There’s a tale that Kurt Vonnegut used to tell about his uncle. About how his uncle pointed out that we never say when we’re having a good time, only a bad one. So whenever he was having a good time, he’d make a point of saying, “If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is”. So here I am, doing just that.
It’s a bank holiday weekend. I missed the first mess party at my new hospital because I was due for 2 twelve hour shifts over the weekend on labour ward, and I didn’t want to be hungover for it. I ‘m not going to lie – I was pretty miserable about the prospect of spending my bank holiday weekend with a bunch of vaginas.
I raced through the pouring rain in the car park, dreading my day, and arrived, dripping on the ward for handover. I looked up to find that my one of my favourite registrars was on call with me, and silently thanked the universe.
“There’s a cannula waiting for you on in room 5,” one of the midwives informed me.
Shit. Labour ward means a grey cannula. Grey cannulas are the biggest. It’s basically like aiming a javelin at someone’s hand, and hoping you hit a vein. I’m shit at them. And I’ve got a whole weekend dedicated to their insertion.
I go into the poor victim’s room, attempting to appear confident, and miss the first attempt miserably. The midwife pops back in and suggest I wait for the registrar before I make another attempt, and destroy every vein in the poor woman’s hand.
‘Sod that, ‘ I decide. ‘If I don’t conquer this now, I’m never going to.’
And the needle slides in like a dream.
‘Got to be fluke,’ I think.
Ten two hours later, cannula number two slides in on my first attempt. And my third and my fourth. I give myself an internal high five.
Then my bleep goes off and I’m called to labour ward. A woman’s labour hasn’t progressed and we’ve got to do an emergency c-section. It’s almost a year since I assisted on a c-section. In my last hospital, the consultants would schedule their first private section of the day for 7.30am, just as I was finishing my night shift. I was supposed to hand over at 8.00 am. But because of their section, I’d never get to leave till gone 9.30. They’d be raking in a good £5 grand for the section. I’d be staying late for free. It didn’t make me very happy.
But in country district general land, things were pretty different. My registrar rocked up and asked for the music to be cranked up. It was disco weekend on the local radio station, and he wasn’t about to let the bank holiday weekend slip by without celebrating. He cut through the layers of the abdominal wall and the uterus in a relaxed manner. And then to the strains of Salt & Pepper’s ‘Push It’, he got me to heave down on the top of the patient’s belly, while he wiggled his hips along to the music, until the baby popped out. Pure Class.
And what it made me realise is that we don’t all have to be moody miserable bastards while we’re at work. If we work on it, we can actually make like Bill and Ted, and ‘be excellent to one another’. And it means that work doesn’t have to be awful. It can be fun.
When I finally got home to find the boys sitting watching a DVD with their hands down their pants (their own – not each others’ I must add), I couldn’t stop grinning.
“Good day?” my flatmate asked.
‘Bloody brilliant,’ I answered. There really is a first for everything.