Friday, 16 September 2016

Keep Quiet and Carry On

Close up of centre of pink lotus flower
Krakow Botanical Garden, July 2016
There have been a few posts about the insignificant minutiae of my not-very-interesting recent life, and I feel I should address more weighty matters - politics, the NHS, the state of the nation, or at least something new about diabetes. But I seem to have taken a conscious step into the stage of my life that could be described as 'The Apathy Years.' I have probably lived more than half my life and I have no children, which means that I have much less investment in the future than those who wish the world to remain viable for future generations. It's not that I want to bring on the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse but I have deliberately become decidedly less vocal about how things should be. This feels very strange, and often takes quite an effort.

For example, meetings. I mentioned a recent meeting which was part of a bigger project that is being 'managed' in a way that I think is very inefficient and likely to be ineffective. But it's not my job to manage the project, and nobody asked me anyway, and I don't understand half of what they're talking about most of the time. In the past I would have been bothered by my lack of knowledge and the inefficiency and poor management and therefore the potentially sub-optimal outcome, now I sit quietly and think 'Oh, well.'  Let it go, let someone else worry about it. If it turns out bad, I'll deal with it. I don't understand it anyway.

Partly this is because of the EU Brexit vote. I voted to Remain and was devastated and astonished and despairing and thunderstruck and furious and disbelieving when I woke up to find that Leave had won. It was like the feeling of reaching for where your wallet should be, and finding it gone, and realising that it isn't that you just put it somewhere else, it really has gone, and now there's all the card cancelling and re-applying for your driving licence and sadness that the lovely photo you kept there has gone and you'll never see it again.

But I've got over it. Yes, I'm still really angry about the result, but here we are and what will be, will be. The UK and the EU and their population may be better off or worse off, and there will probably be a bit of both, and I think we've all learned something about how divisive a referendum can be and how our 'leaders' behave. And the sun will come up tomorrow and there will be another day and we're going to have to get on with it.

This somewhat lackadaisical approach is seeping into all sorts of other places where once I would have stormed and ranted and raised my voice in protest and tried to make a difference to achieve what I thought was 'right', or 'better'. Or at least I might have spoken up to query something that didn't make sense. But now I keep quiet, and it is an effort, but I do it because it makes for a much easier life, and I am older now and I realise that I wasn't particularly successful in changing the world when I was in a job designed specifically to do that, so perhaps I should just take it easy.

Here's another example. People who are unable to take any nourishment by mouth are fed through a tube into the stomach or jejunum, and generally the feed is manufactured to be 'nutritionally complete'. It has become clear that this completeness isn't quite complete, particularly for electrolytes such as sodium and chloride. When this was described in a recent meeting I had to make an effort to refrain from suggesting it might make a lot of sense to add a little salt to the water that is being put down the tube. Let it go.

Another colleague was commenting on the parlous state of the NHS which is now perpetually on the brink of failure and sell-off and privatisation. For example, the retinal screening service in our Trust is now provided by an external company. She suggested that if we are auctioned off we ought to do some sort of management buy-out and take over the shop. Again I kept quiet, thinking that if we are auctioned off it might be a good opportunity for me to retire. I'm getting much better at this 'keeping quiet' business. This must be what it's like to get old.

On the other hand, in the very small zone of 'where I work 90% of the time and the people I work with': the nurse who has been absent for a year has now retired and we are hoping to recruit two new nurses within the next six months. The nurse who has been covering three jobs has done a magnificent job to keep things going, but we are looking forward to being able to do new things with more staff, although it pays to keep a lid on expectations because until contracts are signed there are no guarantees that the nurses we have been promised will actually materialise. But there is the prospect of some new initiatives, and I am looking forward to that.

And then there's the Very Low Carb Lifestyle website. I didn't have to do it and nobody was pressing me for it, although I did include it in my last Personal Development Review (normally you don't get permission to do things unless they're in your PDR). So there is still a little bit of 'wanting to change the world' left inside me. And when a rep from industry came to see us to talk about various projects they are planning, I came over all enthusiastic and suggested that I might contribute to one of them (this is the least likely thing to actually come about). So I haven't yet quite internalised the 'Keep Quiet' approach. Old habits die hard.

P.S. I apologise for invoking the tired phrase 'Keep Calm and Whatever' in the title of this post, but it does reflect what's in the blog post better than most of the blog titles I come up with.

Pink lotus flower

1 comment:

  1. It happens to us all. But don't stop raging altogether. If the salt deficiency for UK in the complete feed is deliberate (to allow for high ionic content in other drips that might be used, for example, or to allow use in other climates), then the instructions on the complete feed should point it out and suggest the pinch of salt. Do they? You could have asked that at the meeting. If it isn't deliberate, someone, and it might as well be you, should write to the manufacturer and ask if there is a reason for the salt deficiency, and if not, why not alter the formula or provide pinch-of-salt guidance. You might get a satisfactory answer, if you ask. If not, at least you'll have asked. And, as you say, it's not your job to ORIGINATE AND implement a solution.

    This is a reaction to the effort you put in to the website. Well done, and you'll get your reward in heaven (or in less ill diabetic people). But you can't make people listen to you or take good advice.

    In my past work, I used the "But I don't understand. Is there a reason why you do it this way, and not that way, because.....?" approach. If necessary in writing. This throws the job back on to the people whose job it is (monkey off your back), but prompts them to examine why they do it that way... I can't say it always worked, but at least I had tried.

    As to Brexit, listening to Nigel Farage saying he hated Osborne for the lies and alarm he used in the campaign made me want to bite someone, preferably Nigel.


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