Author Archives: Amie

All piled up!

One of the first things I was advised before commencing my PhD study was to create some study space at home.  Being enthusiastic I was very lucky and able to convert one of my rooms into a study/small lounge area. I was pleased that I had created the space that I needed with my computer in one area, I found a place to store my books, and put some nice cushions on my study settee so that I could be comfortable in those moments of ‘thought’ and when reading. I had my CD player in a corner, in case I needed some light music while I worked….. awe, all those good intentions before I started!

One year on I have transitioned into student life and seemed to have forgotten about my tranquil study area!  It was only recently when I realized the whole house had become my study!

The realization came to fruition a couple of weeks ago, when I was getting in bed one night.  I always try and end my day on a positive note, so informed my husband about the best thing that had happened to me that day.  I then asked ‘what was the best thing about your day?’ and my husband replied ‘I can tell you what was not the best thing about my day…..you have now taken over the dining room with all of your books and papers’

Oops!! I went to sleep and when I awoke the next day, there it was, REALISATION, I had taken over the whole house. There was reading material and papers everywhere.

I had siblings and cystic fibrosis literature in the bedroom

Family centred care and qualitative research in the lounge

Several drafts of my research protocol in the dining room, lounge and bedroom.

A computer in the study, with policies and ethics documents dispersed everywhere. All my neat folders I had organized were just strewn. My laptop was in the lounge and my brain! I am not really sure where that was.

I had become so emersed in my work that I was gradually spreading it all over the place and my justification was …well I know exactly where everything is and forbid anyone to move anything.The comment from my husband was the last straw for him.  I had got the message. I needed to get organized, do some filing, tidy up the books and papers and give back the family home. I needed to retreat to the space I had originally created.

I have now begun to tidy up. The study is looking great, sometimes I am more comfortable in the main lounge and I do get restless when I am in one place.

So the new rules are:

Try and stick to the study space and if I do use another room, I must be organized and tidy everything away afterwards to that the PhD does not take over the house.

It is a good job my husband mentioned this to me when I had got to 12,000 words and not 80,000.

My Familiar Strange Day

Since beginning my PhD I seem to be viewing life through a different lens.  With my new awakening of curiosity, inquisitiveness and uncertainty (which I am told is normal!) Nothing is as it seems and the ‘familiar’ has become ‘strange.’

Today (Sunday) I woke up at 6am….and got up!! This is definitely not a familiar time for me and for those of you that know me well, I am not a morning person, so this was very strange.

I decided to book a holiday to Seville,

Reasons for holiday:

  • To provide myself with an incentive to work very hard over the next few weeks, to do lots of writing and then be rewarded with the holiday.
  • Seville I am told is an amazing place – lots of history and Tapas!
  • I want a holiday filled with discovery and to connect with part of my Spanish Ancestry because grandfather was part Spanish.

By 10 am the flights and hotel are all booked and I am feeling very excited and then curiosity seemed to take a hold of me.

My grandfather was called – Santiago Patricio Cubillo….I decided I would look up the family name Cubillo…I followed on with typing in my grandfather’s name into google search, to discover some familiar names staring at me on the screen.

Trinidad, Teresa, Maria and Ramona.  I recognised these as being the names my grandfather used to sing to me ….they were his sisters names!!

I always had a vision of his sisters living in Spain and I was not really sure when granddad moved to the UK, he had lived in Scotland before moving to Worsely near Manchester.  He would often talk about his sister’s.  I had never met them and as far as I was aware he had lost contact and just got on with his own life.

As I clicked on the names on the screen my world was opened, there it was staring me in the face – my family tree  – OMG! there are 1,186 people on the tree!

I clicked straight onto granddad – Santiago – to discover his parent’s names:

Gregorio Cubillo 1875 – 1938 born in Spain

Mary Walsh 1890 – 1973 born in Ayshire, Scotland.

They had 5 children

Maria De los Angeles Cubillo 1911-1984

Trinidad Jobita Cubillo 1914 – 1989

Teresa Ana Cubillo 1918 – 1991

Santiago Patricio Cubillo (my granddad) 1918 – 1996

Ramona Sepia Cubillo 1919 – 1937 (she had been a shop worker, she died of Pulmonary Tuberculosis age 18)

They were all born and brought up in Ayshire!  Trinidad moved to East Sussex.

I really did not know this!! All that time they were all in the UK and I never had the opportunity to meet them.

I searched further… I wanted to know more about the Spanish connection:

Gregorio’s father was called Santiago Cubillo born in Spain (?Seville) 1850 and his mother was Trinidad Contreras also born in 1850 in Spain, where they married in 1870, So my granddad was named after his grandfather.

Gregorio Cubillo moved to Scotland from Spain when he was 26 years old in 1901, he worked as an iron works labourer 1911, fireman at pit 1916 and a boiler fireman in 1919.  Gregorio and Mary Married in 1911 at St John’s church old Cumnock in Scotland.

I realised that my mum was named after Mary Walsh.

I then discovered that the 1911 census that took place in the year that Gregorio married Mary Walsh, was only released in 2011.  This additionally provided a snapshot of life in Scotland that was referred to as ‘an era of mass migration and urban overcrowding’.

I also found my grandmother’s family background on the tree of information. Wow, this was different from my normal have a cup of tea in bed, (brought by my lovely husband) and then get up!

The familiar was made strange today.   It made be think about many issues including communication and silence in families, the known and the unknown.

I now know I still do have the Spanish connection, a stronger Scottish connection than I realised and further connections in Cheshire!

Now I am left with many further wonderings and thirst for discovery surrounding the past, present and future.

…. The family research will go on…. Just like the curiosities surrounding family voice and siblings in my PhD study.

But there is one thing I know for sure..I will not be getting up at 6 am ever again, and I will definitely be going to Seville…. I need a holiday!!

Coming to know what I know – moving away from ‘false consciousness’

My PhD study is to research and gain insight into the needs of siblings of cystic fibrosis within the context of their family.  I had not really thought about how or why I had come to this choice of topic area until recently. On reflection, initially, perhaps my idea was just a taken for granted notion.  My choice of topic seemed to be a natural flow in my career journey and in moving towards becoming a researcher and gaining the appropriate training.

If anyone asked my reasons for my idea, I would answer that I had been reading the literature and noticed a gap that was worthy of further research.  I wanted to gain further information on the needs of siblings from their perspective of living with a brother or sister with a specific chronic illness.  My earlier idea was to focus on chronic illness and potentially concentrate on more than one recognised chronic disease.

Being keen to enhance my knowledge, I attended writing a PhD proposal study sessions in the school of nursing and midwifery, gaining support from a mentor and like-minded peers.  My draft proposal was formulated in readiness for consideration for admission on to the PhD study programme. 

It was during this preliminary phase that I was faced with a task of taking on board some challenging reading to enhance my development … and believe me, it was challenging!  I was led into new territory, perhaps what Donald Schon may refer to as ‘swampy lowlands’ – I was subjected to the experience of a new language, new concepts and wider considerations that would lead me to question and challenge my own thought processes.  As suggested by my mentor the reading certainly blew my mind.

It was at this point I had a sudden revelation – you could say this was my transition from ‘false consciousness’, to ‘consciousness’.  I needed to consider ‘self ‘as a researcher, to consider my own influence in that process.  You could say it was a moment of realistic ‘coming to know’ that my research idea may be sub consciously driven from my own personal and professional life experience.

In brief, I suffered from chronic illness as a child until I was 13 my sister was the sibling.  In later life the tables turned and my own sister became ill and unfortunately is no longer with us.  Being ill or being the sibling is something I can honestly say my sister and I never spoke about to each other as a child or as an adult, perhaps this part of our relationship was in the unsaid.  What I can say though is that for me this was a poignant time in my life that provided me with strength, resilience and determination. All of which I am told are necessary skills when doing a PhD.

As I recovered from my illness I took up my career in children’s nursing caring for children and young people and their families in acute and complex settings.  I later specialised in paediatric respiratory health, before moving into my post as a lecturer in children’s nursing.

Once enrolled onto the PhD programme I reconsidered my idea of chronic illness and narrowed my focus to cystic fibrosis, this area was more fitting with my respiratory experience.  I am now 6 months into my part time studies and my ideas are continually developing.

On reflection, I need to acknowledge that sub consciously I do think that my experiences are part of the scaffolding that has underpinned my research idea and my growth to date. Initially I thought this could be considered a weakness because of the personal element, but now having read autobiographical research chapters and auto ethnographic accounts of others I realise I have strengths that can provide me with a deeper level of understanding of influences and challenges in conducting my research with siblings and their families. It is important to have self – awareness within the research process and being reflexive will be an essential element in my work to ensure transparency in my project. 

Taking forward my research is no longer a taken for granted notion, it is part of my existential being!