Has anyone seen Mick?

That’s a fair and reasonable question… where the hell has Mick been for the past six months?

The back end of this blog has been gathering cyber dust and beginning to fade away to nothing more than a digital memory over the past six months or so….

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I wasn’t really lost (well at least not for all the time I was away)….it’s just that life sometimes requires us to focus our  energy and our priorities and this was certainly the case for me. Where were my energy and priorities focused?

Churchill Fellowship

Part of the time I was away it was because I was undertaking an international study tour as part of a Churchill Fellowship . My fellowship took a solid three and half month chunk, including travel across 7 countries and 11 Cities as well as the thinking, compiling, drafting and editing of my Churchill fellowship report.

I will be eternally grateful for the trust that the selection panels and national executive of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust of Australia placed in me in providing the opportunity to undertake the study tour. I’ll post some more about my Churchill Fellowship experiences later, including links and some follow-up from my fellowship report.

Family

If you are a previous reader of this blog then you know the background.. if you are new then I urge you to read my post on how did I get here.

Samuel has had about six weeks in hospital during my absence from my blog, and clearly this requires a focus on family logistics and connectedness.

The silly season

Yes.. the silly season, all that Xmas and new year stuff got in the way too.

Just bloody tired and worn out…..

Yes this blog is about resilience and dealing with life’s ups and downs…well the reality is part of the absence was also about taking the time and space to let my head empty, take care of myself and allow my internal batteries to recharge a little! Last year was a packed and hectic year (and I’m not expecting 2013 will be any different), so it was important to take some time out too.

Weeding the cyber garden, and planting some new posts!

seedling Yes this blogs cyber garden backend was getting weedy.. Well that is until today anyway… I’m back.

So with some cyber weeding of the blog and a few bits of back-end tinkering here and there I’ve the put the blog garden back in order, and it’s time for some new planting.

 

Rush hour

Welcome to part two of observations about the things that have been observed during years of coming and going from a children’s hospital, part one was on watching and learning

 

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The corridors and rooms of the children’s hospital are like the highways and byways.
There is peak hour, bottlenecks, tow trucks and everything else you would expect.

When is Peak Hour?

Well that depends… there’s peak hour when you would expect it… that 9am start causes chaos in the car park,the corridors become jammed with people navigating their way to the various clinic appointments in the different parts of the hospital. There is the usual stream of high volume traffic throughout the day and then the afternoon peak and then…… there is the corridors that look like ghost towns in the middle of the night.

Speedsters and bombs

The corridor traffic is just like the road traffic.There are the zippy little speedsters.. able-bodied people who are in a hurry to get where they have to be, and they duck and weave in and out of the other traffic. There are the beaten up bombs… wheelchairs that their owners have outgrown and look like they are held together with tape and wire (WHY kids need to get to this point with their equipment is a WHOLE other issue that I will address sometime later in another post). There are the one’s doing 40 km/hr when everyone is trying to 60… but that is because they are little kids trying to navigate around with a big pole and lots of pumps and lines and wires attached.. so there is no honking at them, or “road rage” to get them to speed up.

Trucks and tow trucks

Then there are the semi-trailers and/or other assorted trucks…. the beds being moved around by the tow trucks (the porters who are always on the go.. and who are generally characters like Joe.. maybe I’ll write a post about him?), as they move kids to or from surgery to wards, or to or from wards to places like x-ray, or as has been the case too often in my families experience to or from the Intensive Care Unit. The other type of trucks are parents coming in with arm loads of bags.. you know these are the families of kids who are coming for a long stay… generally frequent flyers. Or the parents leaving with that same load of bags.. the long stay is over. The other overloaded parents are the ones leaving with a bag loads of stuffed toys, cards, flowers/balloons etc These are generally the parents of kids who are experiencing their first hospital stay. I look at them and hope that this stay hasn’t been the first of many and that they are lucky enough that this is their first and only major stay… but I know for too many of them that is not the case.

The afternoon peak

Peak hour is different in different parts of the hospital. The PM peak hour is a bit like the usual one on the road… a mass exodus of people leaving the clinics, the road outside becomes clogged. At this point the traffic in the hospital shifts as family and friends all come visiting, the corridors and alcoves become quite noisy and all of the traffic is headed into or out of the wards. Like the peak hour on the roads this one lasts for a couple of hours and then fades away.

The fading of this peak, coincides with the start of the peak in the emergency department. The emergency department has a steady stream of kids coming and going throughout the day, but when evening hits the waiting area in the emergency department begins to burst at the seams. As parents have returned home discussed little Johnnies high temp, and cough, etc etc and they make a decision that little johnny is really very sick and needs some attention. Thankfully the vast majority of these little johnny’s have things that are easily treated with bit of panadol and making sure they get fluids in with gastrolite drinks or iceblocks… things that could have been dealt with by a local
GP and avoided the wait of hours in the Emergency Department waiting room…

This burst of activity for little things that could have been dealt with away from the hospital really gets up a lot of people’s noses. I take a different view.. for most of the parents you see there it is probably the first time their child has been sick to the point of creating concern, and like with the “semi-trailer” parents, I hope that it is their first and only experience of the hospital.

Ghost town….

Once you get past a certain time in the hospital.. in my experience generally around midnight / 1 am the hospital becomes eerily quiet.
Quiet except for the hum of breathing machines, feed pumps and other assorted machines keeping kids going. As a parent who is unable to
sleep walking the corridors after this time, like in the picture for this post, the corridors are long, quiet and the place can feel like
a ghost town.

More observations to come in part three….

 

21st Birthday of sorts

Turning 21..again!

21 st Birthday… I wish, times that by two and you would be closer to the truth… but today is a 21st Birthday of sorts.

If I’m not turning 21 then whats up?

Today is 21 years since I joined the Fire Brigade…

What 21 years in the same job?

There are not too many “jobs” in which someone spends 21 years (or lot more) in these days. But this needs to be looked at in context, and the Fire Brigade has been far more than just a “job”.

I may have been in the Fire Brigade for 21 years, but I have had a number of “careers” already within this time.

I have spent time operationally on the fire-trucks doing the stuff you see firefighters do in the media and loved every minute of it.

I have spent time in Corporate Strategy and project management, I have spent (a short time) in training. I have done specialisations like Rescue and Hazardous Materials. I have spent time in additional roles like being a member of our Critical Incident Support team.

I have also been fortunate to have progressed  in rank to where I am today, an Inspector (for those looking for an equivalency in rank terms, think Major in the Army).

I gained an education… in more ways than one.

I gained a valuable vocational education, but beyond that I have earned three post-graduate degrees and picked up plenty of “life lessons” along the way.

Twenty one years has provided many great examples of leadership (as well as a few how not to lessons on leadership).

I have been shown the true nature of “the firefighter family” when my own families circumstances have been dire [see how did I get here].

Lessons learned

I have learned how fragile human life is.

I have learned how strong the human body can be, despite what people and circumstances can do to it.

I have learned how indestructible the human spirit is, or can be.

I have learned that there is always someone willing to help (including when you find it hard to ask for help), and some one willing to watch your back, and how to reciprocate such loyalty and friendship.

I have learned that there is strength in unity.

I have learned the truth behind a quote that I have never been able to re-find the source for……“Bravery is a single act usually over in minutes, true courage is putting on the uniform every day knowing what it is you might be called upon to do”, and I thank my fellow firefighters and members of other emergency services for putting on the uniform and showing up every day to make our communities safer for everyone.

I have learned….. that I have never finished learning….. and that….

21 does feel like a beginning again..

Just like a real 21st birthday, today is full of hope. I potentially have a long time and a lot more to achieve in this “fire brigade” life, just like when I was turning 21.

I hope the next 21 years (if it lasts that long) is as full of fun, friendship, learning and life that the last 21 has been.

dance of social convention

Start the dance music….

Hi how are you?…. asked the person at the checkout, asked the person at the next store, and the one after that.

It’s the same question that you and I get asked countless times every day….

Will you take the lead?

How do you reply?

Today …. I felt like replying….. “Don’t beeeep ask, you are NOT really interested, and if I told you I feel like beeeeep and feel like I want to go on a rampage, you’d recoil at a million mile an hour and be calling for security and the police”….. but what did I say ” Good thanks, you?”

This dance of social convention goes on, day in day out……

Who really wants to dance anyway?

The truth is very few people really mean it when they ask, and very few people stop to think about what might REALLY be happening for the person who they asked.

Did they stop to consider:

They have a child in serious condition in hospital,

they have just come from treatment for a serious illness,

their partner has left them,

they have just come from the funeral of their best friend…… or a myriad of other possible scenarios.

Stop the music….

Let’s do something different…. let’s change the tune.

Let’s try a new question like…..

Now you can take the lead

A question like……… that’s your choice, but if you are going to do a social dance how about you choose

a) a question about which you would really be interested

b) a question that doesn’t make the other person feel compelled to give a glib answer

 

 

 

 

 

When things are foggy

when things are foggy

A morning fog….

This morning was one of the first days this year that I have woken up to a thick fog, that completely changed the drive to work and it set me thinking about when things are foggy.

Reduced Visibility

Obviously one of the first things that you notice when you wake up to a foggy day is that you can’t see as far as you usually can, your visible world has shrunk. It doesn’t mean that all those things that are usually there aren’t there it’s just that they have become obscured.

When setting off on a trip in these conditions the same applies to your journey, many of the landmarks, signposts and other clues that you would use to help guide you are obscured, but the road is still there and so is your ultimate destination.

A need to change focus

Driving in a fog causes you to change strategy about the way that you choose to light your path. You can’t hit high beam to push your way through the fog, it just causes the fog to appear thicker and brighter and it further reduces your visibility. You can’t just speed up and push your way through it ( well you can but you are just inviting a car wreck!). The fog causes you to change your focus and start looking at clues that are more immediate and closer to you than your usual length of focus. To get the best visibility  you need to use low beam or change the colour of the light you use by switching to fog lights. When you do this the fog becomes less intense and your visibility improves.

When life gets foggy

Many of life’s problems can act a bit like a blanket of fog. They obscure how much you can see and they hide your destination from you. They cause you to shift focus. Just like driving if you try to switch your life to high beam, or speed your life up to try to push through you just manage to make things less clear or rush headlong into a potential wreck.

Treat life’s fog like driving in the fog

  • slow down
  • reduce the intensity of your focus
  • use landmarks and signposts in your life that are close to you, one’s that you often usually don’t pay attention to you
  • change the way you light up the problem, it might allow you to see a way through that you can’t otherwise

What are your tips for safely navigating through life’s fog? Share them in the comments ….