Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Doctor in the House - if only he could get a security pass...

It's September, and children are going back to school all over Nappy Valley. Thankfully we are spared that for another year, but we do have another novelty to grapple with: the Doctor has started a new job. And not just any new job; he has finally become a Consultant. After years of training, countless gruelling exams, and eleven years after graduating from medical school, he has reached the point where he is, technically, no longer a ‘junior doctor’.

Off he went on Monday morning, all smart in his suit and tie and new, shiny shoes, like a little boy to a new school. He didn't take his usual sandwiches, unsure whether he would have to be sociable and have lunch with his new colleagues. At home with the Littleboys, I had my own visions of what his first day might be like. Would he be striding about the hospital, asking his minions to reel off hundreds of potential diagnoses which he’d scribble down on a whiteboard, only to then cross out and come up with the real answer himself? Would he be followed around by a scurrying bunch of keen young medical students all too ready to form a crush on him? (As you can see, my knowledge of my husband's job stems, not from reality, but from US medical dramas…)

“It might be very busy," he had warned me in the morning. "I'm not sure what time I'll be back." But, at 5.30 sharp, the door opened - Daddy was home. My own Dad, who happened to be there, wondered whether this was because, as a consultant, The Doctor could just ‘sweep in and out, like James Robertson Justice in the Doctor in the House films’. But no. The Doctor was in fact rather monosyllabic and all I could get out of him was ‘not much happened’, before the chaos of the Littleboys’ bath and bedtime began.

Later, our conversation at supper went thus:

“So, did you see lots of patients?

“Well, no. I spent the whole day trying to get a security pass so that I could actually get into my department and do simple things like access the loos.”

“Oh.....So why was that?”

“Well, security told me I needed an official 8 digit number for an identity card before I could get in. So I went up to Medical Staffing and asked for one, but they said they were too busy and I should come back tomorrow.”

“And were they busy?”

“They appeared to be handing round pieces of chocolate cake…”

[At this point we could not help but dissolve into giggles...]

“So what did you do?”

“I had to go and see someone else and get them to email Security, then get the email printed off so I could show Security it had been sent. And it then took them another hour to get my pass done.”

“Oh. Well never mind (trying to sound cheerful). At least you do have your own office now, don’t you?”

“Well, yes.”

“What’s that like?”


“What, more horrible than that horrible lab you used to work in?”

“Yes. Well, they did show me a really nice office at first, but apparently it belongs to another consultant who’s on long term sick leave but might return at any moment - no-one seems to know what's happened to him - so they kicked me out into another one, which hasn’t got a computer except in the corridor."

"I see."

"But I do have a secretary."

“Oh really, that’s exciting.”

“Yes, but she doesn’t do any dictation because that all has to be outsourced to another company which is apparently cheaper.”

“Really? So what does she have to do then?”

“Not sure.….Play Solitaire?”

“Oh… what did you have for lunch then?"

"A Diet Coke and a packet of crisps, by myself..[pause] I'll be taking sandwiches tomorrow."

[Long pause]

"Another glass of wine then?”

“Why not…”

He may be a highly trained NHS consultant, but I felt like putting a little card in his school satchel to cheer him up. Some things never change.


Mom/Mum said...

Ahh bless him. Make sure he takes some extra lovely sandwiches tomorrow and tuck a little love note inside, good idea. It never shows that side of medical life on Greys Anantomy/ER/Holby City etc eh does it? obviously annoying-medical-paperwork0-security-issues wouldn't be such a ratings winner.
On the plus side, at least he didn't say his secretary was 'hot stuff'

Catherine said...

I bet he felt like the first day at school! At least he has the sense of humour to laugh about his day, however frustrated he must have felt at the time.

Unknown said...

What a shame! All excited about a new job and then the air is let out of his balloon.
Don't talk to me about passes either. When I returned after maternity leave it was like I was some kind of terrorist trying to infiltrate my way into the building getting my pass reinstated. I've worked there for 14 years! They all know me! Tsk

Potty Mummy said...

He must be mad...(as in angry, obviously). And did they not even offer him a piece of chocolate cake?

Nunhead Mum of One said...

Haha, that's the good old NHS for you! When I go back to work (I work ad hoc as and when they want me, if it fits in with me!) dear old security guard Terry says "hi Joanna, how are you today? Got your pass?"

Without your pass you can't do diddly squat in a hospital which is good in a way but bloody frustrating!

A Confused Take That Fan said...

Aah, I loved this post. You have three little boys to look after. He may be a consultant, but deep down he still needs you to make him a yummy sarnie and tell him everything will be OK. Maybe next week, when he fially gets his pass, it will be more like House?

nappy valley girl said...

Thanks, Mom/Mum. (By the way I seem to have given everyone the impression that I make his sandwiches...actually he makes his own, myself being no domestic goddess!) And, oh dear, it never occurred to me that he might think his secretary was 'hot stuff' - I have the impression that they are all matronly, but maybe I should investigate these things more...

Hi and welcome, Adventure Mother - you are right, although I reckon The Doctor would say that if you work for the NHS, you have to have a sense of humour.

Tara, I also remember the security pass thing from the publishing house where I used to work - I can understand it more with doctors than us journos though! What are we going to do, pose as an editor and let a few typos go by?

Hi PM, I checked and no, did they did not offer him outrageous!

Nunhead mum, I sympathise - what good is making friends with security guards if you can't lose your pass once in a while?

CTTF, thanks. I like to entertain the House fantasies even if I know the reality is somewhat different...(by the way can you tell me what happened in the last Grey's Anatomy as I missed it?!)

UPDATE - The Doctor now has his security pass but still can't get into the loos for some reason....And he got the nice office in the end, as the person who was meant to be off sick resigned on Tuesday!

Tim Atkinson said...

Is the golf course nearby? They'll have nice loos there!

Mom/Mum said...

Hey VG - As your blog has made such a difference to my life and I think your writing is just fab, I've got an award for you over at my place. Come get it!

nappy valley girl said...

Hi Dottorel - I'm sure they do, but sadly for him, the Doctor does not play golf. Cycling to work is the nearest he gets to exercise!

Mom/Mum, thank you so much for the award and your kind words, I'll be over in a jiffy.

Tim Atkinson said...

But I thought concultants had to play golf in the afternoon?!

Jane said...

Poor guy. It's a long slow climb to the top.