Night Duty

I trained as a nurse in the seventies. I had long dreamed of fancy uniforms , handsome doctors, and me delicately mopping fevered brows. I encountered all of these in varying degrees but soon came to realise that there was a lot of hard work and long hours involved. The three years of training were often hard and many times I was tempted to give up. But I kept going and I look back on my nursing years mostly with affection. I can still remember some of my patients to this day, and the sadness and humour encountered along the way.

I will never, ever, forget being sent to the mortuary in the dead of night by a fierce night sister, who insisted I must investigate a noise. As I stepped inside with trembling legs and a madly thumping heart, a cat shrieked and leapt out of the still, cold gloom. I returned to the ward with my hair on end and was unable to speak for an hour.

‘Night Duty’ is based on a true story. I was on my first spell of night duty and left in charge of the ward while the senior nurse went for her dinner break. An emergency arose and panic set in when  a seriously ill patient was admitted. I ran around searching for back up when Night Sister appeared and admonished me for my unprofessional conduct. Tears threatened but somehow calm was restored and I made it through the night. I think the patient did too.

I sympathise greatly with the doctors and nurses who are now feeling they are being given a rough deal by the government. We must appreciate them and every hard, dedicated working hour they put in. I am tempted to say it was harder in my day. But I won’t.

                                                 Night Duty

Please don’t run nurse
And please turn off the light,
Your patient may be getting worse
But it’s the middle of the night.

Call the doctor to attend
The latest emergency case
Then go and lay the trolley up,
And sterilize the place.

Make sure all the patients
Are safely in their beds,
I’ll be coming round to check
That they have had their meds.

And be sure to know every name
And diagnosis too
Of every patient in your care,
Or I’ll be reporting you.

Write up the notes before morning,
Make the porridge and the tea,
Get everybody washed and fed
The report back to me.

Go home and get some sleep
You’ve six more nights ahead,
So get used to working extra hard,
While your friends are home in bed.

© Lyn Halvorsen

Blessings to you.