Friday, May 26, 2006

So what you been doing then?

OK, well...

I've settled into my new home, my new job, and my new city. Sort of. All three have been not without their trials and tribulations, but I'm getting there, I reckon.

We're settled into our grrrrroovy apartment in Collingwood, just a spit from the city and the funky [and slightly seedy] Smith and Brunswick Streets. We have some furniture, a base to live our lives from, and we do feel like we have a home now. Currently, we also have a waif and stray blown in from the UK living in our lounge - our good friend Jenny, who lived here for a couple of years a while back. Treats the place like a hotel, she does. And she's very welcome to, of course.

The job is really, really busy; really, really stressful at times. But I've learned a lot already, and I seem to be fitting in OK. It's just different from what I'm used to - "Adult" [sic] Psych Nursing is a different sort of nursing to older age mental health, that's for sure. I'd always been kind of dismissive of the people who said that older age is a speciality that is hugely different to "normal" mental health nursing. But I have to concede that they're right - or at the very least that they're two different specilaities, requiring specific skills, processes and a particular kind of mindset to cope with the stresses.

The biggest difference in my current job is the huge co-morbidity of drug use, something that is rarely found amongst the over-65s, but oh-so-prevalent in huge swathes of the younger population here in Melbourne. The anti-social tendencies that this can engender, and the utter madness [and I don't use that term lightly or irreverently] I've seen has been a real eye-opener, horrific in its intensity and destruction. It's not that it wasn't present back in Blighty, but simply that I was a student when I last seriously encountered it, whereas I'm now responsible for the care of these people.

Now, I know that some of my audience here may have inhaled at some point or another and may be a little blasé, but if you'd been susceptible to one of the major mental illnesses this may well have seriously messed up your lives by now [yeah, I know, here I am, Mr Liberal-pot-calling-kettle-black (pun intended), reborn as anti-drugs puritan - who'd have forseen that one?].

Each drug has both its effect and horrible side effect, whether it be cannabis, speed [amphetamnines], Ice [AKA crystal meth], heroin or cocaine... all have differing but often devastating effects on the mental and physical health of so many of my new client group.

Anyway, I'm off at a tangent already, so I'll shut up about this, lest you see me as some new James Anderton-type intolerant scumbag. Which takes my thoughts back to my beloved Manchester... sigh. Funny how even the darkest memories can make me wistful for my home town...

They've given me a load of responsibility at work already - I discovered on my third night shift that I was in charge of the ward... khaki trousers time, especially when we had a medical emergency the very same night [we all survived, patient included].

And last week, my first back on days, guess what? My first [and again, unexpected] daytime in-charge shift. And it was THE busiest and most chaotic day anyone can remember. Which, I hasten to add, was not due to my mismanagement, but a series of coincidences including four admissions, 3 discharges, 2 violent patients, a full ward with a queue of potential clients waiting in the Emergency Dept etc. etc.

Lots of my colleagues are graduates, in their first few months of psych work [you train as a general nurse here, then do a grad year in a specialty], so I'm a senior nurse [with my share of "senior moments", to boot] and a lot expected of me. It's been pretty tough, but I seem to be doing OK. I have my regular bouts of low self-esteem / major crises of self-doubt and self-loathing, but Claud, bless her, does her best to pick me up, pamper me, and talk me back down from my tree. What would I do without her?

On the positive side... it only takes 15-20 minutes to get to work each day, I pass over the Yarra River and cop a magnificent view of the city, down past the MCG [dreaming of Ashes Glory next summer], the clock on the silo [and yes, it sometimes says eleven degrees - don't worry if you don't get the reference - it's a Paul Kelly song beloved of Claud and I].

And... talking of which, anyone who seriously wants tickets for the Ashes next January/February should contact us as soon as poss - tickets are on sale on 1st June!

And the city? I do love this city. I will effuse about it further on subsequent blogs, no doubt, but it's good to be here, even as winter rapidly approaches. And I can confirm that it does get cold here, despite C's previous protestations to the contrary. She's finally sussed that she doesn't feel the cold like us normal cold-blooded reptiles do [must be the marsupial gene]. But it's not proper cold... after 20-odd years of driving, I discovered the best windscreen ice-scraper just as we left the UK, and find there is no use for it here unless we head to the mountains of the Victorian Alps.

Going out plenty, now I'm awake in normal hours. The food here is fantastic and eating out is pretty cheap, though somehow I seem to have mislaid around a stone, despite this [if anyone has any information about its whereabouts, all information will be treated confidentially].

Went to Soulmama veggie restaurant for a scrummy meal and top night-time view of the bay last night, followed by seeing one of my favourite bands for the first time [it was also Claud's first time, so we popped our cherries together... aaaaah!]. The band is Melbourne's very own Something for Kate, at the seminal Prince of Wales in St Kilda, along with friends from the UK Anna & Kev. They were, of course, fantastic. As were the band. Boom Boom.

More soon...

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