I love my job – the practical aspect of it. I hate the politics and the bickering and the bitching but I love the hands-on, front line part of it. Every day I meet a diverse range of patients. Some are grumpy, some are scared, some are even flirtatious but most of them are really nice and very interesting.
In my Phlebotomy role, I get the same old tired jokes every day about Dracula’s daughter and vampires etc. but I just laugh and pretend it’s the first time I’ve heard them. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been given a re-run of the famous Tony Hancock’s Blood Donor sketch.
And here’s a funny one for you – such are the daily challenges of my high-pressure job that the other day I was smacked across the face by a kindly old dear who lulled me into the false belief that she was a sweetly serene old lady . . . Hello dear, what a pleasant girl you are. Yes, of course you can do a blood test. You’re all doing such a wonderful job. What would we do without you angels?
So far, so good but as soon as that needle went in, up came her arm and . . . slap . . . right across my face! Hey, get that thing out right now you cheeky young madam! How dare you!
Of course the slap didn’t hurt a bit. She was a tiny, frail old lady. And calling me a young madam might have helped soften the blow but I have to say, it was a bit of a shock. Yes, I was quite literally gob-smacked. I haven’t been smacked across the face since I was about ten years old when my dad heard me call my brother a puff. I remember it clearly. I thought he wouldn’t hear me because he was snoozing in his armchair. Even when he got up and came towards me I still thought I’d got away with it – I thought he was getting up to switch TV channels (no remote controls in them dark days) but nope, just like the potty old dear from the ward, he was cunning. He got up without even looking at me, then in a flash, his hand struck me right across the chops. Bloody git didn’t even give me a fighting chance to dodge him.
Anyway, as I was saying about the cross old dear on the ward, apart from being slightly shocked and swiftly put in my place, I was none-the-worse from my little smack. My colleague advised me to fill in incident form but I said it was ludicrous to waste time on such administrative excesses over a simple slapped cheek which I probably deserved anyway. She was confused and I’m sure that in her healthy state, she would never dream of doing such a thing.
But whatever shape or size, I love all the patients, from the grumpy to the pleasantly puddled. Sometimes, they’re only grumpy because they’re anxious. But for all their individuality and their differences, the one thing all patients have in common is their vulnerability – their dependence on our skills to take care of them and reassure them. And as health care workers we should always remember and respect this. From consultants to auxiliary nurses, as health care workers we are there to be compassionate care-givers and and a friendly bedside manner can make a world of difference to the patients experience.