Henriette – Age 74
“I’ve worked all over the world and was in the first liver transplant team in Paris. I also wrote guidelines for Public Health on teenage pregnancy and for transgender people; I thought if I can help change one life it’s all worth it.”
I’m French and I trained in Paris and graduated in 1964. I was initially in maternity, OBGYN and then I worked in theatres. I was part of the team that did the first liver transplant and second heart transplant in Paris. I then decided that I should widen my horizons so I went to the Sahara and worked in a place called La Gout, which is an oasis, and I worked there for 2.5 years, setting up a centre for diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis and I also did some work on food for children. I came back to my parents and I worked in Geneva for about 5 years.
I was asked to be a Matron which I did for a year and there I met my husband at the pub. He was British (still is British) and he was doing a post doc in Physics at the University and he was then offered a job in LA so we moved there. There I started a degree in Italian and I passed my US State boards and worked at UCLA in Oncology. Then I moved to London and looked after my 2 daughters and worked as an estate management agent as I couldn’t work as a Nurse. My husband had a job at the university and I applied to do a Masters, so I got my Masters and worked and I managed to get back to nursing after lots of letters and I’ve been back nursing since.
I worked in public health, dealing with teenage pregnancies and I wrote some of the guidelines for transgender people. I retired when I was 70 years old. I really enjoyed patient contact and I miss that the most. A patient once said that I changed her life and I think that was the best compliment I ever had. I thought if I can change one person’s life it’s all worth it. I’m so disappointed for young people, the EU gave so many opportunities which are going to be closed now, I’m so sorry for young people. I like not having to wake up at 6am and having no managers. I can say no to things, I enjoy my retirement very much. I’ve been travelling a bit. Putting up with my husband who’s now retired is the most difficult bit.
Up to now I was secretary for the NHS fellowship, I give talks to GPs, give advice on the phone for patients. I go to the gym 3 times a week which is great. I take things as they come really, I can go to bed at 1am without thinking I have to get up tomorrow. Brighton is very diverse, I like just sitting and seeing all different people go past. That’s my French way, sitting in a cafe and you look at people and you comment. You lose your inhibition when you get older, things don’t seem to be so important any more. My daughter and I were in a car accident in France last week and she was in such a state, arguing with the other driver, and I just thought calm down, there’s insurance, take it easy. I don’t want to argue with people any more, I just relax. I know I’m going to die but I’m not concerned because it’s a normal stage of life. I still try to keep as healthy as I can. But I’m scared for young people, this is my main worry, and of course Trump. But there’s been no nuclear explosions yet.