I have been asked to write a blog for the patient website, so here goes……
It is very much an ‘old trout, new tricks’ situation for me as this is my first entry into the blogosphere.
It got me thinking into how our new patients – also known as FNGs and FNBs (flipping new girls and flipping new boys) – feel as they move onto the dialysis programme. Like most new experiences it can be very disorientating trying to fit in with this new demand on time and energy, especially when you may be feeling at your very worst. There is a whole new ‘dialysis culture’ to familiarise yourself with and a whole new vocabulary of slots, fluid restriction, diet demands, UF, base weights, meds lists, fistula and lines, waiting times and transport/parking and many other bewildering things to get used to.
There is also a veritable ‘who’s who’ of staff and patients. A handy hint is to get to know the housekeepers – they are the ones who provide tea, sandwiches and signposting. The reception team are also a good point of contact – and I think of them as Team Google as they seem to know ‘who’ and ‘what’ (and if they don’t, they certainly know who will!)
Contrary to popular belief, I didn’t start training with Florence Nightingale, although, I’ve always known I would become a nurse – since I was the age of five. I used to line up my dolls in their shoebox beds with little cages over their pretend broken legs, little charts hanging over the end of those shoebox beds, with a red line continuously climbing up and up, just to show how sick they were; but I didn’t actually start nursing until I was in my mid-thirties. I had what is sometimes called an interesting and varied career, which included; working in a bank, for the BBC, a cinema behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War and even delivering car parts.
One day, ‘me and himself’ had a conversation (there may have been alcohol involved, but the memory is hazy….) about, what would you change if you had your time over again? I resisted the urge to say — “I’d marry for money rather than love,” or “find someone with a long-pocket and a short cough.” I said the only thing I would change, would be to train as a nurse. The rest as they say is history (or in my case – meat for another blog…… You didn’t think you’d get off that easily surely?!).
Having two young kids and a husband who worked away from home a lot, I slogged my way through three years of training to become a nurse. You might think after all that time training I’d have a clear pathway in which I wanted to work, having developed a passion for all things renal, but the truth was I’d loved it all! (Except perhaps Casualty, which was nothing like it was on the telly; it was described to me as 90% boredom followed by 10% sheer terror – although, I must admit I’ve learned all I know about the Glasgow Coma Score from that programme!)
Fate intervened and a friend who qualified six months earlier than me happened to say she worked on a Renal Unit and she didn’t work nights’ or Sundays! Again, it is strange how things that can have the biggest impact on our lives can happen so casually. So, I upped sticks, changed Trusts and transferred specialities (my last placement was orthopaedics where the ‘five year old me’ felt very at home) and I moved from the North Manchester General to Hope Hospital!
I’d like to tell you that my transfer to Renal was as smooth as yours, but I have to say I’m the least technically-minded individual that I know and it took me a long time to settle. For the first few months I couldn’t see my patients for the big blue machine and it took time to understand how to work the infernal contraption. I woke in the night with a cold sweat dreaming about it; I remembered asking one of my colleagues if this was normal and she said it was and that it would stop. And it did.
Gradually things settled and I began to get use to the strange world of dialysis and mostly our FNG’s and FNB’s do too.
It also took time to realise that I had a whole new ‘dialysis’ family and anyone who is a patient or works here is part of this family too. Like all families we have the good, the strange and the absolutely bewildering (and I include both staff and patients.) We have a unique relationship, all working towards the joint aim of keeping our patients well.
Well, that is how I arrived here, and now I am a true ‘haemo’ nurse (see – another bit of jargon) and we all have our stories of how we got here. Some stay a short while (and again I’m talking about both patients and staff) and some stay longer. All the time the speciality develops and grows and we all play a part in this. You will learn new tricks on the way – and some of you may even learn to dialyse yourselves and go home (anyone interested, see me or just ask the reception team for the Training Unit).
I will finish this inaugural blog with a quote which I saw in a Cancer Unit.
‘This may not be the Party we wanted to be invited to, but while we are here, we may as well dance.’
I have to say that you will not dance alone – we will be with you all the way.
AKA Janet Walker
Renal Training Unit