Making tough choices

Since getting things back on track with work etc I have realised I need to make some tough choices and prioritise what I need to do versus what I want to do.

In 2015 I had the best summer volunteering and recording statistics at the U19 World Lacrosse Championships. 2 weeks of full on lacrosse from watching, commentating, doing first aid, odd jobs and the main thing was stats. It was hard work and meant being outside in rain, wind, more wind and a little sun. So naturally when the Lacrosse World Cup was to be hosted by England and take place in Surrey I was straight on the web and signing up to do statistics again. I was so excited and looking forward to 2 weeks of lacrosse and getting to watch it pitch side and be involved right on the sideline of the competition.

fullsizeoutput_a33

As time got nearer I have secured accommodation onsite and really looking forward to seeing friends from the FIL again who I worked closely with at the U19 Champs. I was also given the role of 1 of 3 stats leads for the World Cup which I was over the moon about. I was really looking forward to it but recent events was casting doubts into my mind about wether or not I could manage it physically. I didnt doubt my ability in doing stats but my stamina to spend 2 weeks only feet non stop with long days up early and bed late.

So after much thought and consideration I have decided its best not to go down to Surrey. I am really gutted but there will be other World Cups I can volunteer at but I only have one life and I need to concentrate on getting my health back on track and maximising my stamina and not run myself down into the ground where I can’t do my job and feel well.

My work have been fantastic with me and I really can’t jeopardise that at all. I know myself that if I went to Surrey I wouldn’t be able to help myself and wouldn’t be able to say no if I was asked to do extra stuff. I would be running on adrenaline and would try and do all that I could to get the most out of the experience, so I have decided it is best to withdraw from volunteering and not go down.

I will be following the World Cup online and watching the matches and seeing how Scotland do and wishing them on from afar. I will be focusing on getting myself feeling good and getting on top of everything which I hope will mean in the future I can do more and enjoy things like lacrosse again.

It is really hard when things you love have to play second string to what you need to do to look after your health. I remember the days when I really didnt have a care and could do what I wanted when I wanted and not have to think about things so much or worry about having enough medication or what potential triggers could be around causing attacks. Its frustrating but I am hoping by taking these steps will mean that I can miss doing one thing which will allow me to do more and more in the future.

Heres hoping!!!

Weekend with friends

IMG_0691

Last weekend was amazing. I went up to Loch Tay with my best mates and their dog. I love it up there. I can really relax and settle when there with no cares and can just unwind from the busy and bustling city and working life.

What was so great is that my friends really understand me and we could just relax in each others company an not feel pressured to do anything so sitting around in our PJ’s chatting looking out on the Loch or going for walks was lovely. The weather wasn’t the best and it was very windy but it suited me because Edinburgh was so hot and humid that weekend it would have been a struggle.

We did go for a slightly adventurous walk which really puffed me but Jen and Rich just went at my pace without having to ask, I think its because Jen gets it and understands it can be tough sometimes. Last time we went up north for a weekend was about 5 years ago and its amazing how much things have changed- last time while making tea Jen and I managed to drink a whole bottle of wine between us (both of us are pretty lightweight with drink) while Rich and Ang watched TV unaware of our antics. This time we had just as much fun but with less wine and many more cups of tea. Getting old before our time!!!

The other thing that was great was we could all just unload and get stuff off our chests and take stock of where we are. I felt so relax I kept dosing off while watching TV. Im not sure what it is but breathing was actually not bad other than when I was told I sounded like a wheezing old lady but otherwise all was good.

I really must go up north more often. Now that I am not involved in so much stuff I am hoping I can go up more often and maybe get the boat out in the water and take it for a spin- sadly it wasn’t in the water this time as we had planned to go for a BBQ down the loch a bit but will save it for next time! Weekends are never long enough anyway when you have friends up. Really need a week!!

Being away gave me some time to think and make some choices which were hard and I will save it for another post.

Who couldn’t love this place….

IMG_0708

Im so so grateful to my work.

fullsizeoutput_1400

For me since I was off sick in Feb till last week really I have felt my career has kind of been in the balance. Even though everyone was telling me not to worry I really couldn’t not as I just didnt know what was going to happen because I have been off so much- well not many occasions but when I am off its never just a day or so more like a month or so!

This time I had a proper phased return to work which was annoying but worked well. Starting at 2hours a day building up to my new normal. I actually feel good again now, I have more energy and find I am sleeping a bit better although could still chop my legs off most nights but at least its not my breathing that is keeping me up. I am managing to get a good routine with my medications and regulating them to get the most out of them when I need them rather than taking them and then needing prns to keep on top of things.

My work have been so good with me and I do think that because I have always been pretty open ever since I was a student nurse about my health and its variability but also I have never (touchwood) been on sick leave for anything other than asthma or being in hospital with asthma. When I am a work I try really hard and put in max effort but also I love my job and really couldn’t think of another job I would want to do.

Having said that my job role is changing a bit to try and maximise my health and maintain it without pushing myself to much and running around like a headless chicken trying to do everything and not being able to do anything. I am really looking forward to what I m going to be doing as it really does include even more of my passions around patient eduction, teaching and also patient experience.

I really can’t thank what my bosses have done and it sounds really stupid but i am so grateful. I think until you have faced the thought of not being able to do something you love but also something you rely on for your living you don’t value it and acknowledge its value until it could potentially be gone.

I am really trying now to not over do it on my down days and plan rest days but also plan fun things to do as I can’t live my life for work but i need to acknowledge the effort that has been put in for me to keep my job and not do anything to jeopardise it.

This week I have some exciting things happening and then Im away up north with my best pals for the weekend to Loch Tay one of the most beautiful places in the world.

Formulating a CV

Since jumping into the world of research I have grasped every opportunity which has presented itself to me and I have no regrets about any of it except one thing. I was enjoying so much what I was doing and sending of comments and agreeing to do things right left and centre, but I am now regretting one thing. I didnt keep track of everything I have done.

Having been off work for an extended period of time and having some doubts in my mind about how long I will be nursing for and my interest in research growing more and more I was told I should really keep a record of everything I have been doing, commented on, been a co-applicant on, an author etc. I haven’t done any of this and I am realising this is a big mistake! I am not hanging up my nursing uniform yet but I have to admit I am intrigued more and more by research however I think I am spoilt with AUKCAR as I get to dip in and out of a huge variety of research rather than spend 5 years or so on one topic studying a PhD or something.

So not begins the hunting through emails and racking my brain for all the bits and pieces I have done so when the time comes I have everything in order. Its very odd to be thinking about research because when I was in Winchester I found the research aspect of the degree so hard and really struggled but I think it was because back then I didnt know I was dyslexic but since getting the help and the aids writing and reading has become much easier and I really do enjoy research and enjoy helping people do research and study. Learning new things is exciting and being able to implement things to make change and see the good come out of it is really rewarding.

I am going to start a section on my pages at the top of the different things I have done so that if anyone reading this is perhaps interested in getting involved in Patient and Public Involvement you can see what sort of things and the variety of things that you can get involved in!!!

Getting life back on track!

IMG_0339.JPGIts been a while since my last post and had some timeout but things seem to be getting back on track. May didnt out to be quite how I thought it would be. Its had some ups and downs but what months don’t and no one ever goes through life with no ups and downs.

But I am slowly building my hours back up at work. To start with I did just 2 hours a day for 4 days a week and build up from there. At first 2 hours annoyed me as I couldn’t get much done but I can now see why I needed to start there because as I build up to I find I am getting more tired and do have to pace as I realise now I have lost a lot of stamina which I had before. This will come back in time. I won’t be returning my my normal (full) part time hours but will be reduced by another day for the time being which is disappointing and frustrating but I really cannot complain as I still have a job and am very conscious that I am in a very fortunate position. I guess it pays to really enjoy your job!!

One thing I am struggling with just now is getting that work life balance. I don’t really have it or have the confidence in having it just now. I think because of what happened in February and how much it has cost me and altered me I am worried about something like that happening again. I had an absolute blast over in America and it was one of the best trips I have ever been on but it came at a really high price and meant I was in hospital for 3 weeks, and off work for almost 3 months. I know America was not directly responsible for me being so ill and most likely the plane from London (which could happen again) but I need to think about the things I am doing when out of work and if it could impact on work. I think because I love my job so much I am so scared of losing it so trying to balance things I am having difficulty getting my head round. But time will help and I will get that balance back as I find my feet again and feel well for a sustained period of time!

I’m just taking things as they come and having some me time to think about my career for the future especially looking into research more and making more of a career of it but that is a way off yet (hopefully a long way).

International Nurses Day

Today was international Nurses Day and all over social media there have been posts about nurses and how nurses are like angels, nurses who have given up their lives to look after others, nurses who have seen people at their most vulnerable, seen people face things they should never have to face, have been the shoulder to cry on, have been that person to make something just a little bit easier to face, the are people who just love to care for others and will often leave families at home who need them to look after other family members who also need them.

But why is today international nurses day. It is the day Florence Nightingale was born. The pioneer of modern nursing.

Over the past decade I would say I have come across a lot of nurses. Both good and bad.

Lets start with the bad. I am sure the nurses who I assume to be bad or I have taken a dislike to are probably dealing with one hundred and one other things and me asking for more nebulisers or me telling them I need detached from my drip, cardiac monitor and need the portable oxygen cylinder so I can go to the toilet is just a bit annoying especially when you are pumped full of fluid and have lots of salbutamol which also makes you need to pee every hour which drives me nuts no doubt drives them nuts to and just because I feel they are not great does not make them a bad nurse. There are some who I have learnt a lot from. I have learnt what I did not want to be as a nurse- Being on the receiving end of rudeness, bluntness, coldness, and feeling like you are a huge burden has taught me what I don’t want to do to my patients in my role as their nurse.

On the other hand I have had some amazing nurses. Nurses who I have known for over a decade now. Nurses who have sat with me during the night when my chest is bad and breathing is such hard work, I have had nurses come from ITU to see me to review me and comfort me when I am too scared about the prospect of going to intensive care, nurses help me when I am too stubborn to ask for help, or even nurses who know me well enough and tell me to snap out of it and grow up. I remember this from my last night in hospital on my last admission a nurse who I have known since I was a kid as we used to ski race together basically told me that shit happens and yeh its frustrating being in and out of hospital but I was facing the end of an admission, getting home and had to focus on that which sometimes you need. Sometimes you need that nurse to give you the kick up the rear end and get you thinking straight. I guess I am lucky to have nurses around me that I know and who can do that.

But one thing I do know is I value each and every one of them. For everything they do, and every patient they tend to and help even just the little things but its the little things that matter as much as the big things the little hellos when they give you your meds or kick you out of bed in the morning when you can’t be bothered getting up.

I love being a nurse and hope that my experience as a patient has taught me how to be a good nurse. Nursing school has taught me the theory of nursing but I hope that my experience as a patient has given me the knowledge and empathy to be a nurse patients are happy to have.

Nurses and care assistants are the backbone of the health service. I am proud to be a nurse and love being a nurse but I am also proud of the other nurses out there who I work with as colleagues but who have looked after me and my family.

Putting heart back into Healthcare.

Below is the article published in the Havas Lynx Magazine where the CEO of Europe speaks about the Healthcare Heroes project. To this day it is one of the proudest things I have been a part of ever.

Please read and visit the healthcare heroes website Healthcare Heroes.

In an age of metrics and data, sometimes it can be easy to forget that healthcare is about one thing: the people. Havas Lynx’s European CEO David Hunt talks about his team’s efforts to put the heart back into healthcare. Here, he shares some poignant stories of brave healthcare heroes.

David Hunt (left) and Tom Richards (right)

Tell us a little bit about Havas Lynx.

At Havas Lynx, we are committed to improving the lives of patients, driving commercial success for our clients, and having a positive impact on society. We define our industry with a commitment to research and development, identifying opportunities to help patients, and seeking competitive advantages for our clients. In healthcare, we have the largest creative studio in Europe.

At the heart of Havas Lynx is our culture #LYNXLife, which is engaging, rewarding, and motivating for our team. It’s all of this together that enables Havas Lynx to continue to bring about a helpful change.

Obviously, innovation is important in every industry.  Why is it especially meaningful in the healthcare industry?

I’m incredibly proud to work in healthcare, particularly at the intersection of science, technology, data, and creativity. Our role is to build partnerships with clinicians, caregivers, and patients. The better we do this, the sooner we can improve the future of healthcare.

Rauf Gulraiz

You’ve said that now is the time to focus on the heart of healthcare.

Yes, sometimes I feel like the industry is suffocated by digital spin, soundbites, and repetition. People are constantly talking about CLM, CRM, and augmented and virtual reality. So much time is spent talking about digital, but that time is not necessarily effectively used to fight and prevent illnesses. We have become so preoccupied with digital that we tend to forget about the people behind the curtain, those in the moment with you, providing support when it is most needed. It is these people who are at the heart of healthcare: the doctors and nurses, caregivers and specialists. We felt like it was time to change the conversation through the Healthcare Heroes, shining a light on the stories of the unsung heroes.

What qualities make someone a hero?

Passion. And the fact they take responsibility, show initiative, and are completely committed to patients and improving the health others. Their energy makes them stand out, but I think what is really important, and the reason for creating Healthcare Heroes, is that they inspire each other—and the whole industry. We would argue that there is a hero in every person, and we all actually have the insight, initiative, and imagination that make a real difference.

Tell us about Healthcare Heroes, The Passion Project: the origin, the goals, and future plans.

We spend a huge amount of time working with global scientific rock stars—the people who are responsible for the exponential increase in scientific discovery. They are clearly essential to society and to people in general.

During the birth of my little girl, witnessing the work of some amazing midwives, who were unassuming ladies who enjoyed having a cup of tea, a cigarette, and a good chat like anyone else. When you need someone more than ever they are an incredible support. It’s a time of confusion and doubt, anxious with new parent worry, but these midwives were remarkable and yet, we never really talk about them.

When I came back to the office to work with Tom Richards, our Chief Creative Officer, he showed me this incredible book entitled With Love. It’s about a selection of regional craftspeople, including artists, carpenters, and weavers, who talk about their love for what they do, and most importantly, their passion.  Tom suggested we do a book like this for healthcare. I completely agreed but I thought, it has to be about the people behind the curtain; it has to be about those on the front lines who no one ever talks about. And that is how Healthcare Heroes: The Passion Project was born.

This project was designed to build pride in our industry, make connections between organizations, and create a platform to celebrate the unsung heroes of healthcare. Its aim is to inspire the industry and encourage collaboration.

Jo Milne

How did you go about identifying the stories for these specific Healthcare Heroes?

Beyond the idea, this was one of the most important factors in the development of Healthcare Heroes, and I think it is one of the reasons it has been so successful. It was really difficult to get the right blend of people. The first ones we came up with consisted of all superstars; even the second and third versions of the lists were predominantly global rock stars. We were determined to get this right. At about version five or six, the stories were a perfect combination of heroes behind the curtain—21 incredible, heartfelt accounts of bravery, innovation, skill, and strength. From John the porter to Tom Lynch, the BMX world champion, to Tal, a plumber with the tenacity to save his own life. I honestly believe it was the decision to not focus solely on the elite that gives the project it’s richness and value.

Tal Golesworthy

Name and describe one of your favorite Healthcare Hero stories.

For me, there are two.

Tom Lynch, a previous World Champion in BMX racing, joined the ambulance service when his time as a top racer came to an end. Despite enjoying his career, he became frustrated with the congestion in London and how it hindered the effectiveness of the ambulance service. People who urgently needed care were being let down; he couldn’t let this happen. In 1999 Tom had an idea about how to overcome this problem and merged two of his loves, bikes and emergency care, and to create the Cycle Response Unit (C.R.U.), which answered 999 calls in London’s West End. Today, he manages several teams across London made up of more than 100 ambulance paramedics. His idea has been replicated across London and in cities around the world.

Tom Lynch

Then there’s John Jackson, the hospital porter whose mission is to ensure that everyone he meets feels like they are at home during their time at the hospital.  It’s during moments spent in hospital when you need someone like John—someone who truly cares. He recently won the Kate Granger Award for Compassionate Care for the dedication and respect he shows to the patients that pass through Blackburn Royal Hospital.

John Jackson

Tom and John are great examples of everyday people who came up with an idea and had the commitment to change people’s lives.

How important is passion in projects like these?

It’s crucial. This project aims to recognize people who are passionate about healthcare.

And the efforts that went into the book’s creation are evident. It was a really small team but one that could not have been more determined and packed full of experts that were committed to crafting every single detail. Everything counted from choosing the heroes, the questions for the stories, the photography, the editing, the composition, the paper, and the printing. It was a labour of love.  Hopefully this comes across in the quality of the book.

What continuing impact do you hope this project will have on patients, healthcare professionals, the industry and even society at large?

Going forward we hope that by highlighting the importance of people, there is a conscious effort to include them in the conversation surrounding technology and digital data. Understanding these people and how to partner with them will enable us to leverage the emerging science, breakthrough technology and data. The quality of lives of patients will be improved and the healthcare industry as a whole will be bettered from this.

2016 marked the 30-year anniversary of Havas Lynx, so what do you hope to accomplish for your clients and for patients during the next 30 years?

As an agency, our mission is to encourage change. It is to improve outcomes for patients, and in doing so, to have a positive impact on our clients’ commercial success. Our job is to be the catalyst or the navigator, and to support progressive pharma. We are committed to getting to the future first.