The road to nowhere…

Well I am slowly starting to feel better again, and I’ve had a few much-needed calls with good friends which has certainly helped with my crappy mood.

The last few days I’ve just felt tired, knackered, exhausted, and had near-constant headaches. The trouble is I can’t tell how much of it is a Covid-relapse, and how much is just tiredness from being stuck at home alone with a 3-year old with no break, rest, or respite while trying to recuperate, and how much is due to having a low mood and feeling really miserable and down in general.

On Friday, I realised that I need to keep my poor car Polly running long enough for us to be able to collect the new car, and the battery keeps dying due to total lack of use. It is a struggle to start these days at all, and so we decided to take a drive.

Now technically we’re isolating and can’t go anywhere or come into contact with any people, even though it’s clearly a false positive test at this point, so you know what we did?

We drove around the ring road. We aimlessly circled Oxford. That’s how rock and roll my life is now.

We couldn’t use the Sat Nav, as it’s software designed to take you to your destination via the shortest/fastest route possible, so it’s very hard to make it take you in an aimless circle with no purpose only to bring you back home where you started.

Turns out the ring road is harder to navigate than I anticipated, so we managed to get lost twice, which feels like a new low.

We drove for 24 miles, and with the wrong turns drove for almost 50mins, which I hope is enough to keep the car battery going a bit longer. The kid had a mini nap in the car, so it was surprisingly peaceful just driving in a big circle around and around. It’s really sad but it felt like an outing, and it’s the furthest we’ve physically been from the house in about 5-6 weeks. If you’d told me a year ago that I would consider driving aimlessly around the city with no purpose or reason an exciting trip out I’d have thought you were insane.

Now, of course when you’re isolating you’re supposed to stay at home, but frankly after 16 days straight in serious hardcore didn’t-leave-the-house isolation as a single mum alone with a toddler, and then going into another 10 days, I feel that our sad, aimless drive around the ring road was ok and was still within the spirit of the law – we stayed in the car the whole time, didn’t stop anywhere and didn’t go near anyone else – which is more than Dominic Cummings can claim…

Was our journey essential?

For Polly, yes, she barely started and needs to limp along a bit more until we can go get our new car.

For the sake of my mental health – also yes, but I don’t know how essential my personal mental health is to the people who make the rules.

On Sunday I had another bad day – shocking headache all day and super tired. I had to give in and take a nap at 3pm as I physically couldn’t stay awake any longer so the kid watched cartoons while I dozed on the sofa, then got an early night. I’m chomping through paracetamol and drinking tons of water but it doesn’t seem to help at all with the headaches, feels like my brain is being squeezed in a vice. My temperature is still going up and down and is higher than it should be. I am still getting little mini-flushes of fever now and again, and in general my resting body temp is definitely higher than it normally is though I haven’t had a proper fever again since Tuesday.

Hoping it starts to get better soon, it’s all very very boring now, I’m tired and fed up and cross with it all, and just so over it. Something is just not right with my body at all, and I’m really bored of waiting to see what it will do next.

Only 5 more days in isolation to go….

Updates

Here’s the mini-round up:

Adoption:

It’s been about 18 months since I started my adoption journey, and about 8 months since I was approved. Child 3 and Child 4’s social workers both said no to me in the end (I just found out today about both).

Child 3 they are moving ahead with another, better match, and Child 4’s Social Workers decided that they wanted 2 parents for him so won’t consider my profile (so in their case it is specifically because I am single).

So round we go again on the merry go round. Continue reading

Medical Science….

One of the best things about living in Oxford is our incredible research hospitals. I’ve been part of the Oxford Biobank for nearly 8 years, and every 2 or 3 years they ask me if I’d be interested in participating in a research study to help doctors understand certain diseases.

I’ve always been extremely grateful to have such good health, and am so conscious it can be taken away at any moment, so I’m happy to donate a little time and a few bodily fluids in the name of science every once in a while.

This particular study was looking at how brown fat burns when activated (the fat used to store energy for hibernation) in healthy bodies vs people with a genetic disorder, which involved measuring my carbon dioxide output while they cooled my core temperature down (hence the bubble) and checking my temperature, blood pressure and taking a few vials of blood here and there.

The nurses as always were wonderful, and I like being able to give something back every once in a while.
#MedicalResearch #OxfordBiobank

Avoiding it doesn’t make it go away….

So, while I was in Yemen, the final restructure paper was released and people started having their impact meetings. I read the paper, and sure enough my role was cut as I had expected, and as predicted the new adviser roles were a grade above mine in terms of pay. However, my counter-proposal was accepted and in my impact meeting, they explained that I could be included inside the ring-fence for the role, alongside the other advisers at risk of redundancy. So I was able to interview for the new role, and based on the outcome of that, would either be offered a permanent job with a pay rise, or be made redundant.

I was feeling very hopeful that I have a strong skill-set and would be a good candidate for the role, and felt reasonably confident it was going to be ok. My bigger concern previously was that I wouldn’t be allowed to apply for the role at all due to my pay grade, so once that hurdle was overcome I was feeling calmer and more reassured that it will all work out. Continue reading

Woman vs Hose – epilogue

Aside

Just in case any of you were in doubt as to Mother Nature’s sense of humour, I should tell you that eventually I got the hose working (with a friend monitoring the tap for floods), and after giving the garden it’s first proper soaking in weeks, about an hour later it started to rain… Literally the first time it has rained here in 2 months….

She’s got an evil sense of humour has mother nature.

Woman vs Hose

Once upon a time, Maya’s water butt ran dry, and she decided to buy a hose in an attempt to keep her tiny garden alive.

What follows is the devastating story of one woman’s struggle to defeat the most basic of garden technology.

First Maya went to Homebase, where they sold her a hose, but had run out of the adaptors required to fit it to an indoor bathroom mixer tap, because Maya does not have an outdoor tap.

Maya went back a few days later to get the adaptor, and was told by the man in Homebase that the whole of Oxford had sold out, as everyone suddenly needs obscure mixer tap connectors, and he himself had driven all over Oxford to find one just yesterday. He assured her that Screwfix, Homebase, B&Q and all other hardware stores within a 10-mile radius had sold out of this one very specific piece of plumbing equipment. The last tap connector in Oxford was in fact in his car,as he was going to return it, would Maya like to purchase it?

Maya purchased it, and felt extremely weird buying obscure hard-to-find tap hardware from the boot of a man’s car in the Homebase car park on a Saturday morning.

Maya then attempted to connect up the hose and adaptor to the bathroom sink. The connector did not function as advertised, despite trying all of the rubber washers provided, and Maya and her bathroom got very, very wet. The garden however stayed bone dry during this exercise.

Then Maya’s colleague lent her an alternative mixer-tap-connector-type fitting, which did fit her tap and did not spray water all over the house. Success! Sadly the joy was extremely short-lived as the hose did not fit into the new connector, and the garden remained unwatered for several more days.

Maya said some rude words and wished she had trained as a water and sanitation engineer.

Then Maya ordered a new connector online from a very obscure tap website, and a week later when it arrived, she took all of the parts to a different local hardware store to request help, as the hose had not come with any kind of instruction manual.

Maya felt extremely stupid explaining to the man in the shop that she needed a manual to operate a garden hose.

The man in the new shop explained patiently that Maya had somehow bought a hose that was a “non-standard gauge” also known as “not wide enough” and that was why it didn’t fit the connectors.
The man sold Maya a new hose, that was the correct gauge and width, and patiently showed her how to connect the various parts of the hose together.

Maya then hauled all of the pieces back to her house to start again.

Maya discovered that the spray nozzle on the hose needs to be pressed firmly down in order for the water to come out, otherwise the pressure of water backs up and explodes all over her bathroom. Maya realised she cannot turn the tap on and run faster than the rate of water back out to the garden to press the handle before the tap explodes in the bathroom. Maya tried multiple options for wedging the handle closed, or removing the handle and re-inserting it once the water is flowing, all of which resulted in a flood in the bathroom. She also could not hold the hose down inside the bathroom thus running through the living room with the hose on, spraying everything in her wake.

Maya has realised that watering the garden requires a professional engineer and at least 3 people to monitor the different components in case of disaster.

Maya is also now sure that when she finally gets the water flowing in the correct direction, out of the hose, all of her plants will be dead and a hosepipe ban will be announced.

Maya hates garden hoses and tap connectors with a fiery rage that is not normal.

Random acts of kindness

As tempers get ever-more heated at my office, people are hunkering down in their respective corners getting increasingly defensive and spiteful. The sad thing about feeling under attack is that it makes people lash out and blame others and attack each other even harder.

The vibe in the office has been one of ever-growing hostility, sadness and despair over the last few weeks. Restructures are never easy, and I’ve been through several, but this one in particular feels somehow far worse than any we’ve gone through before. There is a bitterness and resentment that is slowly seeping into everyone’s consciousness, as if an evil villain has released some kind of toxic conflict vapour into the air.

I have been through my own rollercoaster of emotions, ultimately touching on all of the 5 stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance) when thinking about my job, and the prospect of losing it.

I have days when I accept that it is all out of my hands, and days when I feel angry and want to fight back. But I also realised that our senior management are bearing the brunt of everyone’s visceral anger and hatred and frustration. And I suddenly saw how tired and exhausted and worn down they all are. And then I remembered that despite being “management” and being the ones having to propose cuts to this team and that team, they are also just people, and I remembered that they are people I happen to like.

I have spent so much of the last few weeks joining in with all the panic and anger and sadness and bewilderment and confusion and defensiveness that I forgot that some of the colleagues I admire the most are also suffering the most.

So I decided to try a new tactic. Continue reading