Saturday, 28 April 2012

Do I want to write this?

I usually keep private and work net presence clearly separated. This one is different but I decided to post it as I couldnt' get the testing mindset out of my private life and it may help. It also explains why I haven't blogged or been active in the testing scene in the last couple of months. Not that I think that needs explaining.

Germany/Wuppertal, December 2012, Intensive Care Unit. I browse through the notes the nurses left for the last two days, noting the structure of it to be easily recognisable for the next ICU nurse. It's easy to see at a glance what drugs and treatments the patient got in the last 24 hours. It has to be, any failure here could be fatal.

Looking at the syringes next to my fathers bed I wonder what they all are and take note of the names. He's been in a coma since before Christmas. Reading the drug names comes easy, I worked as a pharmaceutical research scientist for over a decade. Memories of that come back. At home I find that Ketamine is for disassociating the body from pain and that the street price has fallen over the last couple of years. For some reason that stuck with me. I read up on resuscitation, survival rates and the side effects like personality changes and brain disorders. I read a lot and educated myself but sometimes I learn things that I really don't want to know.

Beds, syringes, forms, power, gas supplies, room layout, etc are all standardized so that any nurse or doctor can take over where the last one left off. In an ICU that's of vital importance. Each shift has a 1 hour handover/scrum to brief  the next shift of what happened. I wonder what would happen if we were to do 1 hour handovers each day.  In my current line of work it's not that important to know exactly where the last person left of. It's useful but no one dies if you miss a piece of information.

Seeing that everyone working in the ICU absolutely has to know everything about each patient/project was an eye opener. Of course that comes at a cost. But in that context that cost is worth paying.
So how much is it worth in our projects that everyone knows everything about the project? How many people in the project have no idea what their colleagues are working on? Is that OK or is that acceptable? How is the risk covered that information goes missing?

I learned a lot more in these weeks. How to recognise if people make mistakes and where the system fails; who puts in more effort than the rest; for some nurses the relatives play a bigger part, for others the patient is the only important thing. Most are somewhere in between. I reckon that's the Manager in me making these observations.
The people who I think of as "best" without defining what I mean exactly all have a passion for what they're doing. They're not only knowledgeable but are emotionally involved. I can say the same about the testing scene or probably any other craft that people are working in.

Of course the "learning" during this time wasn't purely to do with this mindset. Most of it was on the emotional side as can be expected. I learned quite a bit about what my approach to thinking and learning is compared to my parents and what is self-learned. But watching myself making these observations was a convincing sign that I'm working in the right job.

My whole family spent Christmas in Germany (unplanned and at very short notice; 6 hours from getting the call to leaving for the airport with my wife, 8 year old son and all Christmas presents) while my father was in coma all the time. He woke up in January and I flew back to Germany to spend some time with him. He died in February.

You won't be forgotten.


  1. I offer my sympathies about the loss of your father.

    I was browsing blogs, and while I wasn't looking for information about your topic, I read your post. I like your writing style.

    1. Thank you, I appreciate it. Had a look at your blog and I need more time for it! Expect me back later.