Tag Archives: microbiology

“Putting your job into perspective”

My baby daughter recently had open heart surgery at just two weeks of age, to repair a serious congenital heart defect (Tetralogy of Fallot). She was desperately sick in the days leading up to the surgery, and required several weeks of convalescence afterwards.

They don’t like doing open heart surgery at such a young age, but decided that this was the lesser of the evils…

On the day of the surgery she was really struggling, despite being in intensive care on maximal therapy. I never thought I would be glad to see my daughter wheeled off to theatre to be put on cardiac bypass.

Fortunately everything went well, and she is now 10 weeks old. She is doing all the things that 10 week old babies should be doing. Except for the scar on her chest, you would not even know what she has been through.

She is, quite literally, a little miracle.

Now things are getting back to normal. I am back at work, and able to think clearly again.

During the long days and nights in the neonatal intensive care unit, my microbiology job was the furthest thing from my mind.

But the whole experience has helped me put my job, and to a large extent my career into perspective.

And I am very aware that my family and I are not the only ones who have been through the emotional wringer. Most people have had major life events at some time or other; bereavements, births, severe illness, redundancy, divorce, etc., etc.

We all have our struggles…

So in future, whenever my workload is starting to feel heavy, I will think to myself “Compared to recent events in life, this is a walk in the park.”

And whenever I am asked to take on extra responsibilities, I will think to myself “I have a young baby to look after and care for. What work responsibilities can possibly be greater than that?”

And if I need to take the odd risk in order to develop and progress the microbiology department that I work in, I will think to myself “This is not a life or death situation. What is the worst that can happen…?”

Sometimes our mind plays tricks with us with regards to the challenges we face at work, to the degree that they start to become stressful and all encompassing.

When work life gets tough, then reflect on your other life, the more important one, and put your job into perspective. 


“Back to the Coalface”


I have just returned from a 5 week road trip across the USA with my wife and 5 children. What a trip! Lots of adventures were had. Sure, it was tiring and stressful on occasion (we got lost several times), but never dull. We saw a lot of places, experienced many different landscapes, and encountered lots of different people, the whole spectrum of American society. 

And at the end there was a nice sense of achievement in getting everybody across the country in one piece!

It was great to experience all the different cultures, the small towns (mostly pro-Trump!), the big cities, and the native Indian settlements, all interesting in their own way.

But the biggest culture shock of all has been coming back to work!

Back to my cubicle, back to signing out wound swabs, back to phone calls about multi-resistant urines, back to laboratory politics, back to emails and meetings….

It all seems a bit mundane after the US. Hopefully the motivation will come back in due course.

And who knows, I might even write about microbiology in my next post!



“The Sick Microbiologist”


It has been a tough couple of weeks, as I have been suffering from a nasty viral infection. I have been teetering for several days along the borderline between being able to work or staying in bed. Rightly or wrongly, I have been struggling into the lab, and for that I thank (or blame) my parents for instilling a strong work ethic in me.

Nevertheless it has very much been a case of energy conservation over the past couple of weeks. To facilitate this I have been doing the following:

  • Taking long coffee and lunch breaks. Getting out of the micro lab early.
  • Keeping the number and content of emails to an absolute minimum.
  • Ruthlessly declining all options and requests for ‘voluntary’ work/projects.
  • Keeping a low profile (for infection control reasons!)

And funnily enough, despite my compromised health, I have been keeping up, and quite easily as well.

It is amazing that we manage to ‘squeeze’ into an 8 hour working day what we should really be doing in 3 or 4, maybe even less…

Maybe I need to be sick more often…