Sunday, 30 October 2011

Am I there yet?.... Acceptance

So...the kids were diagnosed 2 weeks apart, 15 months ago, am I starting to come to terms with it yet?

Looking back over the last year or so, I can see a clear pattern of coping behaviour, starting with obsessive research into all aspects of autism,  turning into depression and denial, and followed by frustration and anger. I just realised that I'm describing the stages of grief!  I keep forgetting that I'm going through a grieving process. Hang on, just going to google to see what I'm in for next.

OK, good news, I still have bargaining and acceptance to come. To be honest, I think acceptance may still be some way off, and I fully expect to be meeting some of the other stages again before long. I certainly got frustrated with my husband again this week, as he continues to completely deny that there's anything different between our kids and the kids they go to school with. I think he believes they've both been falsely diagnosed. But they don't talk to him about their feelings of being left out at school, and of having nobody to play with.

Loneliness is another feeling I have to cope with, but fortunately I have some lovely friends, and lovely tweeple who understand, because they are in the same or similar situation.

That's as far as the kids go, as for my own autistic nature, have I come to an acceptance of who I am? I hope that I am well on my way, I love being who I am, and while I have challenges every day to overcome, I am helped by my special abilities, and my humanity.

I have found a new vocation in midwifery, and it suits me down to the ground, which makes me very lucky!

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Undercover Aspergian

So... I've been getting some unwanted attention from the other students on my course. It's meant to be nice attention, but it feels like too much.

I do on occasion try to be funny, and if I do it in  small doses, I can be funny. I have a very dry, ironic sense of humour, kind of black, which works well in a healthcare student setting. I have some days where I feel like being funny, but if it then attracts lots of attention, I withdraw a bit into the background, and stay serious for a few days. I know that if I overdo it, I start crossing lines, and stepping over people's personal boundaries.  (I know this from personal experience...)

I know somebody I've seen posting on Wrong Planet has a tagline which says something like: "If I have offended you, you can be sure it was an attempt at humour." I can really relate to this, and that's why I tone it down.

But, now I'm finding people inviting me to be funny, expecting me to be funny and encouraging me to be funny, and that's awkward, because I need to be on top form to go there at all, and be sure that I'm not going to hurt anybody's feelings. Some days I just want to coast, stay in the background, and have quiet chats with people next to me, I'm not there to entertain.

Then I get this slightly confused reaction, like I'm not being consistent, and other people can't work me out. I kind of feel like an Undercover Aspergian. They start looking at me kind of hard like they're trying to see through me. These midwives are all working on their communication skills 100% of the time, and they are pretty fly now. I've had a few anxious moments.

But then I remind myself that they aren't psychic either, I just have to raise an eyebrow and they'll leave me alone. I end up coming across as super-confident and extremely knowledgeable. Neither of which is what I'm aiming for, I'm aiming to just pass for normal, and instead, they think I have some kind of a super-brain, but they don't see the disability side of things (cos I haven't told them!) I do have a brilliant memory for anatomy and physiology which is a massive advantage, but I have high anxiety levels every day, not about looking after the pregnant women, that's the best bit, but about mixing with qualified midwives and other health professionals, and getting that interaction right. It requires a huge mental discipline to stay 'in character', and not to be inappropriate.

Just realised that I used an acting term about my approach to work. I suppose there is an element of 'acting professional' for all of us, I think it's a bigger challenge for me, but at the same time, I've been practicing roles my whole life.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Quality? of care in our hospitals

So... thought I would get down some nursing-related thoughts, as they have been occurring to me lately.

One of the other girls (women) in my class asked me this the other day:

"Should we bring up the poor standard of care we are seeing on the general wards with our tutor?"

It was kind of an aside, not really a question for me, but a question she was asking herself. We've all just started our general nursing placements, and we've all seen things that have made us uncomfortable, here is a partial list:
  • nurses ignoring the call bells
  • incontinent patients left without being changed for hours and hours
  • cursory bedbaths
  • patients' mobility not being a priority - eg use of commodes by bedside instead of helping patients walk to toilets. 
  • no help with feeding, or drinking for quieter patients.
There's more, but I don't want to depress you. Then yesterday the Care Quality Commission report came out, revealing that this low quality of care is totally par for the course in the NHS at the moment. 

The nurses are constantly complaining, not only about lack of resources and the impact of cuts (large numbers of imminent bed closures for example) but also about the bizarre priorities of hospital management, who are busy organising expensive and pointless internal ward moves, and obsessing about foundation trust status. (Honestly, at times it's just like Holby City, (with all of thecynicism and  backbiting but none of the hot doctors).

Nurses seem to spend 80%+ of their time filling in documentation, while the healthcare assistants do all the actual, physical nursing work, ie bedbaths, turning bedbound patients, helping with toileting, feeding, and hydration etc. 

And lastly, not not leastly,  as midwives, we are all about women-focused care, working in partnership, communication. On the general wards, we are seeing very poor or no communication, patronising tone, talking over people, no confidentiality.

So is it our job to blow the whistle on the nurses who are our mentors, for the poor standards of care they are living with? After all, their morale is already at rock bottom. And the Care Quality Commission has already lifted the lid. 

I don't know what to tell my friend, I can't answer her question, she has to figure it out for herself. 

But I do know that I don't want to get sucked into the system and start believing that the care we are providing to the elderly is all that they deserve.