Dorrigo Nursing

view from the skybridge above the rainforest
Well, I'm back on the trail again...
recently in Dorrigo, in a quiet hospital in this gentile british town up in the mountains above Coffs Harbour.
The agency had organized a flight from sydney to Coffs, and then a hire car for me to drive myself from the airport up to Dorrigo...
my little chariot!
I felt so...special, being handed the keys to an almost brand new car. OK, so it was just a little Toyota hatchback thingy, but I've never owned a new car...and to be honest, I'm still getting used to the lifestyle that is one step above single parents pension and not quite poverty any the whole traveling on planes, staying in hotels and driving new hire cars is a pretty heady experience for this middle aged lass!
Anyway, I got into my sparkly white carlet (having taken a few photos so I could prove that the scratches on the door were there before I got in) and drove off into the hills.
The road to Dorrigo leads through the delightful town of Bellingen, which is a kind of cross between Nimbin and Byron Bay. It's a hippie town, which is now full of middle aged version of would be world changers, like myself. And it was a really nice change to to be in a place where I actually looked normal with my head or ded and grey locks and flowing yoga clothes, grin.
Bellingen is definitely more upmarket than Nimbin, and there is a lovely variety of very expensive alternative clothes shops and cool cafes that cater to the enlightened gourmands such as myself, with a wide variety of organic, gluten free yumminess!
I could have happily stayed there for a few weeks, but my destination was higher up in the hills.
some of Dorrigos tree people
So on I drove, up a windy road into the mountains, where each turn showed me a new breathtaking view off the plummeting cliff side of the road! Amazing waterfalls, unbelievable valleys, and me constantly swerving and swearing trying to stay on the road instead of staring off over my shoulder! Dorrigo itself is what most country towns would like to be when they grow up. It's has an air of elegant sophistication that is just delightful! Old country style houses made from brick and stone, delightful shops full of local artworks, including the wombat forge, which will make any pagan heart beat louder with it's collection of fine ironware, intricate metal jewellry and seriously cool middle aged style metal stuff! I drove through all of this and found the hospital. A light airy building with high ceilings, delightful views and 17 aged care beds. OK, it also has 6 acute beds and a 3 bed emergency ward. But more of that in a minute. I was given the keys to the doctors house, which turned out to be a goodly 5 mins drive from the hospital. An old style yellow painted country cottage with lovely warning signs telling people not to attempt renovations without prior consultation as it was chockers full of asbestos, and a beautiful old oak tree covering the lawn with acorns and baby treelets a sprouting! Dorrigo to me is all about the trees in fact. It's as if a European forest had found it's little niche up there in the cool mist covered hills...the whole town is full of tall stately tree people, and I spent as much time as I could just sitting outside with them, listening and letting their quiet calm seep through my soul. Yeah I know it sounds cheesy, but thats how it felt. The whole place has a sense of peace and maturity to it that to me seems to come from the trees themselves.
breakfast at the angel lounge
The staff at the hospital had a similar feel to them actually. There was a sense of quiet pride in their faces. Country people who knew who they were...less lines of stress in their faces, less overweight, and many with their grey hair undyed. The work itself was boring. I guess, being a bypass hospital close to Coffs, everything serious gets shipped out. And the most serious emergency presentation I got to see was a cut hand. And most of the time I got shafted off to look after the oldies, as the permanent staff jealously guarded their positions as "senior" staff with the right to choose who worked where and would choose to man the emergency presentations themselves, but hey, they have to work there all the time, I I got to run away again after a week....
After a few days I got to hear the inside gossip, and disappointingly, the usual tales of bullying, bitterness and petty battles for positions emerged. So much for the quiet pride and calm in their faces, sigh.. Nursing truly is one of the nastiest jobs I have ever encountered. And its all due to the nurses themelves. I love the work (even when its looking after crazy old people), but backstabbing petty politics is making me wonder more and more if I need to walk away from this profession. This time, none of the nastiness was aimed at me, and apart from not giving me work that made use of my skills, I can't really complain about the job there, but oh my heart ached for the permanent staff who were at the pointy end of the political bullying.
I have no amusing tales to tell from the work in the hospital this time. It was simply too uneventful. As nursing homes go Dorrigo is by far one of the best I have seen, clean and airy with the residents treated with care and dignity, family coming and going and fresh flowers bought in every few days...but it was still a nursing home.

The only things I learnt were that

a) I really hate aged care
b) Nurses are truly nasty creatures to each other and
c) It's often older, more experienced staff that get truly shafted.

Anyway, my actual highlight was staying with an old friend out in the hills in her little witches cottage with her dingo's and horses...
I hadn't see Wolfie for a number of years and her place was a true haven away from the petty politics of middle class nursing....
Muggles...I just don't get them.


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