Lots of people ask me how I ended up becoming a Podiatrist (at the age of 31), well it’s an odd story;-
Back in October 1987 when I was 27, I had been a full time civil servant for some 12 years (a job I’d drifted into as I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I left school), latterly working on the Youth Training Scheme.
(For those of you born after 1985, we had pretty high youth unemployment from the late 1970s through to late 80s early 90s and the government had the youth training scheme to attempt to provide vocational training for 16-18 year olds, some would say to keep them off the streets and occupied), however I shall not digress into politics writing about that.
Anyway, I found myself sat at my desk writing yet another monitoring report and, amidst much huffing and puffing (from me) over what seemed to me at the time pointless paperwork, my colleague Maureen asked me to go and have coffee with her.
She said, “What’s the matter Dianne, you seem so fed up?”
Mid life crisis?
“Well, I just feel that if I was abducted by aliens tomorrow, what difference would it make? Some other drone would be put at my desk to continue where I left off and onward the wheel of bureaucracy would turn without missing a beat. I just wouldn’t be missed, I’m just not making a difference” I said.
“So, what would your really like to be doing?” She asked
I sat, took a deep breath and said “If I had my time over again Id want to be a Podiatrist”.
“So, why don’t you do it then” she asked.
I trotted out that:-
· I would have to go back to college to do A level Human Biology in order to get on the Podiatry course (that could take 2 years)
· Then I would have to quit my job and go to full time college to do the 3 year Podiatry Diploma course in Salford, (and fund it myself).
· Consequently it could take 5-6 years to get qualified (depending on when I could get on the courses) ..that would make me 32 -33 by the time I did all that….big sigh!
“Hmmm, how old will you be in 5-6 years if you don’t do it, and how will you feel about still being in this job?” she said.
Who can live with regret?
Boom! Light bulb moment!
That was it; I was down to the local FE College that very evening! I discovered that Id missed 5 weeks of the A level Human Biology Course already; I assumed that it would be too late for me to start and began asking the lecturer (Dave Cooper, sadly RIP now) about enrolling the following year.
“why not start on Wednesday?” he said “we do the A level course in 1 academic year here at Padgate, so if you join us you will come on Monday and Wednesday evenings from now on and sit the exams in May 1989”
Racing through my mind was:- how will I not only cope with continuing to work full time, but also commit to 2 evening classes a week from 6-9 as well as do the home work, as well as catch up on what Id missed?
He was having none of my excuses though”, I will give you all the notes you need to catch up he said, and how hard you work to pull it back is up to you.”
Slap! The gauntlet was down!
Now, anyone who knows me knows that the suggestion that I might not be up to a challenge is challenge enough for me to prove them wrong.
“Just watch me!” is one of my favourite sayings
So, after 7 months of intensive study, catch-up timetables and revision, with much trepidation I sat my Human Biology A level in May 1989. In mid August I got the result that I had not only passed but gained an A grade (we didn’t have A stars in those days), needless to say I was ecstatic!
But then the biggest decision of all was quitting my job, in order to start my Podiatry course in September I had to give a months’ notice on my job the very same day the A level results were announced. Id typed the letter, but did I have the guts to finally sever my security ties for good?
Echoes of my dad saying “but what about your pension, you have a job for life there?”
My mind was made up, I couldn’t live with the thought of the regrets I would have if I didn’t go for it, so the resignation letter was handed in and a month later I became a Podiatry student.
The rest as they say is history, I’d always wanted the chance to both work privately as well as in the Health Service. I wanted the chance to be in control of my own destiny. So after a year or two of NHS work I set about finding a property where I could work from home. Lane Ends Chiropody (latterly Podiatry) became a reality. Gradually I built it up (with some help and maternity cover from my pal Janice Cooper) from a couple of evenings and Saturday mornings to being the busy practice it is today. Lane Ends is my focus now after leaving the NHS in 2013 (after 23 years that wheel of bureaucracy had caught me up again) and it was time to fully connect with the people I wanted to help, utilising my skills and knowledge in things I’m good at and most of all spending quality time with people.
Even after 27 years I still get a buzz out of my job, its amazingly satisfying making that ingrown toe nail comfortable again, removing that splinter of garden debris or even dog hair from a toe, or tidying the toe nails of someone who can’t get down to them, or reconstructing a nail so it looks normal to wear those peep toe shoes for that wedding, or treating that fungal nail so it can grow normally again, or making that insole which takes pressure off that corn. I love my job, but I especially love the people I meet doing it.