Its June and my sheets keep getting tangled

Some of these blogs write themselves as I sit down. Some of them grow from a conversation. This one has been running around in my sub conscious for a little while. But first, some other words…

red armchair on brown surface

For those that know me, you will have realised that this blog is my chair to sit in and explore what’s going on inside my head. It’s a chance to release what I’m thinking and feeling onto paper. Blogging is where I can express and explore, I guess it’s some form of therapy for me.

So if you are reading this, it’s because I want to share it. It’s because it helps to write it down. Helps to explore the thoughts and find a solution to a or an end to a chain of feelings and helped.

It’s also because a small part of me thinks that someone else might be feeling the same way too, and that by reading this it acknowledges their fear/worry or state of mind. allows them to move on too.

The leadership course I completed last year included a module that helped to explore who we are as leaders and showed me the benefit of knowing your own strengths, acknowledging areas that are not as strong and identifying ways of bridging the gaps. This is that.

Strength – reflection. Gap – being able to talk about it. Writing is my way of fixing this.

You got to learn how to fall
Before you learn to fly
And mama, mama it ain’t no lie
Before you learn to fly
Learn how to fall

Paul Simon.

So, to the words of this blog. Its June and there is a lot going on. Probably more than April and May. More testing. More non COVID19 inpatient admissions meeting our aims to reach as close as safely possible to normal. Much more questions than in previous months and far more complex in nature. Challenges to downgrade PPE now seem to be the flavour, not upgrade, but still the colleges are updating their policies out of step with national guidance so finding the balance between what should be done and what is written down is a regular challenge. Learning from local outbreaks. Finding out more on why there has been health care acquired COVID19 infections. A team working well but a team under pressure.

This is our job. This is the challenge. We are detectives, educators and persuadors. We have the ability to adapt and learn. These are the key skills for an IPC practitioner. Now we need to add in the ability to cope with this in large volumes or how we adapt to that challenge…

At the end of each day the pattern for me at the moment is generally a repeating one. Change out of my uniform. Head out into the daylight and then filter the traffic as I wend my way home. We aim to try and sit together as a family to eat our tea  but the dynamics as I land are are a difficult combination. I need a bit of peace, my kids need an escape (all day home schooling) and my wife needs me to engage with me having spent all day home schooling. So it takes a little juggling each night to meet in the middle.

If we have energy after tea we’ll play a game or learn a new song together. If not, a film to make us all laugh, is always good. Romantic comedies seem to be what we are choosing lately. My eldest grins, my youngest can follow the language and plot…that’s enough for my wife and I.

It is then time for sleep. Time to recharge.

I’ve wound down.

I’ve rested.

I’ve exercised.

I’ve read and avoided blue lights. The room is cold and I try to avoid any sugar, stimulants or alcohol after 10:00.

Being tired, sleep comes quick but at some point an hour or two later I wake, conscious that I’m working through a problem.

It’s like waking up feeling like the bed covers are wrapped around my feet or there is a weight on me that shouldn’t be there. I wake because I’m trying to untangle the problem. But it’s not anxiety that wakes me. I’m no longer fearful of waking unwell. Its not the inability of how we will manage as a family that triggers it either.

I’m waking thinking of what is to be done next. How can we reorganise? How can we simplify the processes, automate the data and manage the increasing number of questions?

I’m waking and subconsciously working through the weeks issues. Wandering through policies in my head trying to work out how to make it into interesting and engaging education delivered virtually or at a distance. I’m trying to figure out how we could improve. How we can do what we used to do with social/ physical distancing. I’m looking back at the past few months and reviewing what went well and not so well. How can we get this done and reflected into learnt actions before the next wave.

I’m thinking about my team. How can we measure success. Applaud ourselves on a good job. Find time for the projects that are as equally important as COVID19 that will impact on patient, visitor and staff safety, Support each other to keep on delivering, recoupe and prepare.

I think that this is OK. I think that there is a lot of other people in my role and similar doing the same.

I want to rest, I need to rest but also want to get things right.

Sometimes as I wake I think its because I’ve found an answer so I write them down but mostly I get up walk downstairs and take a look outside, check on the chickens or look at the sky and then back to bed…and back to sleep.

This is a common night time adventure, a repeating event.

I’d been focusing my night time routine on preventing the wakefulness, when what I should have been doing was working out why I was thinking like this. An image shared by a fellow blogger and colleague made me rethink my day and night focus…

wp-15919703475744871418691468509753.jpgIt might be obvious. It might be simple. But it was enough to make me stop and re-evaluate. Take time to re-frame my thinking.

I think that my subconscious is responding to the shift away from a pressure that was “hot hot, too hot to touch” to “phew, we need to open some windows in here”….As my thinking has relaxed and is starting to expand away from pandemic preparation to living with a pandemic I’m widening my focus to include the next few months response as well as dealing with the days pressure.

So what have I done? I’ve taken an hour out to talk to a colleague and share a concern. This is the first time I’ve had that free time. That time to talk non COVID-19 to talk about the individual and team effects of working within a pandemic.

A wonderful hour. Freeing, releasing from the constraints of being linked into so many different strands of work and thoughts…phew…So that has led to another conversation and we’ve started to make plans. To find some time. If you can, or if you can’t I urge you to find an hour, find a listening colleague and…talk.

As a team we’ve started to look at mindfulness. Start the day avoiding the “fight or flight” response to calls, queries and admission. This is helping. Doing something silly or  different to start the day in a new way. The emotional response to this pandemic is in our gift to control. Make the decision to think about this in a different way.

Next is to start some QI work. Talk through the processes and challenges. Work as a team to focus on each next step.

But we’ll do it one step at a time.