Thursday, 30 May 2013

10 things

  • The washing machine has been at the mender's for nearly two weeks now.  It comes home tomorrow.  I never appreciate a domestic appliance more than when it breaks down.
  • My sister-in-law and Miss Moss Stitch will also be thankful that the machine is now fixed, as I have been borrowing their machines to keep on top of all the nursing and school uniforms that need to be kept clean.
  •  The hens are all laying regularly now, and I am awash with eggs.  Pancakes, omelettes, scrambled eggs and baked eggs are all now regularly on the menu.
  • I miss my nursing friends.  It's hard to see them when we're all working different shifts at different hospitals.
  • Olivia made herself a cushion from the contents of my scrap basket.
  • Livvy with her patchwork cushion
  • Although a tiny part of me is a little sad that she is now too old to want clothes I've made for her, a bigger part of me is delighted that she wants to sew things for herself instead.
  • That's parenting all over isn't it.  The children grow up and move on but you haven't got the time or inclination to yearn for when they were younger, because their abilities and personalities flourish and grow too.  You are constantly getting to know this new, older child.
  • I made a banana cake and chucked in a whole load of chocolate chips.  That was a very good impulse decision - who knew?
  • I am yearning for sunshine.
  • I listened to this and laughed so hard.  There are many pubs that I go to in East London which fit this description.  

Monday, 27 May 2013


Very high up
The view from the hospital

With the end of my exam, came a return to hospital.  All the way through this course we alternate betwen a couple of months studying at University and a couple of months working on the wards (or in the community).  The mixture is good - we can apply the theory to practice, and we come back to University enthused to learn more about the situations we've come across at work.  We are usually given new placements each time we go back to hospital so that we get to experience many different sorts of nursing - surgical, medical, district nursing, palliative care, care of the elderly, acute and emergency nursing, specialist clinics and GPs' surgeries.  

This variety is both stimulating and also challenging.  Although I am now officially a second year student, on my third placement, and at a hospital I've worked at before, I feel brand new and rather ignorant again, as this placement is so very different from either of my previous ones.  The conditions are ones I've not come across before, there is a new team of staff to work with, and a whole new set of terminology and abbreviations to get my head around.  

On my very first day I was thrown in at the deep end: supervised and supported, but essentially giving one-to-one care to a very unwell patient for large chunks of the day because all the patients that day required a great deal of nursing care, which kept all the nurses, healthcare assistants and students relentlessly busy.  At the end of the shift (a long thirteen hours), one of the sisters smiled at me and said "if you're a nurse, you have to be able to provide good care under pressure - you did well today".   

So much of nursing is about change - there are new patients bringing unexpected challenges every single working day.  And yet your care and your technical knowledge must be consistently good and of a very high standard.  As I go through my training, I am starting to realise that it is this combination of adaptability and consistency which makes nurses so amazing.  Being good at both those things is what I am training to do.  It's hard.

As my work changes, and challenges me, I find I need to keep life at home stable and predictable.  On my days off I like that I can be with the children after school, bake bread, do some knitting and wonder what to do with my egg glut.  Things I've been doing for a long time, and that I will always do.

Using up  my glut of eggs
A golden, eggy quiche - still warm from the oven - will always make me happy


Monday, 13 May 2013


Note cards for revision
Revision cards - hundreds of them

I have been studying for an important exam - and in those moments where I become distracted, or weary, I gaze out of the window and remember all the other times in my life when I was preparing for, or sitting, exams.  There have been many; I seem to have chosen a path in life which has required many exams along the way.
  • When I was sitting my GCSEs, I spent the morning before my English Literature paper sitting in the Oxford University Parks, kissing my boyfriend in the sunshine.  Not to the detriment of my studies though - I rocked up to school at lunchtime, sat the exam and still got an A.
  • When I was studying for my A-levels I took things more seriously.  I think they still remain the exams I studied the hardest for. 
  • At University I only sat exams in my final year.  Graham borrowed some of my notes to revise for the Cold War paper, and was very tardy at giving them back to me.
  • A week before my University finals, I packed my little tent into my car, drove to the Norfolk coast and stayed there for a few days to revise in peace, by myself.  I lay in my tent, with the doors pegged open, reading American history textbooks and American war poems in the breezy sunshine.  I was very content and came back to campus to sit my finals with a nice suntan.
  • It took me just under three years to qualify as an accountant.  During that time I sat sixteen exams, and passed them all at the first attempt, whilst working full-time as a trainee accountant.  Even though I am no longer an accountant, I am still very proud of that achievement.
  • It felt a bit as if life was just one long exam at times, though.
  • The tax exam was a bit too close for comfort - I got 51% and the passmark was 50%.
  • During my very last accountancy exam, which I sat in Hackney Town Hall, I felt my first baby move in my belly for the first ever time.  I sat there, beaming to myself, and the invigilator quietly walked over to check if I was okay.
Now I am back at University for the second time, and sitting exams for the umpteenth time.  They don't get any easier or more pleasant, but the revision drill at least feels familiar; I know what needs to be done.  Even with all my experience of taking exams, this will be my first ever biology exam and the first time I have sat an exam in a church crypt.  

The nerves are starting to kick in.

My first ever exam-in-a-crypt coming up soon
My exam venue