Night Nurse: Fear is First

So, as I’ve not been blogging for a while, let me give you a quick rundown of my CV.

-BSc Medical Genetics
-PGDip Children’s Nursing
-MSc Nursing
-4 years Healthcare Assistant (HCA) experience
-2 years Paediatric Nurse in Neurology and Theatre (Recovery)
-Current role: Paediatric Research Nurse.

This looks more impressive than I actually am. I promise I’m not humblebragging though – there’s a point to this.

Last week after I came back from Australia (I promise, more on that later), my boss came up to me and asked a little too innocently “Hey, what’s your background again?

“Uh, neurology and theatres.”

“High dependency?”

“Yeah.”

“And you worked with adults too?”

“Yeah, as an HCA.”

“Cool. Cool. Well, see ya.”

The next day I came in and my other manager was like “Hey, check your email.”

In my inbox was an email telling me that I, a paeds nurse, had been signed up for an ADULT INTENSIVE CARE COURSE.

I had been volunteered for the frontline. I was going to be deployed. I was going to work with the sickest of the sick in an age group I’ve not been trained with. I was gonna either cry or pee myself.

So this is how liberty dies.

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At some point we as a society are going to have a talk about why the prequels have the best memes

I can pinpoint a few times in my life when I’ve been really scared, and roughly 75% of them are work related. Being a nurse is scary. I don’t see people talk about that often enough. Being a nurse is rewarding and exhausting and underpaid and overworked and hard work and blah blah blah it is terrifying. Not all the time, mind you. Most days is fine. But every nurse has had at least one ohshhhhugarapples (still a paeds nurse, shouldn’t curse) moment, and that is a terrifying feeling to have.

Sometimes these moments are huge and patient related. I was helping a friend recover a patient post-surgery (I was due to leave, so I was just being a runner for him), and this patient suddenly started having multiple seizures. My friend, a gifted Advanced Theatre Practitioner, had limited experiences with seizing children as most post-operative patients are still sedated. So I (having neuro experience) had to stay there because it would be amoral of me to ditch my friend with a seizing patient. And so I took the lead. Held this child’s head in a jaw thrust, administered 15l oxygen, called for help and started to time the seizures. Got people to draw up rescue meds (he wasn’t prescribed any because idk someone dropped the ball?) as we approached the time where we would have to administer. He would stop seizing and then start again. The nurse in charge was calling all over the place for a bed because it was late and the post-surgical ward was about to close for the night. Eventually the kid stopped seizing, we found him a bed and we discharged him.

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Godspeed, kid

I was terrified during that entire thing. But you wanna hear another time I was terrified?

Last week, during the ITU course. I was sitting in the class, half paying attention and flipping through the hand-out. One of the pages was on Arterial Blood Gases. No problemo, I’ve been doing those for a few years now. Easy pease. You just attach the syringe, take your waste, take your sample, flush the line using the butterfly, dassit. So I read their instructions.

-Attach the syringe
-take your waste
-take your sample
-flush the line by pulling on a pigtail.

HOLD UP. A PIGTAIL??!?!!?!?!?

Immediate panic. Deer in the headlights. I don’t know what a pigtail is!!! Have I been doing it wrong? I squinted at the pixelated picture. It looked completely different from every arterial line I’ve seen in my life. I had the smallest, most silent meltdown at the back of that class, I swear. Sweating profusely, I message my friend, A, who is an incredible Recovery nurse (hey friend!) and who was similarly perplexed.

“Loooooool that looks unsafe,” was her reply. PANIC INTENSIFIES.

the last jedi GIF by Star Wars

I went to the ABG practice session (not that I had a choice) and realised it’s fine, but that feeling of panic was indistinguishable from what I felt with the seizing patient. They sound wildly different but to me they do the same thing – they are fears that sow doubt and have the potential to immobilise me. And like we said in the previous post, that’s a one way ticket to the Dark Side, population Sith.

I feel like it’s important to stop the metaphor here and say that I don’t actually think there’s anything wrong with fear. I mean, not if you let there be something wrong. Fear can be a great motivator. Why do you think [choose your ethnicity] parents threaten their pickneys with a [choose your weapon]? Fear, my dudes. It’s important to not let fear consume you, though.

Another story.

When I first qualified, I had a patient. Little baby, few months old. He was on the mend and I was feeling good that shift… until he wasn’t so good. He turned grey and his eyes started twitching. I didn’t know what to do. I was frozen in place. I cannot tell you how thankful I am, how truly blessed I feel, to have worked in places with incredible coworkers. One of them came in to check on me and saw what was going on. He called for help, pushed me out of the room and said to me “Get changed. Go to Starbucks. Order the largest frappe they have. And do not come back until you are OK.” I left the ward. All I could think about was how he was OK until the moment he wasn’t. That fear I felt in that moment was paralyzing and it’s something you can never forget. It’s been 3 years and I can still see that child’s face when I close my eyes. They were OK in the end, and last I heard, they are thriving, but good God.

My boss told me the other day that I won’t be going to ITU. This is because we are going to be conducting COVID-19 research. So in my capacity as a research nurse, I must meet these COVID-19 +ve patients and recruit them. I must ensure that they get the medications we are trialling, even if it means giving it myself. I must make sure that this potentially life saving research is done at all costs. Even if that cost is myself. That is fear-inducing.

But I have to be ok with that. Myself, and all the other nurses who went into this profession with the goal of helping people. And all the doctors, all the HCAs, all the therapists and pharmacists and dieticians and cleaners and porters and caterers and so many people… we all scared. But we have to cope with it.

And you, dear reader who is at home for whatever reason. Don’t feel guilty while reading this! It’s ok to be scared! It’s ok to feel crappy about being at home, it’s ok to be scared about the global pandemic, it’s ok to feel fear. It’s scary times right now! Just… don’t let it get to you, mmkay? Try to cope.

I don’t have advice for coping. Sometimes my coping mechanism is to eat. Sometimes my coping mechanism is to exercise. Sometimes I just cry. I think the important thing is to face your fears. Allow yourself to fall apart, else how will you be able to build yourself into a stronger person?

 

Ex-Factor

Last year, I listened to a lot of Lauryn Hill… well a lot more than normal anyway. Break-up songs hit different when you’re actually going through a break up.

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SANG IT LAURYN

For reference, last year Boy and I broke up. It was less of a shock and more of a slow degeneration, at least from my perspective. I think a lot of men find it shocking when a woman dumps them. In a society where every woman is a nag regardless of whether their complaints are valid, women learn to sugarcoat the truth. So while I feel like I was pretty clear in what I wanted, maybe he doesn’t feel that way.

I’m not going to rip on him. I don’t do that because I feel like when people do that it says less about their ex and more about the person speaking. Your ex is ugly? Ok so you’re into ugly people. Your ex is stupid? Ok but you picked a stupid person. It’s better to be honest – you loved them, or thought you did, but it didn’t work out. Or you saw the red flags but chose to ignore them. So I’m gonna be honest because he doesn’t deserve to be slandered… and because I usually am honest to everybody but MyFitnessPal.

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Me, lying about the calories I’ve logged

I guess it boiled down to us wanting different things, but it wasn’t just that. We wanted things in a different way too. I have a pretty good grasp of what I want out of life and when I want it, and while I’m open to compromise and changing my mind I have a reasonable idea of the path I’m on. Boy was a different kettle of fish. And that’s ok! Not knowing what you want when you’re in your 20s is fine! I just found it hard to meet in the middle with someone who didn’t know where his middle was. For example, I am not interested in owning property just yet, but he wanted it so I was willing to meet in the middle on a timeline… except he didn’t know anything about property owning. For someone like me, this is really frustrating. To not know what you want is a foreign feeling for me, and I can empathise but in a relationship it’s not enough to empathise – you also have to accept. And I guess after 3 years I couldn’t accept it anymore.

One of the weirdest things following the break up was how many people asked me if I would take him back if he “changed”. In general I’m not a fan of the idea of taking someone back who promises to change because I feel like if they wanted to change they would have before being dumped. Specific to Boy I couldn’t see how that change would work. If two people have a different way of tackling problems that aren’t compatible, what’s the point? It would be less many-hands-make-light-work and more too-many-cooks.

lauryn hill GIF

Stop asking people that. It’s weird.

I didn’t appreciate people saying “oh but he’s nice” either. NICE IS THE BARE MINIMUM YOU SHOULD BE. I’m a nice person. I can just be nice to myself.

And there’s the rub. At the end of the day, I decided that I would rather be alone than accept something that didn’t work for me. It was an incredibly hard decision to make, but once I did it, I felt much better, like a weight (or a mental load) had lifted. I hope this doesn’t sound too harsh, Boy is a great guy and I’m sure he’ll make someone happy someday (if he isn’t already doing so). But I am a complete person and I don’t ascribe to the long-suffering girlfriend thing that women seem to be expected to put up with. I’d rather be alone and happy.

…..

Anyway so I have a new boyfriend!

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Couldn’t resist That Thing

Night Nurse: Using The Force

A few days ago I decided to resurrect my blog.

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Why? Well there are many reasons. But mostly it was because I didn’t want to go to the Dark Side.

Ehhhh?  I hear you ask (or NANI? if you’re feeling like a weeaboo). That Star Wars thing?

Yes friend, that Star Wars thing. Allow me to elaborate using an extensive metaphor centred around a quote from The Phantom Menace.

The past few days have been a rollercoaster for me. I’ve felt a huge range of emotions since I got back to work from Australia (more on that later). This pandemic and the reactions of people to it have filled me with feelings that I couldn’t quite place at first. I was tired but I assumed it was jetlag until I got a full night of sleep and realised it wasn’t that. I thought maybe it was being overwhelmed, which yeah, as a nurse in the middle of a pandemic, that would make sense. But it was a lot worse than that. A lot more… potent.

It was yesterday that I realised that what I was feeling was a 50-50 split between fear and anger.

This is going to sound stupid but I’m not used to being consumed by rage or anxiety. I’m a pretty chilled, positive person. It’s not that I don’t feel negative emotions at all, I am human(ish). It’s more that it takes a lot to make me angry. Frustrated, sure. Stressed, yeah. But real, all-encompassing rage? Rare.

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Though I’ve heard angry me is pretty intimidating.

But this week I’ve felt angry. At so many things, and at so many people, at so many headlines and so many stories. It’s starting to spill over at fairly innocent things. I growled at a flower the other day. Stupid petal fell off the dang thing. FFS COULDN’T YOU HOLD IT TOGETHER??

Once I recognised those feelings, I became concerned. Why? Because this leads STRAIGHT to the dark side. Yoda said it best, y’all – fear leads to anger, which leads to hate, which leads to suffering which leads to killing younglings the dark side. That is… not a good thing. I gotta try to stay away from the Dark side (even though they get the cooler lightsabers.)

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Who doesn’t love a two-for-one?

In times of hardship, it’s pretty easy to fall into darkness. I’m using Star Wars as a light-hearted metaphor, but feel free to replace that with anything you desire that represents a hole that you can’t seem to get out of. Depression maybe? A funk? Whatever your chosen word is. I’m choosing to use the Dark Side because idk I’m a nerd, I guess. So what do I do to stay on the side of light? What can I do that will best… er… utilise the Force, as the case may be?

 Well, the short answer is, I’m going to practice self-care. Exercise where possible (I’m already walking to work so that’s a whole thing). Eat healthier foods. Write this blog! I actually started it partially because I was stressed out in nursing school and needed an outlet, so this is self-care. Talk to a therapist (lord knows I’ll need it). I’ve made myself a home schedule, not because I think I’ll follow it but because it’s worthwhile to have a framework, a scaffolding in a time when it feels like your building is falling apart. Will all this work? I don’t know but I have to do it. Life’s too short to be consumed and immobilised by rage. And it is not enough to try to cope. In this current situation, I just have to do it.

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New Year, Old Me

Since starting this blog I’ve made a promise to myself that I would Blog More.

This does not materialise.

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Like ever.

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But New Year New Me amirite??? I’m gonna try again because why the heck not? I miss blogging! And all the things I want to achieve will be easier to achieve if I maintain a blog… but more on that later.

First! Lemme list all the things I achieved in 2018 in no particular order:

  1. Finally saw Beyonce in concert…. with Jay-Z no less! AND THEY DROPPED AN ALBUM AT THE CONCERT which was a relatively underwhelming album, compared to Lemonade and 4:44 BUT STILL
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  2. Survived my first year of nursing without killing anyone, especially myself
  3. Started my masters!
  4. Went from Neurology to Recovery nursing
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  5. Made some bomb-ass friends
  6. Met my brother for the first time ever. And my sister-in-law. And my adorable nieces.
  7. Actually I went on 4 vacations this year: Ireland, Prague, Toronto and St. Lucia
  8. WENT BACK HOME AFTER 8 YEARS ❤
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  9. Wrote a book!
  10. Entered a writing competition and was short-listed! Even though I didn’t win, it’s awesome to be recognised for something that I have no formal training in.
  11. Completed my Goodreads challenge of 60 books in a year
  12. Reconnected with people who I haven’t seen in years ❤
  13. Baked some really good banana bread.

I feel like I did so much more this year, but I can’t think of any! I’m gonna try to write 52 articles for this blog for 2019, this being article number 1. Do I have 52 things to say? I don’t know. But hey, worth a try, right?

I know for a fact I’ve got a lot of stuff I need to catch you all up on.

The Mom, The Myth, The Legend

This week is my least favourite week of the year.

Why, you ask?

For the past ten years, this week has been book-ended by Mother’s Day (in the UK) and my mother’s birthday.

I do not have the funds to celebrate this week, friends.

I do not have siblings with which to share the financial cost of surviving this week, friends.

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March is an expensive month

My mother does not have expensive tastes, but she does demand I celebrate both days as distinct and separate occurrences on the calendar. This line, if nothing else, should prove that my mother is African, because only mothers from that continent are that extra. Whenever people are like “Oh my birthday is the same time as my cousins, so we just have one big joint party” I laugh until my sides ache because that’s Not My Mother. My mother’s birthday also lands on St Patrick’s day, so she has the decency to wear green out of respect of the Irish folk while she demands a birthday card AND a St Paddy’s day card. Y’know, on top of the Mother’s Day card. And then when May comes around, she wants ANOTHER Mother’s Day card because in St Lucia Mother’s Day is in May. I’m surprised she hasn’t started asking for reparations on International Women’s Day too.

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March is my mother’s month #recognise

Of course, I don’t actually mind. For one thing, I am finally gainfully employed. Plus, my mother has had a long life full of hard work, crazy adventures and intense experiences, so if she wants flowers twice in one week, I get her flowers (then I sit back and wait for the “what, no card?” text). I talk about my mother a lot because at the end of the day, she’s one of my best friends and the coolest mum anyone could have, but I think I promised a while back to write some more on Lady Di (as my uncle calls her), so here it is! Let’s call this Part 1: The Mom, The Myth, The Legend.

My mother, despite her looking about 15 years younger than she actually is, was born in the early 50s in South Africa. In case world history isn’t your thing, South Africa in the 50s was not a nice place to be if you weren’t white and affluent – and in those days, those words were synonymous. In those days they did various tests based on pseudo-science to assign a race to you. My mother, owing to her skin colour and her hair not holding a pencil forever, was considered coloured, as was my grandmother. (I asked her if I would have been considered black, as my hair is thicker and my skin is darker than my mother’s, and was told that children often took the race of their mothers, which makes no sense… then again neither did the whole system). My grandmother was a real renaissance woman. She could play any instrument she picked up, she could speak several languages, and had the singing voice of a lark. I have her name, but I have never met her. She divorced my grandfather, a nasty and abusive man (although my grandmother, my mother would note with faint pride, could throw a punch herself), and, slinging her child on her back, walked barefoot down the highway through the desert in the hot sun until they settled in Lokasie 11 in Calitzdorp. My grandmother worked on the local farm owned by the Calitz family, and would pick and dry fruit, often bringing some home for my mother. She would also dry meat, bringing home biltong and droewers. She took care of her kid.

Being coloured in those days meant you had to learn Afrikaans, so my mother went to school with other children in the coloured category and learnt of the wonderful Dutch who “tamed the savages” (Shaka put up one hell of a fight. You guys wouldn’t judge me if I named my kid Shaka, right?) before being fought by the wonderful British who added South Africa to the whole “sun never sets” empire, until they became independent and apartheid became A Thing (summary of events). She never learnt the languages of the savages like Zulu and Xhosa, but she did learn English, which amounted to the same thing amirite?

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Colonisers, eh?

My mother was good at math (still is), and good at netball (not so much). She used to play with her friends in the spruitje, taking care to avoid hippos (who are, I have been informed, way more dangerous than alligators), and run around in the Klein Karoo, making sure to check trees for boomslangs before climbing them. When she got older she did her matriculation, and had a boyfriend, who was the cousin of her then best friend Drika. She also worked as a baby sitter for a white family, helping to raise their 3 kids.

My grandmother passed away when my mother was 16. She was a smoker, and one day fell asleep with a lit cigarette in her mouth. The house caught fire. I wish I could have met her.

This was in the 60s. Unrest, already a steady undercurrent of South African politics, was starting to build up. The white family my mother worked for was headed by a kind, Atticus-esque man who defended black people, considered everyone equal, and most of all considered my mother an important family member. This was not well received by the rest of the Afrikaner community, and so this family decided to leave. They turned to my mother and said “We are leaving. Do you want to come with us?” My mother, who at 19 was an orphan and wasn’t in contact with her other family members (and who didn’t know much about her father), agreed. She left her boyfriend (girl power), hugged her best friend goodbye and set off on Die Oranje to England.

Sometimes I wonder if my mother realises what a big decision that was at that age. Many 19-year olds don’t even know how to use the washing machine, yet my mother went forward in search of a better life for herself. She went in search of adventure. And boy did she find it. But that’s for another blog post.

Stay tuned for part 2, tentatively named Mums Just Want To Have Fun.

 

Night Nurse: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHH

So I realised recently that I’ve been talking a lot about ladies of the night. Let me take a moment to talk about my actual career, the one I spent 2 years training to do: Paediatric Nursing. How’s it going? Well, let me summarise it for you using the power of GIFs.

SEND HELP

I am no longer supernumerary which means that I am officially On My Own. I do my own meds, I have my own patients, I write my own notes. There’s no one behind me to keep track of what I’m doing, no one to countersign things, no one to report to or take the hard patients. One of the students on my ward asked me what it was like and I told her that it felt like someone had taken the training wheels off my bike, then kicked me down a very steep hill.

I’m pretty sure I’ve forgotten the bike though

My last shift was awful. There were so many acutely ill kids that coming into handover was like…

…and the day didn’t improve from there. At one point we were all in the treatment room, quietly contemplating life/the medication we were meant to give and I was like “Is it too early to retire?” I’m not sure if everyone laughed because they were panicked, tired, or genuinely found me amusing. Some of us, myself included, even had to stay late to write notes. Really makes me wonder what the single, rich Arab princes of the world are doing lately. If anyone knows of any, ask them to get in touch. (Yes, Boy knows about this plan. Yes he is on board. I’m going to hire him as a butler and have a Lady Chatterly-esque tryst).

I’m on a complex ward, and I don’t think it hit me exactly how sick the kids were going to be. Is that a dumb thing to admit? Well I’m admitting it. My last placement was 13 weeks in an emergency department in a District General hospital, which meant most of the kids came in with cuts and bruises and maybe the occasional croup. This ward has kids who have had parts of their BRAIN cut out because that’s the only treatment left for them. This isn’t some paracetamol-and-kiss-the-booboo kind of thing. I knew on an intellectual level that it wouldn’t be easy but it didn’t hit me until my first shift. I hear the call bell in my dreams sometimes.

Perhaps this is why I keep crying? Half the time I’m not even sure why I’m crying. I thought I was having a terrible day so I was going to go home and cry out of exhaustion, but then my preceptor (like a mentor but less hands on) told me I did well so I went home and cried in relief instead? Yesterday I cried because my managers are so kind, the shift before that I cried because a parent thanked me, I cried the other day because the printer stopped working… I’m a mess. The nurses I work with are all so lovely, so guess who cried because I was so glad that everyone was friendly? THIS GIRL DID.

Honestly though, I think I’ll be OK. I’m doing well, I just need to stop being so hard on myself. Like my preceptor said, “If nothing’s broken and no one died, it’s a good shift.” I just need to eat less ice cream and woman up. Grow a womb and all that. I’ll be fine.

Now if you excuse me, I’m going to go cry because I have laundry to do.

I only wear my uniform and pyjamas, why is this even a THING?

 

Bodak Power

You know what song I really like? Bodak Yellow.

I know, surprising right? I’m a nerd whose hobbies include knitting and reading. And yet Bodak Yellow was what I listened to on my way to work on my first shift. It makes me feel like I can conquer anything. Something about the way Cardi B says “LITTLE B**** YOU CAN’T F*** WITH ME IF YOU WANTED TO.” I haven’t got any red bottoms but man, I feel like I’m wearing them when I listen to it.

These expensive, these is red bottoms

By extension I like Cardi B. She seems like a nice, genuine person. She’s worked hard to get where she is, she was in a terrible situation and managed to get out using every asset at her disposal. Bodak Yellow was sitting pretty at the top of the charts for a while, and gurl get it. I’m so proud of her. She don’t gotta dance now, she has made money move.

So it really sucks when I see people being horrible about her past (and women like Blac Chyna and Amber Rose). People get on their high horse and say some really disparaging things about these women because they started off as exotic dancers, strippers or prostitutes, and it really upsets me for several reasons.

First of all, they did what they had to do in the situation they were in. Very few women go to their school’s guidance counsellor and ask for advice on how to write a CV for their local strip club. People do what they gotta do to put food on the table, clothes on their backs and a roof over their heads, and stripping pays way better than serving fries at McDonalds (and it’s an easier job to get, McDonalds rejects thousands of people every day). If I had a nice body and needed fast money because there are debts to pay and the landlord’s threatening eviction, I would be on the pole faster than a fireman (and by the way, pole dancing is really hard. You need an insane amount of core muscles and coordination to do anything on it. It takes real work to get good enough to get paid for it, and real athletic ability to make it look as easy as they do. Pole dancing should be an Olympic sport, honestly. #Pole2020 get it trending).

Do what you gotta do

Honestly, I find them pretty inspirational. Unlike Drake, they actually started at the bottom and now they are here. Amber Rose is touting her unique brand of feminism, advocating for sex positivity and for sex workers (who have a pretty dangerous job tbh. The statistics are damaging). People going on about Blac Chyna being a gold-digger when she married Rob Kardashian need to know that our Angela is worth more in terms of investment than he is. She’d have to pay him alimony, HA. Who’s the gold-digger now!

And my girl Cardi is an unapologetic feminist. She paid to go to school, to get out of the hood and to have a better life. Plus, she’s from the Caribbean so I have a bias. Girl do your thang. You worked so hard to be here. People who can’t look at her achievements and react positively need to take several seats. Fair enough if Bodak Yellow isn’t your thing, but she isn’t any less of a person because of her past. In fact her and women like her all over the world who are making better lives for themselves through sex work are as hard-working as any of us and don’t deserve our scorn but our praise. Maybe it’s time we support women instead of tearing them down, hmm?

Anyway, I gotta go. Bodak Yellow just started playing and I have some lyrics to yell at unsuspecting bystanders.

Periodic Confusion

As I lie here in a pool of blood, a tangled mess of hormones and cramps, I wonder vaguely how my ex is doing.

I saw him in public the other day and this was actually my reaction. But that’s another story for another day.

Not that my ex and I are in any way close. If I could go back in time, I’d have stopped our meeting (going back any further would just increase the chances of me, A Black Person, getting murdered anyway), and I only want to see him in the future when I am rich and successful so that I can be petty in an Aston Martin. But the reason why I think of him in these monthly trying times is because he once asked me if there was any way I could “push it out”.

“It???” I, an adult, asked my adult ex-boyfriend circa 2BB (2 years Before Boyfriend).

“Yeah, y’know…. your *stage whisper* period. Can you push it out, like a baby? Or like pooping?”

It has been 4 years since that fool asked me that and I still chuckle heartily at the thought. Sir, you have a sister and a mother. I was your 4th girlfriend. You have access to the internet. Are you seriously asking me this question??????

Dated him for his looks (and because he liked anime)

I’ve seen Twitter conversations and Reddit threads on this very same topic. It seems like there is a significant portion of the population who does not know what 50% of the population get up to monthly. How is this a thing? Who do I have to complain to so that this is fixed? Do non-menstruating folk have a manager I can speak to?

 

I will go to my hairdressers TOMORROW if that’s what it takes

To be fair, this is but a small part of how sucky people are at having The Talk with kids. It amazes me that people can remain woefully ignorant of a whole system of organs in another person just because they don’t have a set themselves. And before you ask, yes, I do know the bits and bobs of men’s bits and bobs. I am a licensed healthcare professional. Also, I have access to Google.

I think that this kind of learning should start early. Kids get curious about the body at a fairly early age (the first time I saw a penis I was about 6, we had come back from the beach and my cousin stripped naked and went to wash himself under the pipe outside. I think there’s a picture of the two of us, we’re at the age where nudity is cute and not a felony). I remember asking what it was and my mother (Number One Stunna OG) told me (cuz the streets ain’t got nothing on Mama D). She never left me hanging on those questions, perhaps because she was a nurse herself, or perhaps because she is a #Gangsta4Lyf. It’s not a hard question to answer. Boys have penises and girls have vaginas (heteronormative I know, but it was the 90s). Some people stand to pee, others do not. Why? That’s how we were made. Cool ok, can I have a snack? Ok sure.

 

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I was a simple kid

OG Don Momma never stopped having the talk with me. As I got older, my mother changed the conversation from the basics of consent (“if someone touches you and you don’t like it, kick them and aim low”) to where babies come from (“when you’re old enough, a man puts his penis in your vagina. But only when you’re older, and you’re ready, and you can pay to take care of a child because my diaper-changing days are over”). When I got my period, my mother pulled up some online encyclopedia and, a little misty-eyed, explained to me that this would be a monthly occurrence so carry lots of pads. When I grew boobs, my mother informed me not to let people touch them without my permission. I overheard the word lesbian and was told it’s when a girl likes a girl romantically. The last time I had the updated version of the talk (V2.5.2) was about 3 weeks ago when I was informed to double up on contraception as I have just started work and I don’t need no babies right now. Lifelong Learning, y’all.

I’m aware that I am lucky. Many people I know are still waiting for their parents to give them the birds and the bees talk, and hey that’s OK! But that is no excuse for ignorance. Non-menstruating people of the world, learn what a uterus is and why we complain about cramps. Understand why I have suddenly become grumpy and spotty, and why it lasts 3-7 days, and why I may start unconsciously rub my chest in public. Wikipedia uses a lot of big, confusing words so if that’s way too much to deal with, ask your local woman. They’re not hard to find, there’s 3.5billion of them in the world. I’m sure one of them will be willing to divulge the secrets of the womb. Just don’t ask her if she’s on her period for whatever reason. She will murder you and you will get no sympathy from me.

Finish Last

I like to think I’m a nice person. I mean, people tell me I’m nice.  And I do things like charity runs and fundraising and I give food to the homeless, and I work with sick kids and knit hats for babies and old people and all sorts. I think this qualifies me as nice. But you know what? I don’t think I’ve ever thought this meant that I was owed anything in return. Cuz, yknow. I’m nice like that.

I’m modest, too

So it fascinates me when I see or hear a guy describe himself as nice, then lament at their lack of romantic success. I am of course speaking from a heterosexual female’s perspective, feel free to tell me if this occurs in other situations too.

After all, bad behaviour is unisex

About 1BB (one year Before Boyfriend) I distinctly remember talking to this guy. It was complicated in the way only millennial dating can be, but I won’t expand on that. Anyway we had this conversation about previous dating history and he said that he had been dumped for being too nice. This angered and confused him. I mean, who doesn’t want to sleep with someone who is nice? Guys like nice girls! Why are women so complicated? Y’all womenfolk don’t know what y’all want! Blahblahblah.

I interrupted him.

“So, are you dating me because I’m nice?”

A pause. “Well, yeah.”

“Only because I’m nice? Not because I’m funny, or clever or because I’ve got a big… ego?”

“Oh. Well yeah, of course.”

“If I had none of that, just niceness, would you be here right now?”

No reply was given. No reply was needed.

And there’s the crux. Niceness is not the only thing anyone is looking for in a partner. Why would it be? Niceness is the bare minimum anyone needs to be a functioning member of society, and even then you don’t need that much of it. You need enough niceness to be kind to the staff at restaurants, and to not cuss out the bus driver if he misses your stop. You don’t need to give to the homeless or run 10k for disabled kids,  although it certainly helps. Niceness is not the price you pay to society to be seen as an attractive person to your chosen gender. In fact, it’s barely the price you pay for people to be nice back.

People can and will ignore you

This is why Nice Guys™ amuse me. I’m sure they have a list of requirements for their potential partners, and did not gravitate towards their victims targets potential mates solely because they saw how much money they have donated to the Red Cross. And yet they get really angsty because their chosen sucker person isn’t appreciative of their actions… or at the very least aren’t appreciative enough to go on a date with them. Double Standards are a helluva drug.

Although once again, I acknowledge that bad behaviour is unisex

Look, I get the frustration. I was an awkward fat kid that became an awkward fat young lady, and dating is hard when you’re awkward and fat. Especially when your beautiful slender nonawkward friends are getting laid left, right and centre. It’s tiring sometimes, trying to be interesting and interested in other people for little to no return. But I have never expected someone to fall on top of me because I help old ladies across the street, and I certainly don’t see why anyone else should. For one’s own benefit, it’s worth learning how to be funny and how to do one’s eyebrows, and how to ask questions and what perfumes make you smell good versus what makes you smell like a locker room at peak time in a budget gym. It stops you from being a Nice Guy™ and helps you become more than just a nice guy.

Or at least a less stabby guy

Night Nurse: Student -> Qualified

I HAVE A JOB.

Well, I mean I got the job in, like March, but I wasn’t writing then so I’m telling you now!

You are looking at at a Band 5 Newly Qualified Paediatric Nurse at… a famous children’s hospital. I’m supposed to up my social media security and become a more ~private~ person, but I really don’t know how the NMC guidelines on social media feels about blogging so I thought I’d ask the RCN.

“I…oh. What an interesting question!”

The RCN also didn’t know what to do with bloggers, it turned out.

Anyway, the end result is that I have to be more private, not say anything offensive and talk to my line manager in case my hospital turns around and says “Hey, we like our nurses to be big on social media!” So away with any photos of me, to be replaced by stock images of Caribbean women…

This is the first picture I got on Google when I typed in “Caribbean People”. I am now Lupita.

… maintain anonymity of anyone I’m in contact with, and do not be slanderous in anyway. Which is fine, as I am *~*lovely*~* (and modest) and wouldn’t hurt a fly anyway.

Other than the necessary aspects of my job that will involve inflicting pain, of course.

New jobs come with big changes, man. In the past week I’ve moved house, gotten my uniforms, posed for my ID badge, gone to a hipster restaurant and eaten a salad with all sorts of “superfoods” in it…. Big changes, man!

I didn’t think I’d like it so much but I really do! If you’re reading this and you’re from the UK, keyworker accommodation is an NHS worker’s best friend. I’m living in the centre of one of the most expensive cities in the world for chump change. My room is big enough to fit all my stuff, my (shared) kitchen is big enough to fit my slow cooker and there’s like 3 toilets. The admin lady who houses people looked really apologetic when she told me about the accommodation, as if she’s never seen the horrors of student accommodation. Compared to some student housing, this is the equivalent of a tiny palace AND the walls are thick enough for me to listen to music at 3am without guilt? SOLD.

So I guess this is it. Student Nurse Me is now Staff Nurse Me. I’m gonna try to write about my experiences as a student and as a staff nurse, but I won’t stick to as rigid a blogging schedule, at least not until I get the hang of having a living wage and being a Real Adult™. So far all I’ve had is induction and meeting new people (all of whom are lovely<3). I’m really enjoying this, guys 🙂

I mean, I’m sure the novelty will wear off when I realise that nurses are paid in pennies but, y’know. Whatever.