Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Looking Forward, Looking Back by Amy Andrews.

I was 17 when I first put on my nurse’s uniform. I’ll never forget that feeling. It was new and exciting. Scary too. But it felt right.

From the very first day, it felt right.

On the left, the first day of my training. On the right, my last few weeks as a student nurse

I loved it from that very first day. And I hadn’t even seen a patient at that stage! That would take six weeks. Six long weeks before any of my group were unleashed on a real patient.

We had to learn stuff first. Like how to take a blood pressure and do a bed bath and give out a bed pan. Can you believe I took a full page of notes on how to give a bedpan?! I still have those notes and I shake my head at that studious young woman.

And then we were on. Out in the real world, with bona fide patients, bona fide wounds, bona fide sickness.

But I loved that most of all. I loved being with my patients. Sure, the work was full on – twelve to eighteen patients needing to be showered/bathed, their obs done and their dressings attend to all before morning tea or look out!

But I loved being with them. Chatting with them as I made their beds, or helping them to the shower or dressing their wounds. I loved the camaraderie. The connection.

The laughter, the risqué jokes, the banter.

I loved hearing their stories. I loved the whispered night duty conversations.

I loved that I could help in some way. That I could do something for them that might just ease whatever was ailing them even if only momentarily.

A squeeze to the hand, an extra smuggled pudding, a pulled curtain when they needed it.

I loved bossing those tough guys who’d come off their bikes and landed in traction into rolling bags of laundered bandages for me (yes, we used to recycle bandages!!). I loved listening to stories about grandkids and handsome husbands who could dance the Pride of Erin like no other man and what I could do about my acne from little old ladies. I loved being flirted with by strapping young country boys who’d hurt themselves by doing something (usually) completely idiotic like surfing on the top of a traveling ute or blowing up something that wasn’t meant to be blown up.

I loved being the one who could take away pain with one swift jab. I really loved giving needles!

I loved being greeted like a long-lost friend after the physio had done her rounds.

Above all, I loved the trust they put in me, the way they looked to me for guidance – this kid fresh out of high school.

And man, they told me some crazy stuff. Intimate, personal stuff. Stuff that made me want to stick my fingers in my ears and yell out la la la at the top of my lungs. Didn’t they realise I was just some seventeen year old kid with no life experience and no clue…

Twenty seven years later, I still love being a nurse. I’ve seen some things I’d never thought I’d see, never wanted to see, never ever, ever thought possible to see, never want to see again.

I’ve witnessed incredible joy and devastating sadness.I’ve been humbled and honoured to be there at the start and at the end of life. I’ve had some of the best times of my life in this job. Seen some incredible miracles and witnessed enormous faith. I’ve traveled the world with it and made some wonderful friends. I’ve laughed (and cried) so hard.

And man…I’m going to miss it.

My life is coming to a crossroads. The hospital where I work is closing down and relocating and I think it’s the universes way of telling me to hang up my fob watch. I’m going on 5 months leave next month so I’ll have plenty of time to think about it properly and plan. I may still need to do some nursing in some kind of capacity in the future but I think my clinical days are over. I was sad about that for a while but I’m not anymore. I’ll have more time to write and indulge my creative side instead of living this bizarre dual life. When people ask me what I do I won’t have to um and ah and choose the job that I know will be more palatable for them which is what I do now. I won’t be a nurse anymore – I’ll only be a writer.

So, bring it on!

Do you love what you do for a crust? Have you ever come to a cross-roads in your life? Which way did you jump? Are you looking forward to “retirement” and if so, do you have any grand plans for that magical time?



23 thoughts on “Looking Forward, Looking Back by Amy Andrews.”

  1. Crossroads can be pretty exciting–at least that’s how I choose to look at them. It’s starting a new adventure. I’ve had a few, the biggest involved compressing my entire life into 2 suitcases and a carry on bag. Scary, sure, but also full of possibility. In a way I envy you. Also, you’ll get to sleep more. Maybe.

  2. Oh Amy- you won’t *only* be a writer- You’re Amy freakin’ Andrews! An awesome writer with an amazing talent. And I’m absolutely sure you’re a freakin’ awesome nurse too- and I know it’s a fabulous job to have, and a hard one, and an absolute honor to be in peoples’ lives when they need it most. So yes, you’ll miss it. I did- for a while. I hung up my fob watch a few years ago after coming to a crossroads and 22 years of nursing…but you will fill your time with all those amazing stories, and meeting new people and having new dreams to fulfill- a whole new chapter, just for you. Very best of luck! I’m looking forward to reading all those new books you’re going to write!

  3. I’m sure you have been a wonderful nurse. I wouldn’t want to seem like your hospital closing is a good thing, but maybe it can work out to your good… it seems timely. More time available to figure out your next move for domination of romanceland 🙂

    (also: OMG you washed and reused bandages! I didn’t know that was ever done. I guess I just assumed that bandages used to be things that were always new even when they were actual material. I guess I imagined a bandage factory… with cotton weavers or something. That blows my mind!)

    1. lol Amalie – romanceland dominance seems like a goal I should set my hat too 🙂 Thank you, my path is now clear 🙂

      Yes. Bags and bags of bandages would come up from the laundry having been washed in scalding temperatures. It was a job we had to do in our “spare time” – yeh right! So I lumbered my long-term patients with it. I’d hand them a tongue depressor (to wind the bandage around) and a full bag and tell them it was their payment for giving them warmed bedpans and four hourly back rubs! 🙂

      1. Seriously? They washed the bandages???? Man, Queensland was behind the times! I trained earlier than you and never had to roll a bandage unless it was already on a patient and was being reapplied. I rocked a stump bandage 😉

        1. yup! We surely did. Makes sense if you think about it but not I guess in this day and age where we throw everything out – even our metal scissors and forceps are disposable!
          I too rocked a stump bandage 🙂

  4. Amy, what a lovely post. The people you nursed were lucky to have you there when they needed you most. I’m sure it will be a wrench to leave nursing but you have another wonderful career as a writer to focus on.
    I was a research librarian and gave it up after 25 years to write full-time. I loved my job and was a afraid that I was going to miss it terribly but I didn’t. OK, I missed the people I had worked with but having the freedom to concentrate on my writing did help make up for that. I’m sure you will feel the same. Eventually.
    Enjoy this new stage in your life. It’s going to be fabulous!

  5. Oh no! Your hospital is closing? That’s horrible.
    I was 17 when I put on my uniform too and am just a few years behind you.
    I still work full time and would love more time to write. But I’ve another five years of mortgage to pay! Things in the NHS are changing all the time and by April next year our pension scheme changes again – time to reevaluate then!

  6. Wow, Amy, what a great story. I’ve not had to hang up my fob watch yet and I can’t imagine what that might feel like. I love going out to patients and making a difference. However, just think of all those stories you can now write that people will love!

  7. Oh Amy,
    What a wonderful career. I’m sure you will be missed and miss it. I come to a cross roads about every 20 years. I have just give up my part time job as a substitute teacher, part-time being sometimes 5 days a week, to be a writer. I have a whole new career with that. Life changes and we grow and change with it. I see it as an adventure. You have so much to offer I see a special door opening for you.

  8. What a blessing you were to your patients and to the nursing profession, Amy! Knowing you gave it your all must bring much peace of mind. Now, enjoy turning in that pointy nursing cap (thank God they don’t make us wear them anymore!) for your thinking writer’s cap and burn of those pages. Life is all about change. Embrace it with gusto, babe.

    1. I just missed out on the caps, Lynne. They’d just phased them out as I began – I was so sad, I wanted to wear one of those suckers! But every other nurse who’d ever worn one was hysterically about it 🙂 They were not popular with the wearers!
      Thanks Lynne – I’ll embrace!

  9. WOW, Amy! Big changes ahead and exciting times 🙂 There have been a few times in my life when the decision has been made for me and as much as I would have resisted that decision if I’d had any control, it has always turned out to be ‘the best thing’ career wise or health wise. Your hospital closing down is giving you an opportunity you might not have taken otherwise.
    I wish you exciting adventures! Fiona x

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