Saturday, 27 June 2020

Several types of progress

Stone roses on a grave
Brompton Cemetary, September 2019
Lockdown is ending, and my drive to work twice a week is clogged again with other traffic going about its business once more. More shops are open although I have no desire whatever to go inside them, nor will I bother with pubs, restaurants, theatres and cinemas. The easing on restriction about meeting other people in real life is quite exciting, so I went for a walk with a friend on the hottest day of the year so far. And camping is about to be possible again...

The main bonus of fewer restrictions has been my ability to get started on the LTRP again. Ilf finished painting the front of the house, garage door and gate - I decided not to bother repainting the other sides of the house, which meant we managed to use up the last of the specially mixed paint from 10 years ago without having to buy more. I've had a couple of plumbers in to have a look at turning the shower room into a wet room and solve some of the associated drainage issues, so I hope that will go ahead soon. My gardener returned, and I even managed to find someone to have a look at the damp at the base of the pub wall. The garden is still as wild as ever, but with fewer weeds, especially in the paving. I took the bags of excess greenery to the tip, which now requires online booking for a time slot. All went smoothly.

There have been all sorts of attractive offers in the last three months for your 'heroes' of the NHS. I feel a little guilty given that I have done none of the heroic jobs; all that's happened is that all our consultations are being done over the phone, which is difficult but by no means heroic. Yet I have succumbed to the lure of 10% off shopping in Morrisons with an NHS ID card, and another offer of £10 off a box of 12 different vegan pot meals from The Soulful Food Company for anyone with an NHS email address.

I've had indifferent experiences with various 'meals in a pot' before, but these ones looked so good on the website that I thought I'd have a go. Because there are 12 different types I decided to note down any that I particularly liked in case I wanted to buy them again. The first was delicious! I decided to give it the full five stars. The next was just as good - also five stars. By the time I'd had six of the meals I'd had to introduce a sixth star, and so far only one has fallen short and even that one was still delicious. I'll be buying them again, even without the £10 discount.

I had a bit of a blip with the weight loss plan when a friend came round and we each got a takeaway wrap from my favourite brunch spot in Leamington. It was delicious, and just proves that without the lockdown I would never have achieved my current status of 4.6kg (10lb) lighter. I'm back on track again, and finding it much easier to plan meals than I did at the start. It's still a pretty restrictive diet though, and I don't see any way round that. But I can fit into clothes that have lurked in the back of the wardrobe for six years.

Thursday, 18 June 2020

What I've been reading

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Father Brown
by G. K. Chesterton
"This collection contains all the favourite Father Brown stories. They represent the quiet wit and compassion which is so different from his moody and caustic predecessor, Sherlock Holmes. Father Brown solves his mysteries by a mixture of intuition and sympathetic worldliness in a totally believable manner."
Well, I wouldn't describe Father Brown's methods as 'totally believable', but then most of the stories stretch credulity in some way or other. They were written in another era - 1911-1935 - which may have something to do with it. Pleasant reading, but really not as good as Conan Doyle.


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The Golden Age of Science Fiction: an anthology
by Kingley Amis (editor)
"When what we think of as science fiction began in the 1920s and '30s, Its themes were relatively few and simple and its approach unsophisticated: it was essentially adventure fiction set in a fantasy world of spaceships, monsters and ray-guns. The stories in this anthology come from the years 1949-62 and offer an astonishingly varied range; far more inventive, more fictional, fictitious, fictive than any other kind of fiction."
These are pretty good short stories - none of my usual criticism about not having structure or not making sense. In fact, it has reminded me that I rather like science fiction, and exploring my bookcases I discover that the only books I possess are two of the Foundation trilogy by Isaac Asimov - unfortunately the second and third volumes. I'll have to keep a look out for the first book when charity shops open again.


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Six Days of War: June 1967 and the making of the modern Middle East
by Michael B. Oren
"Though it lasted for only six tense days in June, the 1967 Arab-Israeli war never really ended. Every crisis that has ripped through this region in the ensuing decades, from the Yom Kippur War of 1973 to the ongoing intifada, is a direct consequence of those six days of fighting."
This was surprisingly readable for so dense a subject, and gave me, someone who has very little interest, experience or knowledge of politics or military strategy, a vivid impression of both. The lasting impression is of Israel being pushed to the limits of its tolerance, not wanting war but knowing it was inevitable. They were pitted against an Arab bloc whose stated aim was to drive the Jews into the sea and had no notion that they could lose, but their solidarity was paper thin and unsupported by military competence. And, in the background, the USA and the USSR on a knife edge, both aware that a mis-step could lead to nuclear escalation if not war. And I am convinced by the author's suggestion that some of the problems we are faced with 50 years later stem from decisions and actions in this war. It is, however, impossible to predict the consequences had anything been done differently.


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The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency
by Alexander McCall Smith
"Meet Mma Ramotswe, the endearing, engaging, simply irresistible proprietress of The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, the first and only detective agency in Botswana. With persistent observation, gentle intuition, and a keen desire to help people with the problems of their lives, she solves mysteries great and small for friends and strangers alike."
A much lighter book I slotted in between chapters of the much heavier book about War. I picked this off my shelves because I wanted to see if it was still any good. Most times that I've read a book from my past - this would have been in the 2000s - it really hasn't stood up to the test of time, and I've been able to pass it on to the charity shop with a joyous heart at another thing leaving the house. This one still hits the spot, so my de-clutter will have to pass it by - it stays on the shelf.

Monday, 8 June 2020

Stasis

Small succulent plants close up
Adhisthana, July 2019
Very little going on again, making it difficult to rustle up blog content. The world continues in its crazy state where there is only one topic of news, and we muse over which politician and which country has got it right in the balance between economic disaster and mortality. Actually, since some police officers murdered a man in America there are briefly two topics of news.

I am still fine. All of a sudden, blood testing for Covid-19 antibodies appeared within the Trust, and even reached the Diabetes Centre. The result came back via text message a few days later to say that my test result was negative - no evidence of exposure. Obviously this makes no difference at all to anything, but the latest government guidelines allow for meetings of up to six people out of doors, so I felt a little reassured having driven down to meet Lola II and Mr M in mum and dad's garden.

The weather was not as warm as in recent weeks but we escaped the rain. We brought our own chairs and lunch and face masks and gloves and hand sanitiser, and wiped down the toilet when we used it. The best part of the day was borrowing dad's clippers and taking my hair down to a gentle fuzz, which delights me.

I have managed to get started on a couple of LTRP jobs. In the pub garden I excavated the footings of my adjoining wall. The pub had installed decking some time ago, and laid down gravel around the perimeter as well as putting up hanging baskets with an irrigation system on my wall. Having explored many other avenues I came to the conclusion that there was a strong possibility that this was attracting damp into my wall, and that now would be a good time to do something about it, given that the pub is not only shut because of lockdown but has no functional landlord or manager at the moment, and therefore could not object to me sorting things out for myself.

I also invited Ilf to start work on painting the roof-level woodwork (I can never remember the proper term for the fancy bits hanging from the gable end roof) and the front brickwork. It was a slight misjudgement to call upon Ilf, because he assumes that if he's asked to do a job then he'll do it badly rather than suggesting it's actually unsuitable and I should find someone prepared to utilise scaffolding. The ridge of the roof is beyond the reach of his ladders, so he has basically painted over whatever state the woodwork was in with a brush on a stick or some such device rather than washing it down and checking for rot etc. It will do for now, but I must remember to choose a different tradesman if I want that particular job done properly next time.

Other than that, there really isn't anything new going on. The doctor continues to bring amusing games with him every fortnight; I play online games with Lola II and other friends; I join in various events with the Buddhists; I observe the world going by on Facebook and the news and in satirical comedy shows on BBC TV and radio; I read and listen to books and podcasts. To be honest I am not occupying my time very productively at the moment, and each week I tell myself things will be different. Perhaps this week really will be different.

Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Still going to work

Tall thistle
Adhisthana, July 2019
You may remember that one of my colleagues from work was stuck in India. She was there for two months all told, but finally managed to get a flight home. The plane was full - no social distancing, although everyone wore a face mask - and although health screening questions were asked at the Indian end, there were no checks or restrictions at all at Heathrow.

So we asked the Trust HR and Occupational Health Departments about self-isolation, given that travelling in a plane is notorious for spreading infections at the best of times. They advised that as long as she didn't have symptoms she could come straight back to work. This is surprising, to say the least, but all I could do was to stay as far away from her as possible - she came back on a Tuesday so we only had one day in the building together before I had the rest of the week at home. Her situation is slightly complicated by the fact that we were advised to record Covid-19 in the personnel system as the reason for her absence, which was taken to mean that she had been ill with the virus, and therefore would now be better... Luckily for all of us, she has experienced no symptoms.

In case anyone was wondering, none of us has been tested for virus or antibodies, nor has anyone suggested that we should be. This is reasonable as we have very little contact with the public, with patients visiting the centre only for the procedures that simply can't be done over the phone. We now keep the front door locked and we have a new doorbell and a perspex screen in front of the reception desk. When any stranger enters the building we all put on face masks and after they leave the receptionist wipes down all the surfaces they may have touched. If we have to be in the same room as the visitor we wear plastic aprons and gloves as well as face masks, and we ought to wear goggles or a visor too but those of us with glasses are omitting that inconvenience. So far we are not requiring the visitor to wear a face mask. We all work in separate rooms, and when we come together for lunch we sit 2 metres apart.

I have somehow escaped the order that has taken all Dietitian back to the main hospital to work on plans for the apocalypse. Fortunately the apocalypse has not come to pass, so there are a lot of Dietitians at a loose end - I have no idea how they are occupying themselves. Every fortnight I have a very busy Monday with the multidisciplinary clinic that used to allow people to see me and a nurse and a doctor all at the same visit. As a stopgap measure we are sharing out the telephone calls to patients between me, the doctor and two nurses, and it's working moderately well.

However, all the outpatient clinics for all the Dietetic services including mine have been cancelled except for one clinic for each service. That single clinic is filled with only the most urgent cases, so I have no means of booking follow ups for patients that I want and have time to see. I have resorted to keeping a separate diary - my own offline booking system - to get round the restriction.

On a Monday when I wasn't involved with the multidisciplinary clinic I was asked to do one of the sole bookable clinics for diabetes, and it was quite a challenge especially as I had one patient whose first language was not English. I worked hard that day, and it was just as hard to work out how to record what I had done and make plans to follow up that patient. There was no point putting them back into the general clinic because then it wouldn't be me following up, and it was too complicated to just pass the patient back and forth between different Dietitians. A little while later I got a call from the admin team querying how to record the follow up for the patient - the answer being "You tell me." It would have been perfectly straightforward if they hadn't cancelled all my clinics.

Most of the time, however, we are working less hard than before.

The local community is supporting their front-line workers by providing food, which has led to a situation becoming known in the Diabetes Centre as Pizzagate. Various local suppliers are sending food to the hospital - sandwiches, snacks, chocolate and pizza. These arrive at the management offices for distribution, but there are loud grumblings of inequity - the managers are accused of creaming the best off for themselves before distributing to the wards, and we in the Diabetes Centre receive nothing. I try hard to keep out of these discussions, not least because there is no way I can fit pizza into 1200 kcal/day, but it is getting as bad as back in the days when everyone was moaning about parking all the time.

The (first) peak in Covid-19 cases seems to have passed, and now the word from the top is all about how we re-start services. We are in a good situation at the moment - wards are so empty in our hospital that the opportunity is being taken to redecorate - and we have the chance to think about how we would like to do things differently. With this in mind I volunteered to send out a call to arms to our Diabetes doctors, asking them to contribute to a discussion. Not one has responded to me, but it seems they are thinking about it. I'm not holding my breath.

Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Still locked down

Close-packed purple flowers
Adhisthana, July 2019
Here I am again, in my house, walking or running around Leamington's lovely parks, or at work in the Diabetes Centre. With a weekly excursion to a supermarket, that's it. But I'm thriving. I'm eating sensibly and losing weight very slowly, but unlike previous attempts at weight loss I think I can keep this up. While I hear most people talking about gaining weight at home, it's been relatively easy (after the first couple of weeks) for me to keep to my 1200 kcal limit, and even include chocolate every now and then.

I have mowed the lawn and pruned a load of shrubs, and then with the easing of the lockdown I have been in touch with the Lady Gardener to beg the favour of a visit (scheduled for June). I also contacted Ilf about external painting, and he's going to get back to me with an idea of when he might fit me in. Doors and Windows Ulf can do nothing about my front door at the moment because his suppliers aren't working, but Clf the Roofer may be able to help with my hall windows which he was so scathing about when he renewed the roof six months ago. Which then meant that I would need access to the pub garden, and the pub is most definitely still closed.

A sign in the pub window provided a phone number for the security firm responsible for keeping the site secure, and a helpful man even answered the phone. He disclosed a lot more information about the pub management than I was expecting, including the fact that the previous management is still responsible for the pub, but the interior has been stripped of all valuables and will need tens of thousands of pounds to restore it to a functional state. As well as this dire news he provided the combination for the padlock on the gates of the beer garden and told me that the lock is very stiff. So stiff that I haven't managed to prise it open yet - today I applied a load of penetrating oil and we'll see whether that helps.

Other activity at home includes jigsaws, games and socialising via Zoom, Buddhism three times a week at present (and a fourth time when I joined a thing at the weekend) and I re-started a tiny OU creative writing module online. I first started it about two years ago so had quite forgotten what I had done back then, and re-reading my own work after all this time was a delight.

So all is well for me in my little bubble, hoping for the lifting of restrictions on hairdressers while appreciating that such close proximity means I wouldn't be comfortable going to the salon even if it were allowed. The weather has been glorious with more sunshine to come, and the news reports tell of a reduction in the infection rate and mortality figures while warning of the seriousness of the recession to come. We certainly live in interesting times.

Wednesday, 13 May 2020

What I've been reading

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The Blind Assassin
by Margaret Atwood
"As Iris Chase Griffen, the sole surviving descendant of a once-distinguished Toronto family, recalls the events of her life and the pivotal death of her sister Laura in 1945, we simultaneously read Laura’s posthumously published novel. In that novel within a novel there is yet another narrative."
When I first read this nearly six years ago (how can it be six years!?!) in audiobook format I resolved to get a copy in print so that I could flick back and forth to see the clues to the ending that had been given throughout, but in a way intended to deliberately deceive the reader the first time round. So this time in print I remembered one of the two twists while I was reading, but she still got me with the other. It stands up to a second reading too.


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A History of Britain: At the Edge of the World? 3000BC - AD1603
by Simon Schama

narrated by Stephen Thorne
"Change - sometimes gentle and subtle, sometimes shocking and violent - is the dynamic of Schama's unapologetically personal and grippingly written history. At its heart lie questions of compelling importance for Britain's future as well as its past: what makes or breaks a nation?"
History at school was complete waste of time. I don't know whether it was the fault of the teacher(s), but suspect not. I think I just didn't see the relevance of knowing what happened when the Romans were here. I didn't have enough life experience to put ANYTHING into context. So they had great baths - they still looked pretty primitive to me compared with my bathroom, and they built roads and walls - big deal. So what. But now, now I know that history is everything. History is politics and religion and geography and masculinity and patriarchy, and most of all, power. At least, the history in the history books, which is all about the people who were in charge. The ordinary people - well, they worked hard getting food out of the ground and avoided early death if they were lucky. Now I can put history into context, even though it's mostly about subjugation and political strategy. This book ends with the death of Queen Elizabeth I, and I've started the next volume already.


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The Poet
by Yi Mun-Yol
"When a governor to the King falls into rebel hands, he switches sides to save his skin. When later he is captured by royal troops, it is not only he that is condemned to death as a traitor but his sons and grandsons too. They survive by subterfuge, but though they keep their lives, they have lost their place in society."
I can't remember where this book came from, but I was interested in reading a Korean book, even though it was about a poet. Well, there's really no need for me to do that again. Not my kind of thing at all, and I know barely anything about Korea or its poetry so I couldn't relate to that side of it either.


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Leave it to Psmith
by P. G. Wodehouse

narrated by B. J. Harrison
"The idyll of Blandings Castle is about to be disturbed, for the Hon. Freddie Threepwood is poised to make his debut as a jewel thief. Freddie, however, is not alone: Blandings is simply brimming with criminals and impostors all intent on stealing Aunt Constance's £20,000 diamond necklace."
The third time I've listened to this book - twice in the Jonathan Cecil narration (in 2008 and 2009) and this time in podcast form by my regular US podcast narrator. It's a fine book.

Wednesday, 6 May 2020

Nothing at all to report

Attractive but dead leaf
Paraty, Brazil, April 2019
There's so little to say that it hardly warrants a blog post. I'm fine, working 2 days, idling 5 days, still keeping up the running and the Zoom games and Zoom Buddhism and not feeling much like working in the garden at all. Or getting the stuff down from the loft. At the end of a period of such idleness I should be able to look back and say "but at least I got xx done." Doesn't look like that's going to happen based on the last week's activity. But today, with a supreme effort, I have made a start.

At work, I got a call to say that the Ward Dietitian's Assistant was off sick, so could I liaise with her in case she needs help. She doesn't need help - there are more empty beds in the hospital than at any time anyone can remember - but she is finding that seeing people on the wards takes a lot longer than it used to, what with having to put on all the PPE and take it off again all the time. So she gave me a pile of telephone follow ups for cardiac rehab, which was most interesting. I managed to do five of them, not all that well I suspect, but good enough. It was particularly nice being able to tell someone without diabetes that they could have fruit juice if they liked.

And that's really all there is to report.

Friday, 24 April 2020

Being prepared

Close up of pink edged leaves of succulent plants
Adhsithana, July 2019
A lot seems to happen between each of my two-day working weeks, and going back to work on Monday after nearly two weeks away it felt like I'd been gone for a lot longer. Our Consultant was back to lead his multi-disciplinary clinic with me and the nurses, still by telephone, so we spent the  first part of the day going through the list and deciding who was going to contact which patient.

It felt good to have something constructive to do, because the edicts coming from the Dietetic department (often with the rider NO EXCEPTIONS) still forbade any outpatient clinics, leaving me with no patients and nothing else to do. And at lunchtime the doctor had brought in some games for us to play! He is a big games fan, so he brought three different types, each fun in itself but each with an educational purpose as well. One was about collaboration and communication, another about multi-tasking and working under stress, and the third was about interpreting non-verbal communication. It certainly made a change from the usual inane chatter about what has been on TV and the latest rumours about lockdown.

Occasionally a patient is allowed to come and see one of us in person, in which case we have to get fully togged up in uniform, mask, gloves and apron and everyone else keeps out of the way. Afterwards all the surfaces in the room and door handles in the building are wiped down. At lunchtime we sit as far from one another as possible. We are all still well, and our colleague who was stuck in India is still stuck in India.

On Tuesday I'd had enough of the enforced inactivity, and wrote a slightly terse note to my team leader saying that I was going to be telephoning patients whether she liked it or not, seeing as they still have diabetes, some of them still need a bit of help,  and I had literally nothing else to do. My colleagues still have their clinics, and when they identify someone who would benefit from a dietetic consultation it seemed quite wrong to tell them that I can't do it. Luckily this produced an acknowledgement that this did seem to be an appropriate use of my time, so I've got the green light for doing at least part of my job.

My uniform was delivered to the Ward Dietitian, and the Inpatient team identified that her Dietetic Assistant was off sick so I might actually be needed to support her. So I trotted over to pick up the uniform and find out more. She has no patients either and is as grumpy as me about all the outpatient appointments for cardiac rehab being cancelled. I'll give her a call on Monday to find out whether there's anything there for me to do by then.

With all the criticism I see online about arrangements within the NHS, it seems that the Trust where I work is relatively well prepared. I don't know about Critical Care, but elsewhere there is PPE and we are told that there is still capacity for the predicted surge in cases, and ventilators at the ready. There was a Panorama team at the main hospital who broadcast their documentary on Monday, which seems to support my impression of preparedness. And our photocopy room is full of boxes of donated pots of porridge, Snack-a-Jacks, Dorritos and Easter eggs.

Sunday, 19 April 2020

Flattening the curve

Tall pink flower spike
Juma Lake Inn, Amazonia, April 2019
What with work only being two days a week, I have a lot of time confined to Lola Towers except for my one exercise break a day. I signed up to the zombie-based Couch to 5K programme and it's going pretty well, as it's quite easy to find time for a run three times a week, and on the zombie-free days I usually go for a walk somewhere local, especially in this lovely weather. That was fine for three weeks, then I unexpectedly discovered that you have to pay to continue so I have reverted to a different app. I do miss my zombies, though.

Shopping for fresh goods is no more than once a week, and for two weeks I had a HelloFresh food delivery. The first one was because they offered a hefty discount, and the second was because I forgot to cancel after the first. I'm still on the calorie-restricted diet, which has been quite tricky with the HelloFresh meals because they are pretty rich. I've had to divide their recipes for two meals into three and in one case into four to get them to fit into my daily calorie budget, but it is getting slightly easier to manage and I'm not feeling hungry absolutely all of the time, which I was at the start. Weight loss is only a paltry 1 kg in three weeks, but at least it's going in the right direction and I think it is sustainable.

Along with cooking and running there's been quite a lot of online activity with this great communication tool, Zoom, which nobody seemed to know about a month ago but now we are all experts. I've had Zoom meetings for dinner, three times for games, for several sessions of Buddhist meditation and discussion and team meetings, and for a tour of four paintings in the National Gallery led by Lola II. At one point I actually felt I'd had enough of this social activity and was longing for the old days when I could be properly anti-social. Now everyone knows where you are: at home.

Sometimes there's extra online time with mum now that our remote control system is working nicely. I'm still grappling with the task of changing my email address and passwords with about a hundred different people and organisations - alphabetically I've reached the letter M so still some way to go. I've got my DVD subscription and I'm also ploughing through all the episodes of Friends and ER, although I don't like sitting watching the TV for too long. And, due to my pestering mum about the food in her kitchen cupboards I found myself in possession of nearly a kilogram of out-of-date ground almonds, so I've made a couple of cakes and taken them to work.

But I'd say the Buddhism has taken up the most time, all via Zoom or YouTube. On Mondays our study group continues, on Tuesdays it's the local group and on Thursdays I can join a meeting with the Birmingham group if I want to. One weekend there was a day-long online retreat (we weren't online all day - that would have been exhausting). Another weekend there was a seminar for people like me who are involved in the organisation of groups, all about the different ways to take our groups online. And I also watched a public ordination, where an individual became a member of the Triratna Order and took on a new name, all within the confines of the current social distancing restrictions. And I'm meditating regularly, which helps with the confinement.

For the first time in ages my list of Things To Do is getting shorter rather than longer, and I've got out some old jigsaws. Of course what I ought to be doing is going through the stuff I put in the loft to get it out of my line of sight, which worked so well that I've hardly thought about it until now. Maybe next week. And there's the garden, which I thought would be so manageable with the help of a gardener, but I'm back on my own again and it just keeps growing.

Sunday, 12 April 2020

Too much information

Stripey bromeliad with wrought iron decoration behind
Rio de Janeiro Botanical Gardens, April 2019
So we finish another week of 'lockdown'. I'm not finding it difficult or stressful at all, but I seem to be a lucky soul in not getting anxious about things that are out of my control. And even things that are within my control don't bother me that much either. And I'm not exactly locked down, what with having to go out to work two days a week.

At work, I'm getting bombarded with information from all sides that changes almost every day. The Dietetic Department must be one of the most well-organised in the hospital. We have two joint Managers who are excellent, not that I see them more than once a year. From the first sign that arrangements within the hospital would very likely change dramatically over the next weeks and months, the whole department began to change in anticipation.

Face to face consultations stopped first in favour of telephone calls, shortly before all outpatient clinics were stopped. This had two benefits. Firstly there was less for the department to do which was helpful as some staff were already self-isolating,  Secondly, all those whose jobs included outpatient work were suddenly available, and they were put to work in formulating operational procedures in four strands: Critical Care, Non-critical Inpatients, Outpatients, and Community.

Everyone in the department was assigned to one of these teams . Except that I seem to be in two teams: Inpatient and Outpatient.

I had a call at home from one of the Inpatient leads, telling me that I would be required on the wards at the hospital where I work, which is not where all the Covid-19 cases will be. At my hospital we will be taking everybody who doesn't have the virus who has been displaced from the other hospital. I left my post on the wards about seven years ago with grateful thanks, but this is the situation now. It was agreed that I would need an update, so I arranged to go and meet the current ward Dietitian.

In the meantime, I successfully argued that there wasn't much I could do to help, so they might as well allow me to carry on doing my clinics (over the phone) until after Easter. But when I arrived at work on the following Monday, my clinics had been cancelled anyway. This left me with absolutely nothing to do, and then I was told that I was actually going to be in the Outpatient team, maybe as well as the Inpatient team. But there was still nothing for me to do, except for reading all the emails that contained all sorts of policies and procedures and spreadsheets and guidelines and drafts.

At the same time as all this, we were getting frequent updates from the top level Trust management team. The latest was a change in the policy for wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) - a mask would now be required for any type of patient contact, even in outpatients. A few patients are still going to be coming to the Diabetes Centre in person - it isn't possible to start someone on insulin over the phone, for example. In case you were wondering, there's been no sign of uniforms yet. But we are all going to get an Easter Egg, so that's nice.

I spent an hour or two with the ward Dietitian, a young man that I didn't know who was covering for the usual Dietitian's annual leave. He had nothing to do either, so it didn't feel too bad to take up his time reminding me of the calculation for tube feeding, going through the specifications for different nutritional supplements, hospital policy on drug charts, menus, meals and snacks. Nothing significant has changed in the last seven years but a lot of the detail was different, and on the whole, better and more organised.

So I'm supposed to keep an eye on this torrent of emails while I have time off for the visit of a cousin who is now not coming, and after Easter I have no idea what I'll be doing. The Consultant's Diabetes clinic is still going ahead (by telephone) so my preference would be to do my actual job, but who knows if this will be allowed. The Consultant himself has been tested for the virus and found positive, but he has now recovered; there is talk that we might eventually be tested but we are low on the list of priorities so it won't be soon. So far, my immediate colleagues and I all remain well.

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