I haven’t been to work since New Year’s Eve. It was a seriously needed break. I’m rested, I go back to hospital tomorrow for my 6.30am shift ready and rearing to go.

Well, actually no, not really.

I loved having some time to just focus on myself. I look upon tomorrow with dread. We will probably be short of staff, full to the brim with both medical and surgical patients and I’ll probably be in charge of the mess all by myself. And I will spend my day dealing with problems, most of them caused by other personnel but happen to land in my lap.

And that’s ok. Yes, I am a deputy charge nurse and it comes with the territory. However, apart from solving problems I am also pushing stretchers, making beds, passing out bedpans, answering call bells, doing checklists and all the other nursing paraphernalia. 

Could I refuse to do all the regular SRN stuff? Probably yes. But probably the reason why I’m an effective deputy is because I am not a boss, I’m a leader. 

This picture explains it well:

There are many deputies and charge-nurses who lock themselves up in the office and hardly know their staff’s names. I don’t want to be one of those. Also, my nursing skills are very much up to date and I would not want them to go to waste. 

However this Christmas was really the pits. I was alone a lot. We had loads of medical problems and social problems with elderly patients. And at the apex of this chaos, I got rather ill. It was a really bad cold, I think I even had a little fever. I felt rotten and run down and my face was red and blotchy from the constant nose-blowing.

And I went to work anyway. Because someone else was on sick leave and another on regular leave and if I had called in sick, the managers would have to tell the person on leave to come in. And the guilt of that happening outweighed how awful my cold was. 

Probably whoever is reading this is thinking ‘what an idiot! She jeopardised her health for a colleague who probably doesn’t give a shit about her!’ And yes, you are totally right. It was a totally stupid thing to do, because apart from making myself worse, I could have potentially infected my colleagues and my patients. 

Thank God I am better now and had a lovely new year away from work. And in this past week, I had a serious think about my life. And I concluded that really and truly, as I take charge and steer my ward towards the most beneficial outcome, I should take the same charge with my life. It is hard to think of myself as more than a nurse…but I am many, many more things. 

Hence why my resolution is so personal. It is time to change focus. It is time to live for me, to give the due importance to those I really care about. Instead of spreading myself so thin, I will concentrate on giving my best self to those who actually deserve it. And for once I realise that that includes me, too.

I am Marie-Claire, the nurse.

 But first and foremost I am Marie-Claire.