How will you look back on your nursing career when you retire? As he unwillingly reaches retirement, Nigel Jopson talks through his reflections, regrets and memories from his 25-year nursing career
So that’s it then: I am no longer a nurse. I have surrendered my PIN and with it a job I loved.
Well, I was unwell and my heart was failing. While I already miss nursing and want to return, deep down know that if I do it will probably kill me.
“I have felt happy, sad, triumphant and, at times, defeated”
I have been working since I was 17 and even before that when I was at school. I have been nursing for 25 years but the only acknowledgement I received since leaving was a threatening letter from the NMC the day after my registration expired warning me not to work as a nurse and that if I wanted to register again it would take months.
I have had a wonderful time. I have felt happy, sad, triumphant and, at times, defeated but it has been a rollercoaster of a life. I’ve worked in hospitals, community, care homes, diving medicine, hyperbarics, an oil rig and so much more.
Nursing cost me a marriage but then found me another (which is much better!). It has let me have a mostly good life and bring up two children. It has been tough but great fun. I have helped people from birth to death and still think of a good death as the last thing we can give our patients. I have prayed for people to live but also at times for people to die and be released from pain.
“Luckily, there are more good days than bad”
Some days you sit in your car at the end of a shift and just slump, asking yourself why you do it. Other days you sit in the car and think ”Actually, today was good. I helped Mrs– and her family, I got that troublesome wound sorted, I taught staff good procedures and I even got a five minute break”. Luckily, there are more good days than bad.
What do I remember?
Holding hands with an elderly lady as she died because she had no family. The helplessness of nursing a young girl who had overdosed on paracetamol and told nobody for a two days. Talking to a patient in the community about cars and him telling me that he had never been in an open top car, and then picking him up the next day in my own open top car and driving him around Portland as he shouted at me to go faster!
“I remember holding hands with an elderly lady as she died”
Looking after a lovely chap who had a hip replacement but had a bad reaction to the anaesthetic and broke my nose. Walking off to sit down for a minute to recover and being stopped by a Mother who asked me to sit and look after her young child who had just had an operation while she went to the loo. Tha particular incident gave me a chance to think about my future. That was 24 years ago so I think I made the right decision.
Maybe I could have started nursing sooner but on the other hand I’m not sure I would have been able to cope. I would have liked to continue but again, this just is not possible .
Who knows. Any jobs out there for an ex-nurse?
Nigel Jopson is a recently retired nurse