Those of you that know me personally probably know that as I am typing this, I’m sitting on the island of Santorini in South Greece, looking rather tanned and with an ice tea in one hand. But I’d better catch the rest of you up.
That last post from me was set about two weeks ago. Not a hugely long period of time but a lot has happened since then. I continued working like a slave and counting down the long shifts at work. I’d already finished my final night shifts right before my little Birmingham trip and only had daytime ones left. I was starting to look around my room deciding what would make the cut to come with me, and what would go to charity/the bin.
I needed to be especially picky with my travelling get-up this time as I’d made the decision to down-size to just a carry-on sized bag for a planned 2-3 months of travelling. It was with a lot of thought that I made the hard choice. Of course the benefits were immediately obvious! Cheaper air-fares with no checked bag fee (and with quite a few flights planned this would save me quite a nice sum of money), and carrying less weight around. I have strong memories of the backache, sore feet, and cursing my large 60L backpack as I unsteadily walked multiple kilometres with both a back and front pack. The main negative of course included the being able to take less stuff and sticking to a 10kg weight limit as per airline guidelines. Liquids need to be 100ml or less, no handy pocketknife any more, minimal changes of clothing and shoes. It was a challenge I was willing to try. I ended up going with this Osprey Farpoint 40L backpack based on lots of internet research and trying packs on in shops:
Image from osprey.com
I mainly like the low profile, low price, and how it’s perfectly sized to meet airline carry-on requirements. It also zips opens like a suitcase with many pockets for various items including a padded laptop sleeve. So far a week into my trip, it is holding up extremely well. The zips are strong and the bag extremely well made. My only criticism so far being that I wish the zips were better made for locking with a padlock. It is doable but the nylon pulls attached to each zips don’t really do any favours. It does fits my back perfectly and is impossible to overpack however so I am quite won over by it.
I kept counting down the days at work while making all these hard packing decisions. I was feeling quite ambivalent about the whole work thing. On one hand I had become very fond of my workmates after being there for a total of nine months, but for most of that final contract, the hospital had been the busiest I’d ever seen it. Worse even than winter with ambulances constantly queued outside, stressed staff, exhausted patients, a full hospital with no capacity for the constant flow of unwell patients coming into the A&E. Every shift made me want to hide somewhere quiet with a cup of tea with the huge amount of pressure and stress to move patients along as quickly (and sometimes unsafely) as possible. I was beginning to feel burnt out and constantly fatigued. I had no energy outside work. Oddly the last couple of shifts I worked were better with the amount of patient presentations being back to normal levels similar to when I first started working in the UK. But I had still made up my mind that I felt ready to head back to New Zealand to do some more nursing back home. I was starting to lose joy and compassion in my job which is the main thing that made up my mind. Never mind that I hadn’t completed my two year working holiday visa, I needed some time at home again with my family and friends. But perhaps I’ll come back again one day after a good recharge as I’ll always have my UK nursing registration now.
UK nursing is different to nursing in Australia and New Zealand. It’s hard to describe but somehow it’s harder in the UK and I felt less safe in my practice. One thing is that patient loads are often bigger and heavier in the UK. Although I noticed as a result of the nursing shortage, the role of health care assistants has been expanded to assist with this. For example health care assistants in the UK are trained to check blood pressures, take bloods and cannulate patients, and perform ECGs. All that things that are considered nurse-only back home. Of course as wonderful as this sounds, without the help of your aide, you would struggle to manage your patient load of minimum six patients. Other things are different too such as the care of C-pap and Bi-pap patients. At home usually this would be nursed as a one nurse to two patients on the wards. Here in the UK your NIV patient would be one of your six patients. Considering that those patients are usually only looked after as 1-1 while in A&E, I found this an interesting jump. I felt like I also had less time to properly assess my patients as part of my initial nursing assessments, and that less was actually expected here anyway. In NZ emergency nurses are expected to auscultate and palpate chests and abdomens as well as the rest of the usual jazz. Here in the UK you barely have time for the minimal jazz itself, I would quickly check the blood pressure of my patient, draw some blood, complete the paperwork before running to the next waiting patient. Thank goodness for the help and teamwork of the health care assistants and doctors
I also want to mention that this isn’t meant to put the NHS itself in a bad light. It still is mostly a wonderful health system with providing so many health opportunities to so many people and all for free. But it’s interesting to see how the system overall is struggling with providing ambulances for free, free transport for patients to get home (most relatives can’t be bothered coming to pick up family members as they know they can take advantage of the hospital transport system), and no charge even for overseas non-residents to attend A&E. Everything is disposable which was a new thing to me. Even bedpans were one-use only. It was quite nice not scrubbing poop off for a change. But what about the environment? It just made me wonder how the NHS will last long term as surely the amount of money needed to maintain such a costly and expected standard of health care must be more than what is paid in tax.. And the impossible strain put on staff to meet standards.. Hm..
But anyway I digress. My time in Brighton came to an end finally. I completed my last shift with lots of hugs, finished packing my bags that night, cleaned my room, had a lovely breakfast with a few workmates before heading out of Brighton for good the next day. As I rode the train northwards, I was both sad at leaving such happy Brighton memories behind, but excited for the new ones ahead of me.
My beloved neighbour Mr. Sheepy
Who wouldn’t miss this scene?
Beach huts down in Hove
One of my latest favourite cafes
A tea party gone wrong
Not actually in Brighton with this location being in Dorset. But still part of my memories in the final month in Brighton
Goodbye Brighton :'(