Sunday, May 29, 2016

At the Hospital

Chapter Eight

Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital

Wherein I learn some new skills, use my science training, see first hand the fragility of life and bring to a close the chapters of my working life.

I became a housekeeper on the Acute Medical Unit at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

The NHS is the largest employer in Western Europe. I hardly even registered as a cog in this enormous wheel. But, it was valuable work and I saw it as giving something back to the community – and I didn't mind getting paid for it either.

I job-shared with two ladies, Debbie and Chris. They liked working mornings and early afternoons and I liked late mornings and late afternoons. Perfect.

I used my bus pass to get in about 10 and get home about 6 – three days a week on a rotating shift pattern. There was no weekend working. Perfect.

Housekeeper is a bit of a misleading job title. What we did was more like being a gopher or dog's body. We looked after the stock, including the essential equipment used on the ward. We made sure the nurses had everything they needed to do their job. We made sure everything was where it ought to be and, if it wasn't, made sure we got it there. We overcame difficulties. It was interesting and not too taxing for old folks.

On the ACU people died. In many cases that's why they ended up there. The arrived, old, frail and sick: they received end of life care and they died. So, the sound of the alarm going off, the dash for the crash trolley and the attempts to resuscitate were just part of the everyday rhythm of work. Took some getting used to. All in all, it was interesting and not too taxing, or, as they say it kept me out of the pub.

As time moved on it became apparent that my knees were not doing the NHS much good. I had a lot of pain and my mobility decreased markedly. I didn't feel as if I was able to contribute and I didn't like the feeling.

An opportunity came up to actually retire on my 65th birthday and I took it.

Here endeth, as they say the story of my working life.

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