Monday, September 17, 2007

hi ho, hi ho

my theatre hats drawer.

I've been thinking about the return to work post that I ought to write for about three weeks now. And after reading minnie's post, I feel I oughta. Sorry it's all over the place, bit more stream of consciousness kinda thing.

I am about halfway through my training, that is, two and a half years of five. I have until 2014 to finish my training all up, which includes another exam, the two and a half years of on-the-job work and my Formal Project (a research project). I know that seems like a helluva lot of time, but given I can't ever see myself working full time again, that two and a half years spins into 5, and given I don't want patrick to be an only child, that's probably 6 which doesn't give me much buffer time if I screw up the exam. So I pretty much have to go back to work again now.

About two weeks before I was due to go back, I got the call from the head of the department to have a meeting about my return to work. Now, even though my boss is a lovely, kind and caring guy, being called up before the boss still has that 'going to the principal's office' sting to it. And being an ex-nerd, I never got called up to the principal's office much at all, so I'm pretty scared of it. (Yes, I was a goth, but a nerdy one. Truth.). So I worked out what I had to say in advance- that I could only work Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and that I would need time out to express during the shifts which meant I would have to have someone able to cover me during that time (ie no fair rostering me into a busy ortho list with no boss to cover). And I pretty much just had the verbal diarrhoea with that once we sat down.

He then looked at me and said words to the effect of "well, you don't have to come back just yet. You could wait and start again next January".



Two weeks before that I had no childcare organised, and had no desire to go back to work at all, and now, after busting my arse to get someone who wasn't an axe-murderer to look after Patrick they offer me this! Aaaaargh!

But when it came down to it, it was time to go back. My maternity pay had dried up and time isn't really on my side training-wise.

So I have gone back. It wasn't as awful as I expected. I pretty much slotted straight back in, with it all coming back to me pretty easy. There have been some changes since I was there: the big change is that we now have automated machines
not the old Ulco machines

(my old friend) and I'm still waiting for my inservice.

It's weird- in one way nothing seems to have changed: we have all the familiar old things (little old ladies with broken hips, complex personality-disordered chronic pain clients, silly young men with broken jaws, gorgeous little boys (nearly always boys) who have discovered that they can't fly and their bones are not made of steel...- and I feel like I never left, but there's always one of the nurses who hasn't seen me for 6 months who enquires after Patrick and we sit around cooing at his photos.

I really feel that I'm luckily able to switch easily from 'mummy' mode to 'work' mode quite easily: once I'm at home, the clogs are off and I'm just 'mummy' again. It's great to have some intellectual stimulation and be using my brain.

I do so miss Patrick when I'm there! But, it has to be said, not enough to make me give up. I'd love to be working less hours if that were possible (bear in mind that part-time doctor's hours is not 38 hours a fortnight but more like 50 or 60) though; it would more nicely balance out the roles. Last week I had to do afternoon shifts (1400 to 2400) Monday to Friday (Grandma T came to visit) so that was 50 hours for that fortnight which seemed like a lot.

In addition you may have noted that I went to Hobart to do some locum shifts- they were paying a shitload and mum could babysit whilst I worked (I did two night shifts). Adding that up will make 70 hours for the fortnight. I have this week off but am working the weekend (two 12-hour shifts) and the m,t,w- 34 hours- so that makes 58 hours for this fortnight. I think doing 38 would be just wonderful, if you are considering it.

Childcare has been good so far. Considering the amount those in capital cities pay for it, $69 a day seems pretty reasonable. The first time we dropped patrick off ( a short 'trial' morning) we felt just awful, but he had fun. Yesterday, as soon as he got out of the car he was excited, and despite the fact he is developing a good bit of separation anxiety, he didn't look back at me once he had new toys in front of him. Huh. Yes, I am sending him to daycare espite the fact I'm not working- we have to pay for it whether or not he goes so I feel it's a good opportunity to do the long list of things I can't do with Patrick about (like painting the bedroom or weeding the garden and planting tomatoes and capsicum- yesterday's effort). I feel kind of bad about it, but let's face it, it's no worse than people who let their parents look after the baby for a day so they can get things done, just that I'm paying for it, which is all the more reason to do it. Maybe I'm just trying to justify my slackness, but there it is.

Expressing at work has been a little problematic. Not equipment-wise: I take the medela harmony and a boxful of bags, put the milk in a little cooler-type lunchbox so no-one gets all weird on me, wash the pump in soapy water after each use and store it in a snap-seal plastic tub with some Miltons in it in the overnight rest (ie sleep) room where I pump. It's getting the time off to pump. I've always been a good moo cow thankfully (in the beginning I could get in excess of 200mL from each boob) but now I find especially with the pressure of "I must get back to work" I only am able to pump about half to two-thirds of what Patrick drinks every day at childcare. That and the awkward conversation with the consultant with whom I am working:

"I, um, need to have a 'mummy' break every few hours"
"A what?"
"Um, I need to feed my baby"
(Looking confused) "Where's your baby?"
"At home/daycare"
"So you have to leave...?"
"No, just go somewhere quiet for twenty minutes"
(looks even more confused) "Eh?"
(Me getting flustered and red) "A lactation break"
(somewhat frustrated now) "I need to go and express (hands cupping imaginary boobs in front of me) every three hours"
(very embarrassed and unable to look me in the eye for the rest of the day)"Oh, Oh, Sure, right, whatever you need"

but five hours later I still haven't been able to take a break and my consultant has buggered off somewhere, and I'm stuffing green guaze down my bra to stop the leaks (somehow there always manages to be a screaming neonate in recovery when I go in)

"I'm sorry, but I really need to have my break now. This is getting rather painful"
"Oh, can you just finish that case and I'll get there in half an hour"
(anyone who has worked with hospital doctors knows there is no such thing as half an hour. It's always an hour. Or more)
"Um, ok, but it's getting messy"
(sounding worried) "What, the patient?"
"No, I'm getting leaky. And it's uncomfortable"
"Oh, right... I'll see what I can do".

In my pregnancy I gad this idea I'd be able to express in the anaesthetic bay whilst I kept a close ear on what was happening by the monitor's beeps (yes, the machine that goes 'ping') but that was when I thought you could express in five minutes, tops, and I didn't know you got leaky.

So, summary.
1. Work is good, but I wish there was less of it.
2. It's nice to be bringing in the money instead of just spending it.
3. It's nice to be using the old coconut for a change.
4. The new anaesthtic machines aren't ergonomic (ie there is nowhere to put my feet up)
5. Daycare feels bad, but is working out fine and Patrick enjoys it.
6. If someone's going to pay me $145 an hour to do some low-grade emergency department work, then I'm a slut for money.
7. Having some time out from the baby is good and refreshing for your soul.
8. (I'm up to 8? Sheesh!) Trying to get time to express is the hardest thing about my return to work, and apart from the hours, is the only thing I'd change if I could.

And let's face it, I look good in a theatre cap:


Anonymous minnie said...

hahah dude you are killing me with the mummy time conversation. next time you should just flash him.

18/9/07 12:57  

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