My experience with the NHS

Somebody has asked me recently if my treatment was any better because I worked for the NHS.  The answer is NO, for a start not all of them were aware of where I worked.

My treatment throughout this whole process has ranged between good to excellent. The best part was being treated within a specialist hospital. The Univercity College London Hospital (UCLH), has it’s own cancer centre. It is a fairly new building, opening about a year ago. The building was well thoughtout and the environment is spacious and airy with plenty of natural light coming in. It makes for a good place to work, (I asked one of the nurses) as well as a relaxing place to visit as a patient. This makes a difference to the staff and they all seemed very calm, professional and caring. The service I received there was excellent. If I am being really picky, there are a few areas for improvement I suppose. The hospital has a patient portal system. This is a website where you can log in with your hospital number and find out when your next appointments are and leave messages for the people you are working with. This is fairly new and does seem to have some teething problems. The information is often wrong or out of date. I think, like any data base, it’s only as good as the information that is fed into it. So often I would be told of an appointment time by my specialist nurse and that would then differ from the information on the system, so I soon learnt not to trust it. Other than that my treatment has been faultless. All the doctors I have seen have been professional and friendly. I felt that I have been treated as an individual and have been given time whilst my wishes have been heard and respected. The nurses have also been excellent, nothing has seemed too much trouble and they have always done their best to make sure I have understood the procedures I have had to undertake. I have also been given excellent written information which I have been given time to digest and then I have been asked if I have had any questions. When I had my harvesting done, lying there for six hours allowed me to observe the nurses practice. They were short of staff the day I was there, and extremely busy but even so, I observed them to always wash their hands and put new gloves on in between each patient they attended to. They were professional but friendly at all times and a credit to their profession. Janet, my care co-ordinator and a research assistant, working alongside the doctors on the trial, has always been very supportive and ensured appointments were made at the most convenient times to allow for the journey time we had to make. At all times she kept us fully informed with the appointments and procedures I needed to undertake. For example yesterday I received an email from her explaining that I would need another bone biopsy carrying out. She asked if I would rather be sedated or not, clearly explaiming the pro’s and cons of both. She then said she would organise the appointment for after the party.

Locally I have been supported by the palliative care team, working for Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust. Yet again my treatment has been excellent. The nurse assigned to me was at all times extremely professional but also friendly and approachable. Nothing was ever too much trouble as she supported both Colin and I through some difficult times. She arranged for my medication to be changed and ready promptly for collection at my local GP practice, co-ordinating with my GP and the hospital. Louise also managed to set up more appointments with my psychologist when she recognised the need. My psychlogist was also extremely professional but helpful and accommodated my needs by visiting me at home and then organising appointments at the local Hospice. The support I have received at the Hospice has also been wonderful, with the doctors there spending 45 minutes listening and working alongside both Colin and I to plan the best course of action to holistically manage my pain. They also have and still are providing me with regular reflexology sessions.

So looking at the health service from the other side I couldn’t feel more proud. I was a reluctant patient and making the transition from nurse to patient was a difficult one, but at all times I have felt confident and comfortable with the support and treatment I have received.

 
Thank you to all of you who have been involved in my immediate care.

Deborah x

Disappointed….

…in my own influential skills. Even my last ditch attempt of an offer of a sherbet lemon wasn’t going to make this doctor budge. I tried everything I could think of at the time, including, how a good nights sleep in my own bed, and looking out on beautiful country side would improve my mental health and therefore have a direct effect on my physical well being. And that I was surrounded by nurse friends who would personally administer my anti biotics orally, but this was one stubborn doctor, who insisted on me receiving the antibiotics by IV for 48 hours.

I must admit I did sleep very well after my last dose of anti biotics at 11.15 pm.

It is pretty boring here though, as this room has no TV and because I came in un-expectantly I had no books or magazines with me. So I was very grateful for my visitors, that I had put off until late afternoon as I was convinced I would be going home.

Pollyanna arrived at 4pm with an Easter egg, chocolates, cakes and magazines. It was lovely to hear all about her leaving do and the lovely compliments she received especially from the chief exec and others, for the contract work she had done for the NHS Trust I work for.

I am missing work and know this is an important year for us as all, as services like mine in Hertfordshire, are up for re-commissioning. Still I know I have an excellent team who will be doing all they can in my absence to ensure the Step 2 contract carries on and remains with Hertfordshire Community Trust.

Colin and Kate arrived at the hospital with more chocolate (they know me so well) and best of all my glasses. Therefore there are no more excuses for poor grammar or spelling. However I am sure many of you have seen the paragraph below which clearly demonstrates why I don’t really need to worry.

“I cnduo’t bvleiee taht I culod aulaclty uesdtannrd waht I was rdnaieg. Unisg the icndeblire pweor of the hmuan mnid, aocdcrnig to rseecrah at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno’t mttaer in waht oderr the lterets in a wrod are, the olny irpoamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rhgit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whoutit a pboerlm. Tihs is bucseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey ltteer by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Aaznmig, huh? Yaeh and I awlyas tghhuot slelinpg was ipmorantt!

I have been really well looked after at the hospital here and couldn’t ask for more. The nurses are all excellent and will do anything they can to make your stay in hospital more comfortable. They certainly meet the 6C’s for nursing. It’s is very reassuring as this is where I will come when I eventually need a stem cell transplant, although I am hoping this won’t be for many years to come. It was also lovely to see Emma who was one of the brilliant nurses looking after me on floor 2 of my Parallel Universe.

I did make a bit of a boo boo yesterday as a new nurse asked me the name of the nurse who was caring for me for the evening. Now I couldn’t remember her name but I did describe her is being a foreign nurse, very pretty with long dark hair and dark olive skin. It must be Stef she said but apparently she was from Bristol? When my nurse did come to see me later I asked her if her name was Stef but she gave me another mans name. I said no that can’t be right because the other nurse told me that name belonged to one of the male nurses. I am a man he said! Well I just had to apologise and explain that I wasn’t wearing my glasses, but he was certainly a very pretty looking man.

I am looking forward to getting home today as I am confident this will definitely happen as long as my temperature has stayed down.

There is no place like home.

Thank you to you all for your best wishes and continuous support through this blog and Facebook it really does make a difference.

Enjoy your weekend.

Deborah x

Today is …

..NHS Change Day, and I am feeling good.

I am proud to be a nurse.

Today I pledge to continue to honour my profession and use my skills and passion to improve the mental health and emotional well being of all I come in contact with.

I pledge to support my organisation in improving the mental health of our staff in order for them to act as good role models, feel comfortable to talk to patients about mental health and in turn improve the general health of our community.

Hertfordshire Community Health Service can feel proud of its staff who really want to make a difference to the health of their community.

As a patient I pledge to talk to the staff, who are treating me for myeloma, about my mental health and emotional well being. I shall demonstrate it is good to talk about mental health and the difference it can in turn make to physical health.

Today I appreciate all that life has given me and YES that does include Cancer. I thank the cancer cells for the challenge to become stronger and the opportunities that have been presented to me since the diagnosis. I thank it for teaching me how better to live in the moment, for inspiring me to write the blog, for the wonderful people I have met on my journey and for opening my eyes and ears to all that is good in the world.

I appreciate life and thank God,The Universe ( including the Parellel one!) science, human kind, evolution, dinosaurs, consciousness and whatever made , brought about, contributed to life today.

Being emotionally and mentally healthy doesn’t mean never going through bad times or experiencing emotional problems. We all go through disappointments, loss, and change. And while these are normal parts of life, they can still cause sadness, anxiety, and stress.

The difference is that people with good emotional health have an ability to bounce back from adversity, trauma, and stress. People who are emotionally and mentally healthy have the tools for coping with difficult situations and maintaining a positive outlook. They remain focused, flexible, and creative in bad times as well as good.

So who wouldn’t want to help others to feel emotionally healthy, what a privileged position I am in.

In order to maintain and strengthen your mental and emotional health, it’s important to pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Don’t let stress and negative emotions build up.

Try to maintain a balance between your daily responsibilities and the things you enjoy. If you take care of yourself, you’ll be better prepared to deal with challenges if and when they arise. Remember the blog about the importance of looking after yourself.

Here are a few tips for improving your mental health today:

  • Do something today that has a positive impact on someone else. (I am sure you all do this everyday anyway , just become more aware of it). Being useful to others and being valued for what you do can help build self-esteem.
  • Practice self-discipline. Self-control naturally leads to a sense of hopefulness and can help you overcome despair, helplessness, and other negative thoughts.
  • Learn or discover something new today. Think of it as “exercise for the brain”.
  • Enjoy the beauty of nature or art. Studies show that simply walking through a garden can lower blood pressure and reduce stress. Physical exercise releases endorphins, powerful chemicals that energize us and lift our mood.
  • Manage your stress levels. Stress takes a heavy toll on mental and emotional health, so it’s important to keep it under control. While not all stressors can be avoided, stress management strategies can help you bring things back into balance.
  • Limit unhealthy mental habits like worrying. Try to avoid becoming absorbed by repetitive mental habits – negative thoughts about yourself and the world that suck up time, drain your energy, and trigger feelings of anxiety, fear, and depression.
  • Appeal to your senses. Stay calm and energized by appealing to the five senses: sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste. Listen to music that lifts your mood, place flowers where you will see and smell them, massage your hands and feet, or sip a warm drink.
  • Make time for contemplation and appreciation. Think about the things you’re grateful for. Meditate, pray, or simply take a moment to pay attention to what is good, positive, and beautiful as you go about your day.

As we know, everyone is different; not all things will be equally beneficial to all people.

Some people feel better relaxing and slowing down while others need more activity and more excitement or stimulation to feel good.

The important thing is to find activities that you enjoy and that give yourself a boost today you never know you might fancy doing it all again tomorrow!

I will get back on track tomorrow about ….which therapy, I just wanted to honour and share in the NHS Change Day today.

If you are a health professional or patient please make a pledge today by visiting:

http://www.changemodel.nhs.uk/pg/groups/33183/NHS+Change+Day/?community=NHS+Change+Day

A Special Request…

I would really appreciate it if you could share your pledge with me through your comments on this blog – Come on i know a lot of you read the blog now it’s your turn – Thank you

Scores on the board:

Physical health = 5.5 ( the leg pain is improving or at least kept at bay with the pain killers)

Mental Health = 2 It feels good to have my positive mentally healthy head back on!

Our amazing NHS yet again…

came up trumps and I don’t think I could receive better care anywhere else in the world. I turned up at the University College London Hospital (UCLH) yesterday and made my usual joke about reporting for duty ( my wish). This time, exhausted by my 5 min walk I half joked about any chance of a bed. No sooner said than done, and I found myself lying down in a spotless side room in the Parallel Universe, having my needs assessed by a very experienced caring nurse. Due to the increasingly severe pain in my legs the doctors carefully weighed up the pros and cons of giving me my next dose of Chemo (Velcade).

There is apparently a grading system for side effects and my pain reached a grade that advised not to administer yesterday’s dose and also to consider whether I should receive Thursdays or at least whether it should be reduced. It is good to know that the medical profession are so cautious and considerate in these matters. The pain right now (2.30am) has reached 7 out of 10 ( where 10 is very bad) so I think they definitely made the right decision. Luckily the doctor prescribed 30mg Co-codamol which I am hoping will kick in soon. Meanwhile I am trying to distract myself by writing this blog. (Not very easy to be honest).

I am somewhat disappointed as I know the drug was working so well at hammering the cancer cells but I really don’t want the pain to get any worse or be irreversible. I have just read it can last for months so I am going to have to get some serious visualisation going to imagine it away somehow.

Talking about pride again, Thank you Pollyanna for coming along with us yesterday and congratulations on your most recent job offer of Performance Manager at one of the leading hospitals in London. (Kings College Hospital) Go for it girl, the experience of working within a prestigious acute hospital at that level will do you no harm at all (accept perhaps for the long commute) and you have so much to give.

Right lets get back to… Which type of therapy?

Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT)

CBT is a form of talking therapy that combines cognitive therapy and behaviour therapy. It focuses on how you think about the things going on in your life – your thoughts, images, beliefs and attitudes (your cognitive processes) – and how this impacts on the way you behave and deal with emotional problems. It then looks at how you can change any negative patterns of thinking or behaviour that may be causing you difficulties. In turn, this can change the way you feel.

CBT tends to be short, taking six weeks to six months. You will usually attend a session once a week, each session lasting either 50 minutes or an hour. Together with the therapist you will explore what your problems are and develop a plan for tackling them. You will learn a set of principles that you can apply whenever you need to. You may find them useful long after you have left therapy.

CBT may focus on what is going on in the present rather than the past. However, the therapy may also look at your past and how your past experiences impact on how you interpret the world now.

CBT theory suggests that it isn’t events themselves that cause you anxiety and upset, but the meanings you give to them.

I have found another short film which I think explains it well.

http://youtu.be/D_xNb031C9o

We use CBT in much of the work we do with the young people who are referred to us in Step2, with excellent outcomes.

As I have also previously mentioned Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) is a collection of tools and strategies and uses CBT in much of its approaches to helping yourself or others.

For a free online CBT course go to the link below, ‘Living Live to the Full’ is sponsored by NHS Scotland all you need to do is register.

http://www.llttf.com/

Have a great Tuesday and wrap up warm.

X

The Oxford Dictionary definition of courage is…

…the attitude of facing and dealing with anything recognized as dangerous, difficult, or painful, instead of withdrawing from it; quality of being fearless or brave.

I must be brave and continue with my treatment remembering the end goal, which ultimately is life, and I do so love life.

I need, must and will have courage because I am not alone. You give me the strength to continue on my journey – Thank you

I have also been given the gift of optimism and resilience, something I really must not take for granted, even when it appears to be trying its hardest to hide itself from view..

Thank you for allowing me to use this blog to be honest.

It has been a pretty tough weekend and I expect I will have a few more of those to come, but I can do it. For a start I have Village Secrets coming up, my scarves to deliver and of course most exciting of all the Summer Party to look forward to.

Thank you to my family and friends who worked around my aches and pains to make Mother’s Day very special and a big Thank you to Pollyanna and Jem for the wondefully thoughtful gifts. ( hot massage oil for aching bones, favourite bath soaks, perfume, ice creams,and all the toppings etc).

Now let’s get back on track, where were we?

Oh yes the minefield of therapies on offer.

So let’s get the ball back rolling with – Mindfulness (mind, body connection)

Mindfulness has grown in attention and interest in the recent years, thanks to a rapidly expanding evidence base demonstrating that it can be helpful for many mental and physical health problems, as well as for improving well-being more generally. But Mindfulness isn’t new, it had been applied for thousands of years by Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and Christians.

Mindfulness is the integration between the mind and body. The true body and mind connection.

Training our brains to become more mindful helps us become more aware of our thoughts and feelings so that instead of being overwhelmed by them, we’re better able to manage them.

Mindfulness exercises or mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) are ways of paying attention to the present moment, using techniques like meditation, breathing and yoga.

MBCT is recommended by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) for the prevention of relapse in recurrent depression. It combines mindfulness techniques like meditation, breathing exercises and stretching with elements from cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) to help break the negative thought patterns that are characteristic of recurrent depression.

Neuroscientific studies have found differences in the areas of the brain associated with decision-making, attention and awareness in people who regularly practise Mindfulness meditation. People undertaking Mindfulness training have also shown an increase in activation in the left pre-frontal cortex, an area of the brain associated with positive emotions that is generally less active in people who are depressed.
Regular meditation also results in increased brain size in areas linked to emotion regulation, such as the hippocampus, the orbito-frontal cortex, the thalamus and the inferior temporal lobe.

Almost three-quarters of GPs think mindfulness meditation would be helpful for people with mental health problems, and a third already refer patients to MBCT on a regular basis. (Source: ICM survey June 2009 of 250 GPs). With the increase in talking therapies being instigated across the UK this is something that you can raise and discuss with your GP.

Mindfulness can also help you take control of your eating habits by amplifying the volume of your body’s cues so you can hear loud and clear when you are hungry and full.

Eating while multitasking, whether working through lunch or watching TV while eating dinner, often leadsus to eat more. On the other hand, eating “mindfully,” savoring every mouthful, enhances the experience of eating and keeps us aware of how much we take in.

Many social and environmental factors can stand in the way of being able to accurately decode your body’s feedback. Mindfulness helps you break free from routine eating habits by examining the thoughts, feelings and internal pressures that affect how and why you eat (or don’t eat).

Mindfullness does take some practice, and I must admit I certainly need more practic!

To find a course near your visit you GP of take a look at this link:

http://bemindful.co.uk/learn/find-a-course/

One more thing here is a funny,but quite long (you have been warned) little animation that explains all so it back relax and enjoy.

http://youtu.be/ePw0pZxe3yI

Has anybody experienced mindfulness they would be willing the share?

Tomorrow we will explore Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)

Thanks again for sticking in there

Deborah x

Two sleeping tablets later…

…and I managed 8 hours sleep, I want to jump out of bed with joy but feel the remnants  of my deliberate choice to increase to double my dose, holding me back.

Yesterday I was yet again reminded of the kindness of the human spirit. Another beautiful new scarf was left on my doorstep, and some lovely friends from the village delivered us a whole truck full of logs. This will make such a difference as Colin should not really be chopping away and putting further strain on his heart, and I am feeling the cold more than ever
So Thank You dear friends and village buddies.
Kate will drive and chaperone me to my final beetle juice and stomach injection of the week, today. This will give Colin a much needed break from it all, and a rest from my continuos steroid fuelled chatter.  On the journey I may get the chance to help Kate explore some of her excellent training ideas. I like helping others and feel disappointed when my body has other ideas and I have to go back into succumbing mode.
Tomorrow is my planned day of rest but I do have some other ideas for it so I am willing my body to synchronise well with my mind.
I am excited about the future.
Firstly I am really getting excited about the Village Secret event on a March 22nd I do hope many of you will come and support me. I hope I have enough clothes and shoes that you will like but if not we will just have a fun evening together any way.
Secondly I hope to deliver all the new scarves to the cancer centre next week, I should have received the white paper bags that I want to decorate by then and have written all the positive messages to accompany.
Thirdly I now have the NHS Change Day  to attend  on March 13th, so I can share my pledge and join with colleagues nationally who want to make a difference and improve the services we deliver to our patients.  I will just need to find myself a healthy chaperone who is  willing to wander around with a blown up baldy, (that’s how I feel sometimes), maybe I had better get the wig out!
Then it’s the BIG one, the prep for the Hinxworth Charity Birthday Festival. I want it to be the best night ever so I am busy visualising a lots of sunshine and plenty of people willing to lend us their patio heaters, just in case the air gets chilly in the evening .
I need to stay as well as possible, as does Colin, to acheive all of the above, so we are doing our best to follow instructions ( not my usual modus operandi) and succumbing when we really have to!
Please note,  this blog has been complied  in rather a drug induced state so I hope the above makes some sense.
Back on form tomorrow is the plan,
All the best
Deborah x

A very proud mum and the NHS change day…

I am very proud of both of my daughters but today I want to share with you the success of my eldest daughter and how I feel so proud of her, especially in the last few weeks and months.

Pollyanna is undoubtably a very bright and focused young lady. This is not only demonstrated by her academic achievements that include, a first degree in politics and philosophy, a distinction in Masters of research, and her recent completion of the CIMA
(Chartered Institute of Management Accounts) course, (so far she has passed all of her exams for this with flying colours and is all set to receive her qualification as a charted accountant). I also want to acknowledge her dedication in supporting my own organisation, me personally and the rest of her family.

Pollyanna is always ready to help her elderly grandmother calling her most days and visiting her weekly, she supports her sister with her baby Elliot, and of course is there for me and her step father, calling us daily with offers of support and regular visits.

She finds the time and energy to do all this whilst finishing her NHS graduate scheme, which was no mean feat to get on (the competition was very tough) and is juggling her studies with her regular work place.

I am sure like me, having the support of a caring partner helps, so I must also thank her lovely boyfriend for his contribution.

I certainly appreciate that I couldn’t achieve all I do without the support and care of my loving husband and I often think Colin should be on my trusts pay role with the unseen time he spends rushing around printing, binding and generally supporting me behind the scenes. No wonder the poor guy has chest pains! Maybe I had better take a look at his work / life balance! Colin really is the wind beneath my wings.

Pollyanna has lots of resilience factors and her mothers drive, energy and enthusiasm for life.

Only a few years ago her paternal grandfather, to whom she was very close, died of Myeloma and her biological father has only recently got over ( if you can get over such a thing) bowel cancer. Now with my own diagnosis to come to terms Pollyanna’s powers of resilience and positive mental attitude are really coming into play

She is presently being offered various jobs and has to consider her next move very carefully. There is nothing tying her in to the NHS and with her connections in the city she could easily get a job with a bank earning mega bucks.

But not Pollyanna she is passionate about the NHS and making a difference, (now where may that have come from, I wonder ?).

Relatively recently , together with a few of her young graduate colleagues, they came up with the idea of the NHS Change Day.

This day is drawing close, it is set for March 13th, so only one week to go.

If I had been well and working (not signed off on sick leave) , I would have been more involved in our trusts drive to get our staff involved. I do hope, however, that many of the staff have read the newsletter that came out on February 27th . It was all about the NHS change day and how our chief exec David Law, is calling on us all to make a pledge.

David Law, will pledge…….”We will discuss how to reduce paperwork for the clinical teams”

and…The Quality Directorate Team pledges that on that day, each member of the Quality and Governance Directorate will visit one of the Trust’s services to meet the patients and team members, find out more about the services offered and support them to get involved in the day.

If you are working for our organisation have you made your pledge yet?

You didn’t think a little thing like Cancer would keep me quiet and off your back did you, even if I am running a little behind schedule?

For the many readers of this blog who aren’t health professionals and we are up to nearly 10,000 views now , let me explain to you what this is all about.

This information is taken directly from NHS Change Day website:

NHS Change Day is a single day of collective action to demonstrate how small changes can have a big impact.

On the 13 March 2013 NHS Change Day will bring together the individual creativity, energy and innovative thinking of thousands of NHS staff from across clinical and non-clinical areas of work, in a single day of collective action to improve care for patients, their families and their carers.

Change Day is an NHS grassroots initiative devised and driven by new young and emergent clinical and managerial leaders from primary and secondary care across the NHS in England, who want to make this call to action the single largest simultaneous improvement event in the NHS.

It is an ambitious programme of activities aimed at galvanising and engaging the frontline in the process of improvement through individuals and teams pledging to make a change in their practice which will improve patient experience and/or clinical outcomes by spreading and adopting best practice and championing innovation.

This will be a country wide event covering the whole of the UK and will coincide with Healthcare Innovation Expo at Excel in the same day.

The idea of NHS Change Day is to create a mass movement of people working in the NHS
demonstrating the difference they can make – by one simple act – and proving that large scale improvement is possible in the NHS. The aim is for 65,000 people to take part, 65 being the number of years the NHS has been in existence.

Those who wish to take part can go to the NHS Change Day website at http://www.changemodel.nhs.uk/changeday and make their pledge online, join in the discussions on the forum and become part of the growing list of active supporters and organisations taking part on the day.

You can see how proud I am of Pollyanna for coming up with such a great idea , (alongside a few of her colleagues of course)

My pledge is…to increase the resilience of our workforce by empowering them to improve their own mental health and emotional well being and achieve a better more healthy work / life balance.

I intend to do this by writing a blog for our organisation, very similar to this one but perhaps more specifically sharing the mental health parts of this blog with all the Hertfordshire Community NHS staff.

Should I just share this blog, which could perhaps act as a good role model for coping with adversity and demonstrating resilience?

Or write a more specific new blog? I am not sure as this one is quite a bit more about me rather than how I can help others.

I know some of you reading this are working in our trust so I would value your opinion in particular. Also have you made your pledge yet?

Remember you only have a few days left to deliver your pledge.

I am also considering going down to London ( yet again but not for treatment this time) to take part in the Heath Innovation Expo being put out on to celebrate the day.

I just need to find some one to go along with who is happy to perhaps drive or at least accompany a bald, bloated but enthusiastic cancer patient who is still holding on tight to her passion for work and mental health.

I think I must also ask the nurses etc at UCLH today what they know about the NHS change day and check to see of they have put their pledge in yet.

Hmm I wonder if my own team have put out their pledges, it’s hard being out of the loop. Hopefully one of them will be reading this blog and encourage the others to get their pledges in. It doesn’t have to be anything big just one thing that you are pledging to do to make a change in practice that in turn will improve our patients experience. Please let me know.

I urge you all not to just read, or necessarily believe all the bad spin stories often reported about us in the daily papers. We are, in the majority, a caring bunch of extremely dedicated people who want to keep the NHS alive and something that our whole country can feel proud of. I do however feel thst we have the private sector biting at our ankles, hungry for a piece of the action, and just perhaps offering a cheaper but not necessarily greater quality of service. In this day of financial constraints , even at the cost of reduced quality, money talks, and with new commissioning arrangements we are all having to work with a business head on. This is not necessarily something nurses have had needed to think about never mind worry about and do before.

Well it looks like I have got plenty to keep me motivated and out of mischief, so I am so pleased those cancerous cells have been taking note and dying off. They really do have no place to hide in my body. Together we are seeking them out and if one rat gets pregnant we shall be after it and its young, (sorry poor rats I didn’t mean to necessarily pick on you as my metaphor).

I am also grateful for my ten plate spinning abilities and will certainly not let the ‘Village Secrets’, ‘ Especially for You ‘ charity scarves or ‘Hinxworth Festival Birthday Charity Party’ , fall to the ground, with much family and community support they are continuing to spin well.

So just to finish off, this post is dedicated to Pollyanna.

Thank you for being the beautiful shining star you are and letting others benefit from you glorious rays of sunshine.

Your very proud mum

Deborah

X

Blame the tablets ….

…for the lateness of this blog! Sorry folks I know many of you like to read it with your morning cup of char before heading off to work. But last night I had eight hours sleep, that must be a record, and no psychotic symptoms to note. Now I will have all the energy I need to enjoy the day ahead. My kitchen blackboard calendar has against today’s date In large capital letters REST DAY. Well it’s my calendar and I can rub it out if I like. 🙂

But I may stay in my jimmy jams today (so be warned if you pop by), throw a couple of logs on the wood burner and tick off a few of the items on my to do list for today.

Work on my painting
Try out my new dry cleaning unit
Shop on line for my paper bags
Prepare clothes and shoes ready for sale
Finish the Village Secret invites and email out
Make labels
Ring my pension lady
Enjoy a cuppa with my work colleagues.
Watch another episode of 24
Catch upon all the recorded TV programmes I have missed
Work on PR strategy
Reflect on my meeting with my new friend David who I have the upmost respect for and can’t wait to see playing the lead role in Phantom of the Opera, I may just have to keep hold of one of my recently required designer gowns!

I also want to appreciate today that I have been blessed with courage. I think courage comes with confidence and gives the possessor permission to step outside the normal rules that sometimes dictate today’s world.

According to my online dictionary, courage is:

1) The quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery.
2) The heart as the source of emotion
3) To have the courage of one’s convictions, to act in accordance with one’s beliefs, especially in spite of criticism.

The 6 C’s is a new compassionate, caring vision for nursing that has been recently launched. The vision is based around six values – care, compassion, courage, communication, competence and commitment. I was pleased to see courage being one of them.

It takes courage to stand up for the things you believe, especially if it appears to be at odds with the people around you. In my experience however, I have found there are many people who are often thinking and believing the same but lacked the courage to speak out.

So I am grateful for the gift of courage. Courage has helped me to believe, to follow my dreams. Yesterday I met David in real life, (instead of just through the powers of technology). It felt good to have a hug from a fellow ‘Courager’ (ok I know there is no such word in the dictionary but I’ve just made it up so they can make space for it now) Couragers are role models who by example can demonstrate courage and share stories that can inspire others to take the first step. I think there are any Couragers out there, seek them out and ask them to kindly share their stories it may just change your life. I think courage could be catching.

Do you know any Couragers? Is there another word that describes people that demonstrate courage, that speak out , follow their dreams? Maybe the word is Hero?

Come on Libi this ones for you. I need a noun that fits otherwise I am sticking with Courager.

Go out and be brave today

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The NHS – A very personal view

Writing this blog is providing me with the platform to share my views and experiencing of the NHS from both sides.

Except for a short period of my working age life, when training for becoming a primary school teacher appeared an attractive proposition, I have always worked for the NHS. At 16 I plucked up the courage to apply to do volunteer work at my local Victorian mental health asylum, Fairfield Hospital http://www.fairfield-park.com/index.php? I would go in regularly to spend time with the patients, feeding, washing and dressing or simply talking and listening to their stories.Many of the patients back then, had been in hospital many years and some merely admitted for getting pregnant out of wedlock, stealing from a neighbours apple tree or simply having a learning difficulty. Of course there were those who had committed horrendous crimes whilst suffering from mental ill health, so there were locked cells and padded rooms. Medications and treatments were often prehistoric with severe side effects but we have come a long way since then, and my first hospital is now a prestigious housing estate. My memories of the place were mostly, of a happy secure environment that provided these patients with an escape from the real madness of the outside world. For behind the walls were once a farm, station, church, bank, shops, cricket grounds, orchards, bingo, dance nights and believe or not sanity. Patients were given a sense of pride by being able to work for monetary rewards to be spent at the local WVRS canteen usually on fags or chocolate. Now it’s care in the community. Just look around your community for the care, does your neighbour stop you for a chat, do you check up on that the perhaps dishevelled looking gentleman living next door who may appreciate a moment of your precious time. I am not suggesting that moving from the old style of hospital care to today’s mental health care systems has been entirely a bad move, it is a very different world now especially with he advancement of medication and treatments, but I do feel that perhaps something’s has been lost.

So training as a registered mental health nurse, for me was the way forward and I have never really looked back. I have had jobs on psychiatric wards, worked as a community psychiatric nurse, taught audit and research skills on the general side, worked as a specialist nurse for looked after children and as a mental health advisor within the trust I currently work for. I now have the grand title of Clinical Lead and Service Manager for a pretty unique early intervention child and adolescent mental health service. We are a small team (11 in all) of dedicated staff covering a large county of Hertfordshire. The task we have is enormous as the emotional and mental health needs of today’s children are rising as quickly as those needs of the adults around them, and our success and reputation is our downfall, as we struggle to see our patients in a timely manner as waiting lists grow and resources reduce in the financial climate we all find ourselves in. Still I am confident in saying that every one of my team come to work wanting to do their very best, often working way beyond their paid hours and with an enormous amount of passionate for making a difference to today’s young people, our future!

Every year, a week before Christmas, (and my poor sister will bare witness to this) I bemoan the fact I get my yearly subscription bill of £100. (a professional fee required to ensure registration with the Nursing Midwifery Council) Without paying this I will not be allowed to practice. Ok so it’s not a great deal of money in the big scheme of things but when the papers are full of the proposed yearly fat cheques handed out to the city bankers and alike,
(who I am not sure are currently contributing that much to society in general, or am I being a little unfair?) it is a bit galling. Still I only need to look around me in the NHS and feel the sense of pride for working for such a large caring organisation. And not for one second would I swap a glass of the finest champagne, a fast car, a large mansion, holiday of a lifetime or Gucci bag for the national awards I hold with pride or most importantly the words in the card on my wall “Thank you Deborah for the difference you have made to our lives” that is something money just can’t buy so for the cost of a £100 pounds I guess I am pretty lucky.

Now I do appreciate we don’t get it always right and at times it goes completly pear shaped as many of you will have read I am sure, in the scandalous columns of the daily papers. And for every period of poor practice, and the resulting suffering caused to patients and families I am truly sorry. The shame and disappointment I feel is personal and as deep as a nail driven into my own skin. But I can honestly say for every bad egg or moment of substandard care their are millions of examples of the highest possible commitment, care, courage , communication, competency and compassion. www.changemodel.nhs.uk/dl/cv_content/30520

The NHS is currently going through the biggest changes it has ever seen and we are expected at every corner, or so it would seem, to do more for less money. Private companies are biting at our ankles keen to jump in to provide a cheaper, faster more efficient service. But we are strong and somehow we will survive. The spirit, desire and passion for the majority of most of the NHS workforce cannot be broken that easily, but this time YOU ( I am not really sure who YOU exactly are or blaming any one particular political party, but you will know it in your hearts) are certainly giving it a good go! We will become better and stronger and there are, lots of changes, that do in my humble opinion need to be addressed so here are just few:
1) The postcode lottery and I do think it still exists I’m afraid
2) The bureaucracy and time. nurses etc, have to spend on the duplication of forms to be filled and data to be collected. All very necessary I’m a sure to prove our cost effectiveness and ensure another years funding but ask a patient what they would rather us be doing!
3) At every opportunity when we just think we are getting somewhere another there appears to be another change, transformation, restructure or whatever name you care to give it next, lets hope the big one we are going through currently will be given the chance to bed in.
4) And very close to my heart is a plea for increased funding for mental health services(especially children’s mental health). We have had a little, but did you know that mental illness accounts for a massive share of the total burden of disease. Yet, despite the existence of cost-effective treatments, it receives only 13% of NHS health expenditure. The under-treatment of people with crippling mental illnesses is the most glaring case of health inequality in our country and for children the investment is even less!

The NHS employs more than 1.7m people, only the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, the Wal-Mart supermarket chain and the Indian Railways directly employ more people. Around 3 million people are treated in the NHS in England alone, every week. No matter what colour, age, creed or salary band, treatment is free to all at point of contact. I appreciate we all pay our taxes but I still think it’s pretty remarkable and something we should all feel very privileged to be able to access .

The population is growing and we are seeing massive changes in demographics. Alongside that we are researching and finding new medicines, and treatments that save lives every day, and that means so much to me in my current situation, but it doesn’t come cheaply. Advancement in cancer treatments and possible cures are happening at a terrific rate and I just hope my own body will hang around long enough to take advantage of them. An example of this needing more funding is http://icancer.org.uk please take a moment to have a read.

The care I am currently receiving at the University College Hospital London Macmillan Cancer Centre is exemplary. From the phone call reminding me of today’s appointment, down to the lovely research assistant, who checks on my progress, the nursing assistant that expertly locates the right vein each time to insert the cannula with little fuss and pain, to the nurses who then administer my beetle juice with such compassion and care. And, not forgetting the doctors and allied professionals working hard behind the scenes to come up with that elusive cure.