Holiday, nhs

Club Tropicana

Holiday resolutions – full of good intentions and emphatic declarations of how things will be different but how long does it take for them to be broken?

In my experience…. a couple of hours…. then the familiar feeling of never having been away sets in *sigh*

This time I decided to try approaching my return to work rather like an extension of my holiday.  It has many similar features after all.  Not convinced?  Well lets look at the evidence……

Packing

The night before I pack my work rucksack, sadly It’s not nearly as exciting as actual holiday packing.   For a start there’s no inflatable unicorn drinks holder. However it does contain the same essentials – a form of ID, portable air con in the form of my lovely Spanish fan, a variety of snacks and money, well at least a card that’s been paid off this month. I think…

The fragmented night before sleep

I wake up. Again. It’s 5.20am, it’s dark and I suddenly realise that my alarm has been set to 6.30am instead of 6.00am?!?  I leave at 6.45am for my train.  Horror of horrors I could’ve slept in!  Thank goodness I woke up except now I have 40mins before I actually needed to be up and I’m proper awake.  Oh joy. Yes the sleep before you head off on hols is pretty much the same as that the night before heading back to work.  Rubbish!

 The journey

I have no pre allocated seat and there’s no drinks trolley bringing me gin (this is a work commute people, not the time zone freedom that international air travel permits!)

I do however have my own entertainment system in the form of noise cancelling headphones, podcasts and music. Sometimes the white noise of people snoring or tapping on their phones can be perfectly pleasant too.  Rather like the background hum of a plane. Must not fall asleep. Must not fall asleep. Zzzzzzzzzzz

You have reached your destination!

The destination

It’s bright and sunny as I arrive at the Costa del Larbert.  I see some people outside enjoying the ‘fresh air’. The aroma of freshly ground coffee and muffins greats me as I walk through the doors. White washed walls of the building remind me of the Mediterranean.  Yes, my brain is beginning to fall for this being just like on holiday. I wonder if I’ll have any messages……

The welcome pack

Good morning Dr Copeland – you have 204 new emails. That is so nice!  I bet it’s all good news.

Ooooo – what’s this? An animated email trail.  I forgot to pack my holiday read so lets see what’s this about. Right…. They said what?….. . So I said…… And then he said…. And then I was like ‘no way’ …. So I said to her…. And she said…… And then…… Lol, a winky face emoji…..

Well I’m glad that didn’t escalate and everyone is still talking to each other.

I best head to the where all the action is – off to the ward.

Good morning welcome meeting

Hello everyone and welcome to sunny Costa Del Larbert.  It’s great here – lots to see and do.  On that note Mr X fell last night and doesn’t seem quite himself.  The family of Miss B wants to speak to you.  And can I ask who’s covering….

Beep, beep, beep

It’s my welcome back page – how many have phoned in sick?  Well that is a problem….

Back to reality

While all this is going on my brain keeps popping up ‘Club Tropicana’ while I wait for the computer to load or the person to pick up the phone.  I smile at the ridiculousness of it all.

Holidays are, by design, a break from reality.  A chance to recharge and switch off from work.  However today tells me that by injecting some of my holiday mood into everyday work life, occasionally there is fun and sunshine.  To be honest all that’s missing is the sea….

Holiday, Uncategorized

Hey, how you doin’ Sorry you can’t get through. Why don’t you leave your name. And your number and I’ll get back to you….’

There’s been a lot of chat on twitter about annual leave and email checking.

My colleague tweeted that he’d managed to clear  500+ emails of the thousand or so he’d come back to post hols. What followed was an interesting thread discussing the pros and cons of auto deleting emails.

Now I have a small confession to make at this point. The volume of emails my colleague received…. I’m pretty sure were generated in part by me and rota discussions (well he did go on holiday at changeover).  For the first week he was copied into every email. I’d assumed he would want to know.  I stopped doing it in week 2 as it was starting to get ridiculous not to mention pointless. As long as emails were being actioned did it matter if he knew about every, single, decision? I decided no.

So that’s what made this twitter thread so interesting.  This idea that you could delete 1 – 2 weeks of your professional life hoping that people would understand and leave you alone to relax in peace.

Now while I support this concept, I know others do not.

My experience is that there are quite a number who use the excuse you’re on holiday to email about things knowing that you’re not around.  And not in a good or helpful way.  There is definitely power politics at play while your out of office is on.

‘Oh I’m sorry, were you not aware of that?  I did copy you into the email’

Hmmmm…..

Of course there was a time when I would get quite wound up about this.  However I have come to realise it says more about them than me.  I can choose not to react/care.

A further dilemma is how to manage the return to work email overload.

What would be lovely is if some reliable, trustworthy person from each facet of your professional life did a ‘return to reality handover’.  Rather like the handover you might do about your patients before you go on holiday.

It would be succinct and available on the morning of your return.  I have tried this with said colleague who went on leave – I even messaged him with a ‘of all the c**p in your inbox could you read mine first?’

Then there’s the welcome party when you get back to your clinical area:

‘Can I just ask you about….. I sent you an email’ 

‘I’ve literally just got here, I have no idea what you’re talking about’

You usually need to wait a few minutes for shocked expression to disappear from the persons face.

Again the expectation is that while you say you’re not checking your emails, they believe you secretly are and that you’re lying if you say you don’t because who doesn’t check their emails on holiday?!

I do believe the sincerity of those who are trying to get people to take an actual break and encouraging them to auto delete.  I just don’t believe that everyone will do this.  I’m not even convinced that it’s needed if I’m being entirely honest.  People will do what people will do.

My response:

‘Hiya, I’m on my holiday at the mo.  I start back on September 11th however it’ll take me a few days to catch up.  If it’s important then page me or resend on that day.  Thanks.’

I usually add a bunch of who to contact at the end too.

Ignorance is bliss as they say but mental health, well, that’s priceless…

Holiday, Uncategorized

For once in my life….

 

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Holiday time has finally rolled around. Plans ahoy!  However the unplanned stowaway was Mr Virus.

Now, many will be familiar with that feeling ~24hrs ahead of the out of office button being pressed that something is brewing.  You might be mislead into thinking that its just the rushing around pre hols but be vigilant people.  I can confirm that it is in fact your immune system checking into the first class lounge as it prepares to leave for the Caribbean.

You however will be oblivious as you naively continue your plans for ‘quality family time’ complete with a world breaking effort in creating Kodak moments that all your friends and family will be jealous of.  Complete with Facebook and Instagram posts without filter – because you’re that amazing!

Then Mr Virus hits. Without realising it you have become the 5 star holiday home it had booked the year before.

Now usually I spend quite a bit of time fighting the uninvited visitors. It ain’t pretty and usually I loose. The battlefield ends up with me being exhausted, mood in my boots (I really am the most terrible person/mother/wife/friend/daughter etc etc). I would drag myself back to work with that feeling of ‘why did I bother?’.

This time I almost repeated the 10 year cycle of non learned behaviour then something magical happened. I gave in.  For once in my life I surrendered. Right at the start of the fight.

In doing so I won.

I can’t say in all honestly my recovery was quicker or less vile.  It was however a much easier process. I let the hideous thing run riot for the best part of a week.  I was almost in the third person watching it. I indulged in my guilty pleasures – reading newspapers cover to cover and watching property programs. A particular favourite being the ‘A Place in the Sun: Winter sun edition’.  I’ve travelled the world this week judging and passing comment on everything and anything. The pool is too small. The beach is too far to walk to. Its not south facing.  Two bedrooms, are you kidding me? I need three.

After my pseudo foreign trip I was fighting fit and able to witness the spectacle that is Beyonce.  The talent, the work ethic is enough to put us mere mortals to shame.

We held a moments silence without realising that at that moment we were silent to the unfolding horror that was the Dallas shooting. And suddenly my brain was struggling to make sense of the world again. Except this time there was no virus, no delirium to explain it away.

I’m not going to get into a commentary about life in the USA.  I know very little about these things to be credible.  What I do know is that violence is not the answer. I feel the frustrations – why do people act/behave in that same way they always do?

As Martin Luther King said:

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So as I go into my second week of holiday I will indulge in the luxury that is my family close. The friends I treasure near. I will pray. I will continue to shine.

For once in my life I will just….. Be.