Sunday, September 28, 2008

Reminiscing about my working life

I was just having a think about the jobs I have had since I turned 15 and was reflecting upon the fact that I have appeared to have officially retired due to ill health as they so delicately put it to me. Even though I am only within cooee of 55, I have retired. Dang! I'll miss the money mostly.

That got me thinking - when I was in high school I wanted to be an architect. I loved tech drawing (I came top of my class in 2nd form) and art and being an architect sounded right up my alley. What I forgot to consider was that maths was an important part of architecture and for my HSC I barely scraped into a pass level in maths. I got a top mark for Industrial Arts though. So I had no idea what to do until a neighbour suggested I become a nurse. So I filled in the forms, passed the medical (no maths required there), got accepted, got measured for my uniforms, packed up my bags and headed off to live in the nurses home at Prince Henry Hospital, Little Bay at the ripe old age of 18. Soooo exciting.

Anyway I have made a brief list of my jobs/professions/careers since I was legally old enough to get work, and here they are:

I worked as a shop assistant during school holidays and on Saturday mornings for pocket money from to time after I turned 15. I sold haberdashery and clothing. I got $2 for a Saturday morning which went a bloody long way back then.

After I finished my HSC I worked for 2 weeks in a fish, chip & hamburger shop. Making chips by hand mostly, no bags of pre cut chips then. I had to load the spuds into a machine that bashed the skins off, empty them into a bin full of water, cut out the eyes and other nasties then put each one through a hand operated chipper. All the while the aroma of hamburgers, chips and chico rolls cooking out front would waft over me. Boy, it was hard, wet and dirty work and I could not bear to even look at a hamburger or chips for months after I finished.

For the 6 months prior to me starting my nursing training, I worked as a packer in a plastic factory where my Mum worked. Ever wondered now they get those 2 pieces of paper in the cosmetic bags to plump them out and the cardboard rings in the fancy shower caps? Well, that was my job. I would do hundereds a day, my brain was going numb. I couldn't stand it in the end and used to take a day off as often as I dared though that was hard to do as Mum drove me to work every day. *sigh* If boring jobs were an olympic sport, mine would have won the gold!

Then I became a Student Nurse for 3 years when nursing was like an apprenticeship, a real hands-on job. Six weeks in school learning the basics of bed making, giving needles and patient care, then thrown onto the wards looking after real patients and emptying bed pans. It was 1972 to 1975 mini skirts were still hot, I discovered alcohol and hangovers and having to go to work regardless of how horrendously dreadful you felt waking up after 1 hours sleep, and I loved the whole experience. I loved living in the nurses home, staying up as late as I wanted and going out with the other girls. Oh yes, the job was good for the most part but there are a few parts I would rather forget altogether, some wards and sisters - LOL. Dinner at the canteen (3 courses) when I started training was $0.40. I kid you not!

I did 18 months as a registered nursing sister in a few nursing homes and 3 months at the Hospice for the dying at St Vincents (enough said) in the eastern suburbs of Sydney. Horrible job, I hated it so much that I almost went nuts. So I changed careers.

I became a Legal Secretary from 1979 onwards starting off as a self taught typist with no formal secretarial training. More ass than class I suppose but I talked my way into a job in a legal office and they gave me a chance. I liked the work and it kept the brain active. My one mistake during the whole 29 years was to work for a Barrister, who shall remain nameless for fear of a law suit, as he was very hard work, major stress value. I spent most of my time working for small legal firms and doing a large variety of work. I have only just recently retired owing to my fragile and delicate health *coff* :-P

So there it is. Did I really do all that? I sound like my grandad talking about the olden days - oh God save me .....

Till next time dear readers............. ciao


Sunday, September 21, 2008


Well it is the start of another week - ho hum - almost the end of September and in 2 weeks time it will have been a year since Mum died. I miss her every day and at last I have started a memorial scrapbook album for her which I will give to Dad when I visit him next (end November). I have photos of Mum from age 12 right up until the very last day. Dad, being a keen amateur photographer all his life, took a couple of photos of Mum a few hours before she passed on.
I had found it difficult to get started on this album but for some unknown reason inspiration hit me on Saturday and I ended up doing about 10 pages including a double layout of her and Dad's wedding. The one above is one I had completed a few months ago and not part of the memorial album but it shows 2 young people in love.
Time flies by so fast and it goes even faster the older you get. Just imagine how fast it is going for those folks over 80. Well, off to the scrap room to work on the album.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Health Insurance

Isn't it madness that when you take out private health insurance, you not only have to pay the sky high premium but you get slugged with the doctor's gap payment just as soon as you use it. What the hell are we insured for if it doesn't cover everything? Imagine if you crashed your car and the insurer told you that they would repair the left hand side of the car but you had to pay for the right yourself. No one would put up with that!

In 2003 whilst we were both "between jobs", my darling hubby required plastic surgery and a skin graft to his handsome face for removal of a large skin cancer near his nose that had flourished under a huge beard and moustache for 12 months and was only discovered once he shaved. As we still had a couple of months paid up on our private health insurance, we smugly decided to have it done "privately". In honour of what we went went through I wrote the following poem from his point of view. It just wrote itself really.... here 'tis.....

By Linda Prowse
Mudgee 2003

I went to the Doc the other day and this is what he had to say
“That spot on your face will have to go or the big C will get you, don’t you know
Day surgery will do the trick. Oh yes, and I’ll have to skin graft that bit.
A cut down there and a snip over here then a bloody great big cut behind your ear
A patch of skin and a stitch or two then in 12 months time, you’ll be good as new.”

“I’m unemployed” I said as I thought of the cost “But I’ve got Private Health Insurance so all’s not lost.
It’s 100%, no excess, no gap”. He smiled and said “my fees exceed that.
My insurance costs are enormously high and I have to make a living, that’s why.”
I have no choice, I have to pay. The credit card will save the day.

I rang my Health Care Fund to see if the Fund would cover me.
“Yes, hospital bed and theatre fee are covered 100%, entirely,
In any private hospital, but - the Doctor’s bills, well, they are not.
We only pay the Medicare Gap and doctors charge much more than that.
Any balance owing is yours to pay, thank you for calling, now have a nice day.”

As the public waiting list is so long who knows when I would eventually get done?
How much bigger would the cancer grow? All these things I need to know.
As I ponder the idea of becoming poor the wife spoke up and said “Wait, there’s more.”

“Our ancient dog is looking ill. He needs some more arthritis pills.”
As there is no Medicare for our pets I had no choice but to pay the Vet.
She said “My back ache’s getting worse. Constant pain is such a curse.
I need some scans the doctor said.” T’was then I collapsed upon the bed
My mind was in a real turmoil. How am I going to pay for it all?
My only income is the dole, I feel like I have fallen into a very deep hole.

Now country medical services ain’t great. Neither’s the Medicare rebate, Mate!
We travel hundreds of Ks each time we see specialists who treat the wife and me.
They charge hundreds of bucks and don’t bulk bill at all ‘cause the Medicare scheduled fee is so small.
It looks like on credit we will have to rely but if I looked at what’s owing, I’d probably die.

Unemployment is high and work prospects are low yet our population continues to grow.
More funding for health and more hospital beds. Can you pollies get that through your thick heads?
Fix the Health System now; it’s a disgrace to the nation.
I’m not the only poor bastard in this situation!


PS - the dog died, hubby lost a chunk of his moustache, we had to move 3 hours away to get work and my back is still crook....... that's life!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Things that make you go........hmmmm

You know what I hate? I hate it when you would like nothing more than to have a nice hot shower, to wash the grime of the day away and there is no hot water. One of the simple pleasures in life really. You would think that in the 21st century we could take this for granted, but no. Things are meant to break down otherwise the plumbers and electricians of this world (and many other professions I suspect) would be very quickly out of work.

Yesterday the hot water system spat the dummy. Not a big, gushing, exploding dummy spit, just a gradual cooling of the water that came out of the hot tap. We have a visitor for 3 weeks, Matt's niece Bianca who is a student teacher doing some prac teaching locally and she had first shower (hot) followed closely by me (warm) then in the afternoon when he returned from work grubby and sweaty, Matt got a cold one. Brrrr. Ok, so we assumed it was the element that carked it and early this morning after running the hot tap for a while and getting no result, Matt removed said element and hot footed it to the local Mitre 10 and got a new one which he fitted without incident. I have a very handy hubby who can mend almost everything but we are at the mercy of Country Energy's off peak hot water program and we now have to wait anxiously overnight to see whether we have managed to solve the problem.

In the meantime, I had had a haircut yesterday arvo and you know what it is like to have little bits of hair itching the back of your neck plus it was a warm day and I was somewhat sweaty by days end. With the assistance of my darling hubby I stood in the shower stall whilst he poured a couple of buckets of warm water, courtesy of the kettle mixed with cold water, over me. Our bathroom was renovated a few years before we bought the house and the bath was dispensed with. Standing in the shower stall with Matt assisting me reminded me of the year we spent travelling around Oz in a motor home when we pulled up in a remote spot, heated some water and poured it into a "bush shower" and with a bit of assistance from each other, had a quick wash down. Talk about 19th century technology.

Anyway, I am hoping like hell that the element was the problem and that come tomorrow morning, I can turn the hot tap on and be rewarded by some steaming hot H2O being delivered. *sigh* Bianca has decided to visit her sister Cassandra who is presently working in Forbes for the night and she said she would shower over there. Wise move I say.

At least now I feel refreshed and sparkling clean. I was planning to colour my hair this morning as I have more greys than a 90 year old but was not prepared to do it the primitive way. Such is life. Tonight I am praying to the God of hot water to deliver us from this inconvenience and I promise to be a good girl for the rest of the year.

da dum de dum..... hot water here I come.........