A demanding year.

I’ve been quiet on this site for the past 3 months. There are many reasons, some of which include;

Rising levels of community transmission and therefore hospital admissions.

Outbreak management.

Crazy busy homelife.

None of these are new though, in honesty this has been an amazingly busy few months.

So, here we go again. An afternoon blog written with Mica Paris (Gospel) in my head phones and a fire lit.

Wow, the last 3 months make the first 3 months of this year look like a walk in the park! We might know so much more than then and have less of the logistical pressures but with an NHS working very differently there are many more patients and many less beds and staff available to deliver everything that needs doing. Trying to ensure that the hospital is able to deliver emergency and elective care is possible, but many ideas and plans to are often railroaded by the ability of this virus to make the most of a gap in control or a simple mistake.

So, it has been busy. I’m not sure if we’ve witnessed the impact of “super spreaders” – individuals with COVID-19 who are able to spread the virus far and wide in a ward environment, seen lots of the new variant cases admitted into the Trust or just been extremely unlucky. I have never seen a viral infection spread as rapidly and indiscriminately as I have over the past 3 months.

My team, as have every other team I work alongside, have worked tirelessly to reduce the impact of this. As rates have risen and fallen, thus we have adjusted our capacity to care for patients with and patients without COVID-19. Its been desperate at times, how often we have been at the last few beds available state I can not recall but it has been a frequent “call to arms” for us as a county to work even closer together and enable the impossible!

So that leads me to the impact of all this.

I’ve never worked longer or harder alongside others also doing the same and as a a result we have made closer bonds, improved communications and understood each others pressures and demands. I have been able to do more than I thought I could. When I’ve got close to feeling “that’s enough” there has always been someone able to help me take that step beyond and I’m back to bouncing ready for the next challenge.

October brought the much planned and talked about merger of 2 large organisations to create University Hospitals Dorset. As the lead IPC Nurse for one of these organisations I was interviewed for the post of Head of IPC for the newly formed Trust. I have to note here that I did not jump for this post. Lead Nurse for 1 Trust is hard, to become the Head of 2 large sites at the beginning of many large and projects in the midst of a pandemic was more than I could sanely just say yes to.

Two weeks of thinking and several conversations with my wife/ friends/ family and inspirational line manager later I agreed to the offer. Even now I’m not sure I’m the right person for the post, but with his job I want to be the right person more than any other post I’ve had.

I have been up and down since then, since October. Kind of like in previous months but now the dips and peaks are closer together and, well I’m less deep in the downs and higher in the ups!

I’ve not got to the tasks that I really needed to, not because of failings but just down to the sheer volume of work and effort it is currently requiring to do this job. It hard to write down, and openly admit to but its important to note and I’m sure I’m not the only one.

So what does 2021 hold. The vaccine I’m hoping will very soon to start having an impact. I read that on Christmas eve over 500,000 doses were given in the UK to patients and staff, amazing NHS. Lateral flow testing is having an impact and I’m sure preventing asymptomatic/ pre-symptomatic transmission. All showing glimmers of hope at the end of what has been a long and winding tunnel.

One more action I need to take for myself, still, is to do less hours. I gained a day off this week and by doing so all my usual verve , swagger, cheek and love of life returned. That’s the part of me I need to do this job, that’s the part of me that needs to be here to do this and to be the human/husband/ dad/ son/ brother/ friend I am.

There is a lot going on in the house I live in, the home I leave each day. I have a wife with her own successful business. I have 2 growing young men who are each taking their own journeys to their future. One of whom is soaring the other, my youngest, just growing his wings. Each of them will take their own path but the keeping the lights on for all the options for my youngest feels sometimes more than I have, more than we (my wife and I) have. Balancing the demand of work and this is hard. Hard enough for me to consider walking away from work at some points but its the support network and the awesome team I have that keeps me there.

When I became a parent, a kind soul gave me a book my Khalil Gibran, his poem “The Children” stays with me every day.

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you.
And though they are with you, they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
Which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite.
And He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hands be for happiness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
So He loves the bow that is stable.

So as I work and try to parent I try not to bend and mould but guide and show. I try not to dicate and demand but talk and explain.

However. Living with a young autistic man, with associated learning difficulties and anxiousness makes it hard to define a future that is unknown. Hard to help guide to a path that even now, is difficult to make out amongst all that litters it.

So a balance between that which is work and the sometime tornado that is my home is my aim for this year. Any parent in a similar place will recognise this. But don’t read this wrong I rush to work with the same glee that I head away from it. I head home as quick as I left, its just keeping in mind where is the most important is sometimes hard to do when the demands are so, well, demanding!

I wrote in October I’d try to keep a blog just describing the journey, month by month so watch this space…