I’m still playing catch-up with Lisa’s Bite Size Memoir challenges from the past. Lisa is back from her short break now, so the prompts have begun again. This time, instead of the 150 words, I am using the option of 10 x ‘I remember’ statements. I was 17 when I began my twelve month State Enrolled Nurse training at the Mount Gambier Hospital, my birthplace, in South Australia. So, here we go… shame I cannot lay my hands on my certificate and badge, and I haven’t a proper photo of me in uniform.
I remember My First Job.
I remember wearing a bright lime green midi-dress, with a gold chain belt, and white boots to my interview with Matron Odgen.
I remember the embarrassment of being examined by kindly Dr Joske, at Casterton, for the health assessment and chest xray.
I remember that first day going into my own room, on the fourth floor: room 407, and getting in trouble at one regular room inspection, months later, for not using Marveer to polish the wooden fitted furniture.
I remember the amazement I felt, that first time, going to the staff cafeteria – the yummy smells, all that food.
I remember I promptly put on weight because it was the first time in my life I’d ever had access to as much food as I could eat – three courses! every day!
I think I remember that my uniforms were laundered (the property of the hospital), but I had to iron them, using Fabulon ironing spray: I shrunk my pink woollen mini dress (you can tell) in the wash and also managed to shrink a yellow woollen jumper (which took me months to knit) in the clothes dryer.
I remember collecting my first pay from the bank and buying a secondhand lounge suite for my mum: I still have a payslip to show you one day.
I remember being scared in my first lift experience: I still am nervous in them. (That’s a classmate in the photo.)
I remember the first body I prepared for the morgue, but I cannot remember her name: I treated her with respect and I cried.
I remember the first time I had to give an injection – the glass plunger fell out TWICE – and, after signing out the drug for the third time, the Sister came and watched, but she still made me do it to the poor woman patient: Over the border, in Victoria, nursing aides didn’t do injections.