Monday, March 30, 2009

peace offering

Is it time for another backyard caper yet, because I have a story busting to come out.

I think you know we have chickens. Well, we did have chickens plural. Three died and now we have one (Madam Bossy, top of the now-non-existent pecking order) and a rooster (Hector, short for Hector the Protector). Madam had been laying one of the yellowest eggs you ever saw each morning for eight days straight before a brief rest, but now she lays for two or three days then takes a day off. Either she's got worms, or she's bedding down for the short days of winter.

Yesterday we noticed Hector was looking a bit peaky. He's been doing strange things for several days now. Lying down in the grass for short periods for no reason at all, fewer raucous crows than usual (not that that's a big problem), tail dragging and a less than solicitous approach to his care of Madam. Chickens and roosters have a curious way of looking OK almost until the moment they drop dead - with three poor chickens already in the ground we know this from bitter experience, so we've been watching Hector carefully, wondering if he might be sick or perhaps a little tired. Somehow yesterday he looked different - even droopier than before, with dull eyes, laboured breathing and a strange, unproductive 'yawn'. Before my very eyes it seemed Hector was fading out, about to die.

There's nothing like a potential loss to kick one into action. I mixed up an oat and yoghurt mash and hunted up a phone number for the local vet. Once Hector and Madam went to bed we locked them into the coup (they usually roam at will) and prepared a plan of action for the morning.

Is it extreme to take time off work to care for a sick rooster? Hector has become a pet, so we didn't think so, but I'm sure everyone at work thought I was a little strange. I phoned up and informed them I would be late, hung around waiting for the pet store to open and sallied forth to buy a broad spectrum wormer, maybe some antibiotics, and a bottle of mite dust. That was the easy bit. Then I had to catch the chickens and dust them down.

As it happened, Hector and Madam were so bored in the coup they had gone back to bed. I was able to grab Hector off his perch and start sprinkling mite dust all over him... before he escaped my grasp and ran wildly back into the coup. Meanwhile Madam was squawking like I had an axe at her throat, running around the coup like crazy. I managed to corral them towards the door in an effort to catch them but they both shot out the door, into the backyard and away. I ran around after them with a towel, casting it over them like a net, but all to no avail. I could not recapture Hector to finish the job and Madam didn't get a bit of dust anywhere near her. The last I saw was the two of them indignantly clucking around the yard, scratching in the mulch and attempting to recover their dignity. Funny, cute things.

The story doesn't quite end there. When I came home from work I went down the back to see how they were. Hector looked in good spirits but they both cautiously edged away from me as I went through the gate.

And then I found them. The nasty, fat, green caterpillars that have been feasting on my tomatoes, destroying one bush at a time. In the end I found six or seven juicy little insects and in an attempt at a peace offering, mollifying their injured pride, I threw them the chicken's way. Hector grabbed each one, threw it on the ground and clucked urgently for Madam to join him in the feast. And feast she did, before slowly working her way closer and closer to me in readiness for the next catch. Peace made.

So the chickens are wormed, partially dusted and our relationship seems to be restored. A day in the life of Cecily the farm girl. Hahaha.

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Sunday, March 22, 2009

this is what i've been doing...

Working. Mostly it's a joy. Some days it is not.

Enjoying the most beautiful autumn I can remember for at least a year. (It may have been this nice last year, but I doubt it. Every day is turning into a stunner at the moment... except the 6th March which went for the fridge effect. Not so attractive)

Writing an essay on postnatal depression. Unlikely to make 'the world's best essay' shortlist, but it got done on time.


Baking bread.

(I particularly love the way the seat in the background is so in focus here... I must have been too busy eating my first ever loaf of home made sourdough to bother concentrating on focus)

And basically just living life in the real world. I still think of things to blog most days, I just don't bother doing it. That's been kinda nice, but I miss you all, so I'll try and get back into it soon. For now I must away.

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Saturday, March 07, 2009

toot toot

I don't know what happened tonight, but the traffic in town was crazy. Not busy. Oh no, not busy in this part of the world on a Saturday night. Just crazy.

I was suddenly transported to a place where the traffic is really truly crazy. Istanbul, Rome, London, Manilla - cars moving in every direction, all seeming to move or stop as one but all on their own individual journeys. And in those moments of crisscrossing paths, eyes dart, horns honk, fingers salute, hands thump the steering wheel in frustration and everyone eventually arrives where they want to be. Or (as the case may be) not.

I remember in Istanbul, drivers sitting with their thumbs poised just above the horn, ready to honk at a moments notice. Same in Manilla. The noise was phenomenal. An assault to the ears. A constant barrage of mayhem invading my skull. It was blessed relief to duck down a quiet side street or close the door on all the noise.

Sometimes I have been known to attempt to recreate some traffic mayhem here in quiet Tasmania. I've raised my finger in salute at the unsafe driver speeding past as I dutifully abide by the speed limit. (I did this until one day a girl leered a salute of her own back at me and I realised just how unattractive the whole look really was) Occasionally I toot my horn in disgust. Once I even reached over and honked the horn for Frank, much to his mortification. But mostly I have tamed the driving, raging beast within. I drive like a true westerner: calmly, sedately, by the rules. It's all very safe, if a little quiet and just a tad boring.

So it was something of a thrill to have a valid reason to honk the horn this evening. Like I said, it was crazy. I was on my way to see 'Vicky Cristina Barcelona' with a few friends. We mistakenly arrived early and headed to a bar for a drink of water (detox you know). On the way a lady drove past us up the street the wrong way. I will admit the city layout is confusing here, with one way streets running every which way all over the place. To navigate them you must have your wits about you. This lady obviously did not. Everyone started yelling and carrying on and watching with dread before she safely u-turned and went back from whence she came.

Picture my incredulity when, driving home from the cinema, the car in front of me attempted to turn up another one way street. What is wrong with the world tonight? Are there not enough street signs and do I simply not realise this because I know which way the traffic flows? One way street - you drive down it people. Fearing a terrible accident I fell with glee upon my horn and honked out a merry warning toot. It was all over quickly. They heeded my warning, tooted back a thankful reply and we all drove off to our warm and inviting destinations. Well at least I did.

Ah, safe at home with no chance whatsoever of coming across any more befuddled drivers. What a relief!

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Friday, March 06, 2009

i thought you might like to know...

... the clouds are amazing lately. All kind of fluffy and gold tipped and blue grey.


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Monday, March 02, 2009

go ahead, dooce me

Coincidence, placebo or super naturopathy, I feel better. It seems a little quick to me, but since I've been detoxing and swigging zinc, parex and another natural remedy or two, those nasty symptoms have declined. It made for a great day at work. I faced the onslaught with renewed energy, enthusiasm, cheerfulness and calm and loved it. What I didn't love was the way the day ended.

I had been looking after a patient for several hours. They were mostly OK, but failed to meet one of our nonnegotiable discharge criteria and consequently I could not send them to the ward. I was trying to deal with the issue, but we were all busy and in the deluge of post-operative patients I found myself looking after other people in addition to my original case load. We were all doing our best with the resources at our disposal, but inevitably some things slipped through the cracks. In the end I could not resolve my patient's issue before my shift finished. I handed over to another RN, explaining the situation, my actions and the outcome of these interventions.

I hate this moment in nursing. Actions undertaken with the best of intentions are laid bare before the incoming nurse, but the context of care is lacking. As I relay my story of assessment, planning, intervention and evaluation, I cannot hope to recreate the noise, busyness, tension and concomitant demands on my time. The record of my nursing care is instead detailed in cold, clinical terms and laid open for the assessment of the next RN.

The nurse I was handing over to today immediately started sniffing through my actions and charts. Her whole attitude was one of superiority, looking for the problems in my care. I am the first to admit I do not always make the best clinical decisions - any nurse who thinks they never make mistakes is most likely deluding themselves - but I have been nursing a long time. I know where there is room to move and where immediate action must be taken. I prioritise my patient's needs and make quick decisions about where I should focus my attention. I resent the feeling of being evaluated, especially when the nurse has significantly less experience than myself, and particularly when I cannot convey the full reality of the situation. My patient today was not recovering without complication, but they were basically OK and I did my best under the circumstances. I still left feeling judged, and no amount of rationalising would shake it.

I walked home reflecting on the situation, muttering and mumbling to myself about that RN. They've done it to me at least twice now - come on and questioned my decisions and actions. There are a number of factors at work here, not the least being individual personalities and nursing culture.

And that's when I saw them - the three fingers pointing back at me. I started thinking about my attitude when I take over a patient's care. Usually I am curious about what has happened (I love a good story) and want to know what is required of me to meet the patient's needs. I might ask clarifying questions but generally I am open and relaxed... until the previous nurse walks away. Then I start going through things with a fine tooth comb. 'They didn't do that? I wonder if they picked this up. I don't think they wrote that figure down anywhere!' and so it goes on. My demeanour with the nurse might be pleasant enough, but beneath the surface I too have the claws out ready to rip their practice to shreds.

Again, nursing culture and ingrained ways of thinking play into this. Wouldn't it be great if we saw the handover as a time of collaboration? When we ask questions, bring them humbly, hoping to offer insight from an alternative perspective, aiming to aid the situation rather than critique. And why not acknowledge the good work the nurse has done - we're all under pressure, let's honour each other and encourage each other in the face of difficulty. Let's give each other the benefit of the doubt - we mostly do our best in sometimes trying circumstances. I dream of handover being a time of affirmation, support and good will, with the patient's needs in the centre rather than our overinflated egos.

I'm kind of hoping good can come from this situation. I want to remember what the RN did to me and make a conscious effort to be different. I'd like to offer positive feedback to my colleagues. I can't change the personality of that nurse, but I can chip away at the dominant nursing culture. And who knows - one day we might stop kicking each other down with horizontal violence! Bring on that day.

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