Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Orientated in time, place...person?

I am struggling with psychiatry. I would so far as to say I hate it.

I am not comfortable around the floridly psychotic (my own prejudices I know, but I seem to be lacking the effort to needed to get round them) and most of our in-patients have such incredibly sad life stories, that I can completely understand why they have a psychiatric disorder. But it is so hard to help them, because for most, the social situation causing/attributing to their disorder can’t be taken away by an SSRI. Or even clozapine. And I find that hard.

So it’s not you, psych, it’s me. I don’t fit, and I don’t want to fit. Psychiatry would destroy me, as I do not have the emotional or mental strength. In every specialty, I find the social factors of illness the hardest to deal with. I found elderly care very hard in that respect. I want to be a magical healer – people come into hospital, we make them ‘better’, then they go away and live a perfect live, happy and whole. But life isn’t like that. And I struggle with that.

I’ve noticed myself developing certain coping mechanisms. They are not pretty. Joking about madness, joking about sucide, joking about patient stories. Nor pretty, not fair. But necessary?

Is medicine turning me into an insensitive machine? Or are these mechanisms the only way to get through intact?

I am constantly trying to balance the two sides. The side that is the ‘doctor’ part – able to detach, black humoured, removed from patient sensibilities and feeling. My friends and family spot this side. Other med students see it as normal. And the other side of myself, the side that feels and empathises, that is floundering. Has been for a long time. It is still spotted though – in my block, I am quite well known as the ‘fluffy’ one. Because I like people, not just diagnoses.

So anyway, I am finding this block hard. Maybe I will find a good place to balance psych from, and I will be able to go back to my happy little place of pottering along. I don’t like being stretched, having to engage my brain into finding out what I am and why I am here.

If you want to read someone much more eloquent than me on the subject of what becoming a doctor means losing of yourself, go read Garbage’s blog. He’s just qualified as a doc and is threatening to delete the lot. So read it now, before it’s gone. I promise it will make you think...

Currently eating: those damn shrimp and banana sweeties again. Yup, that's how bad it is.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Good and Bad

I guess that the last few weeks have been hard. I am not enjoying psychiatry, and my fragile faith in medicine is suffering. And I am tired – we’re coming to the end of a double-block, I have a great deal of work, I have many concert and the like, and I have taken on much socialising. Yes, the last is entirely my own fault…

Good things are happening though. I have joined another choir – the medschool Chamber Choir, composed of members who are a little more serious about the singing malarkey. It looks as though it will be very good… Christmas and the holidays are very close. I have lots of lovely concerts and services to do, and I’ve cracked the Christmas Song (you know, Nat King Cole and ‘Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…’ - that’s the solo I’m singing in the Medchoir Concerts). My mum is coming up next Saturday to go round the German market in town, and take me to lunch (yay!).

But bad things too: Christmas is so close and there are so many things to do. Elective protocol must be handed in, pysch exams (MCQ and OSCE – eeek) to pass, poster project abstracts to be written. Plus present shopping to be done, programmes to be confirmed, written and printed. Rehearsals to organise and attend. And the huge black cloud in my skull dug out and put somewhere else.

Despite this, I had a great evening last night. We had housemeal (Morrocan stew thingy, fruit salad) with all housemates plus two ‘extras’ – Sally’s boyf Dave and Sylvia’s boyf Mark then off the pub. On our return from said public house, we got down to the serious business of the evening: painting the giant canvas sitting in our living room. It is now a fabulous abstract delight of tissue, paint and glitter in a delightful array of warm colours. (I tried again to put a piccie on here, we’ll see if it works!)

<img src="http://i92.photobucket.com/albums/l19/beingenough/121_2132.jpg">

Currently watching: well, not exactly currently, but I watched Little Women this evening with Mirabelle and Sally, and cried buckets. Love that film.

Friday, November 24, 2006

I'm still here

Just about anyway. Hanging on by my finger nails….

And no it wasn’t that the burnt on rice pudding sent me to my bed for 2 weeks. Honestly, Marysienka and Tallmedstudent, I have got a life. Sort of. Alright, so I ain’t one of the kool kids, but I’m doing my best!

Ok, I have five minutes, so here’s a wee update (and I promise that I will post something of worth at the weekend):

1. I am intensely busy right now – only had one evening in this week. And I’ve got so much work than I have lost sight of Christmas.

2. I hate psychiatry.

3. Speed dating is so much fun. All single people should go!

4. Daniel Craig is HOT. Go see the Bond movie - and take a bucket for your drool, ladies!

5. I haven’t been updating and I haven’t been reading/commenting. I was blog free for two whole weeks. It feels like so much longer! Not sure if that’s good or bad.

6. Um that’s it…it’s 1am and I have to get some sleep tonight! Got a psych ward round to sit through in the morning – I need to be well rested or I’ll nod off…

Monday, November 06, 2006

Kitchen Drama

I am so sad tonight.

I burnt my rice pudding.

You feel my pain, I know. I made the pudding, put it in the oven, settled in to watch the X Factor reruns (and the McBoring Brothers are still in. How? Who is actually voting for them?). And when I went to get it out, the skin was blackened and the whole kitchen stank of ‘burnt’. That horrible acrid smell that lingers and lingers… I carefully levered off the crisp skin and found a stuck and dry pudding underneath. The top and middle were edible, but the bottom and sides are going to need serious elbow grease tomorrow to scrape them off, after soaking overnight. Sigh. Anyway, I managed to rescue a bowlful, and it was ok, but not the creamy silky sticky delight I was hoping for.

In short, the whole episode damn near broke my heart.

Friday, November 03, 2006


We have power!

I feel like a whole person once again, reattached to my precious laptop. And so here is my update:

I can hardly believe it, but my 6 week block in anaesthetics, respiratory and intensive care mdeicine ends tomorrow. Where does time go? I’ve really enjoyed the practical aspects of anaesthetics and intensive care – cannulating, intubating, even bagging! I haven’t enjoyed dredging the dark depths of my mind to find (to attempt to find…) important bits of physiology and put them together to make sense of a patient’s situation and treatment. Hard, but intellectually challenging, and I love a challenge. However, I did not love today’s final tutorial, lasting 3 hours and 30 minutes. That’s 6 of us being grilled by a consultant anaesthetist on renal support, 2 ‘virtual’ cases and a formative MCQ. My brain was melting out of my ears by the time we finished!

I’ve also made a really good friend on this block, a girl named Lily. We get on like a house on fire, and she’s even joined the choir!

2. Halloween
I finished the costume. Wire frame, paper mache, primer, acrylics. It was so much fun and was definitely the most infamous costume in Birmingham. Everyone seemed to have heard about my pumpkin. And it was pretty damn cool, even if I say so myself! I took him (I named the pumpkin Algernon, Algy to his friends) to the Lickey Hills on Tuesday night, with the wilderness medicine society. They’re all terribly outdoorsy, and Lily had persuaded me to go. She was then a very rubbish no show (apparently, having your shoulder ligaments arthroscopically screwed back to your bones and a rotator cuff repair at the same time 10 days ago means you shouldn’t go out running around the woods in the dark. Whatever). I dragged my housemates Sylvia and Di out too, and we headed off, thinking it would be light hearted fun.

But when we stepped off the train, we were handed a map and a compass and told to set off… I don’t know how to use a compass…

I discovered that 1) paper mache pumpkins with lights inside make good torches to read maps by 2) my night vision is pretty good 3) my sense of direction is even better, as well as my memory for places I’ve been once before, about 2 months ago, in daylight.

In the end, I had a spiffing time, but it was a bit dodgy in places!

3. Speed dating…
No joke, me and a bunch of friends (including Lily and my housemate Di) are actually going speed dating next week. I think it’s going to be hilarious – probably in a really excruciating way, but never mind eh, will provide me with good fodder for diner party stories! Expect a full post on it after the event…

Currently listening to: The Gift of Music, by John Rutter. I love his version of ‘Be thou my vision’. It’s already one of my favourite hymns, and that arrangement is particularly lovely.

PS Does anyone have any good ideas for interesting conversation starters for speed dating? I have four minutes with each guy. Eeeeek!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Still cable-less. Sigh.

Still no power cable. I had no idea how attached I was to my laptop until the gods of electronics saw fit to take it away from me. But hopefully, as I sit in hospital typing this, a brand spanking new cable is sitting at home, delivered this morning by the postman. And I will be soon connected to the world once more, via the medium of the internet.
Tomorrow I am planning an evening in avec said latop (ah, my love, together again!) and an update post, that actually says something meaningful about what I am doing, not what I am feeling… That is, all about why I am stressed, not how stressed I am!