Wednesday, 7 October 2009


It's funny what being on maternity leave does to the mind, well MY mind anyway. I've spent 4 months only reading Heat magazine because I'm too tired to concentrate on a decent book. My conversations with others revolve around sproglet's sleep patterns and chicken korma-style poo. In consequence I am now unable to pay attention to serious news items or make it through more than a few pages of a broadsheet newspaper without wondering where the latest gossip about Jordan and Peter is.

This happened last time after Duracell Toddler was born. After only 6 months off work, I was initially unable to remember simple things. This included the doses of the medications I use most often with my patients and meant I was forced to keep my BNF attached to me at all times. Not good. Also embarrassing when consultant boss phones you up to ask your experience with a treatment and you can't really remember what he's on about.

Worst thing is I'm now getting muddled too. Wittered on for ages today about the crapness of Max Factor coffee and wondering why my Opodo online shopping order hadn't arrived. Can't remember to remember the shopping list/bags when go to supermarket and have lost the diary. Honestly, the less my mind is working on 'higher' things, the less it works overall.

Maybe I should do the brain training programme on the BBC website or eat more fish oils or just hope that soon I will get more sleep. Anyway, must go - I'm ravishing.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009


Where have I been since October last year and my last post? I can't believe it's been so long.

Hey there! Long time no blog. As you may have guessed, after discovering that was pregnant with baby no 2 everything got pretty hectic. In addition to juggling full-time job, husband and toddler, in that order, I had to try and fit in a years psychiatry training and research in the 8 months leading up to my maternity leave. Fun.

Managed to complete most of my work, although after my little girl's early appearance I was often found with laptop balanced on one knee and baby balanced on the other whilst I finished off bits and bobs. Would not recommend this as good breastfeeding technique.

So now I am mum of 2, something that I am still finding it hard to digest. Little Sproglet, now 8 weeks old is just gorgeous with pudgy Michelin-man legs and the cutest smile. She eats for Britain and my boobs are killing me (too much information?) but she is such a happy little baby. The Duracell toddler's world has been severely rocked and some days he deals with it better than others. After a week or two recently where I could've happily given him away due to the tantrums and episodes of biting/pinching/scratching Sproglet he has been back to his lovely, although overactive self. He still asks me to send Sproglet away at times, but not as frequently as before.

I must confess to not finding the whole motherhood thing easy at all and sometimes downright boring. I was pondering this the other day and notice similar feelings amongst friends/colleagues who are also medics. Give any of us a difficult clinical scenario or busy on-call and we'll just get on with it but deal with a 2 year old having a tantrum? We're potentially more clueless than your average mum. My theory on this is that we have been too self-reliant for a long time and are coming to parenthood a good deal later than our mothers who often weren't the major wage-earners and frequently didn't have careers, just jobs. They expected to get married, have children and be stay-at-home mums; we expect to 'have it all' - the career, the family and the social life! What I don't think most of us fully realise PRIOR to the babies is that something has to give.....

Whilst I have been away lots seems to have happened - MPs have been found out for ripping off the taxpayers, Peter Andre and Jordan are no more (surely the most important news?!), swine flu is terrifying the masses.... Some things don't change at all - particularly the loss of life in Afghanistan and the good old credit crunch.

right need to go - sproglet calling out for her early morning meal. Going to try not to make it 10 months this time until next post!

Monday, 27 October 2008

If it walks like a duck....

You know the phrase "if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck" etc? Sometimes things can be totally bleeding obvious to everyone else but not to you. (Hmmm, is that denial?)

Just worked out why I have been having migraines for the past couple of weeks. I'm pregnant. Now, everything makes perfect sense. I should've known really as had last migraine whilst pregnant with DT and absolutely none since. Plus, I have been completely knackered for the past couple of weeks; I just put that down to a cold/starting new job/going to gym (which I have just signed up for a whole year with, wonderful!)

When I told my friend Sal she just smiled and said "thought so!". What a fantastic doctor I am. Although must say, in my own defence that I was taking the little pills so wasn't entirely expecting it!

Myself and Mr O are quite pleased, if still a little shell-shocked....

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Credit crunch....

When I am not trick cycling or chasing around after the Duracell Toddler, I have another role - that of bookkeeper for my husband's business. Now unfortunately, when we decided to set up the business at the end of last year there wasn't a credit crunch....and until a couple of months ago it was all going rather well. Then the bank decided to increase the rates on the small business loan it has given us and the much larger companies which owe us money have started to take longer and longer to pay us. Not good. Now instead of waiting nearly 60 days for payment from them (they are supposed to pay us within 30) it is now becoming 90 days plus. In order to pay our staff this means that all of our accounts including our personal ones are now fully overdrawn and I am now having to use my savings which weren't huge in the first place. Just read in the Times that the amount of small businesses going under has increased from 40 to 280 a week and on average they are owed £30,000 by larger businesses. Now that the government have bailed out the banks there is a clause that they are supposed to reinvest in small businesses - but apparently our local bank manager doesn't know anything about it and they're not willing to be flexible with us! Bastards....

A couple of months ago I was really enjoying being part of the business and was even thinking that if I went part-time I might become more involved in it or even set up my own enterprise. Frightening how unstable everything is when you start going into recession. Ah well, at least I have a reasonably stable job at the moment, although I think my chance of going part-time in the near future is lessening rapidly!

On a cheerier note at least fuel prices are coming down and I am spending less money on things we don't really need. As they say - money doesn't buy you happiness, although an extreme lack of it doesn't help much either! The happiest family I ever met were struggling to bring up 3 children on one teacher's salary, they used to live in a small house with an old car, the kids didn't have many toys and all their clothes were hand-me-downs or from cheap shops. At the weekends because of the lack of cash they would go off to the park and run round, play ball games and spend lots of time together. Because they couldn't have lots of things the kids were the least spoilt I have ever come across and absolutely great! When I think of them I wish my hubby had my job (as more stable one)....think then I would just give up work, take DT out of nursery, sell a car and have a simpler life. Don't think I'll persuade the hubby to do the same somehow!

Friday, 17 October 2008


I have just been to the gym for the first time in nearly 2 years and I feel bloody brilliant now!

I used to go a couple of times a week until rapidly expanding pregnant belly put a stop to that. Then the small child put a stop to gym attendance through absolute exhaustion on my part and being just a wee bit busy. I did go to baby yoga a few times, not what you'd call taxing....and also walked around with the pram a bit, usually to somewhere with cake and coffee. Unlike every other mother, I actually gained weight a few weeks after having DT. Then I got packed off to work 40 miles away and in addition to the fact that I have never been that keen on sport/exercise, there was no way I was going to go on getting home 12 hours later having not seen my son all day. Did attempt the Davina vids a couple of times but have a rather small lounge so nearly took out light fittings swinging my arms around and kept crashing into the furniture and terrifying the cat!!!!

Now with starting a local job - I have NO excuse to improve my fitness. Signed up to semi-trendy gym with good NHS discount and have resolved to go at least twice a week (that'll become once by Christmas, mark my words). Completely aware that I looked like a sack of potatoes on the machines but I stayed and I now feel MUCH MUCH better in myself!
Always telling my patients that exercise helps mood (it affects your Serotonin levels blah, blah) and do know that that is true, but I have never felt the effects of it as much as today. I feel so much more relaxed. Even looking forward to going back beacause the gym has a nice sauna bit and a coffee shop with cakes! (now, whose clever idea was that?)

I'm going again tomorrow! And I'm going to book in for a back massage 'cos they're always great. Maybe I will become a gym fanatic!!!! OK, maybe not.......but hey, it's a start!

Thursday, 16 October 2008

A pain in the.....

Wow. So much has happened in the last few weeks within the O household and I have been constantly 'fire-fighting' - as they like to say in busy mental health teams nowadays. Normal service will be resumed soon. I hope.

Firstly, have moved jobs. Now not doing the commuting (which is great) but back in the situation again of being the 'new doctor'. Always a bit strange as I find mental health teams are often quite wary of you and you have to spend a fair bit of time convincing them that you're not a complete idiot and not going to act like you own the place because you have a medical degree. On that theme, once or twice in the past I have had a really great job where everyone thought I was wonderful, unfortunately not entirely on my own merits. In reality it was because the junior doctor before me had been so rude to the team that as long as I turned up on time, was friendly to them and did my job I was fantastic!
Unfortunately this time, the previous SpR was pretty nice so no easy ride on that front....

Also means that I have new consultant - he seems pretty nice although don't think I will end up having the random chats about running, cars, rugby etc that I used to have with my old consultant or get to moan to him about my awful mother-in-law. Maybe that's just as well.

The hardest bit in a new post is knowing what you are supposed to be doing. Life used to be simple in medical wards - 8.45am ward round, 10am blood taking/venflons/drug card rewriting, 11 patient reviews, I am working in an assertive outreach team. These teams deal with patients in the community who are severely mentally ill often with psychotic illnesses and have been poorly compliant with prescribed treatment and/or have engaged poorly with services. Many of the patients are socially isolated and have other health issues/drug and alcohol issues. The aim of the team is to maintain frequent contact in order to provide effective treatment and rehabiliation for this group of patients. The team is multidisciplinary - nurses, social workers, occupational therapists, psychologists and doctors. Everyone apart from the doctors and psychologist work in split shifts.

Being a doctor in the team is an odd position because you are part of the team, yet separate in many ways due to your additional commitments - outpatient clinic, inpatient ward rounds, on call etc. The rest of the staff are with the team for the entirety of their shift. I always find it hard settling in. Already I am being asked to spend large parts of my day doing visits and whilst I have no problem doing this at all,( in fact I really like it) it is hard to say "yes, that's fine but I need to be back by 2 for the ward round". I certainly don't want to appear that I'm being a bit precious!

Secondly, the father is still very very ill. Has now had kidney removed but still very poorly. A couple of weeks ago the doctors made worrying noises and hinted that they thought that he had developed a severe infection and weren't sure how he would cope with it. So we watch and wait. It may seem like I'm being cold by spending so much time talking about work and not about this. It's just much harder to talk about this and when I think about it I get upset.

I have been getting some cracking migraines this last couple of weeks and am sure that it is my way of coping/or not with Dad's illness. Twice I have ended up with severe headaches, vomiting, unable to speak or think clearly with flashing lights.....lovely. I have had these before but usually only once every few years and with clear triggers - high blood pressure in pregnancy set off the last one. Have had 3 in 10 days - lasting a LOT longer and making me feel pretty rotten for half a day after. It's the not being able to talk/understand things that scares the living daylights out of me - expressive/receptive dysphasia for those in the know.... even though I know it's a migraine, it is so scary when I can't think clearly. For how do you think if not in words?

Ah well. At least when I have a headache and DT is getting too much I can do what it says on the side of the paracetamol bottle, "take two and keep away from children"!

Monday, 22 September 2008

Viva la blog!

I apologise for neglecting my blog of late - I have been pretty distracted the last couple of weeks....

A wise man once said:-
He who would travel happily must travel light.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery

He's obviously flown with Ryanair then. Did get to go on mini-break last week. After some last minute web-searching managed to wangle us a cheapo apart-hotel in Portugal. Started booking what looked like reasonably cheap Ryanair flights (including taxes) before discovering that we had to pay extra:

- to check in at the desk (it's free to do online but you can't do that if you have an infant)
- to check in luggage (yeah, like we're going to manage just with hand luggage anymore - DT has more stuff than us by far!!!!)
- to board earlier (ooh, none of that disabled people and people with small kids on this airline)

so overall a fair bit more in extra fees for 2 adults and 1 infant to check in, take 1 hold bag each, 1 travel cot and board early. Cripes. When did life get so complicated?

Flight was busy, busy, busy but on time. After the whole bloomin' rigmarole of opening and tasting the baby jars to prove that the Hipp Organix Spaghetti Carbonara wasn't actually plastic explosive, we were finally allowed to board the plane. DT was already annoyed having been carried up and down stairs for 20 minutes and not allowed to run around and play with all the things on the conveyor belts at the airport. To add insult to injury mummy and daddy were not going to let him climb all over the seats and run up and down the aisle. DT informed the plane of his irritation by screaming at the top of his voice for about 25 mins. Fabulous. So now I am the parent of the badly behaved toddler you always try to avoid being stuck next to on a bus/plane/train - how embarrassing!
Another wise person once told me that you don't really have holidays once you have kids, you just do the same things as at home but in a different environment. So true. I really miss having time just sitting in the sun relaxing with a book, that doesn't really happen nowadays! Maybe in about 16 years it will again? Saying that - just being in the sun was pretty therapeutic given the terrible summer we've had 'oop north' this year. Also took my mind off all the chaos happening with my Dad who is still very poorly.

Back to work and one of my inpatients is not happy with me for having had time off. She was in a particularly bad mood the day I got back having had a disagreement with one of my colleagues.
I usually get on quite well with her but this day got "you doctors are always having time off, us taxpayers pay your wages you know!". She was obviously feeling aggrieved that I hadn't asked her permission before going! I didn't really know what to say to that.

Do you think that if I tried to negotiate my leave with my patients (after first asking my consultant and arranging cover with my colleagues) I would ever have a holiday again??