Friday, 23 September 2011



Today I lost my cool. It was not cool.

I have not been paid for a long time by one of my casual roles. In the first instance it was my fault in the delay, but not for the last 8 weeks which is the length of time I have actively been pursuing my pay.

I had scheduled many things around this time which would require payment. Landscaping (ok more like demolition), cubby house, solar power and a shed.

The landscaping is so we can put in the cubby and shed.
The cubby is to entertain my little ones, who dearly miss their cubby from the house we rented in the country.
The shed is so that we can move everything out of our attached garage into a freestanding triple garage at the back of our quarter acre. This gives us more storage to put our "junk" in, park a car and to put the "gym". Then we can demolish our attached garage and make way for the reno's!
The reno's are not an optional keeping up with the Jones's type thing; more a matter of absolute necessity. 

Our kitchen circa 1957 has a galvanised pipe running under the laundry floor, which is Terrazzo. The pipe is rusting on the inside and blocks weekly. Short of continuing to use highly toxic chemicals that cost $65 a litre each month, the pipe needs repair. The roof over the laundry has rotted, due to previous tenants not clearing the gutter and not telling us (they were friends and we let them have freedom -too much!).
The kitchen in question!

So the most sensible and cost effective option is to get rid of our antique kitchen and laundry and upgrade, there is no common sense alternative. I digress.

Oh and solar power was just to offset my huge electricity bill in winter. I am not a R/C A/C junkie, but I do have to keep my child's room warm as her asthma trigger is none other than ...cold. Having just reviewed my latest bill which is about $80 more for this quarter than last year, yet I have used considerably less mega joules I know that solar will pay off for our family.

SO back to my pay. It was a he said/she said/ haven't seen it blah, blah, blah. Passing of the buck, claiming of ignorance and a nice little statement of "Hopefully HR will agree to release funds in an off pay week". 

It is not up to HR to decide if they would like to pay me. I have a contract. I have met my end of the deal. We have industrial laws in this country that will protect me and my right to be paid. I am in the union, we have an ombudsman and I am not the only one who did not get paid.

My anger did subside. I was disappointed I let myself go there. My girls wanted to go collecting sticks and leaves today so that we could make our camping centrepiece. We couldn't go as I was negotiating to be paid and e-mailing the multiple time sheets and contracts all over again.

If I do not do my job, someone may die. It is pretty serious stuff. How is it that others do not apply the same ethos to their jobs?

It took me a lot of internal work today to keep my anger in check. It didn't always work.

I am grateful that my girls gave me big cuddles, listened to my apologies for yelling at them and did not complain once about not going for our collection walk!

I nearly fell off the gratitude train today and that would have hurt. Lucky I am still in for the ride, hang in there if you feel off balance, there are bumps in every ride!

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

First Do No Harm!

This is the pivotal underpinning of all health care profession learning. We are there to cure, to nurture, and to heal. We are not there to cause pain, harm or suffering and as a nurse, who entered the profession to cause any of the latter? Not me!

By fate I fell into nursing. However, I had always wanted to be a nurse and had a well-developed sense of empathy from a young age. Now however I am struggling: watching the disenfranchised nurses and other healthcare professionals fail in a failing system. I wonder has everyone given up hope and if so why bother coming to work?

We have all dealt with “difficult” patients. The types that don’t conform, don’t comply, don’t fit the boxes and they don’t make our day easy. They challenge us on many levels, exhaust us, insult us and physically and verbally abuse us. They then end up on a merry go round of hospital admissions, sometimes inappropriately and hospital discharges, also sometimes inappropriate. No one wants to draw the short straw to work with “these” people.

However, there is one team that is working with this group of clients. The team operates out of an interface between acute and community and encompasses the complex clients who frequently and inappropriately present to the acute care hospitals. Through pulling a collaborative and client-focused team around each individual they are demonstrating a reduction in inappropriate hospital admissions and emergency department presentations.

In saying inappropriate admissions clients are not excluded from accessing the acute setting, as everyone has a basic right to access healthcare. What is instead focused on is where the best place is to provide the various forms of care required for each individual, and how and who is best placed to manage the client in accessing the care. The traditional silos of various services and health entities operating in isolation is being navigated and permeated, to create an environment of support for the client and for the health care workers.

It is a young team; it is an evolving team and one that is dedicated and passionate. Based originally on the UK Community Matron Model the program also has extended beyond that model to encompass Social Workers in the team to further address the complexity that many in the client group present with. 

Clients come from a hugely diverse background and age range, from those in their 30’s and 40’s right through to octogenarians. 

The system is being challenged on many levels in health and not all are positive, that is the nature of health. However, this small team of which I am privileged to be a part of is challenging it to make a positive impact on many levels, client, systemic, financial and attitudes.

Of all the impacts the team seeks to make, I fear the latter is the hardest one to shift. I watched staff today personalize the acting out behaviors of a chronically ill patient who is dying a slow and difficult death. Their eyes rolled, noses screwed up, sighs were audibly louder than usual, the “not again” comments bounced of the walls. However, in the bed I saw an endearing character that is chronically ill and has had a long-standing history of mental health issues and physical ailments. I saw someone who needed care, compassion and nurturing and unfortunately after an extended period of managing them at home, the right place for their care was a hospital. It is the only place we will be able to facilitate a dignified approach to the end of life care that will be needed to encompass the complex needs that they have.

I fear that the apathy, the cynicism, the disenfranchised are becoming endemic in health care. If workers just stepped back and viewed the situation from a different angle, took a new or novel approach, could they achieve the minutest but most monumental of breakthroughs? Why do they feel infecting everyone around them with the judgmental and detrimental attitudes to these “difficult” clients is productive, beneficial or required? Why do they naively personalize the attacks that the chronically medically and mentally impaired and unwell perpetuate towards them? I don’t have the answers for those questions, but I do set the standard to provide care with a level playing field. In my team everyone deserves a chance to be treated with dignity, to have their situation viewed outside the box that healthcare and professionals have locked them into. It won’t make my day eaiser by taking the path of least resistance and joining the judgment train, I will advocate, I will strive, I will challenge and I will survive long after many of these clients have passed on, hopefully with a dignified death, hopefully with some respect from professionals. I hope; I live, I work another day. These “difficult” clients and the wonderful, dedicated professionals that I am working with inspire me. I am lucky to be me and fall willingly each day into working with complexity.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Baggage from the Marriage Carriage...

Marriage...aaaahhh that word used to make me cringe as a woman.

I was probably the only woman I knew who did not wish to grow up, get married and have children. I also was not particularly career ambitious.

How then did I end up married with kids and a career?? Good question.

My own parents marriage was something I wished to avoid. I never saw my parents fight, sure there was the occassional (make that frequent) sarcastic comment from my mother to my father. What was it about my parents marriage that made me cringe and have no belief in marriage?

From as far back as I can remember I knew my parents were incredibly different people. In personality, enjoyment and future dreams. However, I had a great upbringing...mostly.

Why did I have no future faith in a marriage for myself based on my parents. Well I have been married now for nearly 9 years and together for nearly 16. It has been anything but blissful!

My husband and I are very different people, just like my parents. We clash, we are strong willed and i don't back down ever. If I have a belief I will stick to my guns, most of the time.

On the flip side when we work TOGETHER on something, we are dynamite. It has taken us many, many fights, two separations and an extra marital relationship to get us to where we are now. Working together on parenting, on our house, just on anything. That is how it is supposed to be, so why did it take so much to get to this point?

How do we work together?
What works/ what doesn't?

Where oh where is the instruction book to navigate all of this. Well there just isn't one. You do have to figure it out yourself, but there are some tools to help you.

They will be coming soon. I just need time to sort it all out. This is the first thing you will need to learn in this journey - patience, nothing happens quickly, except the unexpected.

Keep on board, keep moving forward, everything passes.