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Forgetting to remember

28 November 2015

It's 5am and I have been awake for 2 hours. I woke up initially when our cat was meowing incessantly at our bedroom door. She has since stopped (yes, I note the linguistic impossibility of something incessant stopping) but I'm still awake. This happens almost every night and at some point, it is going to break me. What is keeping me awake? Work, of course. I know it is not uncommon at all for a newly qualified nurse to be kept awake by things that didn't go well or things they forgot to do but I feel there is a much bigger issue here. It's about forgetting to tell people about the things I have or haven't done.

It isn't the fact that I didn't get to do that wound dressing today that keeps me awake. These things happen. It's the fact that it completely escaped my mind to hand it over to the next shift. It isn't that I didn't get round to doing the referral to the district nurse. It is the fact that I forgot to hand over that I didn't do it. Random once daily BMs on patients I didn't get to do: not a problem. Forgetting to tell the next shift I didn't get round to doing it: problem. Changed a patient's mattress and didn't get round to cleaning the faulty one: not a problem. Forgetting to tell the next shift that I just dumped the mattress somewhere, fully planning to clean it later: problem. Forgetting to write that patient's hairdresser appointment in the book: not a problem. Forgetting to tell the next shift they need to do it: problem.

Things like that happen every day, multiple times. I don't mind not getting work finished. I am more than happy to admit when I have simply planned my time wrong. Planning is something that can be learned with time. But remembering to finish things I started has always, always been a problem. And the issue with it is that when people discover the thing I have forgotten to do, it makes me look careless, forgetful and incompetent. Because there isn't a note on the mattress that says: "Marieke knows she forgot to clean this today, please don't think she thinks it is acceptable to just dump it in this corner". There in't a note on the lady's wound dressing that says: "Marieke knows she should have changed this today or at least told you it needs changing but she forgot." I think of what I would think if I constantly just found things someone else should have done or handed over and instead I am left to sort it out: it makes me wonder if they are competent and it makes me question if they have the right attitude for the job.

How can I make this better? I am taking my ADHD-meds more regularly than every before and I don't think there is anything more I can do in that regard. Not even sure any of that is ADHD-related. Lists do only part of the job. Because you only put on a list the things you remember to put on a list and things your brain feels are important enough to put on that list. It seems that I struggle to remember the peripheral things of the day. I didn't forget to change that dressing: I decided I didn't have time and that it would hold until tomorrow for the next shift. And at that moment, the task of doing the dressing went out of my head because my brain doesn't feel that handing that task over is actually still part of the task. So there is no mention anywhere of the dressing not being changed. Patient needs a new mattress urgently? Done. I put the old one aside to clean later because i was in the middle of something. But my brain feels the task (getting the new mattress) is now finished and completely forgets that 'aftermath' of the task.

I feel I am leaving a trail of half-finished things and little time bombs (of varying importance) behind. It is not relevant how important the thing I have forgotten is because what matters is the process of forgetting, the principle of just leaving things for others to discover. It would be weird to call work in the morning with a list of things I forgot to tell them. Because many of the things are not that important and it would probably just make me look weird and work-obsessed (which I am).

And so now here I am at 5.30am, writing this blog post just to get it out of my head. And part of me hopes that the person on the next shift reads this, so that I can make sure they know I am not just a lazy person who doesn't care. But also, a very large part of me wishes my cat would stop waking me up at 3am. Because there is nothing I can do it this time but lie awake and berate myself.
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