Monday, January 30, 2006

Feeling tired

I went home for a visit this weekend (old and dodgy internet connection at home, hence lack of posts). I had a good time but I was desperate not to come back to Birmingham. Desperate. I haven’t felt like this for a long time. Since the first year really, when I was very homesick. It’s horrible. Really rubbish. I just want to leave Birmingham, leave this life and do something else. Anything else. I can't do the studying and exams anymore, because it is crushing me.

I am 21 and I want out of the rat race. I am only half way through my medical degree and so far away from being anything or anywhere I want to be. I am tired, not in body but in mind.

(I published this, read it and realised it had far too many mistakes to inflict upon anyone, so went back immediately and actually read it. I apologise for any that remain, my brain is scrambled)

Thursday, January 26, 2006


Funny old thing families, aren’t they? I’ve been thinking it about today after seeing a brilliant Beeb documentary on adopting abroad. And also because my Mum and Nan are well...not exactly arguing, not exactly ignoring each other, but things are a little…frosty between them.

It isn’t my Mum – its my Nan. I’m really cross with her, but haven’t plucked up the courage to tell her how much she’s upset Mum. Neither has Mum told her. It’s a very long story that I won’t bore you with, but it boils down to the fact that my Nan thinks my uncle (my Mum’s eldest brother) is God’s gift and lets him, even encourages him, in walking all over my mother. He doesn’t pay her the smallest courtesy and takes complete advantage at all family occasions. And he’s also a bastard, but that’s my point of view. Anyway, my Mum cracked this Christmas after he stamped all over her and my Nan took his side. Which is why we’re (me, my rents and my bro and sis) going to New Zealand for Christmas next year. Hurrah! I’m pleased because its during my holiday, and Mum is pleased because for the first time since she got married 25 years ago, someone else in the family will cook Christmas dinner.

The adoption stories in the doc I watched tonight were all so moving. I really want to be a mother, and I am terrified of infertility. If I can’t have my own kids I am not sure what I will do. I don’t like the idea of going through IVF, but I am not in the situation of making that decision so I can’t tell you. I think I would probably adopt, but I don’t know. I guess nothing is the same as having your own.

At Brum, medics of all years spend one day a fortnight out at a GP practice. This year one of our main topics is Paediatrics. It’s all about finding out about normal child development. I have two babies, Ava and Zeke. They are both sooooooo beautiful and I get very broody. I saw Ava last Friday, and she babbled and cooed and giggled the whole time. She has the biggest bluest eyes and the longest dark eyelashes, and she is just perfect. Its makes me desperate for one of my own. Though not right now – that would definitely bugger the degree!

Monday, January 23, 2006


I have music in my soul.

Now, when most people say that what they mean is they like music. Maybe really like, maybe actually love. But for me it’s different. I have music in my soul.

Today I sang for the Archdeacon at my church. It was Elgar’s Ave Verum, and I sang the solo sop part. We also sang some great hymns. And tonight I went to a gig – the Bedouin Sound Clash at the Birmingham Academy (it was interesting – loved some of the stuff, but was annoyed the pseudopolitical message and the serious overuse of the echo pedal for the vocals. I did have fun tho, and the support guy – a reggae artist – was wicked).

But all that is just enjoying music, which I do, a lot. And yet sometimes it’s more than that. The right music touches me in way that is almost indescribable. It sends a quivering tingle across the skin of my entire body, gives me a delicious swinchy feeling (yes thats a made up word but it sounds the feeling) inside and even, ahem, makes my nipples erect (I only put that one in because it proves that it’s physical and not mental). It’s not a sexual feeling either. It is just amazing, and wonderful, like light filling me up and running up and down my limbs. Sadly, it's not necessarily reproducible. I can’t listen to a piece of music and think, right, I will get the feeling with this one. It doesn’t work like that, even if the feeling has been there before. It occurs with certain chord sequences I think – but I can’t think about it to much or the thinking destroys the sensation. It is linked to a complete submersion of myself in the music – just enjoying it, and that happens mostly when I am singing. I do know what pieces are more likely to induce it though, and I give myself to them with greater ease than others.

The first time I remember it happening was when I was 16 and on holiday in Spain with my parents. I was listening to Elgar’s Nimrod from Enigma Variations, while lying naked under a sheet with the moonlight streaming through the open window. It was silent in the villa except the quiet throb of cicadas from outside, and I was completely and utterly relaxed and absorbed and I just remember being swept away by this feeling of joy and light.

I get the feeling with many different bits of music, but hymns often invoke the feeling. I don’t know if it’s because they’re simple – to my shame, it is simple, obvious songs that do the ‘right thing’ that most invoke it. Songs that feel as though you know them. I have a deep and profound sense of music that feels right. Complicated music can sound great, and I can really enjoy it, but never in the same profound sense as something simple. Simple hymns are the most likely to open me up in this way.

And therein lies the dilemma. Is it God? Is it God reaching out to me and touching my soul through music? It’s such a strange and deep reaction and part of me desperately wants this to be true. Imagine, a direct experience of God. It does feel like a wonderful touch, an opening of my soul. In that moment I am one with the music, I am there. If I believed it to be the touch of God, then so many of my religious doubts would disappear.

But I also know there is a condition where people feel external stimuli in other modalities – like hearing colours and seeing sound. Is that what this is? Do I feel sound? Or am I medicalising a wonderful gift?

How do I know the truth?

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Confused? You will be

I started writing a really deep post on death for today. I thought it was good – maybe one day I’ll finish it! But then I thought I shouldn’t just write really deep stuff here – I should write my stuff.

After all, this blog is about me right?

So maybe I should put in that I went and got smashed last night, and did the works – crying, laughing, fighting with my housemate. It was great! And write that even though I love going out with my girrrrrrrlfriends I really would like a boy to take me out instead.

And to confess that I am considered as deep as a puddle by my friends here in Brum. To be honest, it’s a view I encourage. I always tell people I’m shallow, because then no-one expects you to share emotional insight! I think that is my problem. I’m not very good at sharing…which is why I am using this blog as ‘deposit box’ for my (rare) deep thoughts. Because if I left them in my head I might put them down somewhere and forget which pile of junk they’re under, or they might be frightened into submission by the frivolous thoughts, in their ra-ra skirts and high heels.

Hmmm, its all getting a leeeetle bit surreal. So me thinks I should stop and get some sleep.

So to clarify:

1. I will deposit my deep thoughts here, a la Dumbledore and the pensieve

2. I will also talk about my live as I am living it

3. I won’t be too serious (that’s not very me) but equally I will try not to scare anyone.

Look, give me a break. I’ve only just started doing this and I’m trying to work out my style – d and m (deep and meaningful) or funny and frivolous. Maybe one day I’ll even get there!

Friday, January 20, 2006

Nothing to say

Well, today has been a nothing day. Nothing has happened, and I have done nothing. So that is all I have to say.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

I wish I was Peter Pan

Oops, sorry about yesterday's rant. I just had to get it out. Dr Smooth had really upset me - think he caught me on a bad day. I just felt like crap. I've being feeling the need to vent for a while, and I love reading other people's blogs, so I decided to put it together and take the plunge. I'm been thinking about it for a while, and even did one post in the summer, but I'm just gonna go for it now.

However, this blog is not for the eyes of anyone who actually knows me. This is for self-gratification. I don't want my friends and family to read it - cos then I couldn't write from me, I would write what I thought they wanted to read...

Um, guess I ought to put a brief introduction to me. My name is not something I'm prepared to divulge, but Anna will do for now, so call me that. That sounds worse than I meant it too! I actually really like the name Anna, and I think it will do very well for a alter ego.

Right now, I'm a third year medical student at the University of Birmingham, and I'm on placement at a large inner city hospital. I live in Birmingham with two very good friends from halls in the first year. I was born and brought up in Sussex, and my rents and little sister still live there. My little bro is in his first year at Stafford Uni doing a techie music degree (he's clearly a basket weaver).

That's the main stuff, I'll explain the rest as I go.

The most significant event of today was that I found out that my Dad is getting £5000 for a holiday from the outgoing directors of his company. And my Dad was ringing to check if any of my holidays match up to the times when normal people (like my brother and sister...ish) are on holiday so that we can go on a fabulous holiday as a family. I haven't been on a family holiday since 2002, when we all went to Devon. It was interesting... and I'm glad that I haven't been on one since. However, I think since that last holiday we've all grown up a bit - especially my brother - and I kind of feel like I would like one last family holiday before I properly grow up and join the real world. You know, get a job and mortgage and stuff.

But my holidays (stupid medical degree) are all wrong, and
it looks as though I'm gonna have to stay here in Brum working while they go on a fabulous holiday. Like a proper grown up.

I don't want to be a grown up. There's so much responsibility and you have to be happy for other people when all you want to do is shout and scream and stamp your feet. It's not fair. I want to go on holiday. They're thinking about New's soooooo not fair!

Well, life isn't fair. And I suppose that I should remember the patient who I saw today. A lovely man, with an Staph aureus abscess in his neck that's slowly growing. Its invading the bones and compressing his spinal cord, despite huge antibiotic doses. Soon it will paralyse him, and then it will kill him. And he doesn't know yet... No-one has told him that this abscess will kill him. No-one has told him he isn't going home anytime soon. He's desperate to go home to his wife, and is sure that if he puts the effort in he'll get better. Sadly, he will probably only go home to die.

Thats why I don't want to get old. Because I am afraid of dying. I am afraid to leave behind the people I love, and I don't want to miss anything. Once I am a grown up, its a down hill slope. From here on in, everyday is a step closer to the end. That's why I don't think Peter Pan would have said 'to die would be an awfully big adventure'. He was a boy afraid to live - imagine how scared he would be to die!

I guess the only thing for me to do is to grasp life with both hands. To enjoy every minute, to always know that it could be taken at any time, but that it is mine and mine alone while I am here. Dying scares me, but not living scares me more.

Compared to that, not going on holiday is a small thing.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Being Enough

Do you ever feel like you’ll just never be good enough?

That’s how I feel today. My new firm leader, Dr Smooth, is a mostly decent bloke. He’s moderately friendly, in a professional way, a bit more friendly with the nursing staff (especially young female staff) and good with patients. Unfortunately, he thinks teaching by humiliation is a good idea.

I don’t agree.

Humiliation is not a good way to learn. It does not create a good atmosphere for learning, it does not encourage the student, it does not encourage honest and open communication between the teacher and the taught.

Dr Smooth asked me to do a cardiovascular exam. I’m the first to admit that I was all over the place. But instead of gently correcting me, leading me to the answer, putting me at my ease to encourage me to give my best, to make mistakes safe in the knowledge that I could, he turned it into was a ritual grilling. He ripped me apart in front of the patient and my peers. My willingness to try and to learn was rapidly replaced by cold fear. Adrenaline pushed its icy fingers in my heart, my pulse thundered, my mouth dried, and my brain solidified.

The second part of his teaching was good – he showed us what signs we should have felt and heard and demonstrated them, letting us have another ‘go’. This is great because I’ve never felt or heard the signs we saw today, and it’s bloody difficult to find them if you’ve only read them in a text book!

But another part of me died today.

Learning to be a doctor is slowly destroying parts of me. Some of I know that I have to lose as part of growing up, and that it’s a good thing even if it hurts. But others I don’t want to lose. I feel as though I am being suffocated, flattened, forced to be something I am not. And its something I don’t want to be. I am losing my joy in medicine – the relentless humiliation and pressure are squeezing out the pleasure.

My creativity and individuality are being lost, my fun and genuine pleasure in medicine are being lost. I am becoming apathetic and unmoved by anything. I just don’t care anymore – anything for a quiet life.

I am becoming something I hate and I can’t see anyway to stop it.