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the kerfuffle 2014-07-13 006


I feel that at some point this post is going to head off on a tangent,  as though you pushed a riderless bicycle off down a hill. It may end in a jumbled heap at the bottom. What can I do but run after it and see where it goes.

The other day, when pedalling the yellow bicycle in my usual contemplative manner, I decided to do a revamp on my mind, an inventory if you will.

A sort of autumnal clean up of the brain.

I felt there were a few issues to be addressed and nowhere better to address them from then the saddle of that bicycle.

Its when I’m pedalling along quietly on the yellow bicycle that I get inspiration or gain some wise insight, mostly about myself and usually about things I need to change. Sometimes its about reaffirming things I’m happy with, Sometimes it’s about revisiting things I do that might irritate others but that I quite like in myself, and seeing do I still like them.

I know various scraps of psychology, most of which I have gleaned from books on the subject (which will probably annoy qualified psychologists) e,g I am aware of our basic instincts to be loved, to belong, to be accepted. Of our huge fear of not being liked. (A fear which long ago could mean being pushed out of the clan and left on our own to survive in the wilds and probably end up being dinner for a pack of wolves.

I have read much about my amygdala, that little almond shaped structure in my brain, and my hippocampus, a complex and important organ, a part of the limbic system, where emotion meets memory and causes me to respond, not freshly to the present situation, but (because my amygdala is decoding my emotions and my hippocampus is involved in storing and retrieving previous incidences) from past experiences instead.

Fine when living in ancient and wilder times, but in the present, it can get me into trouble if I react with primitive instinct, instead of calmly thinking things through.

Interesting and mind boggling.

Am I obsessed with myself?

Probably, but its only now I am giving myself permission to be totally honest about who and how I am, to look at my good points, to acknowledge my failings. to examine the ones that need a bit of work.

I try not be too hard on myself or resentful of others. I tryo ignore who has what or who seem to work less but have more.

To forget about those high up in jobs who appear to not be adding much to the work force.

To realise how happy I am in my job. How fulfilling I am finding it and acknowledging that it is worth far more to me than the money I get paid for doing it.

I am learning to stand my ground, to ask for help when there is too much thrown at me and NOT to be a martyr marching around muttering resentfully to myself about ‘poor me’.

I am learning to admit I am not superwoman. There are days when I will cope and days when I wont!

Yes I am learning all this from the saddle of my bicycle.


There I was, pedalling towards the library to get out yet another book on the subject when a dog came running across the road towards me.

The first thing that struck me was its eyes were piercingly blue and it was rather wolf like in appearance.

I jumped down, keeping the bike between me and the dog, not quite sure what its intentions were.

It sniffed the yellow bike and began to slowly wag its tail.

I thought it might be lost.

Just then a woman with two dogs on leashes came around the corner.

My ‘wolf’ turned its attention to the two dogs, sniffing and wagging its tail and they responded likewise.

‘Its not mine’ I explained to the woman, ‘I think its lost’.

‘Possibly’ agreed the woman in a quiet voice, ‘I’ll take him down to the vets, they may know him’. She slipped her hand deftly down amongst the dogs faces, unclipped the leash off one of her two and clipped it onto the stray dogs collar.

I froze, memories of our alsatian came flooding back!

‘Dont go near Sabre when he is eating’ My mother constantly reminded us. ‘Don’t put your face down to him’!  The list of ‘don’ts’ grew longer until eventually he bit my brother and had to be put down.

Interestingly,  My father also had three ornamental ponds in the garden, He must have been trying to tempt fate!

An alsatian, three ponds and eight children. Something was bound to give but we all survived to adulthood.

‘Are you not afraid of being bitten’ I asked, thinking she was very brave to put her hand down so near some many teeth. I had visions of the three dogs turning on each other, then in a frenzy on the woman and finally on me.

‘Ah no’ she said calmly ‘He seems friendly enough’.

‘Come on bess’ She called her other now leashless dog and the four of them set off down the road.

Her obvious ability to read doggy signals impressed me but not as much as her calmness.

And I became aware of my own excitability.

I was once described by someone close to me as an alka seltzer. ‘I can’t believe that someone as lively and as fizzy as an alka seltzer is going to die anytime soon’ He  exclaimed when I first told him of my life threatening diagnosis.

Not only am I fizzy, I am also inclined towards talkativeness.

When were children it was my father who talked.

He sat at the head of the table holding forth (he also got his dinner first and the best cuts of meat, the softest whitest florets of cauliflower and the crispiest of roast potatoes) and we had to listen.

Oh how I was bursting inside with all the things I had to tell. The stories I wanted to relate.

But I learnt to keep my head down, chew my food neatly, hold my knife and fork properly and keep the area around my plate clean and food free. We were promised a prize if we did so and most of us eight children complied and even won, with the exception of one brother (not the bitten one) who cried if anyone looked at his plate.

‘She breathed on my dinner and now I can’t eat it’ He would wail, while we would eye up his plate greedily hoping he would carry out his threat.

But my mother would sooth him and encourage him to eat up as she bustled back and forward serving us all and when she finally got to sit down with her own dinner, we had finished and were itching to get away from the table and my dads sometimes funny but more often boringly repetitive stories.

So I gathered up all my chat over the years and held it inside me until I became a nurse and then I put it to good use.

For though I am good at listening, which is essential because listening is very important part of nursing, I also needed to be good at talking.

I have to reassure, cajole, promise, explain, advise, instruct, talk to families , talk to doctors, to my colleagues, to other departments, to secretaries, to kitchen staff, to my director, to visitors who are lost etc etc,

Yes I have to talk a lot.

And I do and I am not ashamed to admit to it.

But recently I met my match.

My patient! Just over very big surgery and when others would have been zonked still from the anaesthetic, he was like a wordly waterfall.

Words poured out of him in torrents.

He talked while I explained the call bell, fixed his Intravenous infusion, checked his wound, straightened his catheter, pinned his drains safely to his hospital gown, took his temperature, checked his vital signs, fixed his pillows, gave him a pain relieving injection, gave him an anti clotting injection, gave him his intravenous antibiotics, readjusted his Oxygen, gave him his nebulizers.

He told me about his children, his wife, his dog, his neighbours, his cousins, his nieces, his nephews. He strung together words like christmas lights, twinkling and sparkling, strings and strings of them joining together and swinging along.

The next day he continued as I washed him and got him out for his first walk. He told me about his village, his thoughts on public transport , on the government, on the european government, on Obama.

As we passed the male care assistant on the corridor he remarked ‘He’s working hard’ within earshot and when we had passed continued ‘its not always necessary to say hello, sometimes a compliment within earshot will suffice, just enough to let him know we are acknowledging him.

‘If he is busy maybe its not necessary to say anything at all’ I said.

He looked at me as though I was mad.

When we got back to his room (He had at this stage covered the importance of good neighbours, the newly introduced water taxes and the price of coal) I sat him down and put the oxygen saturation probe on his finger.

His saturation rate had dropped a bit.

‘Talk to me’ I instructed ‘It willl bring up your oxygen level’.

He thought for a minute, then looked at me shyly.

‘Do ya know what?’ He said with an embarrassed smile ‘I can’t think of anything to say……..

what i see along the way 2014-07-17 012