surviving

The first four weeks of this year have been a hellish rollercoaster. The last few weeks of 2021 went reasonably uneventfully, but then 2022 came roaring in, gnashing its teeth.

The first three weeks saw various staff members, across all departments, in and out of isolation because they either tested positive, or were a close contact to a positive case. Isolation rules of the time required seven days of isolation once a positive result is confirmed, and people could only return to work after two consecutive days of negative tests.

Having one person away for one day is usually ok. We can shuffle staff around, or find ways around it. We might stay back a little bit to finish up on work that would usually get done earlier, but it’s not so bad because we know it’s just one day. It’s a lot different when it’s multiple people across all departments, for at least seven days.

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a pause in the chaos

Well, it’s that time of year again, when I’m reminded, by the lack of traffic on the roads, that most other people have time off from work/study. Of course, I’m not complaining. Does it sound like I’m complaining? It’s nice not sitting in traffic, and equally nice to not have to get up earlier to compensate for time spent sitting in traffic.

Anyway, there’s still a very nice long week-end ahead for me.

I had a very brief chat to the cleaning person at work today, and it went something along the lines of “well, someone’s gotta do the work”, and so we will both be back at work in those days between Christmas and New Year’s.

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a small win

A big part of what I do at work is checking chemotherapy order forms and batch sheets — making sure patient details and treatment details are correct, and making sure these have been correctly transferred onto batch sheets so that we can compound or make each dose for each patient.

In the course of checking an order this week, I noticed that my colleague had omitted what would appear to be the patient’s middle name. This usually wouldn’t be a big deal — we never include middle names on the batch documents — but this was not an English name. I recognised the name as Chinese, and for a number of Chinese people I know, the “middle name” is actually part of the first name. 

I considered the situation for a minute: There were other patient identifiers on the batch documents, so it was very unlikely that the patient would be misidentified or that any other treatment issue would arise from the omission of the second name. However, it seemed disrespectful to omit it just because we’re all used to seeing names consisting of a one-word first name and one-word surname (including when it’s hyphenated, which makes it count as one word).

So I emailed the team and explained it gently in a “you might not have realised, but just thought it would be good if we added this in” kind of way.

I sent that email pretty early in the morning, and got no response all day. I asked a colleague if he’d seen the email, and his response was that he agrees, but everyone else seemed unconcerned. I went home feeling despondent and agitated. I didn’t want this issue to be ignored.

The next day, contemplating how I could bring it up again, and at the same time wondering if I should just concede defeat in this matter, I happened to receive another order for a patient with a Chinese name. And this time all three names were included on the batch documents! It actually brought a smile to my face because this was not the colleague I’d spoken to (the one who already said he agrees) but one of the others who had seemed unconcerned the previous day.

It felt good to know that I helped bring about this change, and it felt even better to know that I was capable of helping to improve cultural awareness in my workplace. It is one thing to continue to learn, but it is another to help others learn as well.

managing care

I have been in middle management for about a year and a half now, and there are still times when I wonder if I’m doing this “managing” thing right, or if I’m really cut out to be a manager. But I guess the day I stop wondering how to do things better is the day I stop improving (and there’s always something that can be improved on).

When new people start work in my department, there are a few things I tell them, regardless of their role or their previous work experience:

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obscure reviews: Hydralyte

I remember back in my first year of uni (which feels like many years ago), one of the tutors told us they once knew a student who liked to go and try out over-the-counter (OTC) medications so that they would be better able to counsel patients about these. But, of course, it would be irresponsible and going against the “Quality Use of Medicines” principles to use a medication if you didn’t have the condition being treated, so they had to somehow have/get the specific ailments first.

Now, I’m not sure if they went out of their way to get cold sores, diarrhoea, common cold symptoms, heartburn and other conditions treatable with OTC medicines, but they supposedly worked their way through a fair few products (I’m not sure which — I just chose some random examples here).

Anyway… I never took this approach to my learning, but I suppose there are some things that are useful to try in order to make better recommendations to others. I discovered this in this last week when I got food poisoning and became very dehydrated. I’ll spare you the details, but I was quite unwell for several days, and wasn’t eating or drinking much in case it made me throw up. Continue reading

adrift

As we enter a new year, and a lot of people are contemplating what they want to achieve, what they want to change, or what they want to keep and nourish; I, quite honestly, feel a little lost. But maybe not so much lost as “adrift” or “suddenly aware that I’ve been adrift for a while, riding the gentle waves of a lake, no longer sure what shore I left from or which bank I need to go to”.

Of course, there’s nothing inherently wrong with the situation – there’s no storm brewing, no predator beneath the surface of the water, no structural problem with the boat, or shortage of supplies – but I feel a little adrift. Continue reading