Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Festive seasoning

A box of wrapped presents and a card
Thank you, Judging Covers!
The run-up to Christmas has been in turn stressful, enjoyable, frustrating and, at last, relaxing.

At work, there's been a lot to do, and fewer people than usual to do it. Last week was busy, and I was working with a student, which made it quite difficult to keep track of what had and hadn't been done, and what needed doing next. I was out on Tuesday at a study day (more about this in a future post), then on Thursday my clinic was relatively quiet, allowing me to enjoy a social Christmas lunch in the canteen. It was proposed as a leaving party for me and a colleague who is going on maternity leave, but my departure had become a little uncertain. I do now have a confirmed start date in the new job, towards the end of January, but both my current and future managers were fighting over me for a day or two! It was a little disconcerting, and not at all welcome.

I was at work yesterday (Monday), and was interested to find that nothing special was happening on the wards, although I spotted a tired-looking man in a Santa outfit reading some medical notes, who might have been one of the junior doctors. Otherwise, there were a few nurses wearing antlers or halos, but patients' stories today were so sad that it was difficult to spread any festive cheer, because who would choose to be in hospital over Christmas unless they were so unwell that they were forced to?

I'm told that some years there's very little to do in the hospital on Christmas Eve. That wasn't the case this year - there were more referrals than usual. We blitzed it in the morning, only to find that more had come in by lunchtime. Some were, frankly, taking the mickey, like the patient who just wanted a cooked breakfast, and another referred because they had been transferred from another hospital on supplements and the nurse didn't want them to become 'lost in the system'. An admirable sentiment, but not today. Diabetics struggling with blood sugar control and patients who had lost a bit too much weight had to give way to patients not able to swallow who needed tube feeding or textured diet and thickened fluids.

I am having nearly two weeks off work, so I also need to ensure all the information about my current patients and their priorities is made available to the Dietitians who'll be looking after my caseload while I'm away. I feel lucky that I was only 30 minutes late leaving the hospital after work.

At home, the build-up to Christmas has been steady, with some notable highlights. We thought we would like to spend our TV watching points on a tablet PC, so we went to review the options at the only high street electronics retailer that allows our points to be converted to vouchers. The experience was underwhelming, but never mind, we ordered the vouchers and returned to the shop at the weekend - the last weekend before Christmas. We were prepared for crowds, but there were none - neither were there any shop assistants. When we finally found one, and indicated what we'd like to buy, we were told: "There aren't any. We're sold out."

On the weekend before Christmas? The busiest shopping weekend there's likely to be in the year? Not only were they sold out, they refused to accept our money against an advance order, because this is impossible if there are no products in the warehouse, or some other nonsense. So we took our vouchers home, and thought about it.

A similar high street electronics retailer has recently gone bust. If this large retailer is unable to take our money at this critical time of year, we were very reluctant to hang on to the vouchers, which would turn to dust should the retailer join its close competitor in liquidation. So we considered our options.

Mr A's mother is now in a nursing home, and his dad asked our advice on a basic DVD player that she could have. Our DVD player is a suitable one, so we thought we would give her that one and upgrade our own system - but we had more money in vouchers than the cost of a new and better DVD player.

I've never had a printer of my own, and although I've been able to connect to Mr A's printer some of the time, his setup changes so frequently that mostly I have to go up and ask him to print stuff for me (or print personal things at work). So as well as the DVD player, I now have a lovely all-in-one printer and scanner - and there was some money left for a new toner cartridge for Mr A's printer too.

Unfortunately, now that we've had time to look at installing the new DVD player, our TV is such an ancient model that the all-powerful new DVD player doesn't have the ancient connectors that are needed to connect it up. Mr A has spent some time looking at various options, including buying a new TV, but we're most likely to buy just a SCART-HDMI converter and wait until the ancient TV breaks down before replacing it.

Lastly, I know it's a little vulgar to boast about one's Christmas presents, but... I WON ANOTHER BLOG PRIZE! On one of the book review blogs I read, a prize of 12 books for Christmas was on offer. I thought twice about entering, because despite reading every post on the blog, very few books that they review are ones that I think I might read. But I entered anyway, and not long ago a very large box arrived containing my prize. I put it under the Christmas camera-tree to await the big day, and this morning Mr A and I opened it, only to find that the wonderful people at Judging Covers had wrapped each book individually!

I'm looking forward to a completely different type of reading for a few weeks - much less weighty than my usual selections. And in the New Year I'll be driving far more miles every week, so I might at last start to get through more audio books in the car. Happy holidays to everyone, and lots of good reading for 2013!

A box of books

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