It was my last day – and last drugs round – yesterday. My colleagues secretly teamed up to put on a vegan buffet in The Big Cupboard (don’t tell the matron), and gave me flowers and gin and other lovely things. I forgot to take the flowers home as I’d put them in some water in a urine bottle and left them in the sluice (don’t tell the infection control nurse).
I owe the team there so much; they’ve seen me through a horrible break up, rallying round to make sure I had furniture and a kettle and cups of tea. They’ve seen me at my absolute worst, and through a diagnosis of bipolar disorder (being at my worst and being diagnosed with a mental illness are not unrelated). They’ve seen me get ill like that again a couple of times, and always supported me and maintained a culture of openness and acceptance – these are not just management buzzwords. I’ve been part of their team for about 8 years, during which time we’ve all gotten older and wiser and gone through some stuff, individually and collectively.
It’s impossible to work with people for so long and not feel like family, and in many ways they are: you don’t choose them, you’re obliged to spend time with them whether you want to or not, and you can go a long time without remembering to ring them. If you work in care you’re likely to spend Christmas with them sometimes too, and to sit up with them all night talking rubbish, and always to defend them against external criticism even if you’re actually really riled or annoyed by them.
But I’m finished, and I’m a writer now, and I’ll have to remember that that’s what I have to say when people ask what I do. And then I’ll explain that it’s medical web content and they’ll look a bit disappointed because for a second they thought I was an interesting person with a creative imagination. Saying you’re a nurse is so much easier, because it’s the sort of job you understand from childhood, that you have dressy-up clothes for when you’re very little. It’s not really like you thought it would be when you were little – it’s the sort of job that’s best explained with that meme with pictures of ‘what my friends think I do… what my parents think I do… what society thinks I do… what I really do.’
In other news, I think I caught some sort of stomach bug at work yesterday – a final leaving present, perhaps. There are probably some jobs where you have less risk of contracting infectious diseases. Writing, perhaps. Excuse me while I run to the loo. Again.