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

Book Proposal

I thought today I would share a book proposal I put together in 2004 (I can’t believe it was that long ago), the idea was to send it off to a publisher. If I decide to finish this book I would bypass a publisher and just self publish. One of my best friends has done just that and is earning nearly £100 every month. OK thats not enough to pay the mortgage but it’s a start.

I would be grateful for your thoughts, please be honest as I have other book ideas and don’t want to waste my time on this one if you don’t think it’s worth it.

So hear goes:

Welcome to the Meday Concept

An inspirational guide to taking control of time that will change you’re life forever.

Written for all those busy people who think they haven’t the time to read it!

Because….Smart People do Lunch!

What is ‘Welcome to the Meday Concept’ all about?

‘Welcome to the Meday Concept’ is a self help guide to improving emotional wellbeing. The term Meday is being used to illustrate a moment in time taken for oneself. This book is for anyone struggling to balance the demands of the workplace, school or family life or for those who just want to step off the treadmill and claim back some time for themselves.
The concept is accessible to anyone regardless of age, culture, religion, or gender. Very soon the idea will become common practice and people all over the world will be taking a Meday. Employers will encourage staff to take a Meday as they start to recognise its contribution to increased productivity and its ability to reduce stress. Single parents to busy executives, children to grandparents will soon be talking about their own unique Meday experiences.

This book will discuss the importance of the Meday and how it guarantees to change your life. Packed with invaluable advice, checklists and action plans it will provide a simple easy-to-understand guide on how to achieve the perfect Meday.
Taking small steps and periods of time out from a busy schedule will allow individuals to revaluate their strengths, and put some balance back into their lives.

The concept uses a solution-focused brief therapy approach by focusing on solutions rather than investigating problems.
It can be used by the reader alone or with the help of a therapist either way; by investing time in ones emotional, physical and spiritual wellbeing the improvement in quality of life can be unbelievable.

Who will buy this book and why?

This book is aimed at anyone interested in improving their emotional well being. Self help books have become increasingly popular over the past few years. The strongest target group most likely to buy this book will be women who want to make sense of their lives and slow down. It will also be of interest to professionals who want to explore its concepts in order to increase productivity in the work place and therapists who want to use its ideas in their own work.

This book is just the beginning and will be followed by more books on the subject such as; ‘365 Meday Ideas’, ‘Celebratory Meday’s’, and ‘How the Meday concept changed my life around’. There will be a range of Meday products and services for sale. The Meday concept is revolutionary and will change lives forever.

The Meday Concept will be talked about on morning TV and late night shows. The author will travel the world giving conferences for business professionals to women’s institutes.
I have no doubt that this books willing formula will make it a best seller with many by-products, making its author and publisher a household name and a tidy sum of money.

Contents

Chapter 1 – Introduction
Explanation of the Meday Concept
Why we need it? – Research into effects of stress on physical and mental health.
Benefits of following the Meday program
How it will work
Who this book is for – Check list with tick boxes

Chapter Two – Why taking time for yourself has never been so important
Living in today’s busy world
Juggling time
Pressures and its effects both long and short term

Chapter Three – What is a Meday and how it can help change your life
Taking time for ones self
Lunch breaks
Weekends
Annual Leave

Chapter Four – Recognising the signs/When to take a Meday
Symptoms of stress

Chapter Five – How to plan the perfect Meday
The importance of planning
Ideas for the perfect Meday
Charts to help you successfully plan your time

Chapter Six – How to help others achieve their perfect Meday
Using the concept in a therapy setting

Chapter Seven – Noticing the changes within yourself
Recognising the differences you’ve made to yourself and the effects on those around you
Sharing the secret

Chapter Eight – Lie back and enjoy the sunshine
Recap
Reflection
Evaluation

So there you have it, I have written quite a bit already but will need to hunt it out because all I could find so far was the above book proposal I put together.

Happy Tuesday another day we need to wrap up warm unfortunately.

Deborah x

Great News, Happy Birthday and Good Luck.

I am practically in remission hip hip hooray! I haven’t yet got my para protein results but they should be through in a few days and I am hopeful the magic numbers will have decreased again. Maybe they will all be un-quantifiable, which is as good as it gets and is called complete remission. This is after only 3 cycles of chemo so the doctors are delighted.

Not to put a damper on the great news, but unfortunately the side effects of the Velcade are causing some considerable pain and according to the doctor yesterday, likely to get worse. I have been given more medication to cope with this, including if required, Tramadol which I am reluctant to take unless I really need to do so. It appears that the Velcade has disrupted some of my nerve ending and I have lost some feeling in my arms and legs. It is because of this I am having a two week break in my chemo regime and we will then see what happens. The doctor did reassure me at this moment in time I will remain on the PADIMAC trial, which is good news, I think.

The doctors would like me to receive another cycle of chemo to give those few remaining cancer cells a blast but we will have to wait and see what happens. The side effects if you are not careful can be irreversible hence the reason for their caution.

All this means I get to keep my renewed sense of taste for a bit longer and perhaps my hair might grow back a little. Unfortunately I am, still likely to feel quite tired as my HB levels remain fairly low and fatigue is a side effect of one of the new drugs they have put me on.

All in all the news is fantastic and better than I could have dreamed of so thank you all. What a great job you have done in partnership with the medical profession and all the well researched drugs I have received.

We are winning the battle!

Those naughty cancer cells didn’t stand a chance and like I said right at the beginning they picked the wrong body to invade.

Myeloma is such an individual cancer and I appreciate that not everyone has such a good outcome and I feel very sorry and sad about this. It is why it is so important for me to raise as much money as possible for Myeloma Research. There are many young people out there with myeloma and a cure needs to be found soon. I am not about to run a marathon but I hope I can raise quite a bit from the sale of tickets to my charity birthday party, I shall have to think up some other ideas too.

So I am excited for the doctors to confirm that I am definitely in complete remission. Then the hope is that I stay in remission for as long as possible therefore delay the need for the inevitable stem cell transplant.

On another happy note, today is my baby daughter’s 24th birthday. Of course she is now a fully grown woman but in my eyes she will always be my baby girl. It really seems like no time at all since I was pushing her around in a pram and now she has her own little baby boy. I am so proud of how she is bringing up Elliot and what a good mum she is. I look forward to our lunch together today.

Happy Birthday Jem xxxx

Poor Colin won’t be able to join us for lunch, as he is very calmly and bravely going in for his Angiogram today. Colin doesn’t like anything medical especially if it is happening to him and at one point I thought he may back out, but he has jumped put of bed with a positive mental attitude. He knows that this could result in an improvement in his life and is hoping for increased energy and a new sense of get up and go! Oh dear will I be able to keep up with my new man? Perhaps with me in remission and his new vitality we will both be dancing under the stars naked in the rain. God forbid!

I think today is going to be a good day.

I hope yours is too.

X

They didn’t…

..give me chemo. After a four hour wait I got to see the doctor, in between his clinic patients, for literally 5 mins. That’s all it took for him to decide not to give me the chemo. Honestly. money, time and energy could have been saved if he just asked me those questions over the phone, but never mind, I am a patient, patient.

A grading system is used when looking at side effects of the drugs I am being administered, and the doctors are particularly concerned about peripheral neuropathy. This is damage to the nervous system causing loss of sensation or pain and if you are not careful can be irreversible, so I am grateful for the doctors being so cautious.

It is graded in severity and a decision is then made whether to give the drug or at least reduce the dose.

Grade 1 Asymptomatic; loss of deep tendon reflexes or parathesia (including tingling) but not interfering with function No action

Grade 2 or Grade 1 with pain Sensory alteration or parathesia (including tingling) interfering with function but not with activities of daily living (ADL). Reduce bortezomib (Velcade, one of my chemo drugs) to 1.0 mg/m2 (25% dose reduction)

Grade 3 or Grade 2 with pain Sensory alteration or parathesia interfering with ADL Withhold bortezomib until toxicity resolves then restart at 0.7 mg/m2 (50% dose reduction)

Grade 4 Permanent sensory loss interfering with function (disabling) Discontinue bortezomib

As I was grade 2 with pain the drug has been withheld and I expect I will receive a reduced dose in cycle 4 of my chemo regime.

So I am chemo free and it feels good, I can even taste some foods!

I suppose there is a double edged sword to all this because although life without chemo is much more bearable I do realise it is doing some good and killing off those cancer cells. So I shall visualise the few little rats left behind hibernating, and them not getting rampant during this drug free rest period. Then on March 25th whilst they are still snoring away they will be zapped with the next dose of infertility gas making the males impotent and the females unable to reproduce. Sorry little rats but no more sexy times for you, I don’t want cancer babies chewing on MY bone marrow.

Hmm… rats in my bone marrow, I think I could have perhaps come up with a better metaphor than that!

Thinking about metaphors etc lets get back to which therapy?

Human Givens Psychotherapy

The theory of Human Givens is founded on the belief that every human has certain resources, such as creativity, imagination, memory, problem solving abilities and different thinking styles. Additionally, each person has specific core needs. these include physical needs such as warmth, shelter, food and water and emotional/psychological needs such as love , autonomy , attention, meaning and purpose, belonging, security, status. Remember the LAMBSS?

This theory suggests that it is only at times that these needs and resources are lacking that people fall victim to symptoms of addictions and other disorders such as depression.

The goal of this method of therapy is to identify and clear any obstacles that are preventing the realisation of these needs.

The human givens approach to psychotherapy was founded in 1998 by 2 British psychotherapists, Ivan Tyrrell and Joe Griffin, who decided that a larger “organizing idea” or foundation for psychotherapy was needed, based on these human needs or givens. These needs and resources, which are built into our biology, constitute the “human givens.”

Human Givens therapists focus on helping clients identify unmet emotional needs and empowering them to meet these needs by activating their own resources in new ways. The human givens approach, is increasing its evidence base and has proved effective for conditions such as depression, anxiety, addictions, trauma, obsessive-compulsive disorder and panic attacks.

It does not require the client to re-tell their story in minute detail, is more interested in the hear and now and is brief in its approach.

See below a case study taken from the Human Givens website. I have chosen this one as it is very similar to the work I have done and my own experiences.

SARAH, a single mother of two boys under five, shuffled dispiritedly into my [Ivan Tyrrell’s] consulting room. She was completely lacking in confidence and her voice was almost a hoarse whisper as a result of what she termed her nervous breakdown. She lived on a council estate in a flat too small for herself and her two children (one of whom had behaviour difficulties), and had had to let her children go to live with her parents because she couldn’t cope with them in her present circumstances.

A year previously, her ex-partner, the father of her sons, had thrown a brick through the window of her flat, broken in and assaulted her. A new relationship had just recently gone wrong because the man, himself depressed, was too possessive and overprotective of her. She was in despair, missing her children desperately, and, knowing she needed help, had accepted the chance of free sessions of therapy to be used for training purposes.

She told me she was unable to sleep properly and felt utterly exhausted. Since her parents had taken over responsibility for her sons, she rarely left her poky flat, had let herself get overweight and spent her time depressed about her life and the loss of her boys, or worried about her debts. In answer to my questions about her life, she told me she hated being on benefits and that, when she was 17, she had loved her work as a care assistant in an old people’s home. I also found out that she had used to enjoy going swimming and had joined a gym before her ‘breakdown’ but had rarely gone there.

When I asked her what, realistically, she would like to have happen in her life, she said she would like to move, and mentioned for the first time that she was now ‘priority’ on the council’s waiting list to be allocated a house and garden. She was actually expecting to hear about a move within a week or so. She also wished for a job, although she saw many obstacles to this.

As we talked, I countered her negative comments about herself, inviting her to see herself as caring, loving, independent, someone with initiative and so on, and explained how endless worrying turns one inwards. What would help her most, I suggested, was to direct her attention outwards, so that she could find solutions to her problems instead of just worrying about them, and regain her interest in things outside of herself. These ideas were new to her.

I suggested she close her eyes and relax while, one by one, we went through the things she had said she needed to sort out in her life and she imagined herself dealing with them. For instance, I asked her to imagine herself enjoying going swimming regularly again, and going to the gym; to imagine herself looking at local papers for possible jobs, perhaps in the care field, or finding out about courses she might want to take; and to imagine herself in a new house with her boys back living with her and feeling positive about the future. I conveyed my impression of her as a strong, ‘can-do’ person, who could do much to change her situation within the next few weeks before I saw her again.

I also asked her to start noticing the good things, however small, that happened over that period and make more good things happen. “All you can work with is now and the future. You can’t do anything about the past,” I said. “I think the changes will be fantastic.” “Okay,” said Sarah. “That sounds good.”

When she came back to see me a few weeks later Sarah was looking bright and alive. “I feel really well,” she said. “You gave me a lot to think about, a lot of positive things.” She told me she was swimming regularly and had already started losing weight. Although she hadn’t gone back to the gym, she was using an exercise bike at home in the mornings.

She now had her children back staying with her three or four nights a week and planned to have them home full time very shortly, as she had now been offered a three bedroom house. She was doing a parenting course, which she found really useful in helping her handle her sons’ behaviour, and had been in touch with an agency which helped single parents back into work. She was also “getting on top of” her bills and announced she had felt low only one day in the last month. “I actually feel in control of my life again,” she said. “I felt like it was being taken over by, I don’t know, I just felt like it was being taken over.”

Shifting her focus on to solving her problems had stopped her negative introspections, normalising her sleep patterns as a result. Her voice was also back to normal. When I commented that she seemed to have everything pretty much under control and probably didn’t need any further help from me, Sarah herself said, in amazement, “One session I think that’s probably all it took, really; it gave me a push in the right direction. Whereas if I’d gone to [a different kind of] counselling, I might still be back where I was.”

She told me she had had a couple of sessions with the counsellor at a college she had attended some years before. “The woman I had just sat there. She didn’t comment on anything, she just expected me to pour out all about my past history. Basically, you are stuck in that little world still, revolved round the past, which isn’t really a good idea because — you can’t change it! [That kind of] counselling doesn’t give you anything whatsoever to think about or to dwell on, whereas this therapy does. You’ve got a lot of positive things to think about that you can get on with in your life.”

© Joe Griffin and Ivan Tyrrell 2006

You will notice the use of visualisation. It would appear that the client went into a hypnotic, trance like state as various ideas were suggested to her.

I have used this way of working for many years now and have personally experienced excellent results. Young people are particularly open to this way of thinking and I believe it empowers people to participate in their therapeutic journey.

I love problem solving rather than ruminating over the whys and wherefore’s.

See below a simple exercise I often use:

Look around the room you are sitting in and notice all the red things in the room. Then close your eyes and make a mental list of all those things. Before you open your eyes list all the blue things you noticed in the room.

Because your mind wasn’t focusing on the blue things I don’t suppose you noticed many if any.

Now imagine if the red things were your problems if you focus on them you will see them in abundance but will you notice the blue things, the solutions?

Try focusing on the blue things and you will will soon start to notice more solutions than problems.

Have a good day.

Deborah x

PS. Thank you for all your comments and emails its good to know you are still out there, so I will carry on writing until I run out of things to say or you tell me to please shut up!

Which therapy is best for me?

Oh dear it’s another early start for me as I avoided taking a sleeping tablet last night. I have however still had 5 hours sleep which, for me, is pretty good going and I have at my disposal a day of succumbing if need be, but I do hope not.

I have been thinking about mental health, as I usually do, and the minefield of different types of therapy and therapists out there. How does one choose which is best for them. I of course have my own ideas and preferences but these are based entirely on my own experiences and my personal  map of the world.

This blog post would be far too long if I were to tell you even a little about some of these in one fell swoop so I shall do so over the next few days.

I shall start with sharing my own journey into therapy and why and how I have come to the conclusions I have. Please do remember these are not necessarily the right ones they are just MY beliefs and like I said based on my experience of the world so far. I am forever in training and learning more, so develop new thoughts and ideas as I go along.

Many years ago, person centred counselling was the buzz word and therapy around, and I took up the opportunity to train undertaking a diploma in counselling at my local college. As part of the training you go into therapy yourself.

I will be explaining more about what each therapy contains in a little more detail in the days to come, but generally this type of therapy is one where you sit and talk as much or as little as you want , and the therapist skilfully listens and reflects back, clarifying what they think they have heard. Some people go into this type of counselling for many years.

When working as a specialist nurse for children, mostly teenagers, who had been in care, I
listened to their experiences of counselling, and decided for myself that there must be a better approach to helping this group of young people. Many of them had told their stories over and over again to numerous social workers etc. Some of the young people were now living semi independently alone in their own bedsits. They often reported how unhelpful they found it to go and sit with a therapist where they felt they had to bring up there past yet again and then return to their homes to mull it over. They also reported that they were looking for more practical advice and support rather than someone to feedback what they think they had just heard. I felt fully in agreement with that and was anxious about the effect some of this therapy was having upon them. This is what led to my journey into finding out more about Human Givens (HG) and completing a diploma with the Human Givens Institute to become an HG therapist. During this time I managed (quite a feat I must say) to get hold of some funding to employ two qualified human given therapists to work with this group of vulnerable young people. This produced some excellent results and some very positive anecdotal feedback from the young people themselves. HG therapy is short and quick and does not require the client to go over their story in great deal or in fact at all in some circumstances. You will just have to wait a few blogs to find out more!

As I was coming to the end of my HG training I stumbled across Neuro- linguistic programming (NLP) and as I have previously explained in an earlier post.

https://mymyelomajourney.wordpress.com/2013/02/26/nlp-and-my-personal-journey/#comments

I found this personally life changing. NLP to me, is more of an attitude and a deeper understanding of what is happening in my mind and body as well as the external world around me. For me it is a toolbox of different techniques drawn from, or very similar to, a number of other therapies such as Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Narrative Therapy , Psychoanalytic Therapy and Human Givens. NLP uses a range of techniques to help the client and the therapist gain a better understanding of their own world and resources, helping the client to move forward in their lives.

The biggest difference between the traditional therapies and the newer therapies like HG and NLP is the scientific evidence to back these newer theories up. However both of these are going through much research and analysis and the evidence is stacking up as to the positive impact they are having, so I hope they will soon be fully accepted and more respected by the scientific and academic community. All I can share is that for me personally and from what I have seen and experienced with my clients the techniques have had good results.

Since setting up a small team of mental health advisors and employing two excellent Clinical Psychologists I have been very lucky enough to listen and learn a little from them and their views and experiences. I have also experienced the support from a Clinical Psychologist on my own recent health journey as I tried to come to terms with my diagnosis. I learnt from them the importance of knowing and understanding something about my narrative. The story of my life to date and why this might be important in understanding the here and now. So I have a much more respectful view of why sometimes this may be appropriate.

At the end of the day , I believe it’s back to that old sage TIME. For me it is all about giving myself and the client time to think and explore together their resources and the best tools I have to share with them in the given time and situation being presented. Therapy is not something you do to some one else it is a journey you go on together with the therapist acting as a guide along the way. I believe you come into therapy to change your future not your past, but having a greater understanding about how your past history may have influenced your thinking today can be the key in helping you move forward.

So we have lots to explore together and over the next few blogs, I will talk in more depth about the different approaches and types of therapy you can access to help you with this.

On a different note, today I hope to bag up all the lovely scarves and hats that have been donated so far, ready to deliver to the Macmillan Centre next week. I shall make sure I get some photo’s to show you.

I also hope to have a visit to the wholesaler’s and start to better organise all the gear I have collected for the Village Secret event. So not much time for succumbing today I just hope my body agrees!

Have a happy day.

Are you getting your messages from the universe yet? If not don’t forget you can have them emailed to you for free by signing up at:

www.tut.com

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

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Plate spinning and apologies…

Firstly let me yet again apologise to my early morning readers for the lateness of this blog I have been up since 3am but blame the steroids for me getting distracted.

Today I want to talk about plate spinning something I allured (allure is a good Miranda word and I like it) to on face book.

Some of us are completer finishes I am not one of those. A completer finisher enjoys doing a task where he and she will get pleasure from the end result. They can be trusted to do the job thouroughy and are much needed members within a team.

I am a planter I will start  several projects off but will usually need to find a completer finisher to see some of them through, I enjoy the journey but have usually completed them  in my head so don’t need to personally do the completing in practice to gain satisfaction and gratification.

Imagine the plate spinner at a circus spinning as many plates as possible. I would go for at least 10 if not more plates enjoying the risk and excitement of keeping as many up in the air as possible. Not too concerned if some drop to the ground.

The work place needs 10 plate spinners (well maybe just one per team or organisation) and 1, 2 and 3 plate spinners. It would be no good if we were all trying to spin 10 plates we would have a hell of a mess to clean up!

So knowing what you are and adapting the way you operate to fit into this may be helpful to yourself,  business and your family.

If you are a fewer plate spinner I think you need to plan your time carefully. Chunk your tasks down into small achievable parts . Make sure your goals are SMART
Specific
Measurable
Achievable
Relevant
Time – bound

Paul J. Meyer describes the characteristics of S.M.A.R.T and I quote “goals in Attitude is Everything ref.[1]
Specific
The first term stresses the need for a specific goal over and against a more general one. This means the goal is clear and unambiguous; without vagaries and platitudes. To make goals specific, they must tell a team ( or yourself) exactly what is expected, why is it important, who’s involved, where is it going to happen and which attributes are important.
A specific goal will usually answer the five “W” questions:
What: What do I want to accomplish?
Why: Specific reasons, purpose or benefits of accomplishing the goal.
Who: Who is involved?
Where: Identify a location.
Which: Identify requirements and constraints.
Measurable
The second term stresses the need for concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of the goal. The thought behind this is that if a goal is not measurable, it is not possible to know whether a team (or yourself), is making progress toward successful completion. Measuring progress is supposed to help stay on track, reach its target dates, and experience the exhilaration of achievement that spurs it on to continued effort required to reach the ultimate goal.
A measurable goal will usually answer questions such as:
How much?
How many?
How will I know when it is accomplished?
Attainable
The third term stresses the importance of goals that are realistic and attainable. While an attainable goal may stretch you in order to achieve it, the goal is not extreme. That is, the goals are neither out of reach nor below standard performance, as these may be considered meaningless. When you identify goals that are most important to you, you begin to figure out ways you can make them come true. You develop the attitudes, abilities, skills, and financial capacity to reach them. The theory states that an attainable goal may cause goal-setters to identify previously overlooked opportunities to bring themselves closer to the achievement of their goals.
An attainable goal will usually answer the question:
How: How can the goal be accomplished?
Relevant
The fourth term stresses the importance of choosing goals that matter. A bank manager’s goal to “Make 50 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches by 2:00pm” may be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, and Time-Bound, but lacks Relevance. Many times you will need support to accomplish a goal: resources, a champion voice, someone to knock down obstacles. Goals that are relevant to your boss, your team, your organization will receive that needed support.
Relevant goals (when met) drive yourself, the team, department, and organization forward. A goal that supports or is in alignment with other goals would be considered a relevant goal.
A relevant goal can answer yes to these questions:
Does this seem worthwhile?
Is this the right time?
Does this match our other efforts/needs?
Are you the right person?
Is this acceptable for correction?
Time-bound
The fifth term stresses the importance of grounding goals within a time frame, giving them a target date. A commitment to a deadline helps you or your team focus their efforts on completion of the goal on or before the due date. This part of the S.M.A.R.T. goal criteria is intended to prevent goals from being overtaken by the day-to-day crises that invariably arise at home or in an organization. A time-bound goal is intended to establish a sense of urgency.
A time-bound goal will usually answer the question:
When?
What can I do 6 months from now?
What can I do 6 weeks from now?
What can I do today?

I hope you might find this useful

Now off to try and spin lots of plates some of which I will undoubtedly drop but I’m ok with that remember.

I shall try to be a bit quicker with tomorrow’s blog and put it further up my to do list.

Have a good day spinning your plates and remember it’s not the number of plates that’s important but being able to recognise your own best way of spinning and what you want to achieve in the long run to ensure you reach the ultimate goal of happiness for yourself and family.

Take good care

Deborah x

PS I would like to thank my special friend Julie who brought me round a lovely healing bracelet I believe it will get the rest of those cancerous cells running – So thank you Julie for that and the 15 new scarves you donated to the charity, they are perfect!  I just hope I didn’t bore you with my incessant chattering!

[1](Meyer, Paul J (2003). “What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail? Creating S.M.A.R.T. Goals”. Attitude Is Everything: If You Want to Succeed Above and Beyond. Meyer Resource Group, Incorporated, The. ISBN 978-0-89811-304-4.)

Mental health (a bit of a passion of mine if you hadn’t already guessed!)

If I asked you to write every thing you know about mental health I have no doubt that most of you would think and write about mental illness, funnily that doesn’t happen when we think about physical health. So what is mental health, how can we acheive it and how can we help our children acheive it?

The world health organisation describes mental health as, ” a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community”

I think Wikipedia puts it nicely as being “a level of psychological well-being, or an absence of a mental disorder, mental health may include an individual’s ability to enjoy life, and create a balance between life activities and efforts to achieve psychological resilience, an expression of emotions, and as signifying a successful adaptation to a range of demands.

When talking about mental health to large groups or individual clients I use “the long and winding road” to demonstrate how none of us are mentally healthy all of the time.

road with me on

As you can see I have placed myself on the road a little way down from being 100% mentally healthy. Who is a 100% mentally healthy all of the time? Most of us if not all of us have mental health problems at some time. I mean we wouldn’t expect to be physically in top form all of the time would we?

We are all up and down the long and winding road, here are a few facts and figures about the prevalence on mental health in the UK :

  • 1 in 4 people will experience some kind of mental health problem in the course of a year
  • Mixed anxiety and depression is the most common mental disorder in Britain
  • Women are more likely to have been treated for a mental health problem than men
  • About 10% of children have a mental health problem at any one time
  • Depression affects 1 in 5 older people
  • Suicides rates show that British men are three times as likely to die by suicide than British women
  • Self-harm statistics for the UK show one of the highest rates in Europe: 400 per 100,000 population
  • Only 1 in 10 prisoners has no mental disorder

Luckily we talk a lot more about recovery nowadays.

But what sort of things are likely to bring us down the road perhaps more importantly back up again?

Well I of course believe having our LAMBSS (see previous post) met in balance is a good start.

Here is a list of some of the possible life situations or choices that can take us towards mental illness:

Substance misuse
Bullying
Bereavement
Financial worries
Stress
Family break-up
Physical ill health

And some factors that can bring us back towards being mentally healthy

A good support network (friends and family)
Talking to someone
Meditation/mindfulness
Personality (in built resilience factors)
Positive attitude
Confidence
Good self esteem
Prescribed medication

How do we ensure our children have these, what can we do as parents to reduce the likelihood of our children developing mental illness?

Again these are my personal beliefs built on my experiences and map of the world.

I beiieve in order to have mentally healthy children we need mentally health adults that can act as good positive role models.

So take a good hard look at yourself and see what you are role modelling.

Are you demonstating how to manage stress?
Having a good work/life balance?
How to manage Anger?
Good self esteem?
confidence?

Hmm, now here’s your starting point………. YOU

It’s not always easy as we are all human and fallible, but if we really want to make a difference to our children’s mental health it’s where we need to begin.

posterchild change copy

I think we all want our children to be happy.

For those of you who haven’t yet seen or heard this young 13 year old boy speak (if you follow me on facebook you  may have seen it there), here is a very inspirational young man who can teach us a thing or two.

http://youtu.be/h11u3vtcpaY

Enjoy your day.

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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