Me the introvert

I’m very conscious of my Myers Briggs type (ISFJ) and my preference for introversion. This isn’t shyness or quietness, it relates to how you get your energy. Some people are energised by others, loving a crowd of people (extroverts) whilst some prefer a bit of solitude and find it easier to think and get energy internally.

I’ve always been aware of this from an early age. At school I preferred to work alone. I can happily work with others and consider myself a good team member but ultimately I feel I work best when left to my own devices. Interestingly my five-year-old appears to be heading in the same direction with very familiar feedback from her teacher.

The fellowship has taught me that there is nothing ‘wrong’ about my personality type. I simply have strengths and preferences that are different to others. At times I feel under pressure to ‘be’ something that I’m not. There have been times recently where the fact that I’m not talking is perceived as a lack of involvement. Its not, I just chose not to say things for the sake of saying something. Usually I’m not talking because my brain is going mad trying to make sense of the issue.

There are times when I have to work against this preference for solitude and work with big groups of people. I feel I can flex to this alternative way well but continually being put into a busy atmosphere causes me stress and I feel like I cannot achieve anything. I’m interested in the thought that introverts are overlooked for leadership roles and that they find such a role challenging.  I read this post in the week and it struck a simple chord with me – I don’t have to be something I’m not.

We recently acquired a new office in my building at work. Its a small office, tucked away from the rest of the rooms we have. I’d said that I would take it as my own office with an element of guilt – was it right that  I was separating myself from the rest of the team? This week I’ve come to the conclusion that yes it is.  My time at work is pressured and I feel I do not have enough time in the office to do my job. The time that I am there is often a struggle to deal with other members of the team who feel that they can come and speak to me about anything at any time. I’m all for an open door policy but at times people will come to me to just recount a phonecall they had just had. No input or help is needed for that phonecall. Its not a problem that needs debriefing. Often its just an off the cuff ‘you’ll never guess what she said?’ which then drags me into a conversation that isn’t necessary and I don’t want (I’m far too sensitive and polite to say ‘stop wasting my time’) In the past I’d explained to the team that I needed set times when I was available to talk through any issues – a day and a half a week – but this has fallen by the wayside. I requested this when someone grabbed me in the carpark to tell me all about a urinalysis result from the day before and then attempted to follow me into the toilet to continue telling me about a second patient. I was put out that she hadn’t even said hello to me and I wasn’t given the chance to get in the door and take my coat off.

So, this week I’ve moved my stuff downstairs into the new little office. I am separating myself from the rest of the team but this is to increase my productivity, make the most of the limited time I have in the office and to reduce my stress levels. I am concious of the need to interact with others and will not become a hermit in there but just the thought of a space to escape to is calming me already.




Think Heart

Next week is Children’s Heart Week and the Children’s Heart Federation are running a series of events to increase awareness of congenital heart defects.  They are also going to promote the ‘Think Heart’ campaign which encourages both parents and professionals to be more aware of the possibility of a congenital heart defect in the first weeks after birth. Roughly half the children born with a heart defect will be sent home without a diagnosis.

Think Heart provides an acronym to help raise awareness of the symptoms of an undignosed heart defect

Heart rate – too fast or slow? (normally 100 to 160 beats per minute)

Energy & Feeding – sleepy, quiet, floppy, too tired to feed or falling asleep during feeds?

Arterial Saturation (oxygen levels) – not enough oxygen in the blood? (normal oxygen saturations 95-100%)
and Appearance: a pale, waxy, dusky, blue, purple, mottled or grey colour (not enough red blood)

Respiration – breathing too fast or slow? (normally 40-60 breaths per minute)

Temperature – cold to touch – particularly hands and feet?

More information at Tiny Tickers

In hindsight looking at the symptoms, Samuel was showing us that he was clearly having problems. I’d approached my health visitor on a number of occasions as I was concerned and each time was told that I had anxiety issues and was putting my problems onto my baby. I think had I known more about the symptoms of a heart defect I would have had the  courage to seek alternative help much sooner.  By the time he was diagnosed aged 4 weeks, he was in severe heart failure and had a cardiac arrest. We know that we are lucky that he arrested in hospital, had this happened at home it is likely that he would not have survived.  We are also lucky that Samuel has suffered no long term ill effects from that undiagnosed period.

This photo sums up our first 4 weeks with Samuel – constantly asleep…..

And immediately after his valvoplasty he was a totally different child….

On 14th May the Children’s Heart Federation is holding a workshop in London to discuss the Think Heart campaign and also the use of pulse oximetry testing at birth (something else I feel would have prevented us going through a lot of trauma).  Following that is a parliamentary reception to raise awareness amongst MPs of the importance of early diagnosis of heart defects.

I’m attending both and looking forward to a trip to London on my own! It’ll also be strange attending a healthcare meeting wearing my parent hat and not my continence manager one. I’m also looking forward to going inside the Houses of Parliament – my inner political geek is thrilled. Sadly though no photos can be taken inside – what happens if I bump into Andrew Marr or Nick Robinson?!

My main feeling with both Think Heart and pulse oximetry is that they are not rocket science. They are simple, cheap, accessible and effective ways of detecting heart defects at a crucial stage.  I strongly believe that both would have made a huge difference to Samuel’s condition. It would not have reduced the need for surgery but it would have saved us all the trauma of him being critically ill and coming so close to losing him.

Happiness Project: May

This months theme is ‘get serious about play.’ It is looking at everything that isn’t work – whether that is paid work or housework.

Its a tough one for me at the moment. I know that I have lots on my plate and I’d already decided to put my sewing on a back burner for the year. April was a difficult month and I’ve struggled with stress and managing a good home work balance. This weekend we had a sudden unexpected trip away as a family and it helped enormously to have a think and try and change the priorities.

So my plans for the month are….

Get out of the house

Too often at the weekend we stay at home and do very little. Money is an issue half of the time. I changed my car last week for something more economical. Diesel prices have been so bad recently that I’ve cut down on the amount that I use the car. I’m hoping the new car will help this. I also need to think a bit more locally. Today I discovered by chance that our local steam railway had a special offer with free admission for the children. Off we went. We had a great time despite the pouring rain. We need to have more simple days like this.

Work hard, relax hard

Linked to the above, I know I need to spend more time relaxing and catching up with myself. I realised that this week is going to be busy so I decided to go away to the caravan for the weekend. Its also my birthday so intend having a relaxing time and forgetting about work.  I also find it helpful that the caravan has no wireless and barely a decent phone signal. Sometimes cutting yourself off is a good thing.

Get the work/life right

I need to remember my priorities and get a good balance between everything. When I’m busy at work its difficult to leave things behind and fully concentrate on the things that need my attention at home.  Its a challenge for me as my home and work lives feel very different and I cannot physically separate the two. I’m also more comfortable as ‘Karen the nurse’. The playground is not a particularly comfortable place for me and I don’t really feel like I fit in there. I don’t own a pair of ugg boots for a start. I know that this requires effort on my part but this is where I struggle with the time factor. Eloise has a special jubilee day coming up at school and they’ve asked for volunteers. I’ve put my name down.

Come to terms with myself

This one is a steal from here. I often feel caught in the constant whirlwind that is my life and flitting between work and home.  I recently had to complete a questionnaire before starting coaching and the questions really challenged me as it involved me stopping and thinking about what I want and feel about things in my life. It was a real struggle as I rarely stop long enough to consider these properly.


Happiness Online: April roundup

Shamefully late with my end of the month post :/ I’ve been battling with an essay and submitted it this afternoon so trying this evening to catch up with the rest of my life!

The theme for April was ‘lighten up’ and my resolutions were –

And being totally honest I failed quite miserably. April was not a good month and I felt far too busy to have a chance to stop and lighten up. Music is playing a bigger part. I try and remember to put music on when I’m in the kitchen and I’ve asked for itunes vouchers for my birthday so I can get some new albums on my ipod. I even put MTV classic on this afternoon whilst we were cleaning the house. I’m slightly disturbed that MTV classic is now my genre of music.

I went to Hobbycraft and got some yarn to start knitting. The first week of the month was met with keen knitting but as the essay deadline approached my evenings have been filled with work. I have a slight breather now so will get back to finishing off the jumper that I started.

I haven’t even looked at my Day Zero list!

So, the moral of next month is try harder or at least not to get so bogged down with work.