18 January 2021 (Monday) - After the Night Shift

The night shift was much as most night shifts are these days. When I first started doing night duties as a blood tester (in August 1985) things were very different. Weekend and night work was paid as overtime. We would work a standard nine-to-five shift from Monday to Friday and then all go home. One of us would (on a rota system) be available each night and each weekend,  and we would then be called in from home when required. And we would then work a standard nine-to-five shift afterwards. (At the weekends people would be on duty for forty-eight hours without a break. And then work the nine-to-five shift on the Monday too. We would regularly be on duty for up to seventy hours every week). But the workload was so much easier back then. Being called in more than four times (i.e. for four patients) between five o'clock in the afternoon and nine o'clock the following morning was considered to be busy. More than sixteen call-outs during a weekend (forty-eight hours) was seen to be excessive.

As the workload grew, travelling to and from home became impractical. We were given a room in the hospital accommodation where we would sleep between calls. And after an amazing concession from management we were allowed to go home one hour early for each time we were called out of bed after midnight.

But since the halcyon days of yore the workload has escalated exponentially (and the pandemic hasn't helped). Far from being called in for a named patient, doing our bit (as overtime) and going home again, these days our night and weekend work is done as standard shifts, and the workload is constant. Last night was actually a quiet one by today’s standards, but I had blood samples from over fifty different patients and I produced just under a thousand different individual blood test results.

How times have changed.


Shortly before three o'clock this morning I had whatever it is you call the meal that you eat at three o'clock. As I scoffed I looked at the Facebook app on my phone. Some complete f...wit was posting to one of the Ashford chat sites about how COVID-19 and face masks are a hoax, and how he wished that people wouldn't go along with what he saw as a conspiracy. Other half-wits were posting anti-vaccination propaganda which was simply wrong. I considered posting about how my night was going but thought better of it. As Mark Twain once remarked, "Never argue with an idiot. They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience".

Amazingly someone I've known for over thirty years was also posting how he wouldn't have the COVID-19 vaccine when he will be offered it. I asked him why. He said he didn't want it because he "couldn't wrap his head around it" but said that he wasn't surprised that I'd had the vaccine because I understand that sort of thing. I did think of pointing out the incongruity that he has no problem smoking dodgy stuff that even dodgier people pass to him under pub tables but he won't take a reputably produced and licenced medical product, but thought better of that too...


As always it was with a sense of relief that I greeted the early shift when she arrived, and once I’d scraped the ice off of my car I set off homewards down the motorway. As I drove the pundits on the radio were talking about the frankly amazing effort that vaccination teams have been performing. On average the NHS is doing one hundred and fourteen vaccinations every minute right now, but still people were looking to find fault.


Once home I took the dogs round the road for a quick outing. We didn’t go very far, but they were *far* better behaved than they had been yesterday. Their behaviour is much worse whenever "er indoors TM"  comes along. I have this theory that Pogo is trying to protect her, and his heightened excitement winds the others up. Whilst his intentions are all very admirable, it does make him (and consequently all three dogs) something of a pain in the glass.

With dogs walked I then took Fudge to the vet. He walked very happily as far as Bond Road as he knows I often park the car there, but as we walked past Bond Road so he stopped and dug his heels in. He flatly refused to go any further down the road as he knows the only reason we go that way is to go to the vet. In the end I had to carry him as he would not walk.

We got to the vet’s; I popped him on the scales. He was nine point two kilogrammes. He was trembling n terror when we got called in. But it was good news. His kidney infection has cleared up, and the weight loss is probably due to a lack of appetite caused by the antibiotics which stop tomorrow.

He’s booked in for a blood pressure test next week.


I went to bed for a few hours, and woke in time to spend the afternoon slobbed out in front of the telly watching “Four in a Bed”. Today’s contestants featured two rather good places offering rooms, a rather posh spa and a rather downmarket place in Blackpool catering for the budget end of the market. I quite liked the place in Blackpool, but as the show went on I took a serious dislike to the woman who ran the place. She had a major chip on her shoulder, admitting to a resentment to anyone who lived south of Birmingham.

One of the other places featured was a pub offering accommodation which was just down the road in Rye. "er indoors TM" has been there a few times. The place looked rather nice, but I wonder… the show was rather misleading in that in the “Rye episode” it featured several places in East Sussex which are all many miles apart but would have had us believe they were all local to Rye.


"er indoors TM" boiled up a rather good bit of dinner which we scoffed whilst watching a documentary about the making of the “Mr Bean” programs. Can you believe that the first one was made over thirty years ago?

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