Looking for the fire in his eyes

SamuelSamuel is back in hospital …….

My last post was about where I have been for the past months and I mentioned my son having been in hospital for part of that time (you’ll find the reason for it in the post how did I get here).

The warmth of the fire in his eyes

The thing that has always struck me about my brave little man is that no matter how sick he has been (and he has been incredibly unwell on far too many occassions), I have always been positive and hopeful because he has always had a fire in his eyes.

Samuel has been very sleepy over the past days and has only had his eyes open for a few minutes here and there (one of those occassions captured in the image above). When his eyes are open I find myself desperately looking  in hope for the fire that has always been in his eyes, but right now I’m struggling to find just a spark.

Watching and waiting for the spark

We have had the palliative team involved in Samuel’s care for a while, so conversations about death and dying are sadly way too familiar, but have always been tempered for me by the fire in Samuel’s eyes and the hope that it gives me. 

It is only once before that I have not seen the fire in Samuel’s eyes and it was for a brief time and then the spark took hold and the fire returned to his eyes, but this time it feels different and I cant put my finger on why it feels different. So we are settling in to watch and wait all over again. 

What to do while I watch and wait……

I’ve been doing my best to follow my own advice, like how to sit with sadness, and how to be courageous . So for now I am going to take a leaf from the advice about courage… and I am going put on the uniform of “Dad” knowing what I might be called on for and I am going to keep whispering to myself ….

” I will try again tomorrow”

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….


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.


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



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….


Are you paying attention?

A curious visitor

A curious visitor

How often do you wander around a familiar environment and not really pay attention?

The childrens hospital is a familiar place to my family and today while wandering around the corridors my daughter Taylor yelled STOP

We immediately looked around saying “what”?, and not seeing anything out of the ordinary.

Taylor then pointed out the curious visitor you see in the picture.

So are you paying attention, or are you missing out on life’s curiosities?

How to help yourself.

Help for others?

Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or the darkness of destructive selfishness. This is the judgment. Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, What are you doing for others? – Martin Luther King Jr

What are you doing for others?

That my friends is a very powerful question, and I am asking this question of you because whether you like it or not YOU are a leader.

Sure you might not be the CEO of the fortune 500 company, you may not be the A list blogger, you might not hold a formal leadership position of any kind, but you ARE a leader.

What type of leader do you want to be?

A dictator? A benevolent dictator? Autocratic? Participative? Paternalistic?Free-rein?

Or would you rather be a servant leader…..

Servant leadership involves the skills of listening, empathy, healing, awareness, persuasion, conceptualisation, foresight, stewardship, growth and building community.

In whose interests?

When we are making decisions related to our family, our work, our team, our club etc and we need to ask ourselves this question “in whose interests am I making this decision?”

If the honest answer is mine… then it is not servant leadership, and the decision is more likely related to your own need for power, or possessions, or to prove a point of some sort.

If the honest answer is theirs only…then it is not servant leadership, servant leadership is not about being a slave…. and serving only the interests of those around you. That would make you a floor mat to be walked all over.

If the honest answer is OURS… then it is likely that it is servant leadership.

But…how do you DO servant leadership?

Servant leadership means having your eyes, ears, heart and mind open to those around you. It means looking at what their needs are, and what the needs of the family/workplace/team/club etc are and finding a way to fill those needs.

Servant leaders are systems thinkers who are looking at the bigger picture and all of its components and using that vision to grow others. Servant leaders are good communicators, who put people first.

Servant leaders lead in order to serve others, and place an emphasis on trust, empathy and the ethical use of power, not on efforts to increase their own power for their own sake.

The concept of servant leadership has been around since time began with references related to it attributed to Lao-Tzu in the 500’s BC, to Chanakya in the 4th century BC, to Jesus, and to many recent authors like Stephen Covey and others.

Someone, somewhere is watching you.

Think of the all the circles you operate in, your family, your work, your social network, your sporting or community clubs. Someone, somewhere is watching you for clue as to how they should behave.

Are you going to set a leadership example that demonstrates selfishness, or will you accept Martin Luther Kings challenge to walk in the light of creative altruism and set an example that leadership is really about how you serve others?

So to close with the opening question…..what are you doing for others?