“No long faces now?….”
It was the day of my check-up when I heard I had passed my nursing entrance exam! However, in light of my recent illness the nursing school said they would need a reference from my Oncologist before they could confirm my acceptance.
I was quietly confident my Oncologist would be very supportive of my cracking plan. So I was quite surprised at what he said when I saw him during my check-up.
Oncologist: “Are you sure you want to be a nurse?”
Me: “Er, yes”. (I actually wanted to say ‘Er no, I think you’ve got the wrong patient’ but I thought better of it)
Oncologist: “An oncology nurse?”
Me: “Of course.”
Oncologist: “It will be very hard work, both physically and emotionally.”
Me: ” I know, I used to be an engineer.” (He didn’t even smile at my joke)
Oncologist: (Following what seemed a very long pause) “You can’t go around with a long face you know”
I was surprised he felt the need to say that; I thought my engineer joke was quite funny. Then again it wasn’t that funny and I guess he was used to seeing me under very worrying circumstances and understandably may have thought I was a bit of a miserable sod!
I assured him he had nothing to worry about. “Good” he said, “Because I’ve just written to the Chief Executive of the hospital telling him how disgusted I am that the health authority sees fit to ask me for a guarantee that your lymphoma won’t relapse. Instead, they should embrace your enthusiasm and support you in getting your life back.” Then he smiled and said “Don’t let me down, will you?”
“Day one as a student nurse. Excellent, I wasn’t the only male and I wasn’t the oldest in my group….nor the tallest! Although I did have the least hair, sadly”
I was delighted when I eventually heard that my application had been successful and I would be commencing training in the summer. It was time to hand in my notice at work and tell my burly engineering colleagues that I was leaving……….. to become a Student Nurse!
As I told people about my nurse training course the question of salary increasingly came up. I was trying not to think of that too much, it was hard enough getting my head around such a huge career change without dwelling on something as trivial as a 70% pay cut. “Yes it would be tough financially” I would say to them, “But I think I need to do this”
My wife and my Mum were very supportive, however my Dad seemed less impressed. With a one-year old at home and my wife only working part-time we were below the national poverty line which meant our older child got free school meals. It was a bit embarrassing I guess, but then it would only be for three years!…….would it not? I figured perhaps it was time to do some serious money-making cartooning!
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