August 15th...will always stay as a landmark day in my life. Nope- its not because its the day India gained freedom from the British..but was the day when I started as a Consultant in the confines of Portsmouth Hospitals Trust. Perhaps some Freudian irony there which I will fathom out someday but either way it's a red letter day for me. Every year since then, I have chosen this day to pause and do something I rarely do..i.e. look back. Its been 4 years and tomorrow I step into Year 5...and what a fantastic 4 years it has been. It's also somewhat weird that this is my 26th blog post- sort of moving into the second quarter- and what started as more of a vessel for eulogising personal thoughts has actually grown into something I have enjoyed. This has been "me"...cathartic, beyond the bravado, beyond the swagger, beyond the unflinching confidence...it's been more of a window to what I am..perhaps with a bit of the guard down.
So today was a day to look back. It doesn't feel like ages ago that I walked into that department...eager but slightly worried as to how I would be received in a unit where I had been a trainee for so long, done my research...would familiarity breed contempt? To begin with the colleagues who I had to start work with. Iain Cranston...the chap who had given me the first entry to Portsmouth back in 2003...a casual meeting in Winchester...I happened to meet a healthier version of Harry Potter..glasses, floppy hair, smiley face. This was at a time I had finished my locum training post in Bournemouth, was looking for an option- and increasingly thinking of going back to where I had done my SHO training days- Worcester. Not many encouraging words around either..and then I met Iain. 10 minutes later, I was asked to come to Portsmouth..it was a short term job but Iain was full of positivity...it was a "brilliant place to work"..so I gave it a go. And the very first day I met Darryl Meeking. In those days, his reputation was nothing short of legendary..a tough as nails Consultant who worked hard and played really hard...and at first glance, it was confirmed. A man came and robustly pumped my hand welcoming me to the unit...all smiles..but there was something odd...this man had a goatee and a few remnants of hair...dyed..I kid you not..lime-green! A quizzical look from me was followed by a story which involved a stag party, Swedish hair dressers...and with a bellow of laughter, he was off. Next up...Mike Cummings..in those days, he was only but a simple "Doctor"..but again..a hearty welcome and then came the big daddy of the unit, Professor Ken Shaw. I had heard about him and expected someone stern, professorial...but instead met a kind, genteel man who only had good words to say...for those of you have seen Kung Fu Panda...this was Master Shifu!!
And one thing stood out..which I hadn't seen anywhere else...this wasn't just simple colleagues working together...they were friends...they respected each other...and over the years, as I have come back to Portsmouth in different garbs, my wish to be a part of that had only increased. So it came to pass....
And it's been a fantastic ride so far. Yes, there's been a lot of pride in what our department has done, a lot of glory...but nothing would have been possible without the team I have been blessed to work with. Anywhere I look within the department, there have been fantastic individuals..Nurses, Admin staff, Dietitians...the Portsmouth Diabetes team have been blessed and the strength has laid in the sum of our parts.
Too many people to name them all...but I have listened, I have learnt and continue to be amazed by the dedication towards their craft and the singular minded dedication to help others. Jean, Lisa, Jo, Sarah,Sue, Jeanette Anita, Jane, Mandy...thank you all. Some fantastic folks have left such as Kate,Francesca, some others have joined- but the ethos hasn't changed..we work together, we get things better..together.Every single individual of our department has a place..when the HCSW in your clinic always makes it a point to ask whether you have had your lunch or want a coffee, the debate whether you have to go into a pitched battle with Trust management about their "hours" isn't a debate at all...its a given. So thank you Jan and Geraldine for making sure the physician is not forgetting the mantra of heal thyself. And then we have an administrative team..which to me is the perfect example of how folks in the background make a team tick. The Bradley Wiggins of the world may win the accolades..but that wouldn't happen without the physios, the trainers, the dietitians behind him...no different to us either.
So there you go. I don't say these enough...and my gruff nature perhaps doesn't portray that either. But I do appreciate, I do believe..and foremost I am thankful to have been given the chance to be part of this team. Ladies and gentlemen, it has been and continues to be a privilege.Humility doesn't come naturally..but once in a while, when I can let the swagger rest...all has been achieved because of the support I get from you all.
Tomorrow brings Year 5..and with it new challenges. Anything to regret? None whatsoever. You do what you do...and mulling over the possibilities of failure or regret is not what I do. I have made friends, lost few..but today is not about the negativity, not about remembering a minority of four who owed a lot, but forgot everything conveniently...Partha Kar neither forgives nor forgets ...however today is about the good times..today is about thanking the folks with whom I work.
Finally...the people for whom I do all this. Every single battle I have picked up..whether it be with PCTs, Hospital managers, HR personnel.. has been for only one reason...the desire to make sure patients are not compromised. Much more to do- but it gives me great pleasure to fight these battles..knowing its for the right reason, for the right cause. Someone recently asked me what being a clinical director meant..whether I worried about my reputation. The answer has been and will always been the same..being a "Manager" does not mean compromising your colleagues...and becoming unpopular in a bid to improve patient care is am occupational hazard I am willing to take- and in fact do so regularly. Challenges lie ahead..clearly we need to get our local amputation rate sorted, better care for our Type 1 patients...but have faith...I am trying..and we will get there.
Recently I watched the new Disney movie called "Brave"..at the end,princess Merida says "Some say fate is beyond our command, but I know better. Our destiny is within us. You just have to be brave enough to see it". It helped evoke a smile...and you know what...it couldn't be more true.
Bring on Year Five. The first four years have been good...but warm up time is over. It's time to play..if you fancy standing in my way...go on...I dare you.. :-)