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Showing posts from June, 2014

Talking about mental health

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Earlier in this blog I spoke about my experience of PTSD after a year of war-zone living.  I recovered thanks to a strong constitution, provision of the right friends and family at the right time and a community of faith.

Yesterday I found myself at the bedside of a young man, my friends' son, hospitalised following a heroin overdose after years of poor mental health and devastating alcohol dependency.  Despite his loving family, such complex needs and the power of addiction engender a sense of hopelessness and make recovery seem very far off.. Troubled after my visit and hurting for all involved, I was drawn to the Sunday evening worship at our local church.  This service provides a quiet space to reflect on the week just past and find strength for what lies ahead.

The chosen Bible passage,  Ezekiel chapter 34, seemed to speak directly into this difficult situation:
"I myself will look for my sheep... I will bring them back from that dark and disastrous day.  I will lead th…

Home but not yet over!

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The ICM Congress in Prague finished on Thursday and I have returned home for a brief weekend with my family whilst our twinned midwives from Nepal, Cambodia and Uganda visit Scotland, the north of England and Wales/Northern Ireland respectively, each to their own twinned countries.  I am enormously grateful to my RCM colleagues and some of our returned volunteer midwives for arranging both accommodation and clinical/academic visits for their twins, giving me a little window to share a sunny Sunday lunch with my extended family, walk my dog in the nearby nature reserve and catch up on some sleep.

It's hard to put into words what an amazing experience it was to be with over 3,000 midwives from across the world in Prague, to reunite with friends and colleagues from the past 30 years and to share this adventure with amazing midwives from the RCM and from our twinned countries.  At times I felt like a frazzled tour guide, making sure that everyone was where they needed to be at the ri…

Does your friend bite?

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Those of a certain age may remember Peter Sellers in the famous Pink Panther sketch 'Does your dog bite?' Does your dog bite? .  There are plenty of dogs here in Prague but thankfully none have bitten me.  However, I can't say the same about my midwifery friends!  A Ugandan midwife that I have come to know during my travels was so pleased to see me that she bit me after first giving me a bear hug and a very painful pinch.  A true sign of love apparently. I'm grateful to have been wearing a robust shirt so she didn't break my skin and realise that, however well-travelled, I still have much to learn about cross-cultural communication!
The story of my growing friendship with Florence (the biting midwife) provides a snapshot of what our twinning project is achieving in Uganda.  Florence is the Chair of the Midwifery Chapter of the Uganda Nurses and Midwives Union. Until recently the Union focused mostly on nurses and did not provide a voice for midwives.  Florence had …

Together in Prague: Moments in History

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Our Global Midwifery Twinning Project is linking midwifery associations in Uganda, Cambodia, Nepal and the UK. Yesterday was the first time all four associations had come together since the beginning of the project two years ago.
Gathering a day before the ICM Congress began, at a workshop facilitated by an external facilitator, we began the process of telling our stories, coming to a shared understanding of where we have come from, where we are now and where we would like to go together.
It was a beautiful and inspiring time, getting to know one another, listening to our partner associations talking about the successes and challenges of furthering the work of midwives where they are, crying and laughing together and sharing a meal.  I was especially grateful to the three RCM directors and our president who set aside the day, in the midst of this enormously busy time, to understand the project better and to deepen the relationships with our partners.  We will have a follow up workshop…