May 2008

Eat: Or Else

Again, a pretty missable day. I was my usual talented self, but that's about it. It was so boring that I've started to learn the drugs we use on the advice of DGN. Although I annoyed them just a little bit by asking about the science behind the medications. They say I don't need to know such, but I want to anyway. Being a med-geek is fun.


That's what I wanted to say today! The team were criticised for not basically forcing some patients to eat. It's a tricky problem, for sure, nutrition. If someone doesn't eat, they struggle to get better. But, in the same sense, if someone doesn't want to eat then I don't see the 'right' in forcing them too, through intimidation, blackmail or otherwise. I know we're supposed to do good and allow no bad to happen, but if someone insists they don't want to eat, this code shouldn't become a licence to make someone do something they don't want to.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Another long day bites the dust.

I want a day off tomorrow, so I decided to work all fourteen hours today. Thankfully, DGN cut it to twelve and a half but it was still a busy one.

My paperwork's still not done, but I needed a good day after Friday and I performed. Getting to know new patients, taking care of safety and needs, etc. Sounds boring, but it's not.

The main issue today involved dealing with someone registered blind. Lovely soul, this patient. Although I've never dealt with a blind patient before, which left me sorta lost for a second until I just used my common sense. Point everything out, ask them if they need help with anything, be polite and friendly. There's no secret formula. I was proud, though, of the thinking on my feet I did.

Ontop of that, I made up some IV Frusemide on my own with only a few problems. This is one of the things I'm not legally allowed to do, but it's good practice and I'm happy to sort it.

So real issues coming out of today, other than good ones. I'm exhausted, though, so I'll post more when I'm not. Maybe on my lovely day off. MWahaha.

Monday, 26 May 2008

NHS Ltd.

This story has already nearly ruined my Bank Holiday Monday.

If you can't be arsed followed the link, the story is thus: The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), one of the biggest, most dangerous companies of all time, has agreed to 'gift' a very swish piece of medical technology to the NHS in Scotland. Sounds nice, right? The precondition is that it is to be used on RBS employees '25% of the time'. This is utter bollocks. It's not a gift if there are preconditions attached.

"Happy birthday, mate! Here's a private jet that I'm giving to you! (as long as I get to use it for 100 days a year)" - Doesn't work as a present, really, does it?

The arguement goes thus: There is no waiting list for the specialist scans this device will perform, so there's no problem. Bollocks. The NHS was founded on the idea that people are seen in light of need, not where they come from or who they work for. Simple arguement. This machine undermines the NHS, as does so much NHS policy. I understand that a free, £4 million machine must be tempting for cash strapped NHS trusts, but bribery is bribery whichever way you look at it.

Any private infiltration of the NHS is unacceptable. Despite the fact that such infiltration is rife, doesn't meant we should stand by and let any more happen!

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Foetal Pain

The above title is, I hope you realise, riddled with sardonic overtones.

There are a 'journalist' on Question Time on Thursday going on about the 'studies' that have went into 'foetal pain' and I couldn't decide whether to laugh or throw my TV out of the window. The option of both crossed my mind, too. A TV chucking lunatic I almost could've been.

These 'studies' are about as scientific as the usual would-be-emotive '3D' videos of foetuses sucking their thumbs. Foetuses apparently move away from an unpleasant stimulus, like pain. Newsflash? Hardly. Reacting to a threat does not a life make. Mice that scientists regularly experiment on react to, and indeed display such human concepts as fear when they come into contact with, pain. Why isn't Nadine Dorries standing up for their right to life, too, I wonder?

In fact, single celled bacteria respond to pleasant stimuli. Maybe we should address this issue of 'microbial pain', too?

The concept of pain is a tricky, abstract one. It's hard enough to apply to full grown humans, nevermind under developed organisms. Until these pro-lifers begin to campaign for everything that lives, they are illegitimate losers with no respect for women's rights. Dorries reckons she's pro-choice to a point. That's no choice at all. To paraphrase a wise American gent: She who gives up freedom for "safety" deserves neither.

Friday, 23 May 2008


I feel like I'm living in America during the presidential primaries. Gangs of 'voters' in Crewe walking around saying "I just felt as if we needed a change..."

I thought Obama had that shit copyrighted, but apparently not.

Voters truly are stupid. Don't get me wrong, I don't love Labour. However, this idea that the Tories have changed is pure hoodwinkery. The party is still the same. They're still isolationist. They have not said what they would do to help poor people, so they are arguably still rich-lovers. The party itself supported the 20-week abortion change, so they're still against women's rights.

Except for their new, shiny PR spin, I'm not sure what this "change" is. This is how New Labour got into power and that has hardly been a success story, so why make the same mistake again? Because voters are silly.

Mistakes and fallout

The Mistake

Indeed, as the title suggests, I am not perfect. I could bore us with the details, but suffice to say I made a detail in collecting blood today. I followed a procedure I had been taught in the past, which it seemed was completely wrong. All's well that ends well, I always say, and so the sweet old dear who the blood was intended to got it, albeit at a comfortably warm temperature*

The mistake happened due to me being over zealous. I had been taught the correct procedure way back in November, but had recently been given some bad practice. I should've thought properly, but we were busy and it seemed like a rush job. People make mistakes, especially when they're learning. I sat around to get lectured by the blood bank staff and nodded like a good little boy before getting back into my stride. Having a three-day weekend ahead meant the shift dragged, even if I was let off early. Sorta.

On a side note, I'll miss the gentlemen I've been looking after. All of them should be discharged by Tuesday, and I wished them the best of luck before I left. It's funny how it's sad to see some patients recover and leave. But in a good way.


The day had started on an up. I would be working with DGN, albeit in a busy group of bays. DGN was handed the poisoned chalice of coordinating, though, which is when things went to pot. Admin and organisational duties put the brakes on morning meds and observations, which I scurried off to do to free up some time later.

My current ward - let's call it Ward Y1S3 [Year 1 Semester 3, of course] - has terrible staffing issues. There are a lot of permanant staff off with varying illnesses (and 'illnesses'). Therefore it relies on a lot of temporary staff, which can cause trouble. It also harms any sense of team spirit.

If one of the Charge Nurses (not Sisters. Not on my watch) is on duty in the morning, the night staff will have everything ready. Morning IV infusions, anti-biotics, stuff like that. If there are only staff nurses on duty in the mornings, the night staff can basically not be arsed. Adding to the workload.

This put DGN in an increasingly tetchy mood, which my mistake, as well as a barrel-load of other fuck ups didn't help. Support Assitants, for example, we're pretty much fucking around instead of getting on with needed work. They twice asked one patient if they wanted something to eat, when the patient's nil-by-mouth status had been handed over and displayed over their bed. And then, when they served up a wrong order and I chased them down about it, they told to tell the patient to 'stick it up [their] arse'. Jokes aside, they were hardly endearing themselves to the patients. DGN was pretty short with me, which was a bit annoying, but stress is stress. They later admitted they would soon be looking for work somewhere else. 'It shouldn't be this hard,' they commented, over a relatively simple day.

I can't help but agree.

* Cold blood zapping into a vein is not the nicest sensation, for the record, so warm = good.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Mixed Bag

As is becoming the style of the time I will give a brief outlook of the important parts of the day.

Terminal Patients

The patient I looked after through their hypo (see previous posts) suffering from End Stage Heart Failure was discharged today. Although they were in my area, I spent little time with them today. They are depressed about pending doom - which is hard to deal with as a student nurse. We're taught to emphasise with patients, but I'd feel like a right fuckwit if I did what I've been 'taught'.

"I'm dying, I'm not going to be alive much longer..."

Do you answer:

A) "I can imagine..." - *NO*. I cannot. And saying anything like that would be insulting.
B) "That must be terrible..." Obviously! Doi.
C) "How do you feel about that?" This is the most viable option, but I'm aware the patient doesn't want to talk about it anymore. They are already in denial most of the time, as are the family.

The family were around today and the patient had meetings with specialists of all kinds, which was lucky. But it's a tricky situation I hope to deal with at some point.

'I'm dying...'

Another patient who may or may not be dying, this time. For once, I'm going to actually reveal some patient details without infringing anonymity as the story makes little sense without them. MrBelligerent is a man who believes in an archaic religion (take your pick which one) which believes it is a sin/wrong/whatever for a woman to see a man naked. This being said, MrBelligerent has not had a shower or shave for three days and has complained to his family that there is noone suitable to help him out.

[NB. One of my huge hates (not pet, pure hate) within the NHS and nursing is one simple fact. If, for example, an ECG has to be done on a woman, some of the leads need to go under the left breast. This, it is often said or hinted in my experience, makes men unsuitable to perform ECGs on women if there is a female alternative. No such prejudice exists for installation or removal of catheters in male patients. Therefore, I almost kicked up a fuss about this blatent piece of sexism VS. patient choice but decided it wasn't worth the paperwork)

One of the reason reasons for him not getting a shower is that, unless he is on oxygen, he desaturates very quickly on room air. Desaturation is the process by which the blood begins to carry less oxygen, which can make the lungs and heart work harder which can make someone very out of breath. MrBelligerent is not good at keeping his oxygen on normally, but in the shower we imagined this would be worse.

The support workers mithered me to help him shower, even though is diuretic infusion was due at the time. My mentor caved in and I helped him into the bathroom. He is not too steady on his feet, and yet he proceeded to stand up to shave, rather than sit down. This shave was the most brutal act of hair removal I have ever seen, I must mention. It also started with him removing his oxygen.

"If you don't keep this on, you're going to get breathless," I politely remind him.

He swatted me away with a grunt, and so I let him keep it off. He collapsed into his chair for a shower, moaning about being out of breath. I try to help him with the oxygen, but he is struggling with it, trying to get it off, trying to put a different bit in his nose and grumbling constantly. After about a minute under water he insists is 'cold' (which was quite hot, in my opinion) he gets up, soaking wet and soapy, demands a towel and waddles back to his chair to dry off in the main ward. I'd had enough by this point, my polite enquiries being met with angry noises, and left him to his own devices.

It turns out the patient is quite confused. Talking in the middle of the night in a number of languages, complaining of random things, confusion over location. Although I've looked after the patient for a few days now, and he has been generally fine, if grumpy. There's no mention of confusion on handover, and nothing I can see from his history to suggest it. Go figure, as the Americans say.

Doctors on beds and other such unsporting behaviour

I hate to fall into a stereotype and repeat what various people think. But Doctors flouting the rules on ward is starting to get to me. Some wards feature protected meal times. Usually from 12-1pm. Within this time *noone* is supposed to disturb the patients. It is also the time when some consultants like to start their ward rounds. Well done.

If initiatives are going to be placed on ward, and presumably agreed with different departments, Doctors should actually agree to them. The two of my patients who the consultant was disturbing today were desperate to see their doctor, so I didn't shout at the consultant or any of the henchmen or henchwomen. I know, student nurse shouting at consultants is quite a funny image. But I want to get some practice in before I'm a staff nurse shouting at them.

When they come in at a disallowed time, you may also expect them to ahdere to other rules. Like not sitting on beds. They don't. When I want to talk to a patient on their eye level, I crouch. Or I sit on the floor. These things are allowed by infection control rules. Doctors apparently like to flout these as well.

And furthermore, stealing chocolates addressed to 'the nurses' is certainly unsporting behaviour. Doctors do a very important job and we'd be lost without them, don't get me wrong. But they could do a few things to stop annoying me. Especially given the amount of errands I run and favours I do for them, personally.

It'd be nice.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Abortion and my day

Firstly, my day. It was a good one, thankfully. I had a few new people in one of my main bays who were fun to nurse. One of the patients was due for discharge, which is good because they are quite young and have experienced their first MI. Another patient and I spoke to this person about heat conditions, and it was very interesting to watch them share experiences and help each other out. With me facilitating, of course! They are also the main carer for a child with autism, so getting them home was a big relief. They expressed worries to me about bringing their children into hospital, as it can be a very sad occasion for the patient, as well as the kids. I was glad to wave goodbye to the patient and one of their offspring at around 12.

I got a little more experience and importance today in looking after a GTN infusion, due to one of our patients experiencing chest pain that was no longer abated by the GTN tongue spray. I personally think the patient needed a lie down and some peace and quiet, but I got to put the infusion together and help administer it, once the Doctor had (eventually) found a vein.

This also caused a bit of a rift with support workers which, as DGN has told me, is a necessary part of being an effective nurse. I was needed as a spare set of hands to help lift another patient back into bed, but this patient told me they didn't feel steady on their feet so the group agreed to get a hoist. Three people are not needed to use a hoist, so I went back to check on the GTN patient. When asked to help again (I repeat, a hoist does not need three people to operate it) I told them I had to watch the observations for my first patient. (NB. Being on a GTN infusion, which is when GTN is slowly administered directly to a vein, can cause vasodilation [dilation of the veins and arteries]. This can, in turn, cause blood pressure to drop [increase the volume and the pressure decreases] hence patients on GTN need constant observation. Every 15 minutes, you ask me). This obviously pissed some of the support workers off, however - one of their rank had already left early, and I am *not* an extra pair of hands.

So, I feel like I did good and I feel good even though everything is not good. If that makes sense. I've been looking after a patient in End Stage Heart Failure who is basically dying. I read the dispassionate medical notes about the patient's anxiety, and was further convinced of how I would never become a doctor.

There is little to be done for the patient except let them go home and live out the rest of their life outside of a hospital with their loved ones. It's sad, but it happens.


Now, abortion. 24 weeks stands, which is the important thing. I would've liked very much to be down, outside the Houses of Parliament when Dorries came out. Instead of rousing, well thought out chants by the pro-choice groups, I wouldn't grabbed some rowdy folk and sang, in the style of football fans everywhere:

You can stick your 20 weeks up your arse!
You can stick your 20 weeks up your arse!
Your arguments were full of shit,
And noone stood for it,
You can stick your 20 weeks up your arse!

So, not a good result but not a bad one, either. My opinion will be improved if this silly legislation requiring the signature of two doctors is taken out. Given Dorries thinks we're the 'abortion capital' of Europe (which Unity and others have proven is a pile of steaming manure) we have some draconian acts stopping women from actually getting one.

So, a half victory. Even so, I've been pissed off royally by the reaction of the right wing, man-led media of this country. 3D images of organisms in the womb and the words: "What about THIS baby's rights?" are examples of the typical ridiculous, wannabe emotionally charged pap pedalled by newspapers like the Daily Mail. This 'arguement' (I use 's because it barely counts as one) that organisms within the womb feel 'pain' is riddled with flaws. Firstly, pain is not a reliably measurable concept, even in adults. I'm not sure if Nadine Dorries has conferenced with the seemingly huge amount of foetuses she has watched be aborted (and on that note I'd like to say that if she, for religious reasons, did not want to have a nursing experience on a ward performing abortions she should've said so) and asked them if they're in pain and if she did whether she recorded this on a scale of 1-to-10. Secondly, other concepts like organisms 'walking' and 'sucking thumbs' in the womb are similarly pointless. They are would-be emotive snippets as opposed to actual logical, scientific debate - which is what the pro-lifers try to pedal, most of the time. If these simple behaviours mean something is fully alive and worthy of saving despite the mother's wishes then I hope all these pro-lifers are die hard vegans. Otherwise, they must have a hard time digesting their bacon on toast in the morning. Bacon that used to be a smiling, teet-sucking, happy-go-lucky newborn piglet. But I jest.

Here's the bottom line: Do you support women's rights? You do, or you don't. If you support women's rights, then control over her body belongs to her. If you think that some almighty gentleman living in any sort of Heaven should have any say in the abortion debate, you don't support women. You're pushing your ideas onto a massive slice of the population on the say so of an old, poorly translated book. Any reduction in the 24 week limit is an act akin to turning back the clock on women's rights. It's nothing but blatant patriarchy and I'm fucking sick to the back teeth of it. Old men (in dog collars or in silk ties) with their female stooges wanting to keep the yoke of control tightly around the neck of the female population.

[As for the decision that a father is no longer a prerequisite for a family (in the IVF context) also reported by papers like the Daily Mail in spectacular style, you'd think I was against such a thing, perhaps? The shite pedalled by right wing hacks and religious zealots gives the impression that fathers have been thrown to the wayside, which is a typical exaggeration. My view? I don't give two flying fucks. IVF is a precious waste of money in a system that can barely afford to hire enough nurses to do the necessary jobs that need to be done. If a couple, of a single woman, do not have the biological set up to have children naturally, I'm sorry. Ish. There's more to this world than self-replication, I believe, especially when the world and the country is already overpopulated. On that note - you know which other places are overpopulated? Orphanages. If you're desperate to have a young vassal to pass on your worldly wisdom to go and adopt a child. Sub-rant over.)

P.S. Good posts to look at re: IVF and Abortion and current affairs are:

And here

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Skipping Placement

Accidentally, I must add.

Apprently, when heading into Occupational Health you're not supposed to have the day off. I've heard otherwise, so I'm having a sorta well deserved day off.

Besides, last week I was supposed to stay off on Wednesday to go and get my essay feedback. Which I... er... forgot to do. Oops.Now, it turns out, I might have to contact a nasty old lecturer who doesn't like me to try and apologise and sort it out. I don't often bury my head in the sand, but this time I might make an exception. I have a few other plans, so I'll have to see how they pan out. Either way, I might resort to e-mailing this lecturer.

The problem, you see, is that I've already had to e-mail an apology for seemingly skipping out of a lecture to this person. Given they hold some prestige, I don't want to get into their bad books this early in my tenure.

I might, come to think of it, e-mail from a different account, see if that helps take the heat off, at all. Although given most of the staff at Uni barely know what a computer is, I might have to call. I'm sighing, just thinking of the effort.

I mean, I'm pretty sure I passed 'em both, so the point could be moot. But we'll have to see.

Monday, 19 May 2008

In God's Name...

I'm tired, so this will be close to a ramble. But I want to get it out. (My day, by the way, was passable. Not much to report).

Christian Fundamentalists (the latter syllables being the operative ones) were featured on Channel4 just now, 8-9pm. Nadine Dorries featured, which is shocking considering she often denies connections with Christian movements. She says she's "there for everyone" but I can't remember the last time she listened to any of the massive amount of pro-choice evidence in the country.

These CFs amuse me. Christians in general are very funny to me, but the fundamentalists more so. At least crazed Jihadits have the balls to come out and say they want to kill everyone who's not part of their zany scheme. The whole Christian gig has this 'love everyone' kick. Even more annoying is the sense of 'if you're not with us you're completely and utterly misguided, you poor, Godless fool'. Zealots, pure and simple. All because of blood religion.

Example: I support Liverpool Football Club. My friend supports Manchester United. Currently, they have different things going for them and against them. I can talk about Liverpool's fantastic performances in Europe, they could talk about Manchester United's Premiership dominance. We could debate on those points, amongst others.

Religion isn't involved, therefore neither of us could turn around and say: "I'm right because a mystical figure is on my side." Well, we could, but it wouldn't be true. As soon as you involve religion in an arguement, it just gets silly.

Don't get me wrong - I have my faith, I like faith. Just not when it causes wars or suffering. Which is usually when people try to force it on everyone else like these people are trying to do, whether they admit wanting to be despots or not. '20 Reasons for 20 Weeks' is funded by groups like 'Right to Life' and all that shit, which is religious and 'moral' in it's findings. They want to control the destiny of thousands upon thousands of women. That's just one example of what these Christian Fundamentalists would like to do, given the chance. They protest against Mosques being built because they consider Allah to be a false prophet/the devil, depending who you speak to. They protest at gay meetings because they think people being gay is the work of the devil.

At least Jihad-loons have the evil honesty to hate all outsiders. CFs dress it up as it these people can be 'saved'. If, that is, they turn their backs on all they hold dear. And why? Because they say so. Although they'll tell you it's not their will, but the will of God. Convenient, that.

I have a real ying against people who try to force their way of thinking onto the general population. I'm quite pro-chaos, I suppose, although realistically we don't have it too badly as we could have it underneath a religious regime. I mean, I know we live under a government that has it's own way of running things but it could be the lesser of most of the evils.

As a final point, the concept of praying. There was a man on the programme who had called his Driving School 'MiracLe'. He said he prayed for customers when they ran dry, and God delivered them to him. Obviously, without financial records it'd be difficult to work out just how many customers 'God' brings him, but I'm sure the telephone numbers on his car that's out on the roads most days don't hurt. Some Christians have this idea of 'P.U.S.H.' - 'Pray Until Something Happens'. And if it doesn't happen, God didn't want it to happen. So if you want something to happen and it does, thank God. If it didn't, then you were wrong in the first place to want it. The whole concept just makes me laugh.

Friday, 16 May 2008

The Long Day that was...

I should've penned this last night, but I was far too on the tired side.

Yesterday started with a bump. I was going to be working with a Bank Nurse. A Bank Nurse who I've met and interacted with before. My second mentor, someone I respected muchly, didn't like this person (who I will from now refer to as Insipid Bank Nurse [IBN]) which got my spidey sense tingling from square one.

I was pleasantly surprised, though, when IBN asked me what I'd like to do - drugs or meds. I spent two months doing lots of observations, so I chose drugs - and dispensed well enough to recieve compliment. I was a bit sycophantic but I shrugged it off. It was now that I realised the choice from earlier was a pointless one - I was going to have to do the obs after the drugs, anyway, which I got on with.

These details do only act as a precursor to what really happened. At around lunchtime one of the Support Workers grabbed me. One patient, suffering from End Stage Heart Failure and insulin dependent Diabetes, as well as being on a Not-For-Resuscitation Order (unknown to them or their family), was slumped in their chair, food dripping out of one side of their mouth, quite unresponsive. A group of us launched into action, getting the patient into bed and checking their observations. I made sure to check their pupils which were sluggish, but vaguely responsive and of average size. Vaguely responsive describes the patient, who was sort of slurring but aware of what was going on. Observations seemed normal for them - tachycardic, but otherwise fine. We bleeped the patient's SHO and ran some tests to rule out any sort of cardiac problem. The ECG, for example, looked normal.

I stayed with the patient as investigations went on. To cut a long bit of a long story short, it turned out the patient's blood sugar hadn't been checked before lunch. On finding this, the team began to enact protocals for diabetic patients in hypo and the patient slowly made a recovery (especially after a direct IV injection of dextrose). IBM then began to try and cover their bases and shift the blame. They assumed it would 'automatically' be checked and gave me this underhanded "It wasn't your fault" speech. If I wouldn't have been looking after the patient closely, I might have looked up and replied: "You're fucking right it wasn't my fault. You're the registered nurse here, you knew about the condition and the buck stops with you, fuckhead." But I didn't.

By the time the furrore calmed down it was past my kick out time. DGN was just coming on to start an equally hectic late shift. Thinking fast, I asked if I could stay on. A long day would buy me a day off, which I was in dire need of, whilst opportunities to work with DGN are not to be passed up.

I did a little exit poll with some staff members about IBN. DGN told me IBN was a 'funny one' but agreed with me about where the buck stops. Several other members did, too, so I put a pause on having a word with the ward manager. If anything like this happens again, I'll think about it, but not today.

The late shift was a bit of a blur. I made myself useful, which always feels good. The only incident I can remember is that of a group of Doctors organising a patient move. From our ward to the Heart Care Unit. They did, usefully, inform neither us nor the patient. Which meant it put a bit of a rush on proceedings. Trebles all round?

So, after quickly chronicling* all of this I'm off to enjoy more of my day off. I need to make birthday presents, read my favourite journals and try not to spend too much money. I might have to accept two out of three...

* Try saying that three times fast.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

The Long Day that wasn't

Yes, I was indeed half planning on doing a long day and taking tomorrow off to sun myself and do fuck all. But some strenuous nursing took it's toll.

There has been a patient in my zone for a while now who I haven't really looked after. Ill Old Dear (IOD) is in a sideroom due to MRSA. They presented with oesteoporosis (spelling?) and other rheumatic conditions. Their renal system is also not amazing, and on top of all this a stroke is being queried from an episode over the weekend.

DGN does not like IOD. IOD is quite needy, whiny and otherwise hard to look after. IOD does not, essentially, need to be on a acute medical ward.

IOD needed an MR scan today to properly diagnose a stroke/TIA from the weekend. IOD also needed a podiatry review, so my mentor decided to mix these into one round trip. My mentor also decided that it would be good experience for me to go on the round trip, which I knew wasn't a good idea but could not convince my mentor out of. So, wget ready to go at about 1000 when I am, essentially, not quite finished with my own patients. IOD needs a bedpan before, so an NHS Professionals support worker puts them on one.

Clearly not very well. The bedpan is misplaced and a massive mess is made. A different support worker grabs me and we clean up the mess, replacing the sheets. The replacement sheets become soaked, too, so we replace the replacements - by which time IOD is in quite a lot of pain and additionally stressed by the constant turning. We round up some reinforcements and move IOD from high-tech mattress to stiff old trolley. Obviously missing the porter, and so have to wait an hour for another to come, which stressed IOD out even more. I sit with her and chat, when she can, her wheezing and shortness of breath getting in the way of things.

Eventually we get down to the MR Scanner and wait some more. We get into the antechamber only to wait even longer, but to IOD's distress. I accidentally disconnect IOD's fluids as the Radiology nurse told me "it" would have to be disconnected. It was only after they'd watched me do it that it turned out "it" was the IVAC machine. This was just one of the very poor pieces of practice exhibited from the team, in my opinion, but whatever.

Much later, and with scant manners, they kicked us out to wait for a porter. By now IOD was in quite a bit of pain and exhibiting worrying sounds when breathing. My mentor had originally wanted to transfer IOD to a chair and get a porter to podiatry but after speaking to them and listening to their worries, I did not feel at all comfortable putting them through that. I phoned my mentor, explaining the situation and expressing my clinical judgement. Thankfully, my mentor agreed - I was going to bring IOD back to the ward come hell or high water, anyway. So I did, and the Ward Manager sent me for a break whilst they sorted IOD into some new sheets.

It was an interesting experience. I agreed with DGN that IOD shouldn't be with us, and I still do, but I get the impression DGN might not have given IOD a good enough chance to get to know them. IOD's a lovely old human being, deep down, full of opinion and chat. But then again, maybe some of it is an act and I have to learn to be a bit more ruthless. I told someone yesterday that it isn't always the 'good' patients that make the job worthwhile. Sometimes it's the patients you don't like but grow to like. IOD was one of those. And, to sound dramatic, before today I was losing a bit of interest in the vocation. Today was a perfect example. My mentor being careless-cum-irresponsible. The radiology nurses being shit. Being placed on a quite time intensive and low value job. But I made some progress with someone I didn't think I would've done so with. That's the kind of Disney-shite that keeps me smiling and keeps me interested.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008


BBC Breakfast is the only thing passable on when I wake up, so I have it mumbling along in the background as I fumble around in the dark, searching for something uniform-like to wear.

This morning (I think) there was the case of a woman whose mum died because she couldn't get a drug which might've extended her life for a few years (bear in mind I never really pretend to be fair and balanced, so my bias is bound to be showing through already). The mother couldn't get this drug due to the fact that NICE don't rate it good value for money. The daughter now goes around the country harassing parts of the NHS to get people similar treatments.

It all seems very noble until you look at it with a shred of realism in your cap. The NHS is an organisation with a finite budget. NICE (who, for the record, I think are a bunch of beancounting dolts who muddle through an arguably difficult job) try to get a fair deal for everyone. These rare, unused drugs are - shockingly - usually rare and unused. This keeps the expense up, generally. High expense reduces their value for money and value overall. Say, for example, rare drug X costs £10,000. It will help one person. Say operation Y costs £1000. 10 operation Ys can be performed for the price of one course of drug X. Very simple way of looking at things, I know. But see where I'm going with this? It's cost-VS-perceived value.

NICE, the NHS and the government in general need to strike a fine balance here. Of course, if the government didn't pay shitty private companies billions of squid for external sub-contracted services that don't work properly, drug X and operation Y might both be available in excess. But they don't, and they're not.

I discussed with DGN today the concept of living in the real world and being ruthless. We agree it's vital, as a nurse (and debatably as a person). If you can't be ruthless you'd be staying back every day to finish your notes, look after patients who have noone to talk to. The NHS takes advantage of the caring nature of the caring profession, which is plain unfair and burns too many good nurses right out. But, then again, maybe that's value for money. And maybe I look like a hypocrite.


Yesterday I chronicled the problem of telling one patient to stay on ward at all costs. I found out today that this was downgraded from 'must' (which is, I understand after a prolonged discussion with DGN, unenforceable due to the fact is not a secure ward/unit) to 'should' to 'can go off the ward with someone'. I felt this was a little more considerate. The original problem, however - being stuck in hospital when the patient doesn't really need to be - is still there. The patient is therefore grump-tastic.

So, this patient didn't escape.

A different one did.

Now, as mentioned, we're not a secure unit. Patients can discharge themselves whenever they like. The patient who left is someone I was looking after for the day, but that one day was the only time I'd spent with them. The patient was due to go for an angiogram with the possibility of an angioplasty whilst they were inside. Nothing unusual, I explained. I talked them through the procedure, gave them one of the British Heart Foundation books (which are fantastic, by the way) and the patient complained of not being able to see a video about the procedure up on their previous ward, so we even showed them that. An hour later I clocked off. Coming back on in the morning, it appeared the man had hopped it somewhere between the late shift finishing and the night shift starting. Phone calls shot out to all kinds of people until the nurses on duty trapped down the brother, who the patient lived with. Apparently, the patient had turned up at the pub. They otherwise refused to speak to the nursing staff, but the message was clear. Didn't want any angriogram/plasty, thankyouverymuch. The nurses communicated how vital it was to, at least, go to their GP to pick up the vital cardio-medication and that was that.

I consider myself a decent judge of character, and didn't really see it coming. DGN hadn't looked after the patient, but asked me a few questions about the patient, how long they'd been in etc. DGN then guessed it might have something to do with the patient being an alcoholic. In hospital for the first time in adult life for a few days, and then straight to the pub? Interesting, as ideas go.

This bizarre bay continues with another patient I can't quite get a bead on. In their 60s, the patient has had a rather strange renal reaction to the dye from an angiogram. The medics are umming and ahing and doing other investigations, especially into a very mucus-y cough. The patient is a little... odd. I've been told that they have memory problems early on in the morning, although they're pretty lucid when I'm around. Lucid, but quite strange. Obtuse, even, but I can have a giggle with them. We brought up the memory issues and general feeling of confusion with the medics who spoke to him. The main doctor I spoke to (who is, for the record, the sort of person who would not be attractive if they weren't a Doctor. Come on. You know the type) didn't think the patient was confused, but made getting a more detailed personal history off of the patient's spouse a priority. It was only then that I was told the patient had a stroke/TIA in their history. Surely this should've been on the handover, I asked? Apparently so. But it wasn't. Strange. So this patient, I personally think, has probably always been a bit of a kook in their own way, but not helped by the effects of a recent stroke. But lots of the staff have wrote the patient off as a weirdo, which is a bit harsh, I think. You just need to break through.

I like DGN more and more, especially since I got to work underneath them today. We discussed one patient who is in need of rehab/nursing home care and how they should not be in an acute medical ward bed and share opinions, which is awfully nice. DGN works me nigh constantly, which is awesome compared to some nurses who treat perfectly capable student nurses with kid gloves. It turns out I'll be joined later in the 10 weeks by some third years, which will be interesting. I like being given a run for my money.

Thanks to my efforts none of our patients left the ward for the pub today. I am most proud.

Monday, 12 May 2008

Monday, bloody Monday

The horror...

What a palava. For parents who can't control their kids using technology we have... a piece of technology! Good, old fashioned parenting goes further out the window, it seems.

Anyway, onto the nursing. Firstly, I wasn't allowed to leave early today, despite there being nothing left for me to do. Nice one.

Prickly issues today regarding Doctors. Don't get me wrong, I'm not about to start generalising, but these issues are probably transferable around the world. The situation: We have a patient on ward recovering from an Myocardial Infarction on the ward. Ex-cancer patient, ex-alcoholic (on Librium). Irish descent, lovely sort. This patient has a few visitors who will come and take them out in a wheelchair for some fresh air or down to the cafe, nothing strenuous. The patient has been with us for a while due to poor scheduling and communication between hospital and is understandably bored.

Today the consultant doctor told the patient (in no uncertain terms) that leaving the ward was a big negatory, due to some slight chest pain. The consultant was quite casual about this, despite it's importance to the patient. At first they were quite polite about the issue, but once the consultant had gone the patient approached me stating, to paraphrase: "I haven't committed a murder, I'm not a prisoner, and [the consultant] has no right to force me to stay here. Tell them, or I'm discharging myself." This was, clearly, a bit of a problem. I apologised (again) arguing the consultant had the patient's best interests at heart but they would have none of it. My mentor tried a little more, but the fact that English is a second language didn't seem to help things. Eventually we found a SHO (Senior House Officer) attached to the consultant to speak with the patient, but they are still arguably understandably fucked right off.

As implied above, I think the main problem seems to be the fact the consultant was quite casual about essentially locking this patient up in a ward for the duration. The patient has been quite understanding about errors before, and I can understand how you can think people are taking you for a soft touch. Essentially, if he wanted to leave I wouldn't jump on him - heart condition aside - to keep him within the walls. In general, it was perhaps not the best move by the consultant to order something rather than discuss it with the patient.

And it sort of compounds a common issue in my experience. The nature of the work of the medics means they are not around all the time. Nurses are. And so nurses are the ones who, more often than not, have to deal with unpopular policy. Even if they themselves don't support such policy.

Saturday, 10 May 2008


This story has crossed my internet desk recently.

The idea of giving someone a job regardless of gender, race or age is an amazing one. The idea of giving someone a job because their gender/race/age 'needs' to be represented is a silly one. That's as simple as it goes, for me. To say that 40% of a population is female therefore 40% of the government ministers should be female is highly naive. If you play those odds then surely you have to play the odds of age (baby ministers anyone?), race and religion? And those three just for starters.

Sexism is stupid. However, discriminating towards women to try and reduce sexism isn't going to get anyone anywhere. Education is key, and if the new Spanish cabinet pushes for education - good (although I'm not sure they need to be predominantly female to do that). If it's just a publicity stunt then they're nothing more than expensive role models without the important substance all role models should have.

Friday, 9 May 2008

Naysayer Nadine

For anyone who didn't just witness Nadine's laughable attempt at propaganda on Channel4 news, she's still an idiot.

Today a 12-year long study was released about progress made from the late ninties up to 2005. That's a fucking solid study, published into the BMJ (which I'm sure Madine probably counts as part of the 'pro-abortion lobby'). It's longitudinal and covers many hospitals and has found that, although technology and other advances have helped babies born after the 24 weeks, 22 and 23 week old babies still haven't really been thrown a line (surely a pointless arguement if you believe in women's rights?).

Madine rebutted this with bullshit opinion polls and information from Sweeden and her trump card of one hospital. So, apparently the entire British medical community (see: pro-abortion lobby) except for this one hospital should go and learn from Sweeden?

Awesome news.

She pushed her usual 'I'm not anti-abortion' shtick which has been fisked generally around the blogosphere. Not only did she used to have pro-choice views, but now she also speaks out against sex education, too. No sex we're female, it seems. Furthermore, this 'right to life when the baby can feel/hand of hope' shit is grounded in religious pap. I'm surprised she didn't deny being a tool for the Christian zealots of this country, despite the fact she clearly is.

KGM treated her a bit like a kid in a strop. "Yes... Yes, anyway. Anyway..." Probably the best way to treat her.


Anti-social behaviour has been a big issue for a while. And there are, essentially, few answers. Except actually giving people opportunities when they're small so they don't grow up hating the world.

I agree with this Devil's Kitchen article about Boris and his new ban on drinking alcohol on the tube. It's another policy which does little to address an actual problem. Just the effect. So you stop people drinking on the tube (which you don't, since this is unenforceable). What about people getting pissed BEFORE they get on the tube? They're still getting pissed and being a nuisance. You're hardly approached as to the WHY they're doing this.

On a personal note, I was 'egged' on the way back from work. My adorable fold-up bike prompts so much aggression within disaffected youths, this behaviour is not particularly original. Am I annoyed? Not really. Firstly, I actually skilfully dodged the barrage, so didn't actually end up with egg on my face. Second, kids will be kids. I used to play around with eggs when I was a kid. Didn't make me a bad person. I passed a car that had stopped a while up the hill, the driver out and stomping down the road with ire in his eyes. He was less nonplussed. Hell, he was positively plussed.

Does this mean we should ban eggs? Ban children carrying eggs unescorted? Some people would probably say yes. And yes, and yes again until something they loved was about to be outlawed. My life would be slightly less stressful if young men and women were not on the streets, in my way, sometimes giggling about my choice of transport. So should we ban them? How about banning everything else which makes my life stressful? Or yours? What happens when someone doesn't like my habitual style of fold-up bike riding good-natured hijinks? Ban me?

Banning activities whilst ignoring the reasons behind them in the act of a poltroon.

Or someone very fucking stupid.

Ah, it's the weekend. I chose to buy ice cream over beer earlier, and am going to relax with it later, at length, hopefully. Tomorrow I plan to go out and buy some summer-junk from Primark. A classic case of the exploited exploiting the similarly exploited.


Today we had to put up with being one support assistant down whilst working with one bank nurse. This meant noone really knew what was going on, at times. BankNurse was pretty belligierant, too. I took a message for one of their patients and they said "Well, have you told them?". There's a reason I'm assigned to a certain team, and that ain't it.

My mentor was back in, in a what-is-possibility-common-place scattered state. I shouldn't complain, though. I got to practice some medicines and making up an illoprost. Little did I know that I was also going to have to monitor said illoprost all day long, which, officially, is not a job I should be allowed to do. But the patient would've gotten sick otherwise, and it was good experience.

I was doing a lot of work usually reserved for a registered member of staff in general, actually. The ethics of this are messy, in general, but at the end of the day I think it's a good way for me to learn. And I make sure I could never make some death-dealing mistake, so it's less of a big deal than it might sound.

I know too many Newly Qualified Rookies who have never done certain tasks throughout their careers that I've done already, so I'm going to keep on doing so.

I'm going to miss being a student nurse. I really am. I mean, being a student nurse means I can leave early - woo. It also gives me the time to stand in on as many Ward Rounds as possible and, when patient's inevitably don't understand medical argot, go away, look it up and come back to explain it to them more clearly.

OFMN - Breaking rules and taking names since 2007.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

The NHS acting like Scrubs #2

Today, Doctors wanted an echocardiogram for a patient before the consultant came down. Being in a nice mood, I volunteered to walk all the way across the hospital to fetch it. It's hot, it's far and I'm sweating by the end of it, but happy to do a good deed.

It is then that the Ward Manager takes it from me and gives it to the doctors, all smiles and sunshine. I mean, I wasn't expecting global praise, but I'd like it to be known that I'd done the work. Especially since one of the SHOs is a bit on the hot side. But no, my new Ward Manager pulled a Kelso.

The plot thickens.

Non-nursing views

More issues around pro-zealotry Nadine Dorries and her crusade against women today. My favourite fisk here is not a Ministry of Truth one, surprise surprise. Another great riposte (which is a bit of a misnomer, since it infers Dorries is capable of delivering anything cutting and incisive) is over here. If anyone hasn't read that one, do so now.

My views on abortion are pretty clear. And I don't usually split hairs down genders, but the choice is fully in the woman in question's court. Not a Doctors, not a Vicars, and certainly not some 'God'. Or in this case, a woman who wants to be.

* This is a tennis metaphor, not referring to the courtroom. Ho ho.

Day Number Three

A day of ups and downs, really.

The ward was understaffed (don't worry, I've reported such shocking news to Fleet Street and no doubt it will be on every front page come tomorrow. Not.) which left me at something of a loose end. I feared being used as a spare pair of hands, which isn't completely terrible, depending what my hands are tasked to do. But then Damn-Good-Nurse stepped into the fray.

DGN is a part of a dying breed, sadly. Educated in most aspects of the medical science and very skilled, with a lovely character to boot, DGN hates their job, they confided in me later in the day.

More on them later. DGN, suffice to say, voiced concerns about using my as a unskilled runaround and made sure I got some actual learning done, which is a refreshing change. They half-apologised for asking me to do observations, which was ridiculously sweet of them. They later told me that they had been used as a dogsbody for their 3 years training, basically, and didn't want it to happen to more students, which I fully support.

So, I got to jump on with an IV Nurse, being taught the newest ANTT (anti-septic non-touch technique) as well as other hand hints and tips. I learnt from this nurse that, apparently, no student from my University is allowed to administer IV drugs at any point in the course. Good fucking idea. So we learn it when? I, I have been reassured, will be doing it, rules or not.

I practised writing, MRSA-screening, and got a chance to talk to some of the patients, which is a great change. But the plight of DGN stayed with me all day.

They are, as mentioned, a damn good nurse. Caring yet hard-nosed when they need to be. Skilled and good under mounting pressure. But this nurse wants to leave the job. They tell me the police pay better and support their staff more. Hence they may switch public services. Now, don't get me wrong, we need good police officers, too, so it's not as if DGN would be going to work for QVC, but it'd be a sad loss. Particuarly when it comes to the other member of staff on this morning.

Newly Qualified Rookie (NQR) is exactly what it says on their tin. Yes, officially they are a registered nurse and are deployed as such. Their skills are usually lacking, and their ability to work under pressure stands up to little scrutiny. Although in this case NQR is enthusiastic, their inability to deal with the job meant that DGN has to take more patients than usual (we were one registered nurse down, remember) adding stress to DGN and increasing their rate of burn out.

It really is a crying shame. I've met other DGNs before (although not as many as I'd like) as well as other NQR. I hope never to be as ill suited as most of the NQRs, and am sure I will one day I will become a DGN, although hopefully without the hatred of the job.

DGN really challenged my views today. They are the sort of nurse I would like to be, and yet they admit to hating the job and wanting to leave. Whereas members of staff like NQR or Usually-Found-Gossiping-At-The-Nurse-Station (UFGatNS. Bit of a mouthful) seem to be in the majority. DGN doesn't think you can do real nursing as a nurse anymore, all the fun, caring jobs dispatched to the Support Workers. If staffing levels were higher then nurses could do a bit more nursing, but they're not. Not yet. Still, I know - even if they don't - that DGN helps people recover and improves their lives. And that is, after all, why I'm still in this game.

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

On a personal note

I kinda miss being a real, authentic, smelly student with time off to lounge around outside student accommodation with barbecues in the unseasonable sun. If I wasn't tired from a job I actually like, I mean. However, there are a number of hitches in this plan. Firstly, I went about making friends of the student variety, but they're all a bit young and irritating and so it didn't last. And sitting on my own in the sun sounds a bit dull. Second, I had my three years being the aforementioned type of student, and shouldn't give in to a mid-diploma crisis. Thirdly, I should be working. Which reminds me...

Second Day

It is, I hazard to mention, going surprisingly well.

First things first, I met my mentor today. They are a staff nurse from the Philippines with English as a second language. This will, to be honest, be annoying if anything lacking in the English language impacts on my paperwork, but that's hardly a huge worry. They are a decent nurse, by the looks of things, so I'm pleased. My other mentor is off for 4 weeks as they are getting married. Hrm - good work if you can get it, that is.

Anyway, I get to stay in 'Team B' which means I look after the same group of beds, which is a refreshing level of consistency. The turnover of patients is higher than I thought, but there are some around for long enough to get to know, which is positive.

I surprised my mentor by being able to do observations, dispense medications and mix up IV antibiotics, which inevitably meant an end to my gravy train of sitting around on my lovely bottom. But I wouldn't have it any other way, really. Hopefully my responsibilies might increase on this ward, a step I feel I'm ready for.

One sad thing involved the afternoon shift sitting around not wanting to do any work until 3pm, it seemed (I can't be sure as I was let off just after 2, which was pleasurable indeed), instead preferring to gossip gathered around the nurse station. I don't like that, personally, but it happens. I have begun to act a tad cheeky when the situation calls for it, and show my previous experience on the ward. I'm not sure how many people this is endearing me to, but it works and I like it so I'll stick with it for now. An air of cheery confidence is much better than quiet contemplation when it comes to nurse behaviour, I believe.

The prickly pear that is lying to patients reared it's ugly head today. Talk about absolute honesty all you like, it's sometimes not that black and white. We have a patient with a cerebral injury - I haven't found out exactly which part of their brain has been effected just yet, but their judgement and memory are pretty hazy. Although they are 'specialed' this doesn't mean they're taken care of all the time. Sometimes the Support Workers aren't much good in that role, sometimes the patient turns violent. So, when they threaten to leave in their 'car' unless their son turns up it's much more advisable to tell them their son will be along later on, even if he will not. When the alternative is diazepam and a curt call to security, I know which idea gets my vote.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

The (not so) Difficult First Day

Is over. And I got out half an hour early, which is a bonus in anybody's book.

How did I find it? Alright. The staff are friendly and seem to know what they're talking about, with a seemingly minimum amount of backbiting kicking around. A few of them love my accent (yes, I have an adorable accent. Observant readers may have worked out where I'm from by now) and I've had a giggle with them early on, prompting one visitor to the ward to presume I'd been there for weeks.

The patients are mostly elderly, generally self-caring, which means less bed bathing (a task that was getting a little boring back on my previous ward) and more medication, observation and perspiration. It's warm out, innit?

My first day was basically shadowing a Staff Nurse, since it takes a bit to get back into the swing of things in a completely new setting. The nurse in question was lovely, so I delivered a present of doing some of the writing later on. Quite amused I can still manage it after five weeks, so congratulations to me.

My mentor is nowhere to be seen, which is hardly a surprise. I might see them tomorrow when they're working a bank shift, but I won't get my hopes up.

I went to my old ward for a few minutes on my - get this! - second break. I put my foot in it for asking about gossip about some very rich person being flown in and given their own bay. Something I'd heard about and my new ward wanted information on, but I did it whilst the Professor looking after this rich so-and-so was around. I quickly made myself scarce. Still, fun to see the old gang, so to speak. They reacted with good humoured chagrin, which is what I'd expect. I'll have to pop back and visit when Professors aren't around to prompt my-foot-in-my-mouth again.

Generally, it flew by as days go. But the first few always do. It'll be when I start to put in some solid graft when they stretch out. Can't wait.

I *do* know what I'm yelling about

Stupid fucking knobheads like this

They annoy me. Well, specifically, Nadine annoys me. A quick look at that article will tell you a few things.

A cross-party selection of MPs are happy with the 24-week limit.

Most Doctor groups believe insignificant improvements have been made to warrant anything less than a 24-week limit.

So, in short: MPs and Medical Organisations agree the current limit is fine. But this idiot, who I am quite worried to mention she used to be a nurse (I think her new vocation of political zealot is much more suited to her ridiculous character), thinks she knows better.

"I respect a woman's right to choose. But we are close to being the abortion capital of the world and it is now time to adopt a more moderate, commonsense approach to abortion."

I.e. "I don't think women having control over their own bodies is a good idea. I should. 'Cause I'm big and clever. Unlike those silly sluts in the real world."

If this is one person I would like to smash, repeatedly, in the face with a sledgehammer it's Nadine Dorries. Not only was she once a nurse, but her arguments have been disproved constantly and yet she still clambers for publicity.

One of my major dislikes is, clearly, sexism. Some people tend to assume that women are more apt and suited to talk about issues of abortion and choice. Which, let's be honest, is bollocks. Firstly - are men effected by these issues? Yes. Do (some) men care? Yes. Does the fact that men do not have the capability to physically give birth to a child make their views less valid? No. It bloody well shouldn't. I don't see how a woman who is physically unable to give birth is more suitable to talk about abortion has automatically more important views because of their gender alone.

Monday, 5 May 2008

Delving back in...

OFMN starts his longest ever placement tomorrow (for some reason, despite the tiny bursary and general lack of government support we get bank holidays off. And there are two this month. Woo). I will be working within a cardiology and rhumotology (which I need to learn how to spell) setting in the 'old' part of the hospital. I have been browsing the internet for mainly cardiological disorders as this is how the ward is weighted, by the sounds of things. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not kidding myself that my brief research will have me all prepared for time within the complicated world of heart problems, but I feel a bit more comfortable if I have a vague idea what some of the acronyms mean.

I'm both excited and nervous, two emotionals rattling my usual cool, calm and collected exterior. I'm going to get in extra early so I can find the place (I considered going on a recon mission today but am just that bit too lazy and would rather relax). Unlike my recent placement, there are no other students from my course coming along, so I'll be all on my lonesome unless there are students from other years/universities also attached. It is, for sure, going to be strange getting back in the swing of things.

I have had 5 weeks off (well, 3 in University and 2 on holiday, but who's counting?) and have been relatively idle. Which has annoyed me. So it'll be good to be actually learning again. And the heart itself is something I find very interesting. So all in all it'll be good to strap myself back in to the ugly student nurse uniform and get out there.

I just hope, as ever, that the staff are a good bunch - I've been told they are, which is a quality start. Failing that, I hope my mentor knows what he or she is talking about and that I get to work with them a lot. I've been lucky on that front for the past two placements, although arguments can be made that my strength of character has meant I've been able to work with my mentor whilst other people I've spoke to have accepted some kind of brush off far too easily.

Right. Back into the swing of things. That considered, I need to do a bank holiday supermarket run to buy sandwich-based supplies.

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Why you should go see Iron Man.

I've just got back and I must say - I love it when I'm not disappointed.

The casting, especially of Tony Stark, is truly perfect. The actor really gets in to character throughout the roller coaster, bullet-strewn morality tale. He's a mysoginistic, often-selfish, egotistical ball of charisma. To hit the old cliche - men want to be him, women want to be with him.

Like in all good hero (super or not) films, the protagonist has to go through a complex, difficult journey and if the actor can't pull this off then the film is pretty pointless. The man who plays Stark has it down perfectly.

As for other casting, Paltrow (as Ms. Pepper Potts) is very well suited. The Arab terrorists are typically evil, as is the big bad guy. On top of that, the voice of Jarvis is amazing.

The plot: At two hours long, it's perfectly paced in my opinion. There are thrills and spills and it keeps you wanting just a tiny bit more.

The effects: Bliss. I know I was in a cinema, but the CGI doesn't look cheap. There is, for example, a great switch between the gritty Mark One suit and the final (in this film, at least) Mark Three.

In short, between the acting, plot, effects, music (Iron Man is cued at the perfect moment) and the last line of the film... It's more than worth watching. Again, in fact! Where's my bike...?