I have been into work today, my second attempt at returning to work. I was really nervous last night as I was last week.
I feel like the new boy. So much as changed in the 3 weeks I have been off. It has been 4 weeks since I did my proper job. Just before I went off sick I was manning the staff advice line in HR. Then I was off for 2 weeks and returned to work last as part of staff support. I then went back off sick and have now returned to staff support, among other things manning the staff support drop-ins and preparing a variety of other support initiatives. This is all brand new to me and it feels as if everyone else has got the hang of it whilst I have been away. They all seem to understand the rules for zoom and social distancing and it just feels really strange.
The bus journey in was strange and felt awkward with everyone nervously negotiating their way off the bus. As there is hardly any traffic the bus stops at a lot more stops to get the timings right. Everywhere was so quiet until we got to the hospital and at 7:45 it was a hive of activity with loads of people coming to work and tired night shift workers leaving work. It was hard work negotiating my way around everyone milling around without encroaching into their 2 metre exclusion zones. Eventually I got to the block where my office is and after a typical polite English exchange of “after you”, “no after you”, I reached the sanctuary of my office. I was breathless, flustered and a little emotional. I labelled my lunch and milk and put it in our communal fridge.
When I got back to my office I was greeted by one of my old nursing colleagues who is a specialist nurse and has an office on the same corridor as me. I have known her for over 20 years and had to resist the urge to give her a hug, something that pre-virus was my default greeting for old colleagues. She asked how I was and was genuinely concerned and we discussed our parents and how difficult it is for them at the moment, and how sad the whole situation is. I then got down to my new way of working, which in some ways was very similar like checking in with people that had been on our leadership programmes giving them useful information and checking that they are OK. Sometimes a genuine inquiry of concern even by email can be much appreciated when you are working hard. I then got onto to preparing support that we will offer in addition to drop-ins for staff. I checked in with my colleagues that were in today which was lovely, and we planned out work for the rest of the day.
Just before lunch it hit my like a brick wall. The chest pain and breathlessness was back followed by the headache and the cough. It was a reminder to slow my pace down and take it easy. I still had stuff to do. I slowed down got that done and then came home, to ensure I have enough energy to face tomorrow.
So I am now sat on the sofa, taking my time writing this. I needed to write this, it helps me sort out my thoughts and make sense of my emotions. I used to just write my blog once a week, but there is so much going on right now I need to put something down every day. Every time I start writing I always stare at the screen wondering what I am going to write about, and wonder if I will have enough to write about. Everyday so far for 3 weeks I have managed to write something. It is now one of, if not the most important thing I do to care for myself.
Why do I share my thoughts with everybody? It helps me to share what I write, it motivates me to write, and some people like what I write and it helps them. The thought that what I write helps people, helps me. When I first started writing a blog 3 years ago, about 2 people would read it and one of them was my wife the other was my mum. I am a bit braver now and share it a bit wider. I still don’t get huge numbers of readers but it is in the hundreds everyday. If a few people take something from it then I happy. More importantly though is that I get a huge amount from writing a blog especially when I feel as rubbish as I do at the moment. So if you are reading this thank you.
If you feel like there it too much going on and life is just too overwhelming try keeping a journal. Writing it down may help you make sense of what is going on in your head. You don’t have to share it, just writing it will sometimes be enough. Give it a go, and let me know how it goes. If you are feeling brave start a blog. Everyone on word press are lovely and really supportive of fellow bloggers.
Stay safe, and maybe see you tomorrow.