Thursday, September 08, 2005

Back to school!

Back to school
DO YOU ever have that "back at school" dream? You know the one where you find yourself sat in a classroom about to sit your History A Level and panicking that you can't remember any of the facts and figures any more?

It's one of my most common recurring dreams- right up there with my teeth falling out or being at work without my shoes.
The dream usually consists of me feeling physically sick at the thought of being back in front of a teacher but suddenly realising, after some minor hyperventilation, that I passed the exam, I'm married, with a job and I don't need to sit any more exams (We will ignore, for the purposes of this column, the fact that I've not passed my driving test yet!).
The sense of relief I feel when it dawns on me that I'm past that "wee girl at school" phase is amazing- in fact I would go as far to say that the trauma of the dream is almost worth it for the relief factor. (It's like having the teeth dream and realising when you wake that you still have your choppers!)
So then it seems a little crazy (and a tad masochistic) that I would take it on myself to sign up for a night class.
But on Wednesday night I left my nightmares behind me and took part in my first ever night class- First Aid. While not exactly as fear inducing as A Level History, the very thought of going back to a learning environment did make me feel more than a little nervous.
I was never afraid of school as youngster, I quite enjoyed my years at Thornhill and even stayed in education for a further five years after to gain the qualifications I needed for this job. Perhaps, that is my problem; I'm all "schooled" out. So to walk into a classroom (okay, a playgroup with all the toys pushed to one side) gave me a case of the wibbly wobbly wonders.
I'm a little bit ashamed to admit that my knowledge of first aid before now has largely been gleaned from watching ER and Casualty. I had half a notion what to do in the event of a burn or a nosebleed and I knew (sort of) how to put someone in the recovery position thanks to a couple of years in the Briginis as a youngster- but that's about it.
As a responsible adult I felt it my duty to learn a little more though (the fact that the wee man has the capacity to scare the holy bejaysus out of me by turning blue or faking asthma attacks may or may not have something to do with that decision).

Feel the fear...
It was that thought that made me put my own fears and concerns about being a pupil again aside and go along anyway.
So, with a friend for support, I arrived at my class on Wednesday night (courtesy of the Templemore Early Years Centre). There we met "First Aid Doug"- who would be our teacher. (Immediately I breathed a sigh of relief we were not being faced with a teacher who demanded we respond in sing song voices "Good evening Mr. First Aid Doug").
Within an exceptionally short time I realised that my knowledge of first aid was, basically, shocking. Apparently, according to First Aid Doug, my attempts at the recovery position (before learning the proper way) would have me up in court for sexual assault and possibly murder.
So I decided to start listening as best I could as we learned all about airways, breathing and circulation, along with the use of the new fancy defibrillators which I'm now convinced every workplace or community centre should have.
Of course, much of it was spent in a state of shock (hand over mouth, shaking my head, feeling quite faint- I thought I might have needed some treatment myself) as we heard about some of the more traumatic experiences of a First Aider.
While we discussed the finer points of saving our children from choking, we all panicked a little as even though we were only working with a doll- all of us being mammies knew that if it came to our own children, or anyone else's, we would be fighting panic at the same time as trying to remember the proper way to save a life.
But then, I realised, wouldn't the panic be 10 times worse if you didn't have a notion where to even start? So taking some deep breaths I practised my back pats and chest thrusts (not nearly as exotic as it sounds).
The only truly dodgy moment for me was when my (size 12) partner had to practice the Heimlich manoeuvre on my not-quite-a-size-12-girth: rather than breathing feeling as was my mission, I breathed in as hard as I could to shrink my stomach in as much as possible.
That one blip aside, my return to the classroom was not as a painful as I thought it would and when I returned home I didn't have a single dream about sitting an exam, wearing a school uniform or trying to remember the facts of the Irish Famine. (There was an unfortunately bizarre dream about me trying to force my post baby bulge back into my wedding dress- but that's irrelevant).
My course continues next week. According to First Aid Doug, we will learn about bandaging, dealing with diabetics and get a chance to try CPR for ourselves on the adult sized mannequin. Dare I say, I'm actually quite looking forward to it!

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