So I am not working actual Christmas day this year! I didn’t work Christmas day last year either, so I am incredibly lucky. Though it may have something to do with the fact that my boss feels bad for me as I did loose my baby this year. Still I feel that I should have really worked Christmas as my colleagues are, and this year my colleagues are the nicest set of nurses you will ever meet , and therefore also deserve Christmas off. But I guess if we all were off for Christmas the patients wouldn’t have any nurses. Unfortunately that appears to be a big no no.
To be honest I feel that on Christmas sometimes the patients need us more that ever. Its not normally a usual ward day and is similar to a weekend, no discharges, no board rounds, consultant rounds and there are far less people at work generally. Even the bed managers give you a little more leeway on Christmas as no body wants to be moved wards on Christmas. Often at a weekend the admission wards get busy and beds are not always readily available, as there are less discharges at a weekend. Therefore we have to move some patients (that are medically fit) to other areas that have beds. Sometimes it feels a bit like your robbing Peter to pay Paul but most often it works I guess. However as a nurse we are very protective of our patients, we take it very personally when someone tries to steal them. Therefore bed managers try not to ask us to move patients too much (that can be done on Christmas eve or boxing day) We seem to have a truce. (I’m sure people still get moved on Christmas as sometimes it may be totally necessary, but it seems to happen less often).
So I have been a registered nurse for 3 years (which gives me a poor total of 1 Christmas worked out of 3) However I was a Health Care Assistant (HCA) for the 4 years prior to being a student nurse (which doesn’t count as my university gave us Christmas off). In them 4 years I think I worked all but one Christmas. This is why I feel our patients need us most at Christmas.
A lot of patients have no family. If they were not in a nursing home or hospital at that time a lot of them would sit all day on their own, and unfortunately a lot of them have done for a very long time, and when discharged from hospital, probably will still continue to. I remember one of my favorite patients on Christmas, she didn’t often talk and did struggle to talk as she had had a stroke. She used to grunt at you as you walked past to get your attention and at the nursing home we all grew to love this strange way of calling us. On Christmas we brought all of the residents down from their flats to the day room to have Christmas dinner together. Some were taken by relatives to have Christmas dinner, others had relatives sat with them having Christmas dinner at the home. Everyone was happy and the room was filled with people. I noticed my lady sat by the window, on her own (a lot of the other residents found her strange and often isolated her, old people can be really mean, sometimes they act like they are in school still) So after handing out the dinners I went and sat with her. On my arrival she instantly grunted looked me up and down and asked if I was pregnant, which as I was 18 at the time and had only just started seeing my now husband, I was not. I politely said no. She sighed almost sadly and continued to look out of the window. I sat down with a small plate of my own dinner and ate with her. “are you courting?” she asked me very abruptly. I told her I was and that she knew my mother in law to be (my now mother in law used to work with me), “have children soon then” she said in a roundaboutish way. She looked so lost and I didn’t say anything to her, I was a little taken aback. ” I wish I had children and a family” She said, I felt I needed to comfort her but i didn’t know how.
In situations where a person starts to tell you about their life and problems it can be so difficult to know when you are saying the right thing. They tell you its better to just reflect the question back and find out why that person feels that way. I didn’t do this and to be honest i’m glad I didn’t I continued the conversation in the most natural way I could. “Well, don’t you have friends and sisters or brothers?” I asked trying to show her desperately she had someone. “No, They have all gone now. They are all dead” she said. “I have no one left” She looked around the room at all the other residents with their families. I remembered seeing a photograph on her cabinet, it looked like her when she was younger on her wedding day. “Did you get married? I saw a photo of you in your room, it looked like your wedding day”, she looked back up at me drawing her attention from the others.”yes, but he died in the war, I didn’t want to get married again, I loved him more than anything, he’s me soul mate” She surprisingly lit up and started to talk more than I had ever heard her speak before! After a while she was laughing at the daft things he had done and telling me about all the places they had been. I sat talking to her through dinner and after she was singing and laughing, finally enjoying herself.
I felt that I made her Christmas and my Christmas better. I didn’t save anyone‘s life that day but I made our day better and that counts too. So I guess that is something nice that came out of working Christmas. It seems so many people are alone at Christmas, I know there are charity’s out there like The Salvation Army but there are still so many people with no one. I cant imagine being alone at Christmas. At least my lady had me and the other carers. Some people have no one, in hospital you notice some people don’t want to be discharged before Christmas, and although they wont say it you know its because they will be lonely.
So although for a lot of people its not normal to work Christmas and we all want to be with our own families. Spare a thought for the people out there who have no one, who have Christmas dinner on their own.