Here we go again.

I had worked in the endoscopy unit for 6 years as a regular SRN until I got promoted to deputy charge nurse. Since endoscopy already had a deputy charge nurse, it meant I had to transfer to another unit or ward where there was a vancancy. And that’s how I ended up at the day surgery unit.

And four years later, history repeats itself. I got promoted to charge nurse now and once again I have been uprooted. 

It’s like being in an entirely new job. Yes, I’m still a nurse. But the differences between wards are huge. There is so much more to nursing than one’s skills. A lot of it involves knowing where stuff is and the logistics and systems of that ward. 

And of course, the people. The staff. The patients. 

The first three days are always the hardest. When I walked in on that fateful Monday morning, there they were, my new underlings, so-to-speak, staring at me. And even though I have been working in hospital for 11 years now, I did not know anyone, bar two of them who were students of mine aeons ago. And I know what they were all thinking:

Is she a bitch?

Is she going to change everything?

Are we going to hate her?

Are we going to love her?

Is she going to love us?

Does she have skills or is she an office princess?

The thing is, I was not the only one going through a major change; they were too. The nurses and nurse’s aides and the rest of them. And it’s not easy no matter which side of the spectrum you fall on.

It’s really hard, because I need to lead, but at the same time require a lot of help from those who are meant to follow me. 

I remember once in my previous setting, I lost my temper during a phone call with a care worker. He couldn’t handle it and tried to pass me on to someone else. Not realizing I could hear every single background noise, he said ‘listen, can someone talk to the dragon of the day care unit?’

I was stunned. I always considered myself innocuous. Is that how I was seen? As a fire-breathing dragon?

The hospital grapevine is long, entwined and very strong. I only hope that such a reputation does not precede me.

It’s been a week now and I’m slowly finding my feet. I’m getting to know everyone and they are less wary of me. They can see for themselves that I’m not going to turn them into kebabs with my apparent pyrotechnic abilities.

Change is good. It’s scary, but it’s good. Especially when it comes to career. It prevents you from growing stagnant and boring. I’m a firm believer in taking life by the horns and grabbing at it and having as many experiences as possible. Otherwise how can you say you have really lived?

And maybe I really am a dragon. Just not one that breathes fire. More like a magic one, who lives by the sea. A protective one. 

Only instead of frolicking in the autumn mist, I bustle about in chest infections and uncontrolled hyperglycaemia.

Here we go.

    
 

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Run for your life.

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Fun Run. Never have I seen more of an oxymoron in all of my life.

Fun pub crawl.

Fun shopping trip.

Fun restaurant.

Yes. Those are fun things.

Running, is not fun. At all. It is sweaty and painful. It makes me nauseous and causes my chest to heave. It makes my face redder than a horny cat’s knob. It almost makes you feel like you are about to die.

However my two main mottos in life are ‘if it comes easy, it is not worth having’ and that ‘life begins at the end of your comfort zone’. So I run. And I can assure you, it’s not comfortable.

And because I never do thing by halves, I have decided to sign myself up for a half marathon. Yep. 21km.

I must be out of my mind.

Correction: I AM out of my mind.

To date, the longest I have managed to run is 12km and it took me two hours. And yesterday my coach wanted us to pick up speed and I really struggled and that was only 4km.

How the Hell am I going to run 21km by February???

Our group is divided into the beginners and the advanced. The advanced ones run so beautifully. They look like gazelles. Hardly a touch of redness, just the healthy glow of good circulation. Their breathing is rhythmic, easy. They laugh and chuckle when they finish their laps, saying things like ‘oh, that was a tough one!’ and they would have done 8 laps in comparison to my three.

I do not look like a gazelle. I tend to channel frustrated-hippo. My skin turns into a ripe shade of puce, kind of like a pickled beetroot. I breathe like an elephant with a peanut wedged up his trunk. When I finish my three laps, I can’t speak, let alone chuckle. More like up-chuckle, as I try to control the waves of nausea.

However, I do feel oddly alive. And like I am part of something great. And the sense of achievement is immense. And with every training session, it honestly gets easier. My legs get stronger, my technique gets better. Even my breathing has evened out somewhat.

So many people have approached me saying they admire me but are ‘too unfit’ to try take up running. But all it takes is getting on some trainers and pummelling the pavement. Start slow. First walk one kilometre. Then the next time, walk it faster. The next time, break into a jog and slowly but surely, you will soon be able to run. A lot of it is in the mind. The whole ‘I’m too unfit’ thing is a vicious circle at the end of the day: if you are too unfit to run, how do you plan on getting fit? By not moving? Or by just thinking about it? It all starts with one step and the courage to take it.

Speaking about courage…my lovely little cousin (well, not so little anymore, she is 23 now, I think) had the brilliant idea to create a team for us in order to raise awareness and possibly funds for breast cancer. So not only are we getting fitter, but we are doing so for a good cause. She called our team ‘Putting your breast foot forward’. One can tell we are related.

So running. Yes indeed. I do it without a hint of grace. But I do it. And hopefully I can run a half marathon and live to tell the tale.

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Murder because she wrote.

I wasn’t going to write about this because I thought what can I say that others didn’t? But at the end of the day, I felt a kind of inner need to write as I do have something to say, whether it’s deemed cliche or whether the subject has been deemed exhausted.

For those not in the know, on the 16th of October a Maltese journalist and blogger was brutally murdered by a car bomb. Her name was Daphne. 

That’s what all the headlines said.

What they did not say was that this woman was a wife and a mother. She was somebody’s sister. Somebody’s best friend. She was young, in her early fifties. She adored her children. She was proud of her son who won a Pulitzer Prize in journalism. Yes. An actual Pulitzer for following in her footsteps.

On the night of the 16th, I could not sleep. I could not stop thinking about her family, her parents…I couldn’t stop thinking what could be running through their heads? The grief. The anger.

And then I couldn’t stop thinking of all those who have been murdered due to their jobs…there was a social worker who got killed in her car I think in the 80s…I thought of Karin Grech who got murdered in her father’s stead…and other journalists like Daniel Pearl…

I’m not going to go into the merits of her writing. Because, frankly, I do not care. I read her work pretty religiously, so I say ‘frankly, I do not care’ with responsibility. Because she was more than what she wrote. 

However that, her writing , is what got her killed, some may say. It’s not what I say. 

Wanna know what got her killed?

Cowardice. Cowardice got her killed. Because she found out stuff about people and they were scared. Scared that life as they know it could come crumbling down because of the scribblings of one woman. 

I believe anything and everything can be worked out. That is if one has the courage to admit they were wrong and face up to a problem with honesty. As I grow older, I realise that the very concept of courage is becoming more and more of a mythical fairytale. 

Daphne was brave. She knew how the siege mentality works. She knew that there was a chance that something bad could happen. But she stood for something. And if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.

And to make Daphne fall, the most deadly of bombs was required, which although morbid, is really something.

Her death shows that someone, somewhere has something to hide.

And the truth does come out. Sometimes it’s not so obvious. But it surfaces eventually.

You know how we are constantly warned how whatever is on the internet is out there forever and can never really and truly be deleted? Heh heh heh. Yes. 

May she Rest In Peace. May her family find a way forward. 

May we all find a way forward.

  

Rape culture is a thing.

11th-Principle-image-1024x906rape-culture-andmedia1-6-728When I was 14, it was summer time and I had a growth spurt. It was 1997 and frayed denim shorts were all the rage. I had all of a sudden grown tall and a bit leggy. The only reason why I was remotely aware of it was because my shorts were just a tad shorter than last year, but I never thought much of it. I went down the road to meet a friend and half way there, a man next to me brushed my thigh with his hand and said ‘hmmmm….’ and walked away. I was a little spooked and I told my friend about it. And she told me:

‘Well, those shorts are a little too small for you now. You should have thought before putting them on.’

And all of a sudden, it was my fault that a grown man did not know better than to touch a fourteen year-old child.

And this is what rape culture is all about. We are taught from a very young age not to provoke men, rather than men being taught from a young age not to touch women. It is why women stand in front of the mirror and ask themselves ‘is this too much cleavage?’ ‘Is this skirt too short?’ ‘Am I asking for it?’

Now I am not saying that some items of clothing are not in poor taste…but taste is subjective. And having poor taste in clothes is not consent.

I had a seriously long debate with a guy friend of mine about an article he posted. The article was written by a man who was pissed off at a woman who put her bag on the seat next to her on a train that was getting full. He insinuated that she was being selfish and simply wanted two seats to herself. I thought this was particularly short sighted. I am 99.9% certain that woman put her bag on her seat to prevent some man from sitting next to her. Are there good men out there? Of course there are. Are there bad men out there? Yes there are too. We have been taught from birth not to risk the bad ones, by being told not to wear short dresses or low-cut tops. So putting a bag on your adjacent, empty seat is prevention too. But of course, that’s selfish. However, insinuating that a woman’s shorts are consent is not selfish at all. Nope.

Do all men grope? No, of course not. But not all people steal either, but everyone puts a lock on their door. And nobody takes issue with that. And that’s because stealing is considered a much bigger offence than my breast being grabbed against my will. The thing is, you can replace stuff or move home if you feel your space has been violated. But I get one body. And dignity cannot be replaced.

Rape culture is a thing. It is unfortunate that it is a thing.

Reasons why rape culture is a thing:

  1. People believe that wearing short skirts/shorts/crop tops get you‘what you deserve’. That does not hold water because all sorts of women get raped, even nuns in a veil and women in a burqa. Also, wearing a crop top is not a crime, but raping someone is. And we all have control over our bodies, which is what differentiates us from animals.
  2. People brush off groping and harassment as nothing or a joke. It is not a joke. I have never laughed at someone who said to me ‘ah, that bum, can you sit on my face?’ What I feel is uncomfortable and a bit afraid.
  3. At school, girls are constantly taught not to provoke men. Boys are not constantly taught to respect women. At school, we were taught that we need to learn how to tell boys ‘stop’. Were the boys taught to listen to the ‘stop’? Or not to start in the first place unless explicitly invited?

 

And it is especially bad when women enable rape culture. When women say ‘oh, she was drunk and asking for it’ or ‘well, she dresses like a slut’. No. No, no, no, no, no! Women need to think that everyone is allowed to be who they want to be without danger! And they must be outraged when this doesn’t happen!

And I feel sad that I need to write this article. Sad and angry and that so many people do not get it. That so many people think it’s their ‘opinion’ that if a girl shows some skin, she’s asking to be groped/cat-called/raped. This is not about opinions. This is about feeling equally safe as other members of society.

 

I Kangoo, can you?

In my never-ending quest for physical fitness and my fear of boredom, I decided to give Kangoo fitness a try.

Oh. My. God.

Yes. This workout has reduced me to utter an ‘OMG’ so teenage that my acne is getting acne. It was incredibly taxing and so strenuous that at a point I honestly felt a bit physically ill.

So, what is a Kangoo workout?

No, you do not wear a pouch and act like an Australian pest.

No, you do not pour canned goo on the floor and slide about in it.

What you do is put on boots that weigh two kilograms a piece with concave springs at the bottom and do a complicated aerobics routine for an hour.

Sounds cool and fun, right?

It is sort of cool and innovative, but fun it is not.

Because the moment you are stationary on these boots, you will feel like you may topple over if you are not a seasoned Kangoo-er. You probably will not, but the sensation is there and it’s very frightening. Channel Mr.Wobbly Man from Noddy. My extra girth does not help.

I am happy to report however that in the class there weren’t only size 6 supermodels. And everyone was super nice and accepting and helpful.

The first task was actually getting the boots on. They are cumbersome and you need to be sitting down. Getting them on is a workout within itself. And once you have one boot on, it is almost impossible to get the second one on by yourself because the springy part is in an oval shape with quite a large diameter. So all of a sudden, your booted foot makes one leg much longer than the other. The boots are like strait-jackets for your feet, with a number of buckles and pulley mechanisms to strap everything into place. Another member of class strapped me in.

Then there was getting up off the chair. I was so determined to get this right that I kept refusing help and I actually managed to get up without breaking my teeth. I soon realised that it was like I had tiny rocking chairs on my feet, only instead of a squat and stable chair on top of the rockers, there was my large, perpendicular and unstable body up there. And due to the proportions and architecture of my body on a set of rockers, I soon found out that if I do not move continuously I would probably lose my balance. So I had to springingly pace about for ten minutes until class was ready to begin. Another member of class asked me why don’t I sit down until class starts, and as tempting as that was, I knew that if I sat down, getting up again would be such a gargantuan task that it was simply not worth the trouble.

We had to walk across the busy gym to get to the studio wearing these massive boots. It was alright for the others, they looked just fine, but there I was, wobbling about in the middle of a room full of uber fit men. I was actually walking with my hands outstretched to keep balance and one guy had to put down his weights to have a good old fashioned giggle. Good times, fun stuff.

And then the actual exercise began. To be honest, I was already exhausted from trying to wear the damn boots and the slight humiliation. The music started pumping and we began.

Oh Jesus. Did we begin. The BOUNCE BOUNCE BOUNCE BOUNCE of the springs against the parquet was deafening. It almost put me in a hypnotic trance. A lot of it is done on one leg at a time, like: left leg forward BOUNCE BOUNCE, right leg forward BOUNCE BOUNCE, left leg backward BOUNCE BOUNCE, right leg backward BOUNCE BOUNCE. This was impossible for me. Every time I tried to BOUNCE BOUNCE on one leg, I lost my footing and almost BOUNCE BOUNCED on my cranium. I could do the jumping jacks and twisty movements just fine. Other than that, I mostly jogged.

With all the bouncy movements, suddenly I began to feel nauseous. My stomach felt like it was in my throat and I wanted to retch. I had eaten a cereal bar more than an hour and a half before, so it was not that. Then the woman in front of me farted. It was all that jumping wrecking havoc on her bowels. It was smelly and deep. The whiff of drainage, rotten eggs and Doritos soared up my nostrils and triggered the wish to vomit so badly that I had to pause and move away. At the back of the class there are some metal bars to be able to lean against if you begin to feel like you might need CPR. Or fumigation.

Finally the end of the hour approached and we were able to take off our boots and do some stretching. By then I was so spent, that I did not even have the energy to lift my arms. Also, my legs were so sweaty that when I knelt down on the mat, I slipped and did a weird kneeling split and was so exhausted that I couldn’t be arsed to try and correct the obscene stance I had accidentally found myself in and kept doing the upper body stretching, a bit like an exhibitionist air-traffic controller.

The instructor was a real sweetheart. Really lovely. After class she told me to hang around so she could see how I did.

Instructor: so how was it?

TERRIBLE. AWFUL.

Me: Oh, great!

Instructor: would you like to come again?

HELLLL NO.

Me: ummm…maybe…

Instructor: was it tough?

DOES A BEAR SHIT IN THE WOODS?

Me: well, yeah but it is a great workout.

And that was that. I am not sure if I will ever do this one again, it’s a bit too tough even though I am convinced that it is very effective.

I think I’ll leave all things ‘kanga’-related to the marsupials.

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I don’t dance. I Zumba.

I cannot dance. I absolutely cannot dance. As some of you may know, I am a performer, mostly stand-up comedy now but whenever I would be in a play I would always have the fear of God in me if they wanted to end with a dance number. I would tell the director to put me in the back behind the tallest cast-member and pray that nobody would notice that my brain and my feet move at two totally different wavelengths.
So I really do not know what possessed me to try Zumba. I think it is precisely because I cannot dance and this kind of provides an unintimidating way to at least learn some choreography and shed a few kilos while I was at it.
So I walk into Zumba class and for once I am not the largest woman in the room. I see ladies of all shapes and sizes and all ages. I immediately feel encouraged. I begin to think ‘Ok, if Betty White over there can do this, so can I!’
 So the music starts and we begin to warm up. 

The instructor moves to the left.

I immediately go to the right and bump into the classmate next to me. 
The instructor moves her right hand and does this elegant wave thing.
I lift my left foot and kick an invisible football. And the poor classmate next to me.
The instructor does this light, skippity-skip to the side.
I see the poor classmate next to me visibly make a conscience effort to get out of my way.
Instructor wriggles sexily.
Class wriggles sexily.
I wriggle like an overweight caterpillar in a cocoon that’s woven too tightly. And I begin to feel a bit of a pillock. 

The instructor is super encouraging and has so much energy. She shouts out ‘whoop! Whoop!’ in time to the beat and to get the class to let go of the worries of the day. And they all respond with a resounding, joyous ‘WHOOP WHOOP!’
And while the class are clapping and doing a clockwise turn and of course I’m going in the opposite direction, all of a sudden it all falls into place:
Nobody cares. Nobody cares that I am very bad at Zumba. Nobody is observing me. Nobody is out to taunt me or make me feel like shit. Because really and truly, we are all bad at Zumba albeit the very few.

But you know what? It honestly doesn’t matter. We are all there for one common goal: to try and keep fit without killing ourselves. And that’s what I truly love about Zumba: it’s a good workout without crippling you from exhaustion and muscle pain. It is very, very doable because you can calibrate the difficulty level. And there is something very positive about it: a kind of community atmosphere, where we are all crap, we know it and we are celebrating it.

So a big, big yes to Zumba because it’s challenging but entertaining and a really decent workout. 
And I’m so busy concentrating on not maiming anybody that it really is a stress reliever because my mind isn’t giving me an opportunity to think about anything else. And I’ve been stepping on people a whole lot less lately.

    
 

Death by trampoline.

In my constant battle of the bulge, I must not allow things to get boring. Boredom is the enemy of a consistent workout routine. Boredom and packets of fruitella. And wispa bars. 

So when I saw a trampoline workout, I was really rather intrigued. As I mentioned in a previous post, I was always freakily good at the sack race at school, which basically involved jumping for dear life in a confined space, so I thought ‘hey, this should be right up my alley!’ On the Facebook page it was insinuated that it’s a cool and fun way to work out, so why not?

So as soon as I arrive, a seasoned trampoliner greeted me with ‘oh, are you new? This is great, you will have a lot of fun!’ Then the beautiful blonde instructor shook my hand and said that I just need to bend my knees, small jumps and to relax and also: have fun.

Hmmmm. The ‘f’ word again. Do you remember when you were a child and about to embark on something unpleasant like extra maths lessons or the influenza vaccine, all the adults around you would go on and on about how good it was for you and how great for your spirit doing said unpleasant thing would be? Yeah. 

So as the other members of the class trickled in and got up on their individual trampolines, I got a good look around the room, which was not difficult because we were surrounded by these awful full-length mirrors. And I realised quickly that I was the fattest lady in the room. All the others were size 6 whippets. I noticed their cute little movements as they bounced lightly to warm up. They reminded me of when one sieves powdered sugar to lightly dust mince pies. I, on the other hand, look like a large and ill-constructed dumpling  thrown into a bowl of tepid broth.

Then the music started and the workout began. It’s as strenuous and awful as aerobics but made more awful because you are also constantly jumping on a trampoline. And in my case, trying not to fall off. The burning sensation in my ankles and calves was immediate. Everything was bouncing. Every appendage was bouncing. If I had large breasts I would have ended up with a black eye. Also perhaps not the best exercise routine to perform on one’s period since a buoyant, shedding endometrial lining is not the most comfortable sensation while being on a trampoline. I think my tampon shed a few calories in that hour too.

And of course, those mirrors. In spite of the horror that is this exercise routine, I could not help giggling when catching a glimpse of my puce, moist self bouncing disgracefully next to my most beautiful grasshopper counterparts and feel my dignity descending into hell and having tea and scones with lucifer, discussing how indeed did he conjure up the idea of a trampoline workout. 

This workout is as fun as being poked in the eye with a hedgehog.

But, that being said, it is a great workout. And strangely, I am not sore this morning because the instructor is more than competent and even though I may resemble a steamed oriental snack, I am actually quite physically fit.

So yes, I will go back. I bet it’s one of those things that get easier the more you do it. And maybe the fun factor develops in time. I’m optimistic.