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I may have retired from nursing, but nursing has not retired from me

Recently-retired Jane Bates reflects on the everyday triggers that are keeping her on her nursing toes
Picture shows upper part of Big Ben at dusk with a statue of a horse and chariot in the foreground. Struggling to adapt to the changing pace of life after retiring from nursing, Jane Bates lists some of the mental triggers that still keep her on edge.

Recently-retired Jane Bates reflects on the everyday triggers that are keeping her on her nursing toes

Watch his urine output, I said to a friend who was caring for a sick relative. Then I thought: Listen to yourself Jane, you are no longer a nurse. There will be professionals telling her this, its not my job. Im retired.

The trouble is that as a nurse you cannot retire. I thought I would be lying in bed in the mornings, face planted in the pillow, dreaming happily about all those early starts I dont have to make. But Ive committed myself to so many things that I have to be up in good time to fit them all in a day.

Old nurses never die, they

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Recently-retired Jane Bates reflects on the everyday triggers that are keeping her on her nursing toes

Picture shows upper part of Big Ben at dusk with a statue of a horse and chariot in the foreground. Struggling to adapt to the changing pace of life after retiring from nursing, Jane Bates lists some of the mental triggers that still keep her on edge.
‘Fear of Big Ben'… how our columnist learned to keep an eye on the clock  Picture: iStock

‘Watch his urine output,’ I said to a friend who was caring for a sick relative. Then I thought: ‘Listen to yourself Jane, you are no longer a nurse. There will be professionals telling her this, it’s not my job. I’m retired.’

The trouble is that as a nurse you cannot retire. I thought I would be lying in bed in the mornings, face planted in the pillow, dreaming happily about all those early starts I don’t have to make. But I’ve committed myself to so many things that I have to be up in good time to fit them all in a day.

Old nurses never die, they simply lose their patients

‘You won’t know if you’re on your head or your heels,’ said a friend, another retired nurse. She runs a Good Neighbours scheme that gives practical support to the disadvantaged in our community. In true nurse style, she saw a need and went about meeting it.

It’s true when they say that old nurses never die, they simply lose their patients. Over the years, our job has shaped our character and our responses – only a nurse, on tasting the most delicious wine she has ever encountered, would go off it immediately when she finds it is called Black Stump.

And only a nurse would respond to an unflushed toilet not with an ‘euwwww’, like the rest of the population, but with a quick assessment of that person’s level of hydration.

The battles some of us – as retired nurses – find ourselves fighting

So does retiring mean losing part of ourselves? We have all heard of FOMO (fear of missing out), but there are other psychological battles we have to deal with:

  • FOLP – Fear of losing purpose
    I have still not permitted myself to stroll. On a narrow street walking behind some dawdling teenagers, I wanted to tell them to shift themselves before I realised I was behaving like someone responding to a crash call rather than a Christmas shopper. There was no need to mow everyone down in my path. This is closely related to…
  • FOBB – Fear of Big Ben
    This is that feeling of urgency I can’t shake off, and no, it’s not a bladder thing. Our London training hospital was directly opposite the clock tower, whose bells chimed unhelpfully every 15 minutes to remind us how far we were behind with the morning’s schedule. Which brings me to…
  • FONGED – Fear of not getting everything done
    This has haunted me since my student days, and is closely tied up with…
  • FONAR – Fear of not acting responsibly
    Take medication, for example. Whenever a friend or relative is prescribed anything I have to scrutinise its suitability, dose, side effects, everything. Cool it Jane, it’s not your problem, said a member of my family, putting me in my place. Humph.

While nursing becomes who we are, it doesn’t mean we can’t relax a bit when we stop. Old nurses never die, they simply do the graveyard shift. I thought that one up when I was on my coffee break. At least I get one of those now.


Picture of Jane Bates. Struggling to adapt to the changing pace of life after retiring from nursing, she lists some of the mental triggers that still keep her on edge.Jane Bates is a retired nurse

 

 


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