Bright Friday

Dumbing down the science as much as possible, I will tell you that the “colour” black isn’t a colour at all; it downright refuses to reflect any of the colours that light bounces against it. Rams all the colour into it and keeps it for itself. Greedy black.

So Black Friday is well named, isn’t it really? Judging by recent footage people are rammed into a small space and greedily grab as much as they can carry.

I used to work as a customer service assistant at The Bear Factory (now Build-a-Bear) – yes it was as awesome as it sounds…until it was very, very crowded and people lost sight of the fact that they were getting cross about pricing ON A FOOTBALL KIT FOR A BEAR. In a buzzing crowd, it’s easy to lose perspective, I guess.

Perspective: this is one of my friends from school, bright, enthusiastic, kind – and reached out to me when I was a lonely “keener” weirdo.

Trina Hamblin

Trina on Leavers’ Day 15th May 1998

Trina, yes that’s her real name, yes I know that I said it would only be my name that was real on this blog, but there’s a good reason for her name being here.

At a young age, Trina was fostered into the family I knew as hers. While at school her foster mum sadly died, and she experienced a loss I couldn’t understand or quantify. She was bright and enthusiastic and joined Army Cadets and LOVED it. She left school after her GCSEs and the last time I saw her face-to-face  was about two years after that and she was telling me about what she was studying at college. Telling me about society being any group of people, some really insightful stuff and she was doing well.

That was about fifteen years ago; we’ve chatted on Bookface now and again – but I can safely say we lost touch.

I was shocked to hear a few weeks ago that she’d died rather suddenly; my first thoughts turned to that bastard we all love to hate: Cancer. It made sense, cancer can be quantified, publicly fought, proudly beaten, or agonisingly terminal. It doesn’t discriminate between the old and the young. That’s how my mum died – I could relate to it, if not accept it.

Sadly Trina was fighting a different disease: depression. The killer that walks among us, thriving on silence and misunderstanding. It was an even greater shock to be told that Trina had in fact taken her own life.

I was stunned, what could have happened? I has some selfish thoughts: “Could I have been there for her more?” “If only we hadn’t lost touch” “Maybe I could have been someone she could have talked to.”
They’re selfish thoughts because Trina was surrounded by family and friends who loved her, and being perfectly frank with myself – who the hell do I think I am that could have been there for her instead of her family?!

I attended her funeral on the 5th November and I’m pleased to say that I did *not* sit down. I couldn’t – Canford Crematorium was absolutely packed to the rafters. You might think that off for someone who saw death as a solution, but often people who feel a deep loneliness can do so surrounded by people.

I squeezed in at the back among strangers. My tears fell freely as the person holding the service read out a letter…written by Trina. I won’t disclose what was written, it was directed to the people who had come, but it was heartbreaking to hear words she had written herself having made up her mind. Her birth mother spoke and said much the same, that Trina had seemed to cheer up in her final days, and they guessed afterwards that it was because she knew that she was going to do it.

I hadn’t known Trina in her adult life at all, I don’t know what she faced in that time, or how any of her past pain my have re-surfaced. I regret this; I really regret this.

There will be someone reading this now who has faced depression or may be going through it now, you might be at the end of your tether and feel hopeless, or helpless or that no one cares. This one is for you

a sign

Please call the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90

To some that might seem crass, but I’m happy to risk that if just one person sees it and thinks “Ok, I wasn’t sure why I was going to read this blog post, but now I see why”, then that’s ok.

So why the link to Black Friday? Why call it Bright Friday instead? Because for all the TVs, games consoles, electronic bargains that people have clambered over each other to buy, snatch and grab, I’m sure that there are countless others who would crawl over hot coals to grab, snatch and *steal* a few more hours with a lost loved one. THAT is perspective.

Call the people you love, visit the friends you miss, god dammit write a letter to relatives, just reach out and stop missing out on the chances to catch up and show you give a monkeys. There will be new “stuff” every year that we can buy, but some things pass by and are wasted.

I apologise if this has been a depressing post, but when I see how much material stuff seems to matter to people that they will literally trample others, it’s time to get a reality check and consider what is really worth your time and effort.

Allie Brosh is an incredibly talented bloggess, she has a “real life” but her blog  posts about depression are wonderfully open and honest.

Read the first one here.

The second is here

You should read her other stuff too because it’s very funny, click the image for a link to one of her all time funniest posts for a bit of cheeriness!

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The right time, the right place…ment

Like the renegade master, I’m back once again – but not with killer beats, no, with tales of placement.

Here’s a little recap of what I’ve been up to over the past 6 weeks while out in placement in antenatal assessment settings.

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How is second year feeling so far? MAN, IT’S LIKE, I KNOW THINGS!

So it’s a step up from first year?: Yes, leaps and bounds – but that only became massively apparent once in placement and the complications we had been learning about were suddenly in front of us with faces, names, and questions.

Questions? WAT?!: Exactly, but it was like that wonderful feeling in the first year when a woman asks you something and you magically know the answer. But it’s not magic, because you learned it with your head and your mind and your brain.

Harder questions though, yeah?: Well, more complicated. All questions are hard if you don’t know the answer, and so yes, there were some hard questions – but being in a placement environment, you’re being taught things as you go, so you learn the answer and can answer the next person. I did this with some twin pregnancies. I sat in with the registrar when she was talking to a couple about their pregnancy, then when the next woman had the same questions, I could answer them before handing over to the registrar for her to come in and talk through everything. Parrot-fashion learning is great for some things, but it’s knowing when to say “I don’t know, but I’ll let them know so that they can talk it through with you.”.

Is it easier learning in the classroom or when you’re out there? I’m a visual learner, and a do-er, but there’s no way I could have learnt half the stuff I’ve learnt without having done the theory first. While you’re there to learn, you still don’t want to look like a fool if you’re asked questions you really should know.

What was the hardest thing?: Getting up very early to do 12 hour shifts.

Seriously?: Yes, but if we’re talking skills, then I would say I get stuck on daft things. Some things I can pick and quickly and run with it. Some things haunt me. I kept getting gravida and parity mixed up, which I knew in first year. It’s such a silly mistake to make too.

Anything else?: Blood bottles and their corresponding envelopes to go to the lab. I never got it wrong because I checked it every time, but I feel like it’s something that should be academic now. I’ll get it.

How about the best thing?: Managing to provide quality care when feeling like I was spinning plates; I’d met the woman week before and she’d been presented with a complication in her pregnancy she wasn’t expecting.

Complications can be expected?: Well yeah, if there’s a history of them in previous pregnancies, of the woman has a pre-existing condition – diabetes for example is pre-existing, whereas gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) can develop during the pregnancy and say adieu when baby is born.

So how did you identify the care had been ace?: Because I met her in the second part of my placement, we had a familiar chat because we’d met previously and then I was able to do the clinical things knowing she felt at ease with a friendly face. When she was discharged, she popped her head round the door to thank me and said I’d been amazing and made her feel much better.

Nice!: I thought so! Sometimes a long wait can be made ten times more bearable with a cup of tea and a genuine question of “How are you feeling?”

So it can make the difference then, do you think? Having met the woman before?: In a lot of cases, yep it really can – that’s not to say you can’t give exceptional care if you’ve only met the woman for the first time when she’s in the throes of labour, but in antenatal appointments, trust is a big deal and you have to hope for a little so that you can get as much info as possible, but prove you’re willing to earn the rest.

Um, why should you? Can’t you just show it over all the appointments?: Well you don’t always get to see the woman more than once, and sometimes that woman has had a really crappy time with services before and been left feeling betrayed or patronised. My chequered past in customer service and performing arts lets me talk to just about anyone with a certain amount of confidence, but the gift of the gab only gets you so far. You have to under promise and over deliver.

That’s a customer service phrase isn’t it?: Yes

Hate yourself a little bit for using it?: Yeah, it made me a bit sick in my mouth, but through the vom, it’s exactly what I’m trying to say

Fine, explain it: It’s straightforward, a busy antenatal clinic is a bit like speed dating – you only have a short time to show this person that you *do* care, find out how they are feeling, see if anything new has cropped up and help them decide what care they need – if they’re going to call you in my speed dating analogy

Ok, still on board, but the over deliver thing?: Ok, an example here – a woman comes into clinic, you only see her twice before she gives birth as you’re her new midwife. You tell her you’ll come and see her after the birth, but her previous midwife was very busy so often didn’t catch up with her women herself, and someone else would do the postnatal appointments.
“I’ll come and see you after the birth” = under promise.
Checking the maternity system to see when she gives birth and heading to the hospital to see how she is = over deliver

So going the extra mile then?: Well yeah, but midwifery is that every day. Whether people realise it or not, you’re always hoping to be more than you’re expected to be, but over delivering is really making them have that facial expression where they look like you’ve got them all the Christmas presents they never got when they were kids.

Like you’re bringing them a Teddy Ruxpin?: And a Mr Frosty and a Fashion Wheel.

So have you done something like that then?: A couple of times. It actually makes me sad in a way that women are always surprised when you do the good things, because it makes you wonder how low their expectations were.

Well that’s a cheery way of looking at it: Ha ha, yeah fair enough, but having to say “Of course I am, I said I would be” when she says how pleased she is that you’re there does have some echoes of her previous disappointments with things.

All in all a good placement?: Yes. Brilliant, everyone was teaching, I was allowed to be autonomous under guidance which is perfect for the second year, and I never felt that people were too far away if I got an inkling that I might get out of my depth if I went it alone with meeting a woman having looked at her notes before hand. Ideal.

What’s next?: Time at Uni and working on PAL (peer assisted learning) sessions for the first years – December is their placement session and I’m going to RSVP the hell out of them. Admin battling is half the panic over when you head out.

Any other exciting things?: Oh the minor instance that I’ve booked and registered for my elective placement today.

WAT?!: It’s for the next post 😉

A Quick Intro

Hey,

I’m Heather, a second year student midwife who never quite got around to writing this blog in 2013; the thing is, I’ve read a few midwifery-related blogs and just wasn’t sure where my voice would fit in.

Maybe I’ll figure it out, maybe I won’t, but until that point, just pretend you’re reading every post I write as if you’ve picked up a diary, shaken it for any cash, found nothing, but decided to read a few pages anyway. I thought that if I just write for myself, at least I can guarantee one interested reader.

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The reason for starting this now is that it’s second year and things have ramped up a bit…and by “a bit” I mean a lot. Suddenly I’m just over 18 months away from qualification, it’s two months until Christmas, I’m coming to the mid point in my first placement of the year and you know what? I feel like I know things. Real, useful, actual things! As I said though, this is just the third week in practice for this year – I’m hoping the feeling doesn’t go too far astray, but as it’s a profession where you are always learning something I doubt I’ll ever know ALL THE THINGS.

I told you it was a quick intro, but if you want to say hello, follow me on Twitter.com/Twidmife

 

WAT ARE THIS?: Babies are born without kneecaps.