When I left nursing I’d get messages from friends of particularly difficult shifts or see reports on the news of accidents and incidents that I just knew would result in pressure for the team. My friends would tell me of short staffing, under resourcing, pandemics and systemic failings. Stories of extra night shifts, holidays cancelled and family celebrations not attended. They’d say to me ‘I bet you don’t miss it!’ They were wrong. It’s a vocation with challenges, but also with so many rewards. The shift from panic to relief as an asthmatic fills their lungs, the relaxation of a death grip as pain relief takes the edge off a broken bone, the satisfaction of seeing sinus rhythm on the screen after three rounds of defibrillation, the absolute relief as a baby screams, having moments before been blue & floppy. Even when the worst happened, there was a sense of purpose in giving people dignity and respect as they breathed their last, in reassuring family that everything was done to give their loved one a chance. It was an honour and a privilege to provide care to people at their most vulnerable. Then there were my colleagues. A&E staff are like eventers – they are jack of all trades, able to revel in chaos, make life changing decisions on the fly, are singularly without ego as they recognise they are nothing without the other members of their team, have the ability to have five jobs on the go yet still concentrate fully on the task at hand and can operate for days fuelled on nothing but adrenaline & caffeine. I missed it. I still do. Not enough to return mind you, but enough to have a yearning every now and then. I find myself assessing and diagnosing while watching TV shows (irritability, light sensitivity, non-blanching rash = meningococcal meningitis – you’re going to have to make it more difficult New Amsterdam!) and watching my ex-colleagues step up to incredible challenges with pride (as in the recent Christchurch terror attack).
Here in the U.K. we are in the midst of a ‘summer’ equestrian season. I use the term summer very loosely. This time last year was endless days of epic sunshine, warm temperatures and a draw to spend every second possible in the outdoors. This year we are celebrating if the thermometer hits the mid teens and it’s not sleeting sideways. As I write this Bolesworth Horse Show have announced they are closed to the public with standing water posing a threat to life & limb. My Facebook feed is full of photos of horses knee deep in mud, of riders ending up soaked through to their pants after 20 minutes of rushed schooling, of abandoned events. People are talking about early starts, late finishes, shows not going to plan, riders falling off, lorries breaking down. I, on the other hand, am warm and dry. My weekends are my own (or at least my family’s), I’ve had time to play tourist with both my sister & my mother while they are visiting. I’ve seen friends, had time to walk the dog and am only a couple of seasons behind in my favourite box sets. And yet I’d give almost anything to be out amongst the horse people. I put my hand up now to admit that I am full on green-eyed monster, steam coming out from ears, jealous. I’d give almost anything to have that pull on my time, my energy, my money.
At the moment there is no end in sight. Des is firmly ensconced in his new home and Frankie still has another 4 months in the field before we reassess – and to be perfectly frank it’s not looking good. I simply can’t afford to buy another. Five years of battling the Home Office, unscrupulous visa agents, aggressive lawyers and dodgy businesspeople has left us with nothing to spare. I’m not complaining though – as someone pointed out to me this week, people lie and break promises all the time – such is life, exactly the same as horses getting injured. I know that I am privileged to have the opportunity to live the life that I do, and experience the things that I can. I have tried to give up riding once before and failed miserably. I know that the desire to ride and train is what drives me, what gives my life meaning. I’m trying very hard to be patient and accept that my current position is only temporary. It’s not going well. I really am pleased for my friends who are doing well and empathetic with those who are struggling, but I will confess that deep down I am simply jealous. Mud, wet pants, failures, falls and all.
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