When I had returned to Toronto from London in winter, 1976, I had called my friend Diana who still was working at Sick Kids Hospital. Diana and I had become good friends when I started working at SK after my graduation in 1974. She like I was single, and we spent more than a few nights in the swingle bars in the mid seventies. She had her own apartment, car, and really was a lovely human being. We both worked on xx the infant medical ward, where we nursed babies from newborn to 24 months. I gained a lot of experience there as our little patients suffered from a wide variety of medical ailments: congenital heart defects, failure to thrive, seizure disorders, fevers, croup, brain damaged babies in for investigation, acute asthma, cystic fibrosis, liver and kidney dysfunctions, to name but a few disorders. I had intended to work as a paediatric nurse at Great Ormond Street Hospital, the original Hospital for Sick Children in London. However when I arrived in London in 1975, I kinda lost my nerve when I discovered that the wages were the pits compared to Toronto standards. I decided that I would forgo the immense stress and responsibility of paediatric nursing for a less stressful job. It was one thing labouring for reasonable pay, but not for lower pay. So I was walking along one of my fave shopping sources, Oxford Street. I walked into a Jean boutique, (there were loads of them) and asked if there was any jobs going. I got a job as a cashier at Jean Junction.
That new lifestyle was fab for a while, but living with an alcoholic boyfriend, sinking into different addictions myself to cope with his hellish merry-go-round, plus the fact that I had quit my JJ job, with the intention of joining a temp nursing agency, (which I did, and completed one assignment sadly realizing that I was in no shape to continue this route) and money was becoming non-existent, I had to do something to literally save my life. Time to go back to my home, structure, a loving family and comforting familiarity.
It was difficult to leave Ty, but I knew that if I stayed I would be sinking into his gutter, & hell, what if I got pregnant! I was somewhat depressed & still dependent on codeine, but I found my way home with the help of my parents.
[whilst living in London then, I discovered generic Codeine Linctus! I had had a bad cold and went to the chemist asking for some cough syrup. Unfortunately, he sold me a bottle of syrupy yellow, sometimes orange, elixir in a little 200ml bottle. It worked and it made me feel soo much better. I realized that it must have contained a walloping amount of codeine! At first I would buy it once in a while for a nice little float. One good swig would last about 4 hours. However, as my life began to unravel with the man whom I adored, I found that I was seeking it out more frequently. I learned though experience, that the chemist could use his discretion to sell it to whom he deemed a ‘genuine’ customer. In other words, I found that I could not buy it from the same chemist more than once, if he /she recognized me. Sometimes on my quest, I could see those bottles on the shelves behind the chemist, & they would say they are out of stock! So, as addicts so cleverly seek out their poison, I would map out a list of chemists, take the bus or the underground & go looking to buy as many bottles as I could! These quests often turned out to be unsuccessful, exhausting & added more loathing to my already self-loathing & despairing mind. Oh such a stupid trap for me to fall into!]
Luckily for me, back in Toronto, back in my parent’s home, a solid familiar security, I managed to wean myself off the craving for codeine. The only thing close to the dreaded linctus was Benylin (many sorts) cough syrup. If I asked the pharmacist for B with codeine, it was sold ‘behind the counter’, I could buy it…. of course no great surprise to me, it only contained a ‘sprinkle’ of narcotic, along with the other medicinal ingredients. I would probably have to drink half a bottle to feel any codeine & I really had no desire to overdose on dm, or diphenhydrinate, or to compromise my respiratory centre! Yes, I could still buy asa or acetaminophen with codeine (8mg), again over the counter just like in GB, but I didn’t want stomach ulcers or to ruin my liver!
So gradually feeling more myself, I knew that I had to get working again and become independent. At 25, I couldn’t live off my parents. I knew there was a nursing glut in Toronto at that time, so I figured it might take a while for find a position, but at least I would be looking. so back to dear Diana who was still working at SK to let her know I was back. She had actually come to London for a visit when I was living there. That was a real trip! ( another time). I was expecting that I would even have some trouble finding a job at Sick Kids. Diana, however, excitedly informed me that J the head nurse would love to hear from me, especially as there was a brand new vacancy that she was trying to fill! I must say that I was somewhat disappointed when J asked me to come in for an interview tout de suite, because I was hoping for a little respite from work! I got the job, and I guess that I felt flattered, more than deserving, that J wanted me back! Not because I was not a good nurse, I believe that I was an excellent nurse, more because my self esteem was never the best and J didn’t have to hire me back! but she did!…so there [i am not sure this makes sense, but i have had enough of writing just now, i will have to review this later]