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Heading off to the Glastonbury festival with the ‘Glasto Cowboys’ leaves Ultan Molloy with mixed feelings about the recovery process

It’s 6am and I’ve a half a dozen things to get sorted before the kids arise and start planning my schedule for me. They want to cycle to school this morning, which is great of

course. It’s another beautiful morning in the Costa del Galway, and I’ve forgotten what the usual relentless rain is like at this point. We’ve a crew of ‘young lads in tractors’ flying around the roads locally, so the kids doing the 2km to school on these country back roads is still a couple of years off. It’s not just said ‘young lads’, to be fair. Most people move at a speed around the area that would have been unheard of in times past. What’s the rush? Stuff to be done, stuff to be done! That’s just life, isn’t it. The country rat- race is determined by mindset though. Hard to shake it off. So much to be done. A friend described me as a ‘human doing’ rather than a ‘human being’ some time back, and having reduced work commitments, it’s still really difficult to stop doing, and just start being a bit more present.

I’m last-minute with this piece for Pat, my very patient Editor, which isn’t unusual. I head to England today to the Glastonbury Music Festival. I’ve been a few times before, but not in the last few years. After a run of 3am finishes with visitors, and being up with kids, I have mixed feelings about going ‘pre- exhausted’. A sleeping and meditation holiday would probably serve me better. It wouldn’t be as much craic, of course. So, I’ve an exercise in self-management, self-preservation and self-restraint ahead of me in the coming days. Laura will have the pleasure of solo-parenting our three girls for the best part of a week while I’m away, having fun for myself, dressed up as a cowboy. “Cowboys Ted!” Not something I’m entirely comfortable with to be truthful, but the group of ‘Glasto Cowboys’ I’m travelling with do this fancy dress thing every year. I’ll bring some non-cowboy clothes as a fall- back plan, and see how I get on! I’m just not comfortable with the attention the outfit brings, but anyway. We’ll see. It’s looking mainly sunny too — makes all the difference. After my last two visits involving plodding around in the rain and mud, I swore I’d never attend again. Rolled the dice this year however when friends got me a ticket, so fingers crossed!

I’m delighted to have some other local friends going this year too. The Saw Doctors are playing the Friday night, and Bird on a Wire on the Sunday afternoon, with the crew nearly all living around the Headford and Tuam areas. We’re blessed with some fantastic musicians in this area. I’m so delighted that they’re getting a shot at a festival this size. Second time, at least for the Docs, mind you. I’m back playing bass for the last few months for some festival gigs, so I feel more qualified to rub shoulders with these fantastic bohemian characters again after several years of absence.

So, it’s going to be fairly full-on, and I’m sure Laura will understand my need for some ‘down time’ when I get back.
Not! Deserting her and the kids for nearly a week leaves me with mixed feelings, including carrying some guilt around how sensible an idea this is in the first place.
I need to say ‘thank you’ more. It’s not everyone who has someone in their corner prepared to be so supportive and selfless.

So, what’s happening in pharmacy at the moment? Our pay ‘restoration’ campaign is tipping along. I have zero trust in Stephen Donnelly, mind you, to show any vision, spectacular or otherwise, for using our community pharmacy resource. He has form as a self-assured slippery character, lacking integrity and offering platitudes rather than substance, foresight, action and support. I’m trusting our IPU colleagues are working away in the background, and that I’ll be pleasantly surprised after our contractual review. We’ll see.

Our team deserve a pay rise given their work and commitment, and I’m concerned about how we’ll manage
that from a business perspective. Lidl is paying up to €16 per hour for people packing shelves and working the tills, which I have done myself in the past, and this sets a relatively high bar for staff that may not have any particular qualification. We need to stay ahead of what’s fair to our workforce, many of whom have qualifications and a lot of experience caring for patients in our primary healthcare settings, while still needing to balance the books. While I’m delighted that they’re rightly coming in, pensions and sick leave will need to be worked into our figures over the coming years also. Don’t you just love how announcements around these things by politicians are presented as a gift from Government, when we, as employers, are left footing the bill!

I’ve a practice review at the end of the summer, which I’m presently putting out of my head. I’ll have some work to do for it, and I honestly don’t mind, as I could do with a refresher on my practice as a pharmacist, however poor these are at modelling our day-to-day experience at the counter, and in our dispensaries.

To gain knowledge, add things. “To gain wisdom, take things away” I read last week some place. Applying this principle to the ever-increasing demands on our professional role could be helpful. Not much of it is in our control really though, is it? We’ll be told what was important, after the fact, when patients start getting hurt because a pharmacist counselled them so intensively as per our ‘duty of care’ and expected at our OSCEs, that we didn’t know what was most important to remember. We learn in school and in college that one’s presentation to
a group must have just one key point. One, not three, or 10. Yet, apparently, we’re expected to bombard patients
with information and questions so as to ’empower’ them. Confuse them, more like. I’ve some work to do myself to refine a pragmatic and effective approach. Not over this coming week though!
So, I’ve some ‘Children at Play’ signs bought to put up around these back roads of Headford when I get back. Hopefully it’ll encourage us all to slow down a little when driving them. It might even encourage some of us to slow down a little when not driving them.

Ultan Molloy is a business and professional performance coach, pharmacist, facilitator, and development specialist. He works with other pharmacists, business owners, and third parties to develop business strategies. Ultan can be contacted on 086 1693343.