Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Magicoreligious Madness

The recent story of the Sikh girl who won the right to wear a piece of jewellery in opposition to school rules was always going to get a comment out of me.

As evident by the prominent link to a certain Church on my blog front, I don't hold religion is particularly high regard. Not to say I don't have faith, which I do, or I don't see a point in believing in something or than deterministic, reductionist science. I don't consider faith the be all and end all of existence in the same sense that science does not explain everything, however some people on either side of this invisible border between the two continue to have irritating effects on society. A society which is, apparently, looked after by a secular government.

The school in question was running a 'No Jewellery' policy. This in itself is not uncommon from schools I have both attended and worked in. I gather such policies are conducted for several reasons. Firstly, jewellery can cause jealous and envy, which have further follow on and side effects. Secondly, jewellery can cause problems with local health and safety policies (hoop earrings being pulled out - not pretty). Thirdly, some schools employ a uniform policy in an attempt to make children feel smart and equal to each other. Accessories put a dint into this, unfortunately. I don't agree with taking away people's individuality ala uniform policy, but it is a rule in many schools and was in this one, for (debatably) good reason. Rules are rules, and - made to be broken or not - are enforced, and should be if that's what the school board has agreed. Furthermore, the student in question signed a contract saying she would abide by said rules. I'm sure it wasn't a blood-legal document, but still an agreement.

Thus, she was breaking school rules. And anyone breaking rules is usually reprimanded. She continued to break the rules, she continued to be reprimanded. Until she went into the Court system and received what could be described as special dispensation to break the rules of the school. This special dispensation happened because what she was breaking the rules wearing is an accessory of magicoreligious importance. Despite the fact that it is going against the grain of all three of the above points of the rule.

This is particularly annoying. Schoolchildren comprise a diverse mix of cultures and subcultures who are different in physical appearance and psychological standpoint and belief, including any spiritual or magicoreligious standing. For some children, music is king. It's the most important thing in their lives. Listening to it, reading about it, following the tenets set out by the leading stars. And yet they are not allowed to express this through accessories on uniforms. Piercings and eyeliner, for one example, are disallowed. Yet a Sikh bangle has been given special dispensation (thankfully, the Fundamentalist 'SilverRingThing' was thrown out of the courts last year. I almost had a little party in celebration).

So, the crux of the matter is: where do we draw the line? This is not a secular society, so one belief should not receive more privileges than an other. Clearly, Sikhism has existed for a much longer duration and has a larger following than some Gothic music subculture, as hinted at in the example above. But does that automatically make it more important? What about a young black child who is celebrating his or her ethnic or racial links or roots by wearing a certain accessory to their uniform? Is this aspect of colonialism and it's aftermath less or more important than a religion. Where is the line drawn?

My standpoint is that mentioned above. As long as Britain remains a secular country then religion should not get any leg-ups. There are many schoolchildren who believe in fashions or trends just as vehemently as a religion, and yet they're not allowed to express themselves within the gates of a school. Their treatment shouldn't be so unfair.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

New Laws

New laws, championed by Harriet Harmann and pushed by the British Law System, are attempting to liberalise the laws surrounding murder.

To be perfectly honest, I haven't researched this topic in an intense manner, but I have listened to various viewpoints and I am, perhaps unsurprisingly, against such a change. There are already bits and pieces within the law to allow defences like self defence to be used in the case or murder. And judges are, or should be, more than capable at managing these laws effectively.

The history of governments (and I know the supporters say this rule change has nothing to do with government, but that's bollocks) meddling with laws are dodgy at best. The recent decision to mess with anonymous witness schemes within murder trails hasn't helped one bit, now, has it?

Now, of course, we live in a "democracy". But there are plenty of people who haven't been voted into any seat of power who make decisions. And these men and women are the ones who annoy me most. That's an aside, I know, but a necessary one.

Anyway, what else is wrong with this law? I don't particularly like the wording. "Seriously wronged"? That could be taken in so many ways it's not even funny. Especially when you bring cultural, social and magicoreligious reasons. That's got trouble written through it like a stick of Blackpool rock.

Aside from that, the way in which the media is reporting the law is considerably biased towards to women suffering abuse. This is undoubtedly a problem, but just because female/male-on-male is statistically lower than the media published male-on-female domestic abuse doesn't mean it's any less important. And when one of the founders of a rather large Women's Refuge is criticising the government for gender bias and being both naive and short sighted, something's gotta be wrong.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Joined Up Thinking

This article made me giggle. The following paragraph in particular:

The areas that the audit has looked at include leadership (only four out of 35 British National Governing Bodies of sport has a female chief executive), media coverage (there is more than 50 times as much coverage in the media for men's sport than there is for women's, with only two per cent of articles and one per cent of images devoted to elite female athletes and women's sport) and investment in sport, which looks at the split in funding of men's and women's sports.

The concept of equal funding is a good and relevant one. The idea of somehow trying to influence the genders of sports leaders stinks of positive discrimination from the outset, but we'll see. My main problem is with the media point. Linking sexism to media coverage is spurious at best, bollocks at worst. Sport is a business. From the selling of equipment to the screening of matches/exhibitions on television, it's all about the money. Consumerism and shareholders etc.

Now, I could walk down a high street and run a quick survey on how much window space is given to male clothing vs. female clothing. I daresay the ratio would lie quite heavily in the female front. Are men being deprived of opportunities to express themselves through fashion? Perhaps. Why are these shops selling predominantly female clothing? Because it will make them more money. The 16-40 year old demographic probably spend more money on clothes than anyone. That's just capitalist good sense.

Open the back pages of a newspaper and you will probably be greeted with information (depending on the time of year) about football, rugby, cricket. Maybe some horseracing. Different times of the year will mean there is more coverage of certain sports. Cycling during Tour De France. Athletics during the Olympics or other big Championships. These subjects are clearly of interest of sports fans, otherwise they wouldn't get past the editor. Where does the big money lie in sport? Generally, lots of money is bet on horseracing, football and greyhounds. These fans, betting or not, also pay good money to watch their sports. Lots of people watch rubgy and cricket, additionally, and pay for the privilege. Greyhounds aside, the stars of these sports are all male. If the interest is in predominantly male sports, the money will go there, including in the media. This is simple consumerism, and I don't see how it relates directly to sexism in the sense they mean. If it does, then I hope to see a commission set up to tackle the discrepancies between male and female clothing choices on the average high street, too.

Just a quick one...

... about a fucking important subject. I cannot convey how delighted I am at the sight of more publicity for prostate cancer. Like cancer of the bowels, cancer of the prostate is not glamorous. There are no large-scale marathons of men in blue t-shirts running around to make money for the cause. Hell, ask a man in the street where his prostate is and he might reply like an American looking for Afghanistan on a globe. Despite the fact that Bob Monkhouse campaigned against the killer (from beyond the grave, to boot, bless him), not many - and not nearly enough - people know about this vicious strain of cancer. Or knew about it until the new stories of this new possible treatment for it came around. Now it has made it's way into the media spotlight, it's possible some men might actually think about getting themselves checked out for this horrible, despicable condition. And that, in my book, is a silver lining.

The Second Year

We had our first briefing for the second year and goddamn I am excited about it. Despite the fact that there's still going to be lots of happy-clappy-client Mental Health input (I'd say no offence to any Mental Branch readers, but there's no nice way to phrase my contempt for the way Anytown University handles our other branch exposure).

Firstly, we're no longer within Common Foundation learning, which means things are going to get more hardcore from now on. Welcome to big school.

Secondly, the assessments actually sound quite fun. One presentation, which should be a good giggle, and one unseen problem-solving-trigger-type exam. Varied, I like it.

The modules are a mix of exciting and twee. The twee one is all about Health Promotion, which is certainly interesting at points, but similarly quite wet and happy-clappy throughout. I'm not taking anything away from the role of the nurse as a health promoter, but I have a feeling the module is going to be similar to past ones. We'll see. The sister module is about acute and critical nursing, which is what I go to school for. The clinical skills classes should actually be interesting, the sessions are all about relevant skillsets and situations. Yes, we're actually going to be faced with theoretical clinical situations and instructed on relevant care and issues surrounding them. Something sorely lacking in the last few modules.

We have two weeks, one in placement, about Mother and Baby. Given I was close to being a midwife or child brancher, this will be very interesting, especially from a gender discrimination point of view. I think we're also due two days to drive around in an ambulance, which has me quite chomping at the bit.

I'm excited. But, to be prepared, this summer is going to involve a whole lot of reading. Given I'm going to be poor, that shouldn't be a problem. Woop.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Stating the Blinking Obvious (tm)

I am convinced that one day, in Anytown University somewhere I will accidentally walk into the wrong class. This hypothetical classroom is filled with old women. There is a quite normal person stood in front of them, unable to use the PowerPoint presentation they should be trained to use. Each old woman has an egg placed in front of her, and is being taught to suck it.

What has prompted this extended metaphor, you ask? Today we had a semi-lecture (which is like a lecture, but not in the safe, anonymous environment of a real lecture theatre where one can sleep/read/otherwise not pay attention. The seminar was about the important of spirituality in patient/client life. Firstly, given the guest speaker was from a hospice, I thought it might be stealth religion talk. But no, nothing so insipid.

It turns out that spirituality means... well... everything. Pretty stupid fucking definition, really. The importance of everything to the patient/client. Everything is, by definition, the be all and end all. This glorious definition kicked off a close to 2-hour extravaganza in which we were told many things.

Newsflash!: Some patients need a bit of company, and to be listened to.

Breaking News!: Nurses should be considerate.

I know. Revelations. Well, actually: no. These are things we were bombarded with through our first module. And ever since, really.

I'm not being funny, but if you don't know the basic parts of the nursing skillbase after three placements, you've either had a sheltered year or are as empathic as a plank of wood.

The whole pointless session was topped off by another repition of the poem by the Crabby Old Woman. For the non-nurses out there (it seems like the law of the land that students or workers of this caste called nursing must have it thrust in their faces every three months by my reckoning) this poem can be found: here. It's far too passée for me to copy and paste it onto my lovely blog. The context of the poem is obviously a sad one, but one reading is painfully sufficient.

Yes, I am being cynical. But I'm being clinical, too. In ages gone by, maybe nurses had time to sit all day with patients having a chin wag. The guest speaker was a hospice nurse, which meant they had this added time outside of a clinical environment. Modern, ward-based nurses don't have this luxury. On top of that, modern nurses are shouldered with delicious clinical skills and responsibility. Not to mention overworked. I appreciated the sentiment from twee and wet lecturers that we should never forget the patient in the job, but in a way it's quite offensive. If was ever close to being a box ticker of a nurse I'd get out of the job sharpish. The concept of forgetting that a person is a person is so arse-backwards, the fact that I'm being pre-emptively accused of it is insulting.

Friday, 18 July 2008

Venus and Mars etc.

There are number of interesting articles in this week's NewScientist relating to all kinds of prejudice.

The first, smaller article is based around stereotypes. To cut the very detailed search down to an easy to digest tidbit, researchers simulated a situation were test subjects were left out of a three person game. The subjects had their brain scanned and were questioned afterwards. The group consisted of 12 white males and 13 black males, mostly college students. The two other people playing within the computer simulation were shown as white. The results were markedly different. The white gents involved in the study generally thought the exclusion was for some personal reason, which activated certain bits in their brains. The black gents generally attributed the exclusion to racism and this conclusion activated different, lesser parts of the brain, leading the researchers to speculate that it is less painful, therefore 'easier', to take rejection or negativity if one attributes it to a generalisation than if one thinks it is individual and personal. Interesting concept, and a lovely link up of sociology and brain scans, I thought.

There is also an extensive feature on the unexplored difference between genders on a biological level. The article aims to bring to bear the idea that men and women might actually, neurologically be wired very differently. Reception of pain is explored at length using the anatomy of the male and female brains to illustrate how different sections appear to be activated in each gender. This could explain why men and women are effected by analgesia in different ways, which is fascinating in itself. The article brings up another more important point, which revolves around how rats involved in pain tests are almost certainly male. Given women feel pain much more harshly, this seems to be a huge dropped ball by scientists in related fields and could, tentatively, be linked into the idea that females come second in healthcare, generally. The fact that they could be being treated by analgesia which somewhere in it's phases of testing was biased towards the opposite gender is, in the words of one researched, 'scandalous'.

Lots of things to think over, though.

I wasn't having a good few days recently. My 'good' ear, i.e. the one which is seldom infected, has started to give me the distinct impression that there is some kind of mucus build up inside (lovely...). Another infection, perhaps, but at least it lacks pain. On top of that, lectures aside I've had very little going on. Just staring at these four walls, which makes me a very dull boy.

I'm a big advocate of actually going out, getting the blood pumping and being active when you start to feel glum. So I went out on my bike into town, bough aforementioned copy of NewScientist and did a bit of window shopping with limited retail therapy. The object of my affection was a new, expensive trumpet book, which is all about learning through jazz. Oh yes. I then cashed in a Nero loyalty card - which pissed off the shop guy and made me feel even more gleeful - and got caffienated. I listened to music, drummed my fingers and generally indulged my science geek side and have felt much better ever since, especially considering how moody I was this morning.

My ear is still quite annoying, though. And against my better judgement (I disagree with over prescription of antibiotics within the NHS, especially when I'm not in any pain per se) I might go to the walk-in tomorrow. Joy of joys.

But yeah, funny day. I feel better for kick starting a good mood within myself. My fun weekend has been cancelled, however, so I might be stuck between these four walls for another weekend. If I'm lucky, I might be able to take in some of the current Jazz festival which would just keep these good vibes going. I might even be able to groove this glugging right out of my ear!

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008


The title of this post may be lectures, but sometimes I wonder whether most of my fellow nursing students agree with the term. The amount of whispering, gossiping and eating that goes on puts me under the impression they think it's some kind of hybrid of a sewing circle or picnic. And a drop-in sewing-picnic at that, given most can barely be bothered to arrive on time. Now, don't get me wrong, there can be lots of reasons for accidental lateness, but if you're late day in and day out you should sort out your fucking scheduling.

I shouldn't gripe. These people have less knowledge than me, unless they can listen, eat, learn and talk at the same time. And their poor time management means I'm more likely to get work ahead of them. Still, it is highly irritating.


News Stories have always interested me. Stories relating to nursing and sexism, or - ye goddes! - both even more so.

This story caught my eye today, the byline of which reads:

Male nurse 'abused' 23 patients

This got me to thinking whether this was a common theme within the BBC. I have previously illustrated my annoyance with female soldiers being singled out and how this surely sets back the course of equality in several senses. So I went trawling through achieves to see how this has been dealt with by the BBC in the past.

These links all illustrate the BBC's previous lack of byline discrimination. The byline contains the description 'Nurse' and doesn't specify gender.

So why the seemingly sudden change? It's curious. I know the man from the first article is quite the funny looking arse-hat, but the byline itself surprised me, especially since it's not a practice the BBC have previously seemed to engage in. Oh well.

Diary Summaries Year One

As part of my 'get-my-fucking-act-together-and-organise' routine, whilst waiting for a pointless biology lecture I can not get away with skipping over I've completed my diary summaries for the first year. Read and enjoy: or not, as they're quite dull. I'm really only pasting them here as an online back-up.

Diary Summary: Semester One

My first placement saw me based on a neurorehabilitation ward. Being rehabilitation based, the ward saw the same patients for long periods of time. The placement gave me extensive experience of the workings of an MDT, most of whom were attached permanently to the ward. This gave me valuable insights into the roles of the Occupational Therapist, Physiotherapist, Psychologist and Social Worker. I attended two MDT meetings and became aware of the evidence based practice and clinical governance that would be used within them.

From a nursing point of view, the placement gave me solid experience of essential cares, especially to bedbound patients. The nature of the ward meant I developed my skills in building up relationships with patients on a day-to-day basis. These two basic skill sets would be vital for my further placements. I was also taught more advanced skills, like Neurological Observations and how to effectively tally a Glasgow Coma Scale, skills that would also prove useful in later placements.

Due to the nature of the injuries and conditions of the ward's patients, I was able to complete several sections of my Exposures booklets on this placement. I passed my communication OCSE. I gained an insight into the often complicated area of acquired brain injury, too.

Diary Summary: Semester Two

My second placement saw me based within a surgical ward specialising in gastroenterology. This seemed an ideal second placement as, unlike the former ward, patient turnover was generally quick. Unlike the previous ward, the was less input from a MDT and more input from the nursing team.

From a nursing point of view, the placement encouraged the development of skills relating and communicating with patients who I would only meet for short periods of time. This was a valuable experience that taught me the value of different ways and methods of communication, and posed quite the challenge. From a clinical point of view, there were more things to witness and start to learn: the removal of surgical slips, chest drains and catheters, for example. It was on this ward that I experienced my first patient death. And I worked my first three nights of my training.

Like the previous ward, this placement allowed me to complete more of my first year paperwork, including my Administration of Medicines booklet. I attended special sessions on new techniques and equipment used in NG feeding and special sessions on gastric banding and bypassing for bariatric patients. Otherwise, my time on the ward developed my knowledge of the GI tract and it''s role and function in daily life.

Diary Summary: Semester Three

My final first year placement saw me on a acute medical ward. The balance of MDT and nursing input was more equal in this environment, and there was a mix of long term and short stay patients.

From a nursing point of view, there were further opportunities to learn more about essential care. Given the ward received predominantly cardiac patients, they often needed help mobilising or washing. There was less to do and learn from a clinical point of view compared to previous placements, although I did receive more practice in preparing and administering IV solutions. These would often be diuretic solutions, therefore I also learnt quite a lot about the action and results of these.

I finished up my paperwork for the first year. The context of the ward helped me develop my understanding of the heart, it's A&P and the impact heart conditions have and will have on the growing, ageing British population.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Back to reality

Paperwork has hit me like a steam train. I forgot just how much stuff was due to be printed, completed and triple signed by the end of term.

I have quite a varied palette of talents, but ultra-organisation is not really one of them. But to keep up with the quick pace and massive amounts of paperwork, I've bought a hole punch and lots of folders to sort things through. And I am quite stubbornly determined to not fold (no paper pun intended) but to keep this up. It's not enough to be good, you have to strive to be even better.

Other than that, I miss my last ward. Just the general concept of working is easily missed. I miss working with people. But it's still fun and useful to get out in the real world and meet real, non-sick people. Reminds you what it's all about, in a sense.

In other news, I went back to my hometown for a sibling wedding. I have... family issues, to say the least. So it was not the most comfortable weekend I've ever spent, but it had it's up points. Some old mates, outside of marital affairs, reminded me of why I like them and why I like being me. That certainly made the trip worthwhile.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Male Rights Activists

Male Rights Activists (MRAs) are a group of people who, surprisingly, campaign for male rights. Shockingly, you may or may not think, I am not one. I've been doing a bit of reading about the entire subject which is, admittedly, quite interesting if a bit on the biased side.

Well, I don't count myself as a MRA, anyway, which is the most important point, isn't it?

I think any large scale movement is doomed to failure. It all too easily gets wrapped up in paperwork, rhetoric and dogma. Large scale movements are seldom local, and therefore fail to cater for specific problems faced by individuals. Too much navel gazing for my liking.

I'm my own person. As originally stated when setting up this blog, I'm interested in the trials to be faced as a young, attractive and confident man training to be a nurse in 2007. Obviously, this will encompass gender issues, and I wouldn't have it any other way, but this doesn't automatically make me want to fly the MRA banner. I'm my own person, with my own individual issues, and - sharing them on here and with my nearest and dearest aside - that's how they'll stay, really. The idea of male rights VS. female rights sounds far too much like a Good/Evil VS. Good/Evil prize fight for my liking anyway.

The R Word

Another month, another government initiative regarding rape (Committed against women, obviously, since men can't be rape victims).

Rape is a quite singular, abhorrent crime. But it is a difficult one, something I have spoke of before and will no doubt speak of again. Despite some pop cultural themes, rape seldom occurs in dark alleys or wind-swept parks. A woman is more likely to be raped by someone she knows, a partner, ex-partner or 'friend' or some kind.

That said, there is a link between the accused and victim. This link can cloud cases and make them difficult to follow, and make prosecution even harder. A hypothetical case could go something like this, and forgive the simplicity for the moment: Jill accuses Jack of rape. Jack denies any rape occurred. Police investigate the surrounding case, interview people etc. and it turns out Jack and Jill were in a relationship at the time. Relationships are pretty private, so it is Jill's word set against Jack's.

I feel for Inspector Knacker, at this point. Rape is not a clear cut crime, like theft or assault, for example. If Jill accused Jack of stealing some material goods, and he denied such theft, the police finding such goods in Jack's house would count as evidence. There is no such clear cut evidence for rape. If Jack and Jill were in a relationship at the time, much vaunted DNA evidence is pretty moot. Although bruising and other injuries could count as something more of a smoking gun (bruising on the wrists, for example, insinuating some sort of forced holding/restraint), some of these injuries are not clear cut proof, either. Vaginal tearing, for example, can occur during consensual sex, too.

This paints a grim picture of any possible rape prosecution. I support the idea of placing more emphasis on solving cases of rape, and specialist squads are not a terrible idea. Some organisations blame Inspector Knacker for not taking rape seriously. These squads/teams could help reinstall a little faith in the system, and encourage more rape victims to come forward. But I can't help feel this is yet another policy in a long list of ideas which are never fully funded, followed up and backed up. Which is a damned shame.

Edit: Mark Easton makes some great points here, including statistics. He ends on the idea that policing alone can't change conviction rates and even attitudes towards rape, and I couldn't agree with him more. Considering rape within marriage was only made into a crime recently, the country - not just Inspector Knacker - should be ashamed of itself.

Edit ii: Interestingly enough, Mark Easton points out that rape is counted as:

"the penetration of the vagina or anus without consent and penetration of the mouth by a penis without consent."

Why rape against males still doesn't exist in a legal concept, I have no idea in that respect.

Saturday, 5 July 2008

The Glass Ceiling Cracks

He's a nurse, he's a man and he's an action figure. And just to make sure it's clear, he's labelled 'Male Nurse'. Oh yes. These times, they are a'changin'. Ha.

Friday, 4 July 2008

On reflection...

So that's it. My time on my Third Ward is over. And, as ever, I'm a little bit teary. So, what's happened? Some friends became enemies, some enemies became friends, in the words of Stewie Griffin. Thus it's time for a little epilogue.

I've met some people who I now respect. That's a good thing. People have been lovely to me today, with nurses and patients bidding me a fond adieu and even the doctors popped by to say goodbye and wish me well. I've impressed some people, and I've made some people happy. That's what I go to school for, so to speak.

10 weeks has been a long time, even if it has felt as if it's passed quickly. Despite the fact the ward was nowhere near as quickly paced as my Second Ward, I'm still in some desperate need of R&R. And going back to University certainly counts as that.

So, in a Crystal Maze sense, Richard O'Brian is telling me that my time is up in this zone. Time to go through some old, plastic tunnels into a new one.

I always liked the Medieval Zone, myself. Although, in healthcare, this might be an unfortunately pertinent metaphor.

Last Shift #3

So, this shift coming up (a late, which is ever so annoying to wait for) is my last one on my current ward. Reflections?

Well, the ward is understaffed, plagued by staff sickness and not amazingly managed. On top of that, it is on the bottom rung on many priorities of departments and bed managers. I believe this makes it a less than positive place to work, nevermind learn.

All in all, I wish my second placement could've been swapped with this one. There was much more left for me to do in a possible three weeks last time, whereas on the current ward 7 weeks would've been more than enough time to experience all there was to do. Additionally, I worked a lot more closely with my mentor last time, which is a way of working more conductive to me, learning-wise.

The ward I'm on currently isn't bad, but it isn't a whirlygig of learning fun, either. Shame, really.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Hate Crimes

Is the current era a bit dramatic, do you think?

I was reading, within the massive organ of investigative journalism that is The Metro, that Stonewall, a pro-homosexual group, has recently found that hate crimes against homosexuals is relatively common. I can't remember the figures, but they were something like 1 in 3 people have suffered a hate crime due to their preference of sexual partner.

The day after this article, a man wrote in shrugging off the study, suggesting that some of these 'hate crimes' could simply be a little bit of name calling. And that name calling occurs in many walks of life, for many reasons (although I assume all these reported 'hate crimes' involved some kind of homophobic slur). A cavalcade of letters followed the day after, lambasting the guy for voicing his opinion.

It got me thinking about this day and age. By now, you may have picked up my general dislike for the term 'hate crime'. It's too emotive for me, personally. Not clinical enough, like many other crime titles. Grevious Bodily Harm is quite descriptive. A Bloody Good Kicking is less so.

Today a patient made a joke about me being a good nurse "for a boy". This is clearly discriminating against me due to my gender. And this is not unusual. Some kind of similar comment is made probably once weekly. Is this a hate crime?

I'm pretty impervious to such jokes. And they are jokes. Light-hearted, if a little ill-considered. And I rebel against most gender stereotypes anyway, so I don't mind. But someone else might mind, and to this someone else such jocular gesticulation could count as a hate crime. To them, I mean. So is hate crime in the eye of the beholder? Where do the boundaries lie?

I personally agree with the first letter writer. There are degrees of jokes/insults. I'm from a regional background which takes a lot of stick for various reasons, but I wouldn't cry 'hate crime!' when someone did an impression of my accent or insinuated something about my character.

But I suppose someone else might.

Once again, it might be a case of me being white-middle-to-lower-class-reasonably-educated-male-trash. We're kinda overlooked by positive discrimination/affirmative action*. If the entire hiring process of nurses changes overnight to admit male candidates until the make-up of the nursing core is more representative of the general population, I'll take this point back. But I won't be popping down the bookies to put any money on that happening just yet.

*Note: Isn't the term AFFIRMATIVE ACTION awesome? It's so American. So much so you can imagine a high-kicking film of the same name. Not a good one, but a film all the same. You know what I mean. It might have Steven Segal in or something.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Pink Arms

Yes, I am currently half-man half-lobster, it's fun. And at least a conversation starter.

Not a large post today. Two things to reflect on, really. Firstly: what a fucking chaotic day. You know one of those days in which you just plain don't get a chance to sit down to yourself? Well, I tell a lie. I grabbed my 15 minutes to eat my sandwiches far too late. What cause chaos? I'm still not sure, but I'll try to chronicle the main events:

* A&E needed to transfer a patient up to HCU
* HCU was full, so needed to transfer a patient to us
* We only had two male beds free, and the patient to be transferred was female
* Thus, we swapped two men from a four-bedded bay into a double room. The women who were in this room were then moved into the four-bedded bay, leaving space for the woman coming up.

That's the simple explanation. Beds and cabinets have to be moved, causing a sort of slow, painful ballet in the hallways. This was not helped by the fact that one of the men, a very peculiar chap, had covered his sheets in something that sounds like 'sheet' but I will call faeces for the technical term. The whole move was a bit of a clit ache. And it got me thinking about the framing situation. A Staff Nurse told me that when something like this had happened before and the bed wasn't freed up in quick time that A&E had placed a critical incident report in.

The balance issue annoys me. Simply put: because of one patient, four have their mornings put out of whack. Washes had to wait, medicines were delayed and there was general distress caused by the move. These patients didn't get a say in it, the bed manager did. Just seems a bit silly to me.

So yes, my personal bay is now a female bay. Which leaves us with only one male bay, which can cause problems. E.g. some male support assistants not wanting to wash female patients and vice versa. The new female bay is actually quite effort intensive. And the two women who were first moved in argue quite frequently. And not like Odd-Couple-Hilarious-Arguments. More bitchy ones.

The older of the two ladies wanted a shower and was happy for me to help her out, which was nice. Although very few women refuse to have male staff members assist with hygiene, I have received my fair share of grudging looks in my time. In fact, she was more worried I'd not want to look at her, which was sweet of her, really.

I still (in the nicest possible way) blag my way around washes, really, having been given no formal instruction. I just ask what the person wants to do and get on with it, insisting they shout at me if anything is not to their liking. This old dear hadn't had a wash in a week, I heard. And that's sad, but I'm not sure of her history in hospital, so can't really comment. And, for once, won't. She was very grateful to have some shampoo rubbed into her scalp, and we got on - despite the pouring water - like a house on fire. It was a nice moment in a crazy day were there was little time to do anything but run around doing favours for my recently returned mentor. Anyway, she's lovely. And it's good to actually look after some women primarily, for once. It's easy, as a male student nurse, to be farmed off to look after male patients, sadly.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Summer in the City

Hot damn. Looking out at the rain now, I find it hard to believe where my sun burn came from today.

I'm tired. The long day took more out of me than I thought. I spent the day reading, playing games and having fun. Whilst fully hydrated, too. Good news.

Right, my expanded review of yesterday.

The New Class

As mentioned, my bay is now inhabited by men with varied, including mental health, non-cardiac disorders. Parkinson's, possible Dementia, a sub-dural haematoma. Allsorts of stuff, and it was quite a shock to be plunged back into. Not that I am under any illusion that I will always get (or want) 'easy' (and by that I mean self-caring, independent and jolly) patients, but it was a seachange. I coped, though.

Teary Oedema

One of the patients in my team (but not in my bay, recently) is a lovely old dear. Bit hard of hearing, suffering from Congestive Cardiac Failure. This means her heart cannot pump effectively, which means fluid can build up around various parts of her body. In her case, she has fluid (oedema) around her lungs, and in the tissue around her legs. This makes it hard for her to walk, and keeps her very short of breath. Because of these things, she buzzes the nursing staff and uses a commode next to her bed.

Generally, she wants to stay independent and I'm happy to encourage that. However, yesterday she was attached to a pair of drips. On transfering on her own she sat on one, and couldn't reach her buzzer. I found her in a right state, crying: so I paniced. Shit - had she ripped her canulla out? Was she in intense amounts of pain?

No. But more importantly she was upset. She told me she felt 'like a fool' for doing it, which I immediately chided her for. But I was quick to comfort her, just talking and being there for her. Chiding was not the order of the day, but comforting worked a lot better. I sat on the floor, chatting with her for a while before going to find her nurse. I think it turned out alright, in the end.


Morbid title, non? One of my newer patients came to us on the palliative pathway, which was something new to deal with. It was something I blagged it, really, just chatting with him and providing cares as he needed them. I chatted man stuff, as much as possible, about women and work and stuff. His discharge was due on Tuesday, going home to spend time with his family and - frankly - die.

On Monday, once he'd pulled me aside and asked, I went down to CT with him twice. These scans seemed completely unnecessary, since he was no longer for active treatment, to me, and seeing him stuck on a trolley in the middle of an NHS corridor was quite sad. Two hours later we were back on ward. He was sitting up in bed, surrounded by his family, smiling. And suddenly I thought: that's it. Morbid or not, that's the way he wanted to die. And it's a good one, you ask me.

Edit: The man from the above section used the old line that, when asked if he had any allergies he'd joke: "Women." The old ones are the best ones. I was talking to him at length about it and, with a tear in his eye, he told me: "Not the wife. She's the only one I'm not allergic to." God, it made me feel better about birds, who have not been my favourite demographic in recent days. The female population may be generally silly, but it's good to know there are exceptions. I'd forgotten about them for a little while, but it was a sweet reminder from a sweet gentleman.