First day/s

[Saturday 29th, and Sunday 30th April 2017]

“So how was your first day at work?”

Well thanks for asking! Really. I’m so grateful to every person who has asked about my first shift, about starting this job, and about what’s next for me. It’s so encouraging and I hope this answers all of your questions!

Actually, it’s also a complete relief to have an answer! Being “unemployed” never got more satisfying as a reply when people asked what I was up to. Although “unemployed” is not how I ever thought of myself. I still thought of myself as a pharmacist, although the longer I wasn’t working, the looser that description felt. I thought of myself as a birdwatcher, a photographer, a bike rider, a lady who was able to lunch more days of the week than not; but that seemed to come off a bit lame as an explanation. These titles com in addition to the long term titles of wife and sort-of housekeep; although hubby would argue with the housekeep bit, most likely. And then there’s how sick I had been, and still was, and how that was impacting my ability to work (or not!). Yes, I thought of myself as sick, because it’s hard not to. I mean I was. But it’s hard to explain the full extent of that, and the gradual process of recovery, in a short conversation.

But here I am, a pharmacist again. And I’ve so surprised myself; I’ve fit back into the role like I never left! I really thought I’d lost something irreplaceable somewhere along the line!! Really! Something that would stop me being a pharmacist again. Despite my seven years as a hospital clinical pharmacist, despite everything that I’ve done well and every proof of my good work, I let some unfair feedback from my previous job get under my skin like I do with many little, minor things, plus I have some insecurity about the gaps in my work history and how they would look to a future employer, and I started to doubt myself and worry about what next.

But, thank goodness, no. I mean there are plenty of things I can brush up on, make no mistake about that. There are definitely things I’m rusty on, and there have been a couple of minor boo boos; nothing a bit less of a rush, and a bit more math couldn’t have solved! But I’m back, really back! After my first two full-on days as the in-charge pharmacist working flat chat alongside great staff, meeting lovely patients/customers, doing the job of a pharmacist I can tell you that I’ve come home with an exhausted, almost delirious but actual happy, contented smile on my face, and I feel good! I never quite got the adrenaline rush that’s meant to come from exercise, but work is definitely a rush! One of the biggest joys, and most surprising, of starting back at work has been the methadone/Suboxone customers on the opioid replacement program: they are a really friendly bunch and I’ve enjoyed chatting with them. Okay, so I might be quite starry eyed and all at this point, but it’s all gone better than I thought so I’m staying thrilled for now. I’m back. That’s the most important thing!

Okay what else? My feet have been KILLING me!! This should be no surprise when you spend 7 or 8 hours straight standing up with maybe 10 or 20 minutes sitting down. Especially when up till now it’s been more like 9 or 10 hours of sitting down with interjections of activity. Swollen ankles, aching legs, feet sending out electric shots and shooting daggers; all symptoms of half my blood supply pooling in my lower legs!! Home time means legs up above my heart to return all that blood back to my circulation…lying on the floor with feet on the couch does the trick, if you were wondering. A pharmacist who has specialised in wound care for 30 years or more recommends all pharmacists (and anyone else standing up most of their waking hours) wear compression stockings/socks every time they work for this very reason, to keep the blood flow from pooling causing varicose veins, venous ulcers, cellulitis and more. It’s a great plan. I did wear compression tights for a while in winter a few years back because they pass as opaque black tights and they make a huge difference in how tired your legs get. But honestly, have you seen those opaque beige stockings?? I may not have much to be vain about, but I’m not quite prepared for those stockings. Plus these days I keep too warm for stockings of any kind so that helps my case, but not my legs and feet.

It’s been busy! Not as busy as it should have been on Saturday, then way busier than it should have been today, Sunday! Which evened out to 2 solid days work but we only had to do 30 minutes overtime today, and got out on time yesterday so that’s a win. Unfortunately today was the day hubby was picking me up and he had to wait half an hour in the car! I’m going to drive on Saturdays, but Sundays I have to take the train cos hubby needs the car, and the timetable just doesn’t work nicely. I’m happy to sit around Ringwood station for half an hour on a Sunday morning, but I’m not keen after dark so he agreed to pick me up…dunno if he’ll be so keen next fortnight! But oddly I haven’t felt terribly stressed even when the work is stacking up. I think that these days I accept that I can’t do everything, and just pick one task after the next and keep at it till we get through them all. To give fair due, both days I have worked with amazing help in the dispensary: a 3rd/4th year pharmacy student all day on Saturday and a dispensary technician who I wasn’t supposed to have, but who balanced front of shop with helping me on Sunday. Both were very efficient dispensers, really excellent assistants and a great help with customer service and supply of pharmacy only and pharmacist only products. Plus the shop girls took all the load of processing payments as well as providing great product advice. And there was always that pharmacist out the back providing an invaluable back up to my uncertainty; what a team!!

For some reason whoever was working Friday hadn’t seemed to order medications as they used the last one on the shelf. This is the pharmaceutical equivalent of not only finding that the last sheet on the toilet paper roll has been used up, but going to the cupboard and finding that that was the last roll! And now you have a patient/customer who needs toilet paper or…you get the metaphor. We had a fair few of these annoying and really inexcusable outages on Saturday, and it was embarrassing. It’s also a problem because we can’t order on Saturday, or rather we can but it won’t come in until Monday anyway, so we couldn’t even tell people to come back tomorrow. By the end of the day we had a longer order of medications than I’ve seen so far on a weekday, and we couldn’t order anything; quite the irritation, especially for common medications.

This is going to be my main deal in this job, working every second weekend. After finishing this first one, I think it going to be okay, good even. People coming in on the weekend understand that you’re giving up your weekend for them (sometimes!) and can be really appreciative (or not)! But I think I like it! Even though I’ve taken a pay cut to be here, don’t like working Sundays, have no real entitlement to a lunch break or any other break on a weekend day, am more hectic than I’ve been in a good while, and have to keep processing scripts when I’m busting for the loo, its a job and a pretty good one, so there’s lots to be happy about! Yes, I’m happy!

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UTTER ELATION!

YIPPEE! WOO HOO! YAY! HUZZAH! *JUMPING UP AND DOWN* *SCREAMING, SHOUTING, TWISTING, PUNCHING THE AIR*

And if you think that excessive, there’s more to come!

Am I manic? Have I gone properly insane instead of just hanging in the balance? Am I high on petrol fumes? Or sugar?

No.

This just happened: I applied for a job!!!!!!!

This is so epic it’s just hard to describe!

A job. Me. Now. Application. Resume. Cover letter. Apply online. Talk to actual working people from that workplace. Interview. Qualifications. Selection criteria.

A job. Me. Do you know when I last worked full time? March 3rd 2014. More than a year ago. I can’t forget that date because it was also the date I caught a cab to the emergency department and all that has followed on from then. Do you know when I last worked, part time? October 13th 2014, the end of a six week stint.

Either way it’s been a long, long time.

There have absolutely been points along the way when I did not think I would ever return to work. I thought I might remain at home in some kind of invalid-ish way waiting for life to pass by.

Then I thought I’d change career paths altogether. My official back up plan has always been hairdresser. When my previous job sucked so hard, I told everyone that would listen that I was going to be a hairdresser. While I was off work I dreamed up a few other options: teacher of something, photographer, professional Ebayer, consultant of something or other. None of them really ever seriously looked like getting off the ground. Oh, and professional blogger…well, you be the judge of that as an idea!

Then the plan was the change over from hospital pharmacy to community pharmacy. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, and in terms of the scripts you would dispense maybe its not. But I last sold cold and flu tablets in 2010! I vaguely remember the details but I’d need some serious refreshing before that got off the ground.

Then I thought I’d do my usual job but in a diminished way, part time. Except there were no jobs. Literally no jobs for part time work; nearly all hospital jobs are full time. Then there was one, in Dandenong. Now I didn’t mind travelling to Prahran from Box Hill because the public transport connections were good, but Dandenong would just be a painful, disconnected way to go every day. Then there was two, in Footscray! Same problem. So I let that slide.

Then this. Box Hill, the suburb where I live, fed me the perfect-est job for me right now! 3 days a week, 7 minute walk from my bed, Grade 2 which I am, backfill to various positions rather than a permanent ward position which will help me in getting my knowledge and skills up to date!! Perfect!

I don’t know if I’ll get it, of course. But I’m in the process. That’s pretty, really, quite a very lot exciting! I dug out my resume, found the last cover letter I wrote, got the position description and sat up in bed to survey the state of it all.

Updated my resume, still not sure what to do about that there big gap from October 2014 but oh well, fiddled around to re-phrase the cover letter, matched up the criteria as much as possible, confirmed the requirements, put it all into the required format and online job application engine, and clicked GO!

So here we are. My resume, cover letter and application are out there in the universe, wending there way to the friendly, very helpful deputy which I hope means they will be well received.

And I’m so stoked! We got here! Finally, finally, we got here! To where I’m interested, motivated, enthusiastic about the idea of employment. To where I’m jumping up and down inside about this revelation, this achievement, this goalpost reached! How long has it taken, but we got here!

We got here! Elation abounds, excitement rules, I”m so happy to have gotten here. The outcome almost doesn’t matter right now, I’m just stoked to be part of the process! And that makes me very happy!

*Written on 27th April, 2015