Sunday, 30 June 2013

Well looked after

Friends old and new came out to the pub with me and we laughed, chatted and drank for hours.  Olivia drew me pictures and baked me a cake.  Cam let me have control over the TV remote so I could watch endless Glastonbury and athletics. My Mum and Dad phoned me at breakfast time for a chat.  Graham roasted a chicken and baked pommes dauphinoise.  The sun even shone for me.  It has been a great birthday weekend, and I have been very well looked after.
Birthday picture

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

10 things

Bertha pretending to be a pufferfish
  • Bertha is broody.  Whoever opens the eglu door gets treated to a display of her inflating herself like a pufferfish, and shouting irritably at us.  
  • I went to Kew and took dozens of photos of roses, as I do every year.  They smelled incredible - I wish there was some way to replicate precisely that smell of rose.  There isn't, but Crabtree & Evelyn's rose water comes pretty close.  I love this stuff and splash it around quite liberally.
  • My parents have acquired some hens, which is very exciting.  My mother, and her father before her, used to keep hens when I was growing up and I am sure that is why I keep hens too.  My Grandfather kept urban hens - long before such a phrase was used - in the grounds of the rather grand vicarage in Sheffield where he and my Grandmother lived when I was small.
  • I am undecided about what sort of birthday cake to make myself this weekend.  Perhaps I should ask Olivia to make one for me?  Or am I too much of a control freak about my own birthday cake?
  • I start a placement with a local District Nursing team next week.  I am excited - this is going to be very different to all the hospital placements I have had so far.
  • I am still loving the running.  This pastime is a keeper, for sure.
  •  On Sunday, Graham ran seven 5K Parkruns in one day as part of the Parkrun Longest Day event.  He did the North East London loop, and I joined him for the last race of the day at our local parkrun on Hackney Marshes.  Graham usually runs 5K in around 20 to 21 minutes; my fastest 5K to date has been around 33 minutes, and that included some walking.  I wondered if he'd already run six 5K races whether he might be going slow enough on the seventh for me to be able to run with him for a little bit?   In the end he very sweetly offered to pace me for a 30 minute run (meaning that he ran at precisely the speed required to finish a 5K race in 30 minutes, and all I had to do was run with him).  I wasn't at all sure I could do it, but being paced (and being exhorted by Graham to "focus" and "dig deep" in rather a severe tone as we ran) made such a difference - I ran the whole thing in a time of 30 minutes and 25 seconds.  I was elated and told anybody who would listen that the experience was "harder than childbirth" - but on reflection I think that was endorphins speaking.  It wasn't really harder than childbirth.
  • New PB
    New PB!
    Red faced
    Red faced, after our race
  • I go bright red in the face when I run.  Is this because I am unfit or just because I go bright red in the face when I run? I am unsure.
  •  I have made a rhubarb crumble every week for the past three weeks.  All of us are wild about rhubarb.
  • There is still a little bit of the rhubarb and peach one I made this past weekend, waiting in the fridge for my lunch today.  Sometimes I love a day at home by myself.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Another sort of morning

I wouldn't want you to think that a nurse's life is all about early mornings.  I am working Long Day shifts at the moment, which are from 7:30am to 8:30pm (or 8pm to 8am if it is a night shift).  They are certainly long, tough shifts, with a very early start - but I only have to work three shifts most weeks, so I get plenty of time off too.  I rather like this pattern of working, and it fits in well with having older children - I still feel as though I see plenty of them, and can help them with homework, chauffeur them to ballet and nag them to do chores.

On my days off it usually pans out like this:

6:30am -  Graham's alarm goes off.  He gets up, brings me a cup of tea in bed, and I start to think about waking up.

7:15am - I wake up Cam and Olivia.  They grunt at me and try to hide under their duvets.

7:30am - Cam comes downstairs, eats half a melon and some toast and then goes to watch Youtube videos of other people playing computer games.

7:45am - Olivia comes downstairs and makes her packed lunch.  She eats a bowl of yogurt and some toast, then floats around trying to find shoes, hairbrush, school cardie and her green pen.

8:00am - I feed the hens and collect three eggs from them.  I have a cup of tea and some yogurt.

8:25am - I leave to take Olivia to school by car.  Cam leaves the house about 5 minutes after us and walks to his school.

8:55am - On the way back from Olivia's school I park the car at the edge of Epping Forest and go for a 5k run.  The gorse and the broom is in full flower - so bright it hurts my eyes.  I see a heron flying overhead, and listen to the Northern Exposure version of Last Train to Lhasa on my headphones - one of my all time favourite pieces of music.

9:35am - I get home and have a long soak in the bath, accompanied by a whole pile of magazines and Radio 4.

10:00am - coffee and a croissant in the garden, followed by the rest of the day to myself.

Coffee and croissant in the garden
Good times

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Running race

Out of nowhere, Olivia said to me, "I want to do a Race for Life this summer".  

I was so surprised; she loves dancing and she likes swimming, but she is eloquent about her disdain for any other sporting activity.  Something about Race for Life had connected with her though.  Friends at school have done a Race for Life, there are posters all over the tube network for the ones in Central London this summer, there are TV adverts about Cancer Research and Race for Life, and I think it is something that many young women do these days almost as a rite of passage. "Oh, everyone knows about them," said Olivia breezily, when I asked her how she'd heard of Race for Life.  I knew that if Olivia was going to do it, I was going to have to do it with her.  How could I not?  I hate any sporting activity other than cycling or hiking as much as she does, but I couldn't see her Race for Life and not join in myself.

The races are usually 5K, and I had heard so many good things about the NHS Couch to 5K programme for novice runners, that I thought we should use that as a way of training for the race.  Olivia pointed out to me that she had assumed she would walk the 5K, which is completely allowed but which earned her a little lecture entitled "If something's worth doing, it's worth doing properly" (a favourite topic of mine that she has heard many times before).  At this point I think she slightly regretted telling me that she wanted to do a Race for Life.

I also wanted to finally get round to doing a Parkrun, which Graham has been doing for several years, and which Cam has also done intermittently.  Parkrun is a free, timed, 5K race against the clock which happens in parks around the world at 9am every Saturday.  Everyone is welcome, from professionals to super fast club runners to people trying to get fit (or stay fit).  Anybody, of any age, can run, and it is completely free and organised and manned by volunteers.  We decided that we would replace one of our three NHS Couch to 5K runs each week with a Parkrun.

Our first park run!  Whoop!
Having just completed our first Parkrun - wobbly jelly legs but a huge sense of achievement

We've been training for four weeks now, and I can honestly say that both of us are enjoying it tremendously.  The running gets easier every time we do it, and the NHS Couch to 5K programme is so well designed - pushing us to run more, but never so much that we want to give up.  The people at our local Parkrun have been incredibly welcoming and friendly, and have given us so much support.  The regulars may be mostly fast club runners, but they remember what it's like to be a new runner, coming up to the finish line on tired, achey, slow legs.  They cheer us home!

And now we have entered our race, and have our race numbers ready to wear.  We are doing the event in Cambridge on Sunday 21st July, and are hoping to raise at least £200 for Cancer Research.  If you would like to contribute towards this very worthy cause and show your support for two ex-non-runners who are now loving the running, you can donate to our fundraising here
Race for Life number
My first ever race number
Olivia and Nancy after a run
Back home after a training run

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Early mornings

5:20am - The first of my alarms goes off.  I have two alarms, as there is always the possibility that I sleep through one when it is that early in the morning.
5:30am - I am washed, dressed, and in the kitchen.  I switch on Radio 4 and catch the end of the shipping forecast.
5:31am - I make myself a cup of tea and put on the coffee machine.  The tea gets sipped now and the coffee goes in a flask for later.  I listen to News Briefing and stare into space for a few minutes as I listen to the soft bubble and drip of the coffee machine and the state of the world this morning.
    Tea for now, coffee for later
5:35am - I start to make my packed lunch and packed supper for the day ahead.  It would be so much easier to throw money at the problem than prepare two meals at 5:35 in the morning but:
a) I am poor - I have no money to buy sandwiches 
b) I have only a half hour break and work on the 14th floor of a massive hospital...if I attempted to buy sandwiches in my lunch hour I'd be still in the queue for the till when I was due back on the ward.

Packed lunch + packed tea

So I make packed lunch and packed tea.  Both of them substantial, because I can never be entirely sure that I will get both my breaks.  If a patient suddenly deteriorates, then your half-hour supper break is not the ward sister's priority.

5:45am - Farming Today comes on the radio, and I know that I need to finish faffing around with my lunch and supper and make some breakfast.

5:50am - I don't want to eat breakfast at this time in the morning, but I make myself, because I might not get another chance to eat until 3 or 4pm, and patients don't need nurses who are delirious with hunger.  I usually have a bowl of oats and dried fruit that has been soaking in milk overnight, mixed with yogurt, and some chopped fresh fruit.

6:00am - The Today Programme starts and I need to finish up breakfast and pack my bags.  Clean uniform and my portfolio of achievement in one bag, food in another bag.

6:12am - I switch off Radio 4, am out of the door and walking to the station.

Walking to work 6:15am  

Walking to work 6:15am

6:28am - I get on the train.  Standing room only.

6:50am - I arrive at the hospital and make my way up to the 14th floor.

7:15am - I am in my uniform, hair tied back, make-up on, food for the day stored in the staff fridge.  I make my way to the handover room, and start taking notes from the big whiteboard about which patient is in which bed.

7:30am - Handover from the night staff begins and I start my shift.