Waiting For The Results

I spend one hour a week waiting – slightly anxiously. If you recognise the items in the picture below, you will have already guessed what it is I am waiting for.

Twice a week, patient facing NHS staff, care providers and other health workers take what many know as a Lateral Flow Test or a Antigen Rapid Qualitative Test to detect if we might be carrying …you know. If we test positive, we would be sent for a different kind of test that is more accurate.

So far my results have been negative, negative, negative. Looking at this picture you might be unsure because it looks as if the red line is between the C and the T, but if the camera was directly over the test cartridge you would see that it is on C – which means negative.

This is the new routine. I have not had any symptoms of the virus. But whether or not we have symptoms (as we know there are a lot of people who have the virus and have no symptoms) we still test and then we report the results on the government website. We are getting used to the new routine.

We have all had to do things we have never done before, we have all had to make small adjustments and major changes. We have all made sacrifices. We have all felt a little nervous. It is strange for us. Having a swab stuck up both of your nostrils twice a week and waiting for the results is not something I relish. But it is important. So is wearing that face mask, washing those hands and staying at home (unless you are taking your local daily exercise, picking up essential shopping or you cannot work from home – key workers certainly cannot!)

I think it’s obvious that many are feeling weary of the pandemic – but I promise you – any weariness you may be feeling is nothing compared to the way NHS staff feel after a shift of more than twelve hours on their feet and donned in full PPE, seeing people suffering agony.

So please….please stick at it. Stick to the rules. Don’t look for loopholes or look at other people who are breaking or bending the rules. Please just stay home and stay safe.

Protect Your Nearest And Dearest

Doctor, Surgeon, Hospital, Surgery

After a year of recognizing the hard work of the NHS and other key workers and with many millions, no billions having made many sacrifices, please be sensible today. I really shocked at the weekend when I realized I would not see my family at all, that I would not be able to see anyone at all on my days off because my support bubble (Jack) escaped London before the restrictions were announced. So today – I AM ALL ALONE! Believe me – I plan to make the most of it!!! I have books I want to read, and I have cleaning to do! It will be ok. I will be cooking myself a nice meal and keeping my spirits up. It is weird though hey!

Today there are many thousands upon thousands of people who are caring for very sick people in hospitals and other medical care facilities. Many of them will be working twelve hour shifts. There are always medical workers (and others) who work shifts on bank holidays. The health service is definitely a 24/7/365 enterprise. The work never stops. But this year, we have all been asked to take some sensible precautions to ease the pressure on a tsunami of work that has come along. We have been asked to play our part so that our health service does not have to make dire decisions on who can receive care and who cannot.

Please enjoy your time together, but be mindful that we need to protect each other. Please. Real love involves sacrifice. Please do everything sensible to protect your loved ones while still enjoying the temporary one-day lifting of restrictions.

#TIS THE SEASON TO BE JOLLY CAREFUL

The Secret To My Strength?

I was with a friend the other day who was asking me how on earth I have managed to keep up with the pace this year without being ill. I was ill last November, but since then I have been fine. I think I had a sniffle for a couple of days recently but it dried up very quickly – and I did not have a cough, a temperature or a loss of taste/smell.

Headaches have come, I had some tough times with headaches. But I still carried on working throughout the pain. Being busy at work may have helped me cope with the pain…or it may have made it worse – I don’t know!

Well, when my friend asked me how I have kept going, I thought about it and said….SPRING ONIONS!!!

Spring Onions, Vegetable, Salad, Food, Cooking

I have been hungering, no craving spring onions all year. From week to week, I could not get enough of them. I had a lot of salad throughout the summer, always covered with finely chopped spring onions. But I was throwing them over almost every other dish I ate.

Could spring onions be the secret source to my superpowers this year? I am sure they have some good things inside them, besides being very tasty.

But in truth, I think that love (family and friends have been a huge emotional support to me), joy (I feel so much satisfaction from knowing we are helping people) and hope (I have a very clear view of the future as this corrupt system starts to buckle) have helped me do what I needed to do from day to day.

I am not taking anything for granted though! I know at anypoint I might become ill. But in the meantime, I am still not bored with spring onions. They are so delicious. My favourite food of 2020 is undoubtedly SPRING ONIONS!

At Rest

I have a week long holiday ahead! Isn’t that great!

I have been working hard you know!!! It is so great to be able to go to sleep without setting my alarms for the next day.

Morning Girl, Woman, Bed, Tee, Morning

Normally mornings are hard because of the head pain I have. So a whole week of being able to cooperate with my head, instead of bullying it is so appreciated.

There are a long list of things I want to catch up with this week. But right at the top of that list is: REST!

Compliance

Mask, Surgical Mask, Virus, Protection

Back in the spring I heard a phrase on the news that I thought was valid. It was reported that one of the reasons the timing of social distancing restrictions was delayed in the spring was due to COMPLIANCE. How long would people cooperate with and obey what was being asked of them?

I can only relate what I have seen here in England, and the rest of UK. Now I know there have been a minority who were always going to do their own thing. They seem to think the virus is a hoax and that all the measures being taken are ridiculous. Why they think the government would try to cripple the economy if this was a hoax – I am not sure.

However, on the whole, the majority of people in this country did comply with social distancing requirements in the spring. Most people did what they were asked to, and I don’t think we should ever take that for granted. Most people were unselfish, self-sacrificing and creative in finding new ways to keep their spirits up despite the change in their routines and the restrictions on their freedoms. People knew this was serious and they wanted to do their part to make a difference. And they did!!!! It was very impressive and it made a big difference.

Face Mask, Mask, Coronavirus

During the summer months, restrictions were lifted. For some people life seemed to become more like their normal way of life. Seven months later and now in response to rising numbers of infections and hospital admissions, the government are once again bringing in restrictions. So far, they have been trying to do that in a more targeted, localised fashion.

Half of my family live in Wales. They are going into a full lockdown from Friday for a whole fortnight. But they are ready to cooperate with what is asked of them, as they have done all year.

If you have been watching the UK news, you may be aware that in some areas there does not seem the same level of cooperation as there was back in the spring.

Virus, Protection, Coronavirus, Woman

Now it is not my desire to call judgement on that. I work in the NHS, so I am mindful of the damage to physical health, but I am also very aware of how mental health is being stretched.

The concern over people’s livelihoods is a valid one and I am not willing to wade into a very sensitive situation. For those who are hard pressed economically or in debt, anxiety and stress can be a huge threat to mental and physical health. So I don’t think it can be ignored that after already losing income throughout 2020, some are extremely concerned about the prospect of their income suffering even more.

I am more worried about the conversations I have had with some of my patients and friends here in London. I have heard some strange things of late. Some are extreme. There is one patient who I dread seeing because he is so disdainful of everything to do with this virus. He insists it is a hoax, he accuses the government of all sorts of crimes (I am not a fan of politicians but I think this patient us unbalanced in his outlook) and he has gone so far as trying to physically remove our PPE and deliberately coughing to make it clear how he feels about the measures people are taking to protect themselves and other. I wish we could ban him from coming anywhere near us. But generally I prefer to deal with him speedily and efficiently so he can leave us and the rest of our patients in peace.

Bar, Restaurant, Coffee, Black Table

But then there are those who have just had enough it would seem of limitations being put on their social lives. Someone told me the other day that they had plans to go out for meals in restaurants pretty much every day the following week with different friends and family. They told me they would tell the restaurant that they were living in the same household – in other words, they were going to lie in order to be able to socialize freely with whoever they wanted. Right.

I totally understand anxiety over income and why that would make people feel the restrictions placed in certain areas are a further threat to their livelihood. I understand and empathise and I know that there is no easy answer to that issue. But I struggle to be as sympathetic with those who are willing to lie so that they can socialise with whoever they want That is not something I can approve of. The whole idea of a social bubble was to help life be bearable for those who are isolated. So get in a social bubble and stay in it. Claiming to a restaurant that you are in a social bubble with your fellow diner in regards to a dozen different friends is showing disregard for the tremendous sacrifices many are making.

People, Man, Travel, Adventure, Alone

When this person told me their intention I gave them a little food for thought. I mentioned that I had been reading a lot of posts from Canadian bloggers who reported being on their own for Canadian Thanksgiving for the first time in their lives. I asked this person, how do you think people in England would feel if they found themselves alone for Christmas for the first time in their lives?

This issue of compliance is a worry. I think the government do want to keep children and students in education. I think the government do want to keep most businesses open. So that leaves them with the activities that are classified as more under the umbrella of recreational or social, where they can bring in restrictions. The more people take liberties, lie about their social bubbles, just do whatever they want and try to find loopholes to justify their actions, well….everyone is going to pay for that.

Above all – whether you are working or playing – remember that the most effective measures we can take are:

  • WASH YOUR HANDS
  • DON’T TOUCH YOUR FACE
  • SELF-ISOLATE IF YOU HAVE ANY SYMPTOMS OF THE VIRUS

and if the authorities where you live ask you to then please

  • WEAR A FACEMASK
  • COOPERATE WITH THE RESTRICTIONS ON SOCIALISING
  • KEEP A DISTANCE FROM OTHERS

This is all temporary. It’s hard but it’s temporary. When you are in the midst of a challenge, a trial, you may well wonder, “when will this end?” But when the hardship has ended you appreciate more than ever what really matters and hopefully you will have learnt to develop strong qualities.

Eye, Eyes, Face, Portrait, Woman, Girl

If you are struggling emotionally with the strangeness of this year, please be assured that is perfectly understandable. There is nothing wrong with you! These are challenging times and admitting that you are overwhelmed, or dealing with increasing anxiety is normal. But disregarding the measures being taken and deciding you are going to socialize with whoever you want to keep your spirits up is likely to upset others. Do keep talking though. Phone, email, blogging – it’s a good idea to keep in touch with those who seem balanced and practical when it comes to dealing with life’s challenges. Being completely alone with your worries can put you at risk. So connect, but connect with people who are responsible and wholesome.

Dear Stranger…

To the man who I served at work today…

I just wanted to say a big THANK YOU to you. I was touched by your kind words. I thank you for being patient and waiting your turn with the other patients. I thank you for wearing a face mask and kindly responding to my reminder to keep a reasonable distance from the patient who was filling out paperwork before his procedure. I thank you for the twinkle in your eyes.

When you said that you thought I was awesome and commented that you had never seen someone stay so calm and efficient under pressure, it brought a little happy glow to my heart. When you said to me “Well done, we need people like you,” it was much appreciated. When you cheekily flirted with me and said that I had a beautiful voice, like an angel’s – well I have always thought of angels as big strong muscle bound men with gigantic wings – but I do realize you meant it as a compliment.

Anyway, I just want to say THANK YOU because it’s those little moments when people are kind and lovely that make my job worthwhile. They help me forget everything bad that has happened and try even harder to look after our patients in a way that knows we truly care.

Ibuprofen And My Safe Place

Painkillers, Pills, Medicine, Drug

Well…today has been another write-off I am afraid. Despite going to bed early, I slept until midday, which has to be a good thing. But as soon as I was conscious the pain was there again. I took some more ibuprofen with some toast.

The good news is I cleaned my kitchen. I also washed my bed linen. But I had hoped to be in North London working with Jack. Even though I have had ibuprofen throughout the day the pain has been constant. I spoke to one of my colleagues who said I should take paracetamol or co-codamol. I don’t get on well with either codeine or paracetamol. I also spoke to my GP surgery. Not much help I have to say. Around two hours ago I rang NHS 111. Basically everyone is saying the same thing….take over-the-counter co-codamol (even though I am codeine sensitive).

I have been on my own this weekend as the landlords went away. So Jack is coming over with some co-codamol he bought from a pharmacy for me. He is going to keep an eye on me tomorrow. In the past codeine has done strange things to me and I am scared to take it when I am on my own.

These past two days I have been rubbish at reading posts. I am going to lay here and try to read some of your posts until Jack gets here. The fresh bed linen smells so gorgeous. I am looking forward to being in Jack’s arms. It feels like a safe place to be. It feels so good to say that. Just over a year ago I would never have said that. Now…Jack’s arms feel like the safest place in the world.

It’s funny how a situation can turn out better than we ever imagined!

Never give up! Never lose heart!

Little Changes Add Up

I learnt something nifty from another blogger and I am going to try it out myself in this post.

I have decided that I want to make a few little changes simply so that I can feel a little more in control of my life. That might sound like a strange goal. But 2020 has just been …yeah. I am sure I am not the only one who feels as if they have lost control…finds it hard to plan…has felt a bit discombobulated by the changes in routine and loss of what traditionally we used to provide structure to our week…to our lives.

I have been busy with work for most of the time, but I have felt myself losing grips of the things I love doing. I have had flurries…walks, outside picnics…recently seeing my family in the north. But I have been more tired because of the crazy work hours. When I have been tired, I have decided I needed to rest more. I gave in to comfort eating. I was not out in the fresh air as often. I ended up watching travel shows (Pole To Pole, The Greek Islands with Julia Bradbury, Simon Reeves travel shows)

Last week I started pulling out some of my winter clothes. Uh! They all felt tight. 😦 That’s not good. So…I am going to be a bit strict with myself. Some of that will be watching the calories, but most of it will be making sure I am going for more walks, more frequently. Jack should tell me when I am putting weight on. He should not leave it for my wardrobe to tell me that!

The IMAGE COMPARE block below shows you the plan. Can you see the little white circle with a < > on the right side of the picture. Drag it over to the left to see what I am aiming for!

At last I found one thing I like about this new block editor….before and after technology. I could have a lot of fun with this block!

Am I A Honeyfuggler?

Lips, Sweet, Red, Skin, Face, Female

I noticed Melanie’s WOTD post telling us that the Word Of The Day was HONEYFUGGLE. I am going to admit to you that I have never heard that word before. So I asked Google what it meant.

It made me feel a little bit uneasy at first. It referred to someone using flattery and sweet talking in order to deceive someone else, and it inferred this is with the motive of some gain.

Well, I have decided I am not strictly a honeyfuggler, because I don’t go out to deceive or to gain from someone. However, I am a bit of a sweet talker! My friends and colleagues have insinuated that I sweet talk or flirt with patients, customers and clients. But my reason is not to deceive. I just think that often with a spoonful of sugar the medicine goes down.

I mentioned that last week I was sent out onto the streets of South London to charm and enchant the British public. Essentially I was out there to sweet talk them. I was friendly and graceful. I was certainly not there to deceive. I was not making any commission. I was not going to gain personally, but in that context I was being paid my normal hourly rate. Although in some ways, there may be some financial benefit to private health services in association with the NHS and I am sure somewhere along the line the App is supposed to save money and resources.

So…I am not going to let myself be labelled a honeyfuggler. But yes, I confess I am a sweet talker! I can charm and enchant and seduce – yes. I know when it is appropriate to use it though. I love it…and I think that the people I speak to quite enjoy the enchanting little ways I have of drawing their attention to NHS services and how best to access them.

_________________

This post was in response to the WOTD prompt:

Honeyfuggle

Wordofthedayheaderimage

At The End Of The Day…

Cook, Potatoes, Cooking Pot, WaterIt’s becoming the “hot potato” and I don’t want to end up in hot water for discussing it in one of my posts. But I keep on seeing and hearing and reading about face masks and other PPE, so it is never far from my mind. Even last night on the BBC news there was a report discussing whether the UK government should make face masks mandatory (which has already happened in some other countries.)

09wduAt the end of a long day at work, I pass three supermarkets on my way home. Once or twice a week, I nip in and buy some groceries to walk home with. It’s normally quiet at the end of the day. I had a shock last night when I realized that the staff at Marks and Spencers have better PPE than we do at work! My mum always said that M&S were good employers.

Over the past few weeks, it has been a challenge for authorities and the media to strike the right tone when it comes to communications and directions regarding the …you know. Panic is not good. But recognising that we have a real challenge, and that there are measures we can all take to protect ourselves, our loved ones and everyone else, and to ease the enormous pressure on health services, has been repeated over and over again.

Concerts, Audience, Spectators, LightsRight from the start, this situation reminded me of my training when I worked as a steward at an indoor arena. Twice we had to evacuate thousands of people at full capacity events due to bomb scares. We had to communicate directions clearly without causing panic. People were wonderful. They obeyed the instructions. Everyone was safe.

At the end of the day, I think that the vast majority of people have realized that the …you know… is a serious challenge for us. I think the vast majority of people want to cooperate with directions because they love life and they love their families. Whichever country we live in, we will have seen that directions have changed from week to week, and will likely continue to do so. It is important we understand and trust that those directions are well motivated and that we cooperate with them.

Lapland, Face, It, Hood, Icy, FrozenI posted a little fictional story last night about a character named Mike who donned himself up in home-made PPE to risk venturing out to the supermarket.

Now…I meant to write a non-fiction waffling post about this very recent phenomenon of people donning PPE in order to go and obtain necessary food and medication. I am starting to wonder at what I am seeing.

I work for the NHS. At work, we have to wear PPE. We are in contact with lots of members of the public. As soon as I finish work, I can’t wait to get the face mask and gloves off. They are so yucky to wear all day. It has never crossed my mind to wear PPE outside of work.

Face Mask, Virus, Quarantine, PandemicNow, I don’t want to knock anyone choosing to wear PPE. It’s clear to me that those who are doing so feel safer for wearing it. That is fine. There is nothing wrong with wearing PPE, even if you are going out to the shops, so long as you use it properly. I deeply appreciate that people are doing everything they can think of to protect themselves and their loved ones (which additionally will take the pressure off the NHS).

I think that PPE in some cases (not all cases) has the potential of becoming a false friend. The prime example I have in mind is a patient who I think may be missing the point of all the instructions that have been repeated over and over for the past few weeks.

First of all this particular patient is almost eighty. (Here in the UK, anyone over seventy was advised to self-isolate, stay at home, and ask others to go shopping for them or to collect prescriptions.)

Dependent, Dementia, Woman, Old, AgeThis patient, has decided to leave their home and wander into a busy London high street in order to shop for groceries and has then decided to come to the medical practice where I work in order to ask for their repeat medication, which incidentally is not due for three weeks. That could have been done over the phone, via email, or by post. It could have been done by a representative.

But what made me most anxious is seeing what the patient did. The patient was wearing latex gloves and a face mask. But before my eyes, the patient coughed and spluttered into the gloved hands and then removed the face mask to wipe their mouth with a tissue. The patient then used the same tissue to wipe their eyes.

Now please believe me, I did everything I could to stop this occurring, save leaping over the desk and seizing the tissue. I was dramatically waving my hands and calling “No, don’t….!!!” It was traumatic to see what happened and I have been worried about that particular patient ever since.

Volunteer, Poster, Illustrator, DesignIt saddened me for so many reasons. There are many volunteer groups that have sprung up in this area. It is lovely to see people doing shopping and collecting prescriptions for those who have been told to self-isolate. I am perplexed that a few of our older patients don’t trust anyone to collect their medication on their behalf.

I am seeing too many people out shopping who are in their seventies and eighties. I was grieved the other day when I was queuing to go into the supermarket and a lady who looked well into her eighties was sitting on the bench next to the queue smoking. It’s really hard to see. In fact I am finding myself becoming provoked by anyone I see smoking. I saw a chap near the tube station remove his face mask and then light up a cigarette. He kept his latex gloves on. I was baffled.

Cute, Dive, Fun, Goggles, Joy, MaskAnyway…I feel I should start taking my new little camera out with me (I bought it in the sale to take to Australia, which seems extremely unlikely now) I have seen the most bizarre PPE donned on shoppers during the past week or so.

One lady who was wandering around in short shorts and flip flops was wearing marigolds (washing up gloves) and a diving mask and snorkel.

A lot of people are using scarves as face masks. I must admit, I appreciate that. If people are wearing face-masks to go shopping and medical staff cannot obtain what they need for work…well, that would not be a good thing.

People, Man, Guy, Mask, Gas Mask, BlackI have seen others in what look more like gas masks. I remember painting with some horribly noxious external paint and having to wear these huge respirators to prevent us breathing in the horrible fumes. I have seen people walking around wearing those kind of respirators.

It makes me start to feel a bit self-conscious. So far in the UK, we have not been told to wear masks every time we leave the house. I can see that in some countries people are being told to do so. Of course I wear PPE at work. But before we all became aware of the …you know… I saw a lot more patients than is normal. We had a month of complete madness before any instructions came from the government on self-isolating, social distancing and of course – hand-washing and not touching your face.

Sniff, Flu, Cold, HandkerchiefDuring those few weeks I had patients coughing and spluttering all over me. I am almost convinced I must have been exposed to the …you know… during that time. I am also convinced that many of us with public roles, who may not have had any symptoms ourselves – doctors, nurses, receptionists, cashiers and sales assistants, transport operatives and many others – could easily have been vehicles for spreading the virus during the time before any restrictions came into place.

I am very very glad of the measures the government have put in place to protect all of us. I feel safer going shopping when numbers are restricted in supermarkets (although, to be honest, as I usually go shopping after work, the supermarkets are normally pretty quiet).

Surgical Mask, Coronavirus, VirusHmm…but we do not know what tomorrow, or next week, will bring. Maybe I will have to start wearing PPE outside of work. If the government asked us all to do that, then of course I would. At the end of the day, we have all been asked to make changes to our normal way of life.

I have mixed views on PPE outside of an obvious medical need. If there was an unlimited supply of PPE, it would not matter. But in my mind, it is important to make sure that the supply to the NHS and care workers is not impeded by public demand. I do understand why people might feel safer having PPE on. I would not criticise that. But please use it properly, otherwise it becomes a false friend. But it is very very important to remember the main ways to protect ourselves and our loved ones are:

  • HAND-WASHING
  • NOT TOUCHING YOUR FACE
  • SELF-ISOLATING IF YOU HAVE ANY SYMPTOMS OF THE VIRUS
  • SELF-ISOLATING IF YOU ARE OVER SEVENTY, PREGNANT OR HAVE UNDERLYING MEDICAL ISSUES/CONDITIONS THAT MAKE YOU VULNERABLE
  • SOCIAL-DISTANCING FOR EVERYONE ELSE – HERE IN THE UK, THAT MEANS ONLY LEAVING HOME TO COLLECT GROCERIES, MEDICATION OR ONCE A DAY FOR SOME FORM OF EXERCISE. It would take me a long time to compile a list of all the things we should not be doing, but I think there are only a small minority who are doing those things.

*Note – I think it is understood that self-isolating means ether using delivery services or asking others to fetch your groceries or prescription medication. So please, please do ask. There are lots and lots of people (even strangers) who care about you and do not want you to take risks – please trust them.

I need to add – smoking needs to stop – now – please.

Thank You, Thanks, Greeting, Card

I know that all of my other NHS colleagues are grateful to the vast majority of people who are showing they love life and are cooperating with the measures the government has put in place for the protection of all of us.