Category Archives: Life as a nurse

A shout out to all the ambos

It has recently come to my attention that paramedics don’t always have the highest opinion of nurses. I don’t know why they think so poorly of us. I certainly hope I’ve never offended anyone. But I think ambo’s/paramedics are bloody fantastic!

They have one of the hardest jobs in the world. First on the scene to car accidents, assaults, heart attacks, drug overdoses, drownings. If you can think of it, they’ve probably done it. Us nurses and midwives have the luxury of back up, we have our colleagues, other nurses and midwives, doctors, psychologists and even security when we need them. We also have all the equipment. Those awesome humans also known as paramedics don’t have any of that. They’re on their own, dealing with things we could only imagine. Dealing with people who can be, in no particular order- in pain, scared, grieving, drunk, high on drugs, hurling abuse, threatening with violence, bleeding, dying, giving birth….. any, or all of the above, and they do it with very little thanks or acknowledgement.  
So from this nurse and midwife to you paramedics out there. THANK YOU….. you guys rock.

And if you happen to drop off a patient in the middle of the night to my hospital, come and say hello to me in the emergency centre. I’ll make you a cuppa. Presently, I’m the one with the black eye

Wendy xx

Manners, where have they gone?

Over the last 2 weeks of school holidays, I’ve become more cranky than usual, today I realised why. Manners….. or lack thereof.

Now I was always taught to use manners, to be respectful, polite and kind to others. It’s just the way I was brought up. I had presumed that everyone was taught the same at home. I certainly hope that I’m doing the same with my sons. Although as teenagers, they don’t always respect their mother whilst at home, I generally get feedback that my boys are well behaved and have lovely manners whilst out. Thank God! I’d voluntarily relinquish my parent listener if that wasn’t the case.
But what do most people think manners are? Do the youth of today even know what having manners means? I don’t know whether it’s my emerging old woman crankiness, the fact that over half the population are now younger than me, or that people are just plain devoid of the ability to use manners. But I seem to come into contact with some very rude and ill mannered people of late.

People don’t hold doors open for others and kids don’t stand up on public transport for the elderly, disabled or heavily pregnant. In general people seem to be wrapped up in their own little bubble. Unaware, or just don’t care about people around them. What happened to “Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you”?? Or for those who don’t speak fluent bible. “Treat everyone as you would like to be treated”

What I’ve noticed whilst out and at work, is that not many other people have been raised with the same emphasis on manners. There’s no please and thank you. I’m lucky if I get eye contact. And if the patient remembers my name after looking after them for hours on end, I’m ready to set off fireworks and shower them in gifts! But those patients are few and far between. I’m not expecting gifts for doing my job, and I understand in an emergency their minds aren’t in the right place, they might be in pain or scared, or both, I really don’t expect anything from them. But it’s the non emergent patients and family. The ones that really should have gone to their GP, but still want to be seen and treated within minutes of their arrival. The ones that seem to forget that we have limited staff and other patients that need our assistance before we see them. I’m not asking for much, other than a please and thank you occasionally.

And don’t get me started on the drivers on the roads. When have we become so unAustralian that we no longer give the nod of acknowledgement when we someone flashes their high beams on letting us know of an upcoming speed trap, or a thank you wave when someone lets you in?

Surely I’m not the only the only one out there that still nods and waves! Dean and I have made a game of it. I let someone in and we wait for, hope for, the wave. I let someone in and we wait for, hope for, the thank you wave. But it’s a bit like Christmas eve, you’re all excited, waiting for Santa to come…… then you realise you’re an adult and Santa’s not coming and you’ve got to supply the presents and cook and clean and go through bed exhausted. Waiting for acknowledgement is a bit like that.

So tonight when I go to work, I’m going to up the ante. I’m going to let in as many people as I can on the drive to work, smile and say please and thank you as much as humanly possible and be thankful that I’m at work. If good manners can rub off and make a good impression on one person. It’s worth it.

So get out there and be nice, thoughtful and well mannered, people. Don’t get cranky and cynical like me xx

Happy New Year

As many of you said goodbye to 2016 and celebrated the New Year, there were a few of us not out there partying. A few of us were totally sober, not dancing the night away, not chatting up complete strangers, not counting the New Year in or getting a New Years kiss. Emergency services, hospital staff, prison guards and those poor sods pouring your alcoholic beverages and providing security at all those parties you were at, were all working. All missing out on the fun and frivolities with friends and pounding headache that usually ensues on New Years Day. I was one of those few. My godsend of a Mother cared for my boys so that I could work, so she too was unable to socialise with friends and see the New Year in. 

This year, I would have loved to have had the night off, but as I was rostered on, so I was determined to make it a good one. As all nursing staff know, us nurses, doctors and ward clerks can put on a good spread of food and non alcoholic beverages, when the need arises. We did not disappoint, we had fruit platters (for those attempting to be somewhat healthy), cheese and cracker selections, chips, chocolates and sparkling apple juice to toast the occasion. My only concern was that we’d be too busy to countdown into the New Year. I worked last Christmas and New Years as well, it was rather unfortunate that my colleague and I completely missed the New Year arriving as we were busy. My poor offsider was actually in the middle of giving an enema as 2016 rolled in. Not a pleasant experience for either party, I can assure you. (But I can happily report the end result was worth it for the patient.) By the time we realised it was the 1st of January, it was already 15 minutes into the New Year, a little anticlimactic. So my goal for this year was to just have a minute, patient free at 11.59 to countdown into the New Year. Luckily we weren’t busy, but at 11.50pm we had a new patient present to the triage desk. We thought we were doomed, however it was a false alarm. They’d presented to the wrong hospital. Phew, crisis averted. 

Thankfully, at 11.59 and 30 seconds, no patients needed our immediate attention, so we quickly poured our plastic glasses of Appletizer, and counted in glorious 2017 all together at the triage desk. After guzzling my sparkly, the bell to the ambulance entrance promptly sounded, calling an end to our magnificent 35 seconds of partying and we continued on our merry way, working the night away. 

As New Years Day 2017, arrived on a Sunday, not only did the masses have Sunday to rest and recuperate, but Monday off as well. I like countless others, have worked the last 5 nights and still have 2 more 12 hour shifts before I can enjoy days off. As my days off begin, when everyone else has gone back to work, there’ll be no celebrating or socialising with friends for me. I’ll be sleep deprived and cranky, trying to put on a happy face for my boys who’ve hardly seen their mother over the last week and attempt to do some fun, school holiday activities that won’t break the bank. 

So next year when you’re out partying over the festive season, spare a thought for those people that are hard at work, protecting serving and caring for the community, so you can relax and enjoy yourself and be safe.

Wishing everyone and Very Happy New Year and an amazing 2017!

Things to know about midwives part 2

4- We are not just the doctors’ hand maidens.

 Yes, most of us are nurses too, and we do follow doctors instructions and medical orders, but we work more as a team, and it’s not ALL we do. In Australia, many people that come into contact with a midwife for the first time are surprised at how much we actually do. Not only do we deliver babies, we do antenatal care, education, intrapartum (during labour) care, assessing the wellbeing of the fetus, interpreting CTGs, postnatal care, assisting with breastfeeding and mothercrafting. We can take bloods, cannulate, take Pap smears and suture. Assess a deteriorating patient, liase with doctors, physios, clinical psychologists, dieticians, social work all in the name of helping and advocating for our patients.

5- We are not every mans’ fantasy

Sorry guys. We don’t wear the sexy figure hugging , short, white dresses with stockings and a white cap. That was the uniform of yesteryear. No, more often than not, we wear scrubs and comfortable shoes. It’s really like wearing your pyjamas and slippers to work, unfortunately, not wearing bras to work is generally frowned upon, especially as we occasionally have to run. As to footwear, there’s about a 50:50 split between runners and Birkenstock or. Croc clogs. As you can probably gather, comfort, is a prevailing feature in our clothing. We do generally try to spice things up by buying brightly coloured shoes, in my case I have blue Birkenstock shoes, with the front of a sausage dog on one and the back on the other. Although they are a little worn, I get at least 2 comments a night about my shoes. I know they’re not sexy, but they make my patients smile. 

Please don’t….

As a midwife and nurse in a women’s hospital, I see a lot of different people in a lot of different situations. I’ve learnt a few things along the way.

Here’s just a couple of things I’d like ALL women and their partners to know. Some are just plain common sense, others, well, I’ll let you decide. 

In the emergency department-

Please don’t….leave coming to the hospital till the last minute. If you’re not that sick, see your GP. If you’re really unwell, don’t wait until you’re on deaths door. Present early. If possible come in daylight hours. More staff, more doctors, more theatre availability, in a word …. MORE access to everything. 

Please don’t….bring all your family in. I know they are all worried, but having them sitting in the waiting room doesn’t help. They are stressed, and you’ll worry about them. You should be focussed on getting better, not concerned with everyone else waiting outside.

Please don’t….leave your medication at home. If you need it at home, you’ll need it in hospital. Being a women’s hospital we don’t always stock every mood stabiliser or antihypertensive available. It would be good if we did, but we don’t. We don’t want you missing essential medication, so please bring it with you. 

Now this is where things leave the realm of common sense….

When in the delivery suite-

Please don’t….treat your delivery room like your private boudoir. Its a delivery room, in a hospital. 99.9% of families treat it as such. But a very small portion, don’t. It is expected, that at some time during your child’s birth that we’ll see your vagina. That doesn’t mean we need or want to see your partner in various states of undress. I know a few midwives who have unknowingly walked in on partners, taking advantage of their wives being scantily clad…. not on people, NOT on!

My last, and maybe most important recommendation when at home, is as follows-

Please don’t….insert anything into your vagina, that was not made for that specific purpose. Ladies, it may sound like a good idea at the time, in the heat of the moment, but believe me, it’s not. Just take a moment and ask yourself “would I feel comfortable explaining to a health professional how that got stuck up there” If the answer is no, do not proceed. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. 

Vegetables are a no-no, as are deodorant cans, shampoo bottles and dare I say it….snooker balls. Yes, you heard correctly….snooker balls, plural.

And if for some strange reason you didn’t heed my advice, please make sure you bring in your partner, they deserve the walk of shame as much as you do.

I hope these little snippets of advice, might prevent unnecessary visits or….unnecessary embarrassment to you amazing women out there. xx