July 2021

Finally after a long time in and out of data reviews, meetings with ward leads and matrons, talking through focal points with the team and understanding what questions needed answering we’ve written that report.

So, the monkey is off my back. Thoughts put on paper will now grow, I know there are a few loose ends in what I’ve written but I did not have the mental energy to tie them all off. Time pressured with current covid creeping in like a horde of slugs on a dew laden night I needed to move this on to be read by fresh eyes with different perspectives. I can already see the warning signs for outbreak triggers raising their flashing lights again, clearly we’ve only identified the lessons and not built in the learning yet. Still, this is a pandemic…if we knew what to do at each point and it was easy…it wouldn’t be a pandemic.

So now as I head off on leave in my mind I’m moving away from a battle I can see growing on three fronts. A battle that involves the virus, the associated politics and the people it is affecting.

On a daily basis politicians are using words and making decisions that bear no resemblance to the realities the NHS ( no one is cowering…and that whole NHS can return to work if pinged debacle are just 2 examples).

A virus making the most of the opportunities given to it (social distancing is hardly evident from what I’ve seen and now even less people will wear masks when they are in situations that it would offer benefit). I can see the impact vaccine has made but I can also see the impact the virus is making on those that for one reason or another have not taken it up. Mutation had been evident for a long time and was always going to be the next phase of pandemic management.

People. There are a group of people who will continue to reside outside the sphere of knowledge and information that is shared within the NHS and by those who support it. Those who will continue to interpret second hand information or that which is wholly incorrect and therefore see the world through that lense. Supporting these people to make the right decision to protect themselves and others from harm is going to become increasingly hard. This difficult to reach part of society will continue to be a reservoir for the vulnerable to catch covid.

Not sure what to say about those who propose it’s made up, that the NHS is set out on harming people. Probably the less said the better. Can’t help thinking though that on any other topic the voice speaking would have been silenced earlier.

So how do I feel now…..

Well, I could talk about pride. Pride in a team working hard to meet the demands of the day. A team filled with people making the right decisions for themselves and for work. Going back into this with very little respite for a third time is to say the least daunting. Coping on a daily basis with information, questions and decisions that really do take up more time than the mind can process is their skillset but it’s tough to do, day in day out for 18 months.

I could talk about pressure. Pressure to support so many other teams and people. Questions that need answers, problems that need a solution. New views to overlay onto existing challenges. All of that in the midst of growing cases bringing the shadows of a time we had tried to leave behind.

But this blog is about gratefulness.

The last 18 months have taught me to focus more on listening to what’s going on inside, to learn the trigger signs for action and then learn to talk. By no means have I got this. It’s like each pressure increase is another barrier to my ability to converse about its content. But this time I got to the feeling before it got to me.

Sat with my head in my hands, listening to yet another no notice policy change I could feel the binds tightening around my mind. Time to make a change, raise a flag. The change was beneficial. The flag important.

I called for support. Laid out my concerns and their impact. Worked through some of my solutions and took on board those from others. Some of mine were pretty extreme so we tempered those. Some of those suggested were simple but powerful decision aids and changes.

Feeling settled I have started to rebuild a platform and begin to dig back into strengthening those resilience support roots.

A book I’ve started to read has aptly captured some of my thoughts and emotions – Predictably Irrational by Dan Irely. The opening chapter talks about relativity, how we measure what we need, how we should feel and what we should be doing based on the relative levels we see in other people.

He describes how breaking that cycle of relativity and basing views on how and what we feel can help us to focus on actions rather than emotions.

It’s full of clever ways to look at life. Alternate views that just open up channels of thought.

One of the chapters starts with talking about Porsches. How a character in the book does not want to own a Porsche Boxter, because when you get one you then start thinking about the next level up…a Porsche 911 and if you get that well…there’s only a Ferrari next…and so on. That’s a lesson to learn, the more we get the more we want. The more we have the more we need. The only cure is to break the cycle.

For me it resonated with how I viewed others in my work life. How I wanted what I thought they had, less pressure…less stress…more control. When in reality they are probably experiencing the same pressures and stresses as me.