Monthly Archives: June 2009

Fully induced

My two weeks’ induction is over and this weekend, my first working weekend, I have been properly on shift. It’s nice working in a place where that doesn’t feel too much like being dropped in at the deep end, though, as I can ask five million questions without seeming to irritate a soul and everyone is happy to bail me out when I don’t know quite what to do or how to do it. They seem to have an endless bank of patience and will show me again and again.

So this weekend was a little scary – I didn’t feel ready to be responsible for anyone or anything – but also immense fun. A strange feeling this weekend having fun with someone else’s children while a different someone else had fun with mine.

So now I am sitting here with my shoes off and my top off – it’s so incredibly hot and humid – and wishing I didn’t have to make myself respectable to go and meet the Smudgelet after his Alton Towers experience!

Working weekends

Working at the weekend seems odd – I can see me losing all track of what day it is altogether.
The Smudgelet is away this weekend and it’s my first weekend working. Lucky devil’s gone to Alton Towers with the Sprouts. Strange place to camp, though!

Plan for today is to tackle the kitchen, take the cat for a walk, go to work, and put some clothes on, not necessarily in that order. Hopefully if the kitchen and the lounge look like habitable rooms, I can simply close the doors on the rest of the rooms when the minister comes for coffee on Monday.

In case you’re wondering…

I started my new job a fortnight ago and am really rather enjoying it. Of course, I’ve got the “getting into the swing of a new job” bit to get through and the “getting to know my colleagues” bit and the “feeling out of my depth and bound to make a mess of it” bit and the “good grief, working full time with ‘interesting’ shift patterns after 20 years of regular hours and over half a year of not working at all is a bit of a challenge” bit. But it’s fun.

Sad thing is, it’s one of those jobs. In other words, I can’t really tell you about it as I’m bound by confidentiality issues.

But it’s good. Even getting up at 5.30 a.m. is bearable…. even when I didn’t get home until 9.15 the previous night… so it must be good.

And the childcare problem with the Smudgelet is temporarily sorted. He wants to be independent, and has proved he’s capable of it. Legally, as long as he is mature enough and has sufficient safety nets to keep him safe, he’s allowed to do it. And most of the time he’s off doing things anyway. So independence it is, with lots of safety nets in place. He’s growing up, that boy of mine, into a very mature and sensible young man. Remind me of that next time he does something daft, will you?

Slight hitch (Don’t read if you’re squeamish)

There was a slight hitch to our progress in clearing/cleaning the bungalow and putting up shelves and moving in here. My man (in the muscle-providing sense of the word – i.e. my brother rather than my other half, seeing as I have one of the former and lack one of the latter) went and put himself out of action for a week.

There we were, just tidying up in the kitchen after putting up a kitchen cabinet. On the worktop stood the drill, idle and waiting to be used on the next job. All of a sudden, probably getting bored of just standing there, it decided to tip over, bit first, with the full weight of the drill behind it. The tiny 3mm-diameter drill bit would have broken if it had hit the floor, but fortunately for the drill, it had a cushioned landing as my brother just happened to be nearby with his arm outstretched to reach something and the drill bit simply drove, point first, about three quarters of an inch into his forearm.

His reactions were good. My kitchen only partially changed colour before he stemmed the flow from the nicked artery. That’s one way to work out the route to A&E early in your move to a new area. I knew where it was, but not exactly how to get there, so it was good that we had a SatNav to take us there. Mind you, I spent a fortune in car parking fees that day, despite him going straight to the front of the queue at casualty.

They opened the wound a little to release the blood, put a stitch in, sent him home with it in a sling and told him to rest it… but also told him some symptoms to look out for which he must take seriously. So home we came. We cleaned up the blood (him one-handedly, though he insisted on helping), he went to wash his hands and said “Have you got your car keys handy, I think we’re going back” and showed me his arm.

He was developing compartment syndrome. The blood leaks into the muscle, can’t escape because of the design of the arm with the joints at elbow and wrist, and proceeds to increase rapidly in pressure until it kills the muscle off, which would have resulted in him losing the use of his arm completely (which would never do as he’s far too useful). His strong arm muscles came in useful – he had to hold his hand up over his head for hours.

The pain was such that they gave him morphine. They admitted him overnight. One arm was hooked up to a drip (No, not my brother, that would be too cruel to call him names …. 😉 ), one arm was elevated above his head, he was not allowed anything by mouth, and the nurses checked on him hourly in case he needed emergency surgery. The doctor explained that they would operate needlessly rather than take any chances, the effect of compartment syndrome being so quick and severe. If he’d not managed to hold his arm up for about three hours without a break then that would probably have been the case, but luckily the pressure dropped. Had they operated it would have been a case of opening his arm completely from elbow to wrist and leaving it open to bleed… then blood transfusion and plastic surgery to repair the damage. As it is, he ended up with an arm which literally was black and blue for a fortnight, unable to use it for well over a week, and a residual weakness in that arm.

I wish I had taken a photo of it when he was here today. All that can be seen on his arm three weeks later is a tiny scar like a little scratch mark on his forearm. When he got home from the hospital three weeks ago his arm looked like this: (It actually got worse before it got better).

Much ado about nothing?

We’re in

Standing room only

Only one more urgent trip to the Isle of Wight will be needed before I can well and truly say we’ve moved. Almost everything is here and it looks hopeful that we’ve got tenants lined up short term for the bungalow.
Now the challenge is fitting everything in and sorting everything out and coping with everything being lost or packed or unreachable.

With only three rooms to play with, the nightmare is that the full boxes are making inaccessible the places where the contents of the boxes need to go in order to empty them… although now that my brother has headed home for a few weeks I guess I can use the bed as storage space and simply continue sleeping on the sofa for a while. But there are boxes in front of all the cupboards, boxes in front of the wardrobes and chests of drawers, boxes in front of the bookshelves…. I will stay sane, I will, I will.

And I have discovered one downside of having solid, fairly soundproof, warmth-retaining walls – they are so solid that it takes immense strength, patience and power tools even to put a picture hook into them, so all shelf fitting and picture hanging is having to be delegated.

But it’s ours (well, OK, technically it isn’t, cos it’s rented) and I love it.

The escape is complete

I am, as far as I can tell, no longer a teacher.
No, not quite true, as teaching is more a way of life and I don’t suppose I’ll ever lose the urge mercilessly to ram learning down the throats of the unwitting and to quell the unruly with a lift of the eyebrow. But I am, as far as I can tell, no longer employed as a teacher.
Tomorrow my new career begins.

I feel very strongly that this is where God wants me and, as an extra blessing, is very much what I want to do to. It doesn’t stop me being nervous, though. If you have a spare moment with nothing to do and you’re on talking terms with the Creator, I wouldn’t say no to a quick prayer or two on my behalf (or possibly on behalf of my new colleagues and those I will be caring for).

Feline fine

Charlie, you will be pleased to know, seems slowly to be coming to terms with his new home, though he’s still spending a rather large amount of time under the sideboard in his new hiding place. Another week to go before we start to introduce him to the big wide world beyond the door, though it will be a challenge to get the cat flap installed for him – the size of flap he needs is too big to fit the panel in the door!

I’m not sure what he thinks of his sparkly baby-blue harness and lead. No, that’s not quite true. I know precisely what he thinks of it.

The journey here was interesting. He hasn’t been in a catbox for years and was less than impressed at the suggestion that he should travel in one. He mewed angrily for three and a half hours incessantly – quite indignant at the insubordination of his staff in treating him in such an undignified manner. The car was quite hot. In the back seat were three cages of hamsters – rather more hamsters than we had bargained for as we have gained two more tiddly ones courtesy of one of the Pavlets who is clearly a male! So from the back of the car we had the warm, sweet aroma of sawdust and tiny fluffy things. And in the front we had a giant catbox full of several tons of indignant feline.

A few yards down the A3 and Charlie realises that he really should have gone before we set out. He did look rather apologetic. So imagine it if you will, a carload of animals parked at the side of the A3. A catbox wedged in the driving seat and a patient owner wedged kneeling on the passenger seat with the door shut and the window only slightly ajar, just in case Charlie should make a bid for freedom. Then somehow I had to open the door of the catbox just enough to get an arm inside with the furious feline frantically trying to get the door open even further, grab several blobs of steaming cat excrement and manoevre it out of the catbox without letting the cat out of the bag. Then what do I do with it? No bags. No way of turning round without dropping it. The window not open wide enough for me to lob it over my shoulder and out into the layby. Luckily I had one of those triangular sandwich packs on the floor of the car and was able to use it to scoop up the offending matter while I secured the door of the cat box, fidgetted my way round into a more suitable position for getting the car door open, and squeezed out. Thank goodness. It would have been a long long journey if I hadn’t managed to do the job effectively!

Emigrating furniture

The decision was, I think, a wise one, for the furniture to head to the North Island before we did. So from camping in one place and living in the other we moved to living in one place and camping in the other… with a bit of camping in both places in between until we got the beds nicely reconstructed.

Two vans (cheaper on the ferry than a removal lorry) and two very nice chaps moved all our worldly goods. Well, all the furniture and many of the boxes, though most of the boxes are still sitting waiting on the Isle of Wight. My brother saw them all loaded up – which was just as well as I got a frantic phone call as I sat here in the empty flat waiting for them: “How on earth does this wardrobe come apart?” As if I could remember after having built it four years ago.

The nightmare began when they arrived and saw the access to the flat. “Have you got an alternative plan about what we should do with the piano if we can’t get it in?” Goodness – what sort of an alternative plan did they think I’d be thinking of? But they were my utter heroes. I’d told them there was only one step in, but that was if they came through the front door and the turn into there was too tight for a piano. The alternative entry was round the back – down a steep slope, round a series of sharp corners, up three deep steps and into my bedroom. And not having brought a piano trolley – because there was only one step – they carried it between them all the way. But in my bedroom it had to stay because there was no way it was going anywhere else. Not that I mind.