The most wonderful time of the year…for rudeness.

I have been a nurse for a really long time now, four years of training and eleven years of practice. However, people’s rudeness still astounds me. Still! I am totally ok with the excrement, sputum, blood and vomit but the sheer rudeness of the general population still stops me in my tracks and shocks me.

Now I am incredibly understanding. I get it. It’s Christmas time, you are in hospital and you are shit scared and surrounded by strangers. I get it. Manners are not high on your priority list right now. But the weird thing is, being an obnoxious brute seems to be way up there on the priority list, and it is excercised frequently. 

Here are some scenarios:

1) one guy rings the nurse call button and when you go to see what’s up, he keeps you there with demand after demand. And don’t think he asks nicely: nurse, panadols! Nurse, coffee! Nurse, arrange my pillows! This guy is far from helpless, he’s up and about and can easily make his own coffee….but no, his taxes pay for my wages, so he wants the full experience. I considered throwing the coffee in his face so he could also experience the burns unit, possibly even the ophthalmic department. 

2) I just walked in the ward at 6.45am, I open my office and begin to take off my scarf and jacket to take handover from the night nurses, when a pajama clad old male patient just storms in and begins to quiz me about his health. I have literally just arrived from home. I only really know about the health of my cat at that moment (independent, definitely not nil by mouth). I couldn’t even be sure exactly of my husband’s health as he was still in dreamland when I left that morning. And when I ask him to give me a minute, he just talks over me, demanding answers. 

Patient: how are my blood results? Will I get discharged today? Did my urine test show anything? Would you like some sputum?

Me: I just walked in, I still need to take handover, then I’ll answer any questions you have…

Patient: aren’t you the nurse in charge??? You’re supposed to know! 

Me: oh yes, of course, Mr. New-admission-whom-I’ve-never-met-before! Your haemoglobin levels show that you are going to turn into a unicorn! Yep! I think I will take a stool sample, take it to the lab and have them examine it for glitter, just to be sure. 

Of course, that is not what I said, but you can see what I’m dealing with here.

3) we have exstensive visiting hours at hospital. 11.30am-13.00 and then from 15.00-20.00. Why, oh why do people want to come in that hour and a half in between to visit their loved ones? And must you really call me names under your breath when I ask you to leave?

4) relatives, I understand that you love the patient and feel helpless in the face of illness and that you really want to help. But by doing so through approaching the nurses about some ridiculous need perceived by you and not the patient is not the way. I overheard this conversation in one of the rooms during visiting hours:

Visitor: shall I get you something?

Patient: no, I’m fine.

Visitor: I’ll go ask the nurses to make you tea…

Patient: no, I can’t have tea today…

Visitor: of course you can! I’ll go tell them!

And sure enough, this woman oozing with self-importance comes bustling up to me at the nursing station.

Visitor: my relative wants some tea! You can make her some!

Me: actually, I can’t…

Visitor: well, if you won’t, I will, my goodness!

Me: no, no…she has to remain nil by mouth, no food or drink as she has a procedure this afternoon…

Visitor: oh…

Yes, ‘oh’. Now get out of my nurses station, troglodyte. 

So yes. The most wonderful time of the year. And yes, I am an absolute river of ongoing patience and understanding. But I draw the line at rudeness and treating people who are helping you with a disrespect most blatant. Maybe it is because of our Mediterranean blood that makes us so hot headed and boisterous. I know it’s difficult, but sometimes it is beneficial to all parties to put that gear into neutral for a while.

And yes, your taxes pay my wages…but it costs nothing to be a decent human being.



A very merry Christmas.

Christmas has rolled itself around once again. I usually love this time of year, but it’s usual merriment is kind of marred by the fact that I have changed my job and I now run a ward.

And it is a fantastic, wonderful ward with wonderful people in it. They are truly shining stars, every last one of them. The nurses, the nursing aides and carers, the cleaners…all of them first class.

However, it is very, very stressful. 

1) I took over from the ward’s previous nursing officer, whom the staff all adored. And with good reason, she is great. I am constantly worried that I don’t measure up and that they are all saying ‘how I wish the other nursing officer comes back and we can get rid of this red headed ditz.’

2) I have been away from ward life for a year. A lot of things have changed in a year. I am constantly learning new things and as the leader I feel like I should know more than anyone. But the fact of the matter is, I don’t and it makes me worry that my staff will lose confidence in me.

3) The shift and leave system is majorly complicated. I don’t wish to change it because the staff are happy with it. But it will take me time to really get used to it. However, in the meantime the staff can’t stop taking leave for my convenience. Which leads me to my next point:

4) I am so afraid of making a mistake. Because if I make a mistake the staff will suffer which is precisely what I absolutely don’t want.

5) Christmas time is a nursing officer’s nightmare. Leave, nobody wants to come in for overtime, everybody has events they want to go to, Christmas and New Year’s concessions to organize…

The problem is that I care so much. I really, really do. Last week, I made my first mistake: I told someone they could not take leave when they actually, clearly could because I had read the wrong page on our roster book and got confused. And somehow, at 11pm it occurred to me that I might have read the wrong page and there was nothing I could do about it. I got so horribly upset. I could not believe that I did just what I was trying so hard to avoid.

It was all ok in the end, but I still feel really bad about it. But I know I’ll never make that mistake ever again.

I always think the same thing: it’s almost a virtue to be able to not give a shit. I stress out so much because I am really, really trying to do my very best.

I just hope it’s good enough.

God bless us, everyone.


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.


Run for your life.


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.


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?


Me: Oh, great!

Instructor: would you like to come again?


Me: ummm…maybe…

Instructor: was it tough?


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.