Saturday, December 22, 2007


It’s been a looooong week. But we’ve all made it, and now I am officially on holiday!

(Oh, yeah, and revising for surgery finals, which are in the 3rd week of January. Joys.)

This week was ENT week. Not so bad, not so good. I met some extremely interesting surgeons on placements, each with their own very special idiosyncrasies. Very very special in some cases…

I also baked 100 gingerbread stars, iced them and packaged them into little bags of 4 or 5, and handed them out to all and sundry. I love baking, and the gingerbread was shockingly easy and very tasty. The hardest part was stopping my housemates consuming them as they popped out the oven, warm and soft! They looked very pretty piped with white icing and bagged in cellophane with red ribbon.

Everyone I know went home today. Alright, maybe not everyone, but heading that way! It seems weird to me, because I know I’m not going til Sunday, and any earlier seems too early now. Pah, whatever, I’m just looking forward to the lie-in tomorrow!

PS I swam 80 lengths today and I feel great. I’m pretty proud of that.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Christmas take 1

Last night was our house Christmas meal, and it was spectacular. We had nibbly bits to start, then a mountain of roast chicken, roast potatoes and root vegetables, cabbage, stuffing, nut roast (two varieties!) and of course, sausages wrapped in bacon. Plus lashings of veggie gravy. Mmmmmm. Us being us, we followed it up with two separate pudding courses, a splendid chocolate torte made my yours truly and little tiny chocolate puds from M&S (the mini version of those delectable chocolate fondants from the very first of the iconic ads). The chocolate torte was a Delia recipe that is one of my mother’s standards. I’ve always loved it, and assumed it was tricky to make. It really wasn’t!

We rounded the whole thing off with a rather raucous game of Articulate. Raucous due to the consumption of several bottles of wine, some after dinner brandy and a few slugs of Bailey’s in coffees. Charades was also played, though it did become rather silly...

Oh, and there was Secret Santa-ing, and a rather brilliant present to the whole house from my dear mother, a tea towel reading thus:

I love it.

Monday, December 17, 2007

O, to have talent...

I spent this weekend in Gloucester, visiting old uni friends. It was a good weekend, although far far far too much alcohol was consumed on Saturday night. I am getting too old to cope with the hangovers...

Driving back today, the sun was setting. The countryside is very bleak right now, all stark bare trees and dull fields, and a clinging mist was settling in between the rolling hills. The sun hung low in the sky, enormously red and glowing, and I, sucker for beauty that I am, was enchanted. It was stunning. So stunning I was in danger of causing accident or injury to myself or others by constant rearview mirror gazing...

I wish I had the skills to capture that fleeting perfect moment. In poetry, in art, in a photograph. I am surrounded by beauty and I long for the ability to catch hold of it with both hands and make it stay.

One of my favourite beautiful things in Birmingham is the moonlight catching on the slate roofs of the terraces along my street. I love it - its such a sharp, clean, perfect silver. My friends often have to stand and admire the moonlight on the slate when walking with me after dark. None of them share my enthusiasm... Even though it is a frequent sight for me, everytime I wish there was someway to bottle the way the light falls and catches.

But I have no way to make the fall of light stay. The best I can do is to admire it with every bit of me everytime I am lucky enough to see it. And make everyone else around me appreciate it too!

Friday, December 14, 2007

The weather has been rather cold in the Midlands over the last few days, and the roads have been icy. The British don’t know how to drive on ice or in snow, born out by no less than 8 RTAs coming through the doors of A&E last night.

Traumas in A&E are weirdly calm. Everyone knows what they should be doing, and gets on with it. Apart from us medical students, who mostly stand around and look worried. Although the other student and I did get plum jobs last night – she was the runner, and I was chief gelofusine bag squeezer, a job I performed with remarkable aplomb. Until the radiographer arrived to do the trauma panel… All the nurses and doctors scarpered to hide behind the lead screen, which left the chief consultant, the anaethetist and me to fight out 2 lead aprons. I clearly lost and had to stand behind the radiographer, still squeezing my bag of fluid and worrying about my ovaries.

This particular patient was a pedestrian hit by a vehicle, and when he arrived that was all we knew about him. His patient labels were ‘Unknown Male’ with a DoB 1/1/1900. The management was complex and fast paced, with many possible problems discussed and/or treated, but he was stabilized after about an hour in resus. He then went to the CT scanner, where it turned out his brain was full of blood.

Unfortunately I never found out how he was doing today. I can’t imagine it was good…

That’s one of the sad things about being a medical student – you dip in and out of patient stories without being able to follow the whole. At most you are lucky enough to witness a single complete episode of a person’s life, but you will never understand the narrative running behind that episode.

I received an email today from one of my GP tutors, from the practice I was attached to last year. On the 6th December last year, I met a lovely lady, with some odd symptoms and an epigastric mass. She had a battery of tests and was diagnosed with myeloma and amyloidosis. My GP tutor kept me updated with her progress throughout the placement, but I left the practice in March this year. He emailed today to tell me she had passed away. She had lasted only a year after I met her, generally well with hypotensive episodes and an epigastric mass. I know the end of her story, but happened in between? Who loved her, who cared for her? Who cries for her now she is gone? What is left of her life still, here in this world?

if I believe in God, I am known… God will know me, even as I cannot know myself. If he has created me, then he has lived with me. He knows the nature of my temptations and the manner of my failing. So I am not alone. I have for my companion the creator of the world.

At the hour of my death I would wish to be 'Known unto God'.

~ Sebastian Faulks

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Ooooo New Shoes

The unrivalled thrill of encasing your feet in brand new gleaming leather, every wriggle of your toes creating the delicious squeak of shop fresh joy. The pleasure of peeling the labels off the soles, and trying them on with skirts and trousers and skinny jeans and finally pyjamas. Of tying the laces over and over to decide which length of loop is just so. And mostly of all revelling in the perfect arch of the sole to the heel, forcing your willing foot into the most sexy curve ever created by man for woman.

Who needs Christmas cheer when they can have shoe boot perfection?

Monday, December 10, 2007

All Sung Out

Do you know how many concerts I've done in the last week? FOUR. Four Christmas concerts... I think I may have peaked a whole 2 weeks before the big day itself.

I'm feeling stressed, tired and lacking in Christmas cheer.

I really really REALLY need a break.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

God of A&E

Today was a good day. A&E was rammed, and lots of the punters actually had a medical problem. Excellent start.

I began the day in trauma review clinic (always a favourite of mine, as every patients has an x-ray, and you know that imaging makes me all warm and fuzzy inside) with a consultant named Apollo. He took me and the other final year under his wing, and throughout the day kept grabbing us to see 'something interesting', including suturing, steroid injections for plantar fasciitis and aspiration of a reactive knee effusion. All jolly good stuff, but the best was yet to come.

In the middle of sorting blood cultures for a woman with suspected pyelonephritis, he barged in and marched us off to resus. Not very convenient, but we had no choice in the matter. He needed us NOW. And we soon saw why. In resus was a teenage boy, face screwed up in pain, with a very dodgy looking shoulder and a very worried looking mother. Apollo informed us he was going to perform Kocher's manoeuvre with the help of his glamourous assistant, a bewildered paramedic. I was designated hand-squeezee, and I did not expect it back the same shape.

Apollo took hold of his arm, did the required manoeuvre firmly and calmly, and two minutes later that boy's humeral head was sat back where it belonged, and he was gingerly moving it with a look of utter amazement. The relief from his mother was palpable, as the paramedic and us two medical students gazed on in awe and amazement. And my hand was still the same shape.

His mother must have been a true seer.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Well, what a week

This blog has missed neurology. Yes, last week I did my entire neuro block. In one week. Madness, isn't it? Sending 10 of us to a tertiary care centre for one week to learn everything there is to know about neuro. Needless to say, I feel I knew bugger all when we started, and only marginally more now. But, now I know how much stuff there actually is, I am considerably more worried about neuro.

Today I started a two week placement in A&E. Ooops, sorry, the 'Emergency Department'. So far, so so. I don't really like A&E, most ofthe patients aren't sick, they're just whingey. I loved the Surgical Assenssment Unit, becuase someA&E doc's already sorted out the dross from the genuinely sick, so you get to clerk patients with proper historys and good signs. Am I a bad person, for only wanting to see 'proper patients'?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

This week I am on GUM. That’s Genito-Urinary Medicine for the uninitiated. (Or willies and lady gardens, for my 13 year old sister).

It’s surprisingly ok. I mean, asking people all the nitty-gritty about their sex lives is not my top activity, but I can think of worse. Like scraping my eyeballs out with a spoon. It will always be worse for the patient – they have to answer the probing questions, and then lie back and have their intimate regions probed – so for that I can be grateful, and do my best to make it as easy as possible. Although so far I haven’t seen a single man who I felt sorry for. They’ve all been cheating bastards, and most of women I’ve seen have a cheating bastard at the root of their problems too.

I did have a very interesting conversation with my father about it all. He asked how my day had been, and I told him about sexual history taking. He then said ‘But it wasn’t you asking those questions, was it?’ He just doesn’t quite understand the whole ‘my daughter is going to be a doctor in 9 months’ thing. He’s going to have to change his whole view, because I’m his little girl, who he helps out of trouble, who’s now going to be a real professional. And being non-medical, the glamour surrounding doctors has never been shattered for him. You know what I mean, that view of the doctor being a wise and learned man, with great knowledge and compassion, the ability to save lives with half a biro, break bad news with a soft voice and kind eyes, to usher people into and out of life with the same elegant, aloof manner. Ha! As if it were like that… Sometimes I truly think that is what the patients expect, and it’s impossible. Sometimes I think we expect that of ourselves. That’s also impossible.

With my mother, the glamour didn’t last very long out of occupational therapy college… She and her colleagues consider most junior doctors (and some seniors!) to be totally incompetent. Which is a little harsh, because in reality we’re just doing our best in an impossible job.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

What if...?

Oh oh oh. Tom and I went out tonight, in the same group of friends. I was firstly pleased, because I know that for the last few months this group of friends has been split, depending on was organising, as to whether Tom or I (but never both) was invited along. But secondly I was scared, about seeing him. It turned out ok. Some dim dark corner of my heart still longs for him, but the sensible bit is able to stand away, and say ‘No, you absolutely deserve better.’

I just wish I could find better. I am so lonely and so frustrated. I have a huge amount of love sat waiting, waiting for someone to come along and say yes please, I’d like that. But no-one does.

In the last couple of weeks, two of my stalwart single friends have become halves of couples. And ridiculously happy with it. Will it ever be me? Will I ever have the chance to be crazy happy and wear the silly grin of love?

All of my life plans involve finding someone to share those plans with. Marriage, kids, building a house, I’m screwed if I am destined to be alone. I will have to rethink everything I’ve ever wanted.

How long do I wait before I change the Plan?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Busy Busy Me

Apologies for sporadic posting of late - I'm coming to the end of my surgery block, and it's all got a wee bit busy!

I had a fantastic but packed week on the surgical admissions unit last week, and really felt as though I'm beginning to get a grip on the job I'll be doing next year (fingers crossed, touching wood). I clerked patients and helped formulate management plans, took a million tubes of blood, wrote imaging forms and ran them to radiolgy, discovered the location of the blood bank to (literally) run urgent cross matches to, put in venflons and catheters (not at the same time...!), and even attended a bit of teaching. Phew.

It was a fast paced week, where I spent every day in SAU from 8am til 6pm, but I learnt a huge amount. Not about pathophysiology or aetiology, but about common presentations and the management of surgical patients. Invaluable.

This week I have been suffering with grumbling ill health. Yuk. And an attachment to Urology. Double yuk.

Oh, and the bloody boiler has packed in, and may not be fixed til Monday. Sigh.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


I finally finishes my foundation programme application form tonight, and then Mirabelle and I sat next to each of the sofa with our laptops and pressed submit together...


Mirabelle also bought me a box of Maltesers, becuase I spent well over an hour with her yesterday polishing her answers. Lily had sent me hers last week. I thought they were excellent - far better then mine could ever be. She then sent me a new set of answers, equally good, on Sunday, and another last night, again extremely good... She definitely needs to step away from the keyboard!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Filling in forms is not my forte

I've been trying to write a post about the stupid foundation programme applications for days now. But I cannot condense my myriad feelings enough to catch hold of them and pin them down.

And writing the answers to the stupid (insert expletive of choice) application form is sucking my brain out of my ears.

Fun fun fun time for us poor British final years.

(pssst want to know more about what I'm waffling on about? here's the official site

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


I am enjoying medicine.

OK, so I am not enjoying all the poo and vomit on my ward, nor am I enjoying trying to cram for my damn exams.

But the being a house officer bit, yeah, that’s okay. I like being useful – I like taking bloods, writing in patient notes on the ward round, finding obs charts and being trusted to interpret them, filling out radiology requests, clerking patients in pre-op clinics, chasing results, and most of all being part of a team that cares about and knows each and every patient.

So maybe it’s more than ok. Maybe it feels like the best job in the world, the only job I’ve ever seriously wanted. Maybe all of a sudden I’m excited about next year, ready to jump in and go for it! Maybe I’ve remembered that I want to be a doctor. And it’s an amazing, exhilarating and brilliant feeling. I don’t feel as though I’m going to fall flat on my face and never be able to do it – on the contrary, I think I’ll make a good job of being a foundation doctor. I’m still depressed about getting through this final year of my medical degree, the exams, the cramming, the fact learning; but I know now that this is what I want.


It’s about time.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Please don't ever let me down again

It shouldn't be allowed
Please don't ever make me frown again
You have shown me how
Please don't try to be my friend again
Because I don't want you, I don't want you now
I don't want you now

~kt tunstall

Monday, October 15, 2007

The reason I'm awake at 1am reading up on dyspepsia

Saw KT Tunstall at the Birmingham Academy tonight. She is the coolest person ever in the whole world. Unfortunately this means the reading I need to do for my 9am teaching must be done now. The joys of dyspepsia... And I have to leave the house at 7.20am to get to my 8am ward round.

Currently considering: maybe Radiology won't be such a brilliant career choice; I missed all the bloods I was supposed to do today and had to ask my SHO...

Still here

Thank goodness for the weekend is all I can say!

I survived last week, but now the next stretches in front of me with a million things to do, and none of them seem aimed at getting me through surgery...!

On the upside, I had some very good radiology teaching on Friday, and have decided that perhaps I should embrace my rather extreme excitment about imaging and go into radiology. I am the girl that LOVES plain film radiographs. And CTs. And MRI. And especially echocardiograms. Probably a goo idea if I don't get started on them... I think the main tipping point was my huge joy in demonstrating my grasp of Rigler's sign my fellow students, who were unmoved. I may need help.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Tits Up

I am such a mess this week...

It started last week, with end-of-holiday-back-to-hospital blues. Then there was the new block terror of not being able to get everything in. Followed the stress of not having quite finished my elective write-up due in tomorrow at 5pm. With the added discomfort of my odd uncomfortable and achy left arm kicking in every night to prevent me sleeping. Oh, and the job applications are up and its horrendous. Finally, to cap it all off, today I bumped into Tom for the first time since... well, the first time since he broke my heart.

That was horrendous. I'm based at the one of two hospital sites for surgery, and we travelled to the other this lunchtime for grand round (weekly big hospital meeting with presentations and free lunch!). As the speaker was about to start, in walked the medicine students, based at that site, with Tom in their midst. I didn't know he was placed there, and I was completely unprepared. Unprepared to see him, and unprepared for my stupid reaction. I couldn't believe how far it threw me. I thought I was almost back to normal, but seems not. Then I saw him again this evening, at a meeting in Medschool and neither of us knew what to do. I miss him terribly as a friend but quite clearly I cannot be friends with him right now. He just wants to be as far away as possible from me, he made that abundantly clear. He did admit he missed our friendship, but he doesn't want any mess or guilt, and knows the only way is to cut communication.

For my part, I just want to be free of him.

All in all its been a shitty week. I really want something good to happen, and soon. I'm a walking train wreck right now - liable to burst into tears, snappy and agressive, not coping with the workload.

Thank goodness I can take tomorrow as a study day, finish my essay in my pjs then have a nice stroll to Medschool to print and hand in. And maybe claw back a little sanity. I hope, I hope...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Let's go round again!

I started my surgery block on Monday. I’m attached to an Upper GI ward in the big tertiary care teaching hospital in Birmingham. Which basically means all our patients have transferred from other hospitals and are really sick, with multiple problems. Ileostomies, colostomies, re-anastomoses, gastrectomies, oesophagectomies, multiple abdominal fistulae, Budd Chiari syndrome with TIPS, oh yes, we have them all. So do some of the patients… The team is pretty cool though, even if the consultant surgeons are very old school and relish grilling the medical students and then the house officers and then even the registrars on the ward round.

However, I’ve hit a definite wall, and I just don’t want to go on. This is a tough double block, surgery for 6 weeks, then another 6 week block called AGENDA – 1 week of GUM, ENT, Neuro and Dermatology, plus 2 weeks in the Emergency department. There is so much to learn in such a short time, I have no idea how I’m going to fit it all in. The work and then the dreaded surgery OSCE are looming terrifyingly large and close in front of me.

(Apparently all we need to know is in this book, which is an inch thick and cost £43. That’s a lot of cash for a lot of pages to get through in 6 weeks…)

On a brighter note, my Nan had her hysterectomy yesterday and all went well. Fingers crossed…

And on an extremely good note, I passed my Obs and Gynae and Paeds finals. Woop!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Random Thoughts

1) Why does salt come first in salt and pepper? Who made it so, and why does pepper and salt sound so, well, wrong? Poor poor pepper, doomed always to be second...

2) What is the point of stick insects? You can't play with them, you can'tcuddle them, you can't teach them clever tricks. They don't guard your house from strangers, they don't catch vermin. You can't even just watch them, becuase they don't do ANYTHING.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Spam up!

I'm at home this week, and it is tres bon to be here. Clothes being washed, meals being cooked, elective projects to write up... sigh. That's tomorrow's job. Lovely.

Tonight I went to see Spamalot, with Rachel my old housemate. It was fantastic - haven't giggled so much in weeks! Dear Rachel was the person who really introduced me to Monty Python, as she has ALL of their stuff on DVD. The Holy Grail is her fave, but mine is definitely the Life of Brian.

Very bizarre, veryBritish humour. You have to love it.

Saturday, September 29, 2007


The exams are over!

This weekend has been a very long time coming, and it's been lovely to do no work today and not feel guilty! I can say nothing more constructive about the exams other than they are over. We shall just have to wait for the results next Friday....

In other news, my mum told me today that my beloved Nan was diagnosed with a uterine sarcoma last week. Mum held off telling me until the exams were over, because she didn't want to add to my stress. It's a mixed Mullerian mesodermal tumour, or uterine carcinosarcoma, with a crap prognosis. I'm so worried about her. The thought of not having my Nan around any more frightens me.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Today I have been mostly chuckling at this.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

One down...

So the exam...

Well, it wasn't exactly good. I started with the Paeds section and was gobsmacked by the insanity of the questions. Obs and Gynae a little more as expected, but still not my idea of fun.

But still, life goes on, and I spent this afternoon 1) painting Lily's running vest for the Great North Run (she's raising money for the Anthony Nolan Trust, and yes I am on the register), 2) going for a wee run with Sylvia 3) practicing counselling cases with Di and 4) going out for dinner for a friend's farewell to Birmingham, as he's leaving to do a PhD at Cambridge this weekend.

Yeah, it got much better!

Monday, September 24, 2007

It all kicks off tomorrow...

First exam tomorrow morning - the Paeds MCQ and Obs and Gynae SAQ. Fun!

So of course today, I have been doing lots of revision and not messing about on the internet at all. Ahem. So I didn't find this at all. I think it's the most brilliant piece of 55 word fiction I've ever read. I love it.

Currently eating: emergency tub of Ben and Jerry's chocolate fudge brownie.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Still revising, but humour intact

Sylvia and I went for a run yesterday morning. We were both slopping around in our pjs at nearly lunchtime, and so decided to be dynamic before showering and getting on with the day. We've been running together for about 6 or 7 weeks now, but the last 2 have been poor... We don't go very far, but its nice to get out and get moving.

So anyway, we both threw on some clothes, scrapped back our hair and hit the street. As we were leaving the house, I was fretting about my VPL (visible panty line) as I put on some atrocious granny knickers under my jogging bottoms. Sylvia grinned slyly and announced that she had no such problem, as she 'wasn't wearing any pants'. And as I stared at her disbelievingly, she proceeded to prove it, by flashing me one bum cheek. In the street.

I mean, it was a very nicely bronzed and toned cheek, but at 11am in the street?!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Life ain't Grand

Still trying to revise. Still failing miserably.

(I’m really missing Tom today. It’s really beginning to piss me off. We have pretty much dropped our friendship, which I think is the only way I can stop being so hung up on him, but I do miss him).

Thursday, September 20, 2007

I'm sitting in the medschool common room, supposedly revising, but in reality just to bored of it.

I hate revision. I hate exams. Well, I guess I don't hate written exams, and MCQs even less, but I passionately fear and loathe clinical exams. And next week I have TWO. A viva on my Obs and Gynae cases, and a OSCE in Paeds. It's going to be awful.

On a lighter note, aren't patients amazingly speical sometimes. I saw a mother and her 3 children, aged between 1 year and 6 years in A&E today. The place where you take very sick children, ie after an Accident, or in an Emergency, the clue being in the title. These 3 children has sore throats. No fever, no cold symptoms, just sore throats. The mother had brought them in because they hadn't got better since seeing their GP. I asked when she had taken them to see the GP.

'This morning,' she replied.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007


I've spent the last two days in A&E (Accident and Emergency; ER) and it's been great. I've seen lots of acute but minor stuff, and had the chance to take histories and examine first, then present to the teraching fellow. The teaching fellow is great - we've had teaching based on every case. I feel much more confident in my approach to examining kids, which is fairly useful considering finals are next week...


Monday, September 17, 2007

Having Fun In Paediatrics

Hmm, distinctly lacking on the medical based posting recently...

I met the sweetest little girl today, on the renal dialysis unit. I was shadowing the play specialist attached to the unit, and had been to see a couple of other patients, learning precisely nothing. This girl was 11 years old, with learning difficulties. Her speech was quite poor, but her understanding pretty good, and she was BORED. She wanted someone to keep her occupied for the 4 hours she was hooked up to the haemodialysis machine, and was making a lot of noise about it. For hour no 3, I was the designated entertainment. I grabbed some felt pens and colouring pictures, and pulled up a chair next to her and the haemodialysis machine. She chose a picture and a pen, and the fun began! She was only allowed to move her left arm, as the right was hooked up to all the tubes, so I was in charge of holding the paper steady and helping her take off and put back on the lids of the pens. And I wasn't exactly good at my job, which made her crow with delight. She picked the whackiest colours for everything, because her favourite colour was 'rainbow'. So everything had to have all the colours on at some point... Possibly she was just giving me maximum practice at pulling the lids on and off, who knows? I wouldn't have put in past her! It was definitely the most fun I've had in the children's hospital!

Currently eating: delicious cinnamony muffin from Tesco with apple, raspberry and sunflower and pumpkin seeds in. Mmmmmmm.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

But not for me

They’re writing songs of love; but not for me.

A lucky star’s above; but not for me.

With love to lead the way, I’ve found more clouds of grey

Than any Russian play could guarantee.

I was a fool to fall and get that way,

Hey-ho, alas and also lack-a-day.

Although I can’t dismiss the memory of his kiss…

I guess he’s not for me.

~ George and Ira Gershwin

So it’s finally over. Officially.

I don’t know what to do with my self to be honest. I’ve realized (thanks to this blog…) that I’ve been caught in a vicious cycle with Tom for over a year. Which is so stupid and feels like such a waste. But it has not been one sided. Especially last weekend… He admits, he is attracted to me, and has thought about us being together for a while. I still am not entirely sure what is stopping us being together, since I see no problem. Possibly the problem is just him, full stop. He seems to think we can’t be together because it might all end in tears. I said our friendship is fucked; we might as well give it a go. He is apparently afraid of hurting me. Ha! He’s afraid of getting hurt; he knows full well he’s already stuck the knife in me.

Silly boy.

It’s very hard to be mad at someone you’re halfway in love with.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


He doesn't want me.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

'Medicine Sucks' quoth I

I’m feeling snowed under.

There is more to know in medicine than one person can ever know. That doesn’t stop us undergrads trying though… Our first Finals are 2 weeks away, and all of us are feeling the strain.

OSCE stress is beginning to freak me out. I have Obs & Gynae and Paeds, which, relative to Medicine or Surgery modules, are the easiest. I’m still really scared. I swing from thinking it’ll be ok, and I know enough stuff to get through, to blind terror I’ll fail. Miserably.

Urgh. I wish it were over.

Oh, and just to add to my joy Tom and I are still very much in limbo. He’s um-ing and ah-ing and generally being weird, while all our mutual friends consider it a done deal. I’m just waiting to be very happy or flattened really. Strange place to find myself.

Currently enjoying: the My Little Pony cake my mum had delivered to me yesterday. Complete with sparkling rosé Pinot Grigio. Hurrah for daft and loving mothers!

Sunday, September 09, 2007


One minute, everything was as it always was. The next, everything changed. I had no idea a single kiss could be so sweet. I had no idea it would be you. In my wildest imaginings I did not see this. I think no-one did, least of all you! But now it has happened and we have to find a way to move forward, wherever it will take us. I could love you, if you ask me to. I could follow you to the ends of the earth, if you need me to.

But how about we just see what happens on Monday, when I meet you for a drink, eh?

Monday, September 03, 2007

Porridge Through Muslin Again

I tried to write-up my elective today. It was hard work. I have to produce a written reportabout what I learnt in Canada, in 6000 words. On the one hand, thats far too many for the few but important things I learnt, and on the other, it cannot possibly be enough to convey the experience I had. Sigh.

Currently giggling: at this.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Acute Paeds

I've been very busy this week, but I've had a great time at the Children's, attached to the General Paediatric Team. They deal with the 'District General' cases presenting to the hospital, ie they're secondary care, nor tertiary care. I was on-call in A&E (Accident and Emergency Department, the NHS's ER) on Tuesday night, and had a very busy and interesting evening.

The most frightening case I saw was a 4 year old boy with respiratory arrest and prolonged fitting possibly due to lignocaince OD (not given in hospital!). He continued fitting on rectal Diazepam and 2 lots of IV Lorazepam, end intubated and on a infusion of Midazolam. I really thought that he was screwed – but 24 hours later he was causing havoc on the ward, running around in a hospital gown, flashing all and sundry! Thank God for the resilience of kids!

I’ve also been cuddling lots of babies this week, practicing my developmental exams. I love babies, especially the way their skin feels – so soft and delicate. It’s all new and perfect, with no age or sun damage. Like the inside of a new sweatshirt, but time and washing machines spoil that. Not that I’m suggesting you put your baby in a washing machine. Baths only for them please.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Bank Holidays - They Should Happen More Often

I love the long weekend.

On Friday afternoon it stretches out endlessly in front of you, full of plans and achievements, enticing, exciting and other words beginning with e.

I hate the last evening of the long weekend.

I haven't done ANY of the work I had planned. I'm really behind on my paeds work, haven't finished stuff I wanted to do in Obs and Gynae, and exams are in 5 weeks. I'm on call tomorrow, and so staying over at the hospital. I only did my washing this evening, so I really hope I have something dry tomorrow to 1) wear to lectures and 2) take with me to wear on Wednesday.

That said, I have had a lovely weekend. I've spent a lot of time with friends - Lily, Vix, Tom, Jenna and her housemates, Di. It's been really nice. And the sun's shone - quite a turn up for the books after the weather we've been having this summer!

I just don't want to go back to work tomorrow :(

Currently addicted to: Britain's Next Top Model. Ok, so it doesn't have Tyra Banks, and our girls are never quite as stunning as the American ones, but it is so much fun....! And I am so pleased Stephanie is out because she was driving me potty.

Friday, August 24, 2007


Lily and I went shopping this afternoon.

We pottered about, and found ourselves in Selfridges, in Coast. Always dangerous territory - they have the most fabulous little dresses, that are waaaaaay out of the student budget. Lily spotted the most gorgeous little plum satin number, and a sweet black and white dress, and disappeared into the changing room. I, with tired feet, collapsed on a stool outside to wait the fashion show.

Dress number 1 (plum number) looked stunning. And was in the sale. Practically a bargain, 50% off, down to £110 (!). Dress number 2 (black and white), not so good, not such a bargain, and the zip was a bit tricky. So tricky I'd had to help. Easy choice - the plum dress.

So Lily gets out of the black and white one while I hang the plum one. Except that the zip starts to unpeel from the bottom up, and she can't get out the dress...

I go in the changing room, to try and force it back down. It won't go. Can Lily get it off without undoing the zip? Nope, because women go out at the top and the bottom and the dress was firmly wedged in the middle. I was in hysterics by this time, with Lily getting pinker and pinker and squeaking 'It's not bloody funny! Not bloody funny!'. After a frantic few minutes, we gave up and I fetched a sales assistant. She too had a good go (I don't think she believed our protestations of effort), but could neither fix nor force the zip.

The answer? Lily had to be cut out the dress. A beautiful dress costing £160.

Whoops indeed.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Feeling Strangely Fine

So, the worse thing about paediatrics? The parents. Man, I hate parents.

Although the gorgeous kids I saw today in ENT clinic really made me want to be one. (A parent that is. Not a kid. TMaybe that would be fun for a short time - a holiday from responsibility! But I really don't want to have to go through adolescence again...) Just have to get this damned medical degree over and then I am so ready to move to the country and breed.

Oh, and the first patient I saw in paediatric ENT? Not for me the straightforward, the simple, oh no. For me, Fate arranged a gorgeous little girl of 11 weeks with a branchial fistula. Sounds fascinating, actually very dull in clinic - examination simply revealed a tiny hole in her lower right neck. She was otherwise quite perfect!

Currently listening to: Closing Time from Semisonic's Feeling Strangely Fine. I love the song, and also the fact that its available on cassette on Amazon. Amazing.

Monday, August 20, 2007

I Want You Back

Check this out on youtube. I love love love KT Tunstall and I can't wait to see her live (again) at the Academy in October.

And seeing Blogger is finally allowing me to post pictures hassle free, here's another:

It's loosely titled 'The Dream'. I don't know why either, but it's the first finished piece I've made in a long time that isn't for a particular person. It's a combination of watercolour, ink and salt. Yes really.

Sunday, August 19, 2007


Another weekend ends, another week begins, and yet again I have done so little work I'm beginning to panic... Only 5 weeks until my first set of finals. (ogodogodogodogodpleasehelpme).

Lily wants me to go man-hunting with her. Hmmm interesting turn of phrase that. Man-hunt implies searching for a lost man, either to rescue him, or murder him. Which will it be I wonder, for the man Lily finds?

I, however, am a little reticent to begin a 'man-hunt'. It seems to be far more hassle than I have the time, energy or inclination to deal with right now. And after the worse date in the history of the world ever on Friday, I feel I have good reason to avoid future such situations.

I go to an Anglican church in the south of Birmingham, and we got a new vicar last year. He is Zimbabwean, 6'3'' and in no way slender. He's also a little odd. He likes to insist on hugging people. I am a defiant non-toucher. I do not hug people I know (unless very very well) let alone people I don't. This has always been an issue with him. And then he started sort of asking me out... Never in so many words ie not 'let's go on a date sometime', more 'we should go to the pub for a drink and you can tell me about ....'. Very difficult to avoid. I think I'd done admirably well to get out of it for so long. Anyway, he finally cornered me last Sunday after church and I couldn't conjure an excuse. So I agreed to meet at my local for a drink.

I decided to completely consider it a friends thing. It wasn't explicitly a date, and, to that end, I dragged Mirabelle and Sylvia along too. It was beyond awkward - I blithered a lot, but there was definitely NO flirting on my part. The girls agree my behaviour was impeccable. As for his... well, he is not so good with the whole conversation thing (hence my blithering) and his attempts to flirt were clumsy and misguided and just... creepy. He's 10 years my senior and a vicar. He should know better frankly. Thank the dear Lord for Mirabelle and Sylvia. I would have died without them.

We (naughtily) invented a story about a party and left after about an hour, to complete the evening's real activities. Not a fictitious party, but a trip to the supermarket, to purchase wine and chocolate (essentials for a night in) and then home to watch Little Women. I cried for most of it. It was lovely, especially after such a poor start to the weekend.

Important lesson of the week no.1: It is better to Just Say No to a date you don't want to go on. You feel bad for about 10 minutes after, but if you say yes, you feel nervous all week, and then have to endure a very bad evening of poor conversation that makes you feel increasingly uncomfortable.

Important lesson of the week no.2: Life is nothing without good girlfriends.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


So, we all rotated round on Monday, and I started the second part of my first block – paediatrics. I hadn’t really thought about this block that much, having never really considered goings into paeds. I love children, but I don’t think I want to work with them. That said, my best job in the world ever was working as a team leader in at a holiday activity centre for 6 weeks one summer. I was in charge of the 6-7 year old boys, and it was an absolute riot! I had such a good time.

Maybe I’ll love paeds. Maybe I’ll be converted. I’m not really sure yet, because it’s Wednesday and I’ve only been able to see ONE patient. A very sweet 15 year old girl with some striking LMN signs, and a probable diagnosis (currently that is…) of CIDP. Hmm yes, very helpful to my future…!

Oh, and the weather is rubbish again. We had two weeks or so of pretty good stuff after the floods, and now its peeing down again. Sigh. I think summer is over, and it’s rain until next spring for us. The poor weather did produce the most wonderful rainbow though...

(That's my road. I live in a house exactly the same as all those you can see in the righthand row, just a bit out of shot. Sylvia, Mirabelle and I were on our way to the pub quiz... We lost again.)

Currently reading: just started East of the Mountains by David Guterson on the recommendation of my housemate Sylvia. Will keep you posted.

Sunday, August 12, 2007


I moved to Birmingham 4 years ago, in September 2003, to start my degree. But officially, I still live at home in Sussex. The bank, the university, anyone important – they all use my parents’ address as my home address. As far as they are concerned, I live in Sussex, with my parents, brother and sister, in a detached house built by my father in 1987. In reality I spend most of my time living with 4 other girls – 3 medics, 1 music graduate – in a Victorian terrace in Birmingham. This is my 4th address in Birmingham, my 4th ‘home’ here. And I do call both home. Which can be confusing… Some of my housemates and friends live in Birmingham – this is their only home, this is where they belong. Some are like me, equally divided in love and loyalty between Birmingham and their parents’ house. And some others still live at home with their parents, either within Birmingham or at a commutable distance.

I watched a property programme today, and began to think about owning my own house. Obviously this isn’t going to be happening for a couple of years yet (money will be tight for a few more years!), but it is a very exciting thought. My own home, a chance to put down roots. But right now I have no idea where I want to put down these roots. In October this year I will be applying for jobs, and so will probably be choosing to work in Hereford and Worscestershire, an more rural area to the south of Birmingham (at least, putting that area as my first choice!). Do I want to live there for the foreseeable future? I don’t honestly know. In some ways, I know that right now it isn’t that important, but it is unsettling. When I came to Birmingham, Sussex was still very much my home, and learning to love this place and consider it home has been a gentle, insidious process.

However, I feel that this will be the end of that duality. When I start working properly, home will be where I have my job and my life, not with my parents. I will have officially flown the nest, and I’m frightened by what that means. The sensation, if not the actuality, of being alone.

I hope that my naturally buoyant personality will pull through (laugh all you want. You only hear my woes because dumping them here is a superb outlet. I generally have an extremely sunny outlook) and I will find a way to make any place ‘home’. I already know I can find beauty almost anywhere, and I am an absolute sucker for beauty. Give me a touch of interesting lighting, and I’m head over heels in love. Easy like that, you see.

I’m trusting in God/fate/whatever you wish to call it that I will end up where I am meant to be. Be that Hereford, Worcester, Birmingham, wherever. And doing the right thing. I’m going to make choices that feel right, and hope that He is keeping a weather eye on my progress and will keep nudging things in the right directions. He’s done a grand job so far!

Currently wondering: if the bilateral cubital tunnel symptoms I have developed in the last few weeks will spontaneously disappear. Actually, I’m talking crap – I have just egaged brain and joined together the symptoms I had in March. Hmm. Think I will need my Mum to make me some night splints…

Thursday, August 09, 2007


My heart is tired. Tired of battering itself against a brick wall.

For the past year I have thrown it again and again at the wall. Sometimes we’ve been close to the top, my heart and I, and have seemed a mere hair breadth for scrambling over, but the wall rose higher, and flummoxed our plans. We’d step back, eyeing it surreptitiously, pretending we’re weren’t interested. Then I’d have another go, promising my heart it was the last time, and then throw it again. Every time I threw harder. And every time my heart fell harder.

And now my heart has had enough. The last time was bad. It thought it might break. But it didn’t – it pulled through, and decided to sulk. It’s sitting underneath the wall, arms folded, avoiding eye contact and refusing to talk to me.

It is trying to heal the wounds, to repair the bruises and knit together the scrapes, but is hindered by my mind’s repeating picking at the scabs. There is some mad corner of my mind that enjoys watching the blood drip, that revels in hurting my heart, that believes feeling pain is better than feeling nothing.

So my heart ignores me, and sits in the shelter of the wall. It isn’t very comfortable, but it thinks it is better here than being out in the world. It’s worried I’ll throw it again, looking for the perfect catch. Ha. I won’t throw it again. I will hold it safe. I’m going to be far more careful of my heart, now I know how much it can feel. But still my heart stays close to the wall, refusing to leave. It is safe there. Unhappy and uncomfortable yes, but safe. The wall is a known quantity, even if it is not a particularly friendly one. My heart is going to need a lot of persuasion to move. Much more than I alone can muster...

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Pub Quiz

I love our new pub quiz team. The core members are me, Mirabelle, Sylvia, Lily and Lily’s housemate Vix, then we have a few other floaters who join occasionally. Like Claire and Tom, who joined the team tonight. Our name is the Ladies of Negotiable Affection. Our motto is: ‘If you have to ask, you can’t afford. We’re not that negotiable.’

We’re generally alright at the quiz. Good at the picture rounds, great at 90s and 00s music, rubbish at oldies music (½ out of 10 last week), moderate at the general knowledge and news stuff. Mostly it’s just a laugh. I drink cider (I like this one and especially this one), Mirabelle has her usual large glass of dry white wine, and we always have sweets or chocolate. It’s to keep our blood glucose up to allow optimum neuronal activity. Hmm yes… imagine how bad we’d be without it!

I love the pub, and the pub quiz. It’s such an English thing. Ours is a busy quiz, and we see the same people every week… We like to sit at the table in the window, but we have to get there very early to nab it. Some teams end up standing. The prize isn’t even that good – just a few drinks at the bar, not much a prize for a team of a least 5. But it isn’t about winning. It really is about taking part.

Oh, and having a few drinks too!

Currently have a weird crush on: The Pimm’s man, Alexander Armstrong. He’s so undeniably attractive. Big ears, balding, intelligent, witty… oh yeah, totally my sort of guy.

PS. the right hand shift key of my keyboard has just broken. It’s really pissing me off. The space bar has been a bit sticky for a while, and the V key lost (a sad run-in with Clinical Medicine by Kumar and Clark. I think the title gives an idea of the size of the book…) but I have no idea what ruined the shift key. It is causing me quite a bit of grief. I think it might be time for a new laptop soon…

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Returning to the Keyboard

Oh, this feels hard. Squeezing porridge through muslin is the most accurate description, I think. I haven't been blogging becuase for a long time it didn't feel 'right'. And then I was worried about explaining the long gap, and obviously I would have needed to write a really stonking post to make it a come back with a bang.

Yeah right.

So I decided to just go for it. No dipping of toes, just a full on jump in the pool of blogging, starting with what's happening with me.

Well, I have started the year after fourth year. More commonly known as fifth year, and even by some cocksure medical students year. Gulp. I am so not ready for final year. I am so not ready to be done with medschool, and out there doing it.

Despite my deep misgivings, so far its been, well, quite enjoyable. I've started on obstetrics and gynaecology, and its very interesting. I wasn't exactly looking forward to it, as I have no desire to peer up vaginas, but it isn't actually that bad. Better than psychiatry for sure! Its made me simultaneously broody and determined never to conceive. Pregnancy and more specifically birth are shit scary. Pain, trauma, blood, agony, illness, death... but also a baby. And I'd really like one of those. Although newborns s me a little - I like em with a few months and a few pounds on em. All fat and powdery smelling. Lovely. Gynae is not so lovely. The poor women I've seen... our reproductive system is just waiting, lurking, ready to spring diaster upon us at anytime. And my goodness it is so undignified. But my consultant is an absolute sweetie, and so good at reassuring and supporting these women. I think he's fab! Not very interesting or humourous, but a true gentleman.

The new F1 (foundation programme year 1) doctors started on Wednesday. Meaning I am not within a year not only of graduating but of starting my job (touch wood!). I looked at the Foundation Schools today, ready for applying in October. I think it'll be Hereford and Worcestershire first choice. They have an F2 job with 1 4 month rotation in palliative care, which is pretty unusual. Also a fairly rural area, and hospitals that I know. Its going to be very strange, not being at medschool. Lots of people are going to be moving away... Mirabelle and I have decided to stick together, thought even that may be complicated by her boyfriend moving here. Oh, its all so up in the air. I wish it was all laid out, and ready. I don't feel grown up enough for life decisions yet.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Yes I totally am a bad person. I apologise. I've got internet at work and in Starbucks (yay for caramel soy lattes!) but I've spent so much time sending emails to friends that I haven't sat and written a post.

I have written a list of things to post about tho... I just need to get round to writing them!

It's been a fantastic, amazing and sad few weeks. I have met some of the most wonderful people - hospice staff, volunteers and patients. The thing that always gets me about Hospice is the laughter and the joy you meet in people everywhere. There is so much love.

One hospice volunteer told me:

'People always ask if its depressing when a client dies. It isn't. It's sad when a client dies, but it isn't depressing.'

That for me is the core of working in palliative care - it's sad when someone dies, but you are there to facilitate that death. You knew that the person was dying when you began the relationship - it was always meant to end. Hospice care is not depressing.

However, when someone dies unexpectedly it can be.

One of the women I have been working with killed herself last week. It was shocking for the whole team, and very distressing. She had suffered from chronic severe depression for many years, but recently had been doing 'better'. I think that she realised how low she had been and made the decision that she would never feel like that again. And this was the only way to be certain of that fact.

I hope she's found peace at last.

ps this is very disjointed - just re-read but can't be bothered to clean it up! sorry guys!

Monday, May 07, 2007

The internet is again playing up and leaving me high and dry. So anyway I am doing this at work (sssshhhh! Don’t tell anyone!). I’m going to try and summarise the last week for you, quickly!

I have finally seen some patients. I went out with a lovely palliative care doctor, who was incredibly compassionate and warm, really inspirational.
I’ve also been appreciating the sights of Toronto – a walk around Cabbagetown, a trip to the Toronto Islands, a ride in the lift to the top of the CN Tower (all 147 floors!). Toronto is a great city, and the people here are very friendly.
I’ve moved into my last set of accommodation, some U of T halls which are really quite plush. Much nicer than our student accommodation!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The wireless is working!

Well, after a week in Toronto (or Torona as the locals say) I have internet access on my laptop!

And so I can tell you everything that has been going on... Except that I don't quite know where to start!

Ok, so maybe with my impressions of Toronto. I like this city. I liked Calgary, but I find Toronto less bleak, less ordered, more lived in. Maybe thats just the weather tho - this is a city that revels in sunshine! Yesterday the sun stuck his head out, and all the good people of Toronto came out to play. Hard! And today, walking through the financial district I was utterly entranced by the glass buildings and the sun and the absolutely searingly blue sky. Beautiful. The lake and harbour front are also particularly lovely, improved immensely by seeing them the first time in a glorious rich sunset. I'm a good-lighting slut, I really am!

I started my placement last Wednesday, and have been made so incredibly welcome. The hospice I am attached to is a community based scheme, not a residential hospice, and very different to my previous placement at home. So far it hasn't been hands on, but I hope that will change this week.

Currently we are staying right downtown in a backpackers place, which has its plus points and some major bad points, but on Wednesday we move to university halls of residence. Which may cause the internet problems to begin again... I do have it at work, but am restricting myself to checking emails (and facebook...) as writing posts is more than five minute jobby!

I can hardly believe that we've only been in Canada a mere two weeks. It feels like a lot longer - mainly because we've packed so much in! Before leaving Calgary, we travelled to Lake Louise, and walked up from the village to the Lake itself. That's 200m up over 5km. It was spectacular. We'd had fresh snowfall overnight, but the sun came out for us under a clear blue sky. The dark pine trees, which had looked black and brooding, huddled against the mountains while we were in Banff, suddenly popped out, standing straight and tall and greener than you would believe. And the snow of course was a clean white blanket. Amazing. Truly truly the most amazing scenery I have ever walked through!

Our flight to Toronto was uneventful. We were all sat separately which I wasn't happy about, but probably worked out quite well, as it proved to me that I can fly alone, should the need ever arise! I do absolutely hate it though. I don't mind cruising, but take off and landing are terrible. I have to grit my teeth and endure it, while feeling sick and faint.

Anyway, I ought to go get some sleep now, ready for another day of work!

Friday, April 20, 2007

So, I had written this really great post on arriving in Calgary, and how big everything is, and how excited I am about the snow... but the internet in the Travelodge does NOT work, so the post is trapped on my laptop.

I'm currently on the free computers in Eau Claire Market. So this'll have to be quick...

Having a fab time in Calgary - went up to Banff yesterday and it is spectacularly beautiful. Though we nearly got stranded when we forgot to buy our bus ticket home before the ticket office shut...thankfully all turned out ok and we didn't have to stay overnight! (I was upset by lack of clean knickers...) We've been eating out lots and really enjoying the snow! (Bought myself a great new jacket so am suitably attired. Also purcahsed the last pair of gloves in Calgary as lost one of mine out of my hand luggage...then found it in my suitcase. Grrrr.)

Off to Prince Albert Island Park now, when Kaos tonight to watch up some jazz! Oooooo! Than Lake Louise tomorrow!

PS I love love love Canadians. They are so helpful and friendly. I haven't met anyone rude yet!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

In Calgary and it's SNOWING!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Arrived in Calgary! Got a plane from Heathrow on Tuesday afternoon, and arrived 9 hours later to Calgary on Tuesday afternoon. Yeah, my body clock is also having difficulty with the maths! I have decided I officially hate planes. Maybe that’s a little strong – I would say I hate take off and landing, but cruising is ok. Oh, and I love love love plane food! It’s all so cute!

So first impressions of Calgary… well, everything seems so big and open. The roads are so wide, the cars huge, all the buildings square and looming, and the sky… the sky is enormous. I don’t think we even have that much sky in England! And there is no colour, and so few trees. England is so green, and it is odd to be without the constancy of greenness. And the newness of everything! All the buildings are shiny and new and have no history. However, the city is incredibly clean. And the people are so friendly and helpful. I also greatly appreciate the indoor walkways to everything, though they are a little confusing! I was chief map reader, as I LOVE maps, and had much fun and games! Though never getting more than a little confused… we have not been ‘lost’ today.

We (Di, Mirabelle and I) spent today in Downtown Calgary. We set off at 9am this morning (jetlag playing havoc with our body clocks, we’d been up for hours!) and took the C-train from the Travelodge into town. We first went up Calgary Tower and the views were absolutely amazing. I was absolutely terrified of the glass observation deck, over the edge of the tower’s top, but for the sake of ‘art’ (ie taking the picture you see below…) managed to just stand on it.

(The cutesy trainers are Mirabelle, the pointy toes Di and the hefty boots mine! O yes I am a classy broad….)

We spent the rest of the day pottering in the town, and I bought a lovely new waterproof jacket, greatly reduced in the end of season sale. Very pleased as have been eking out the useful life of mine at home, and decided that I would not bring it and buy one out here, preferably before doing any walking! Somehow I’d managed to lose a glove out of my hand luggage, so I also had to buy a new pair of gloves, which was a absolute mission. Eventually found some, the last pair in an outdoor wear shop! Finally, I accidentally bought a new ring, which I do not need – but that I love! It’s a huge purple stone set in silver, and I found it in a bizarre shop in the Eau Claire Market. I’m wearing it now, and loving its weight and colour and gorgeousness.

We also went and had a potter around the Devonian Gardens before heading back to crash in the hotel room. Wow! How amazing to have a tropical garden on the 4th floor of a tower building. I thought it was fab – loved the turtles and the water features! I think we may be going back there.

The most stand-out thing of today has been the people of Calgary themselves. Everyone we’ve met today has been so lovely and helpful. They all wanted to know where we were from (Australia?!) and what we’ve been doing, and what our plans are! The folk in the outdoor wear shop where I bought my coat thought we were hilarious, as we are crazy excited about the possibility of snowfall. They all want summer to arrive… However it’s raining now, which makes me feel right at home!

Monday, April 16, 2007

One more sleep...

This is just a quick one, mainly to say I had a fabulous week in Skegness at Spring Harvest, and also that I love bloggers!

Spring Harvest was a fantastic experience, both spiritually and socially. I don’t think I am completely back on track with my faith, but I feel much better equipped to know what to tackle to get there. The music was also absolutely fabulous! And the social life…well, I don’t think we had one night in the chalet! There was a lot of socialising and a lot of drinking! Especially from the church elders, who then proceeded to discuss their sex lives in detail. I thought that was a student thing, and that my friends and I would one day graduate to more worldly and inspired topics, but no, it seems not. Nevermind eh, twas all good fun!

One good thing to have come out of this week is that I feel more in control again. Ah no, that’s the wrong phrase. I think that I feel less out of control. I don’t think I have ever felt totally in control of my life, but at the moment I feel as though whatever happens, I will make it through. Friends can be found in the most unlikely of places….

Places such as the internet. Thanks for your kind words of support Marysienka, Tall and MedNeo.

Anyway, I am all packed and ready to go at 9am tomorrow. I’m still scared, but it’s not the blind terror of before. It’s a tremulous wonderful frightening feeling, a feeling of fear and excitement all bundled up together. How I will ever sleep I do not know! But I must at least try, so I am signing off for now!

PS Have wireless internet in all my accommodation in Canada so will be updating regularly I hope! Next one from Calgary…..eeeek!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Sometimes its all a bit much, this 'life' business

I’ve had a good couple of days, but can hardly believe the weekend is gone already. My post-exam chill out period is over, and now I have to get on with things. And I can’t explain why, but my stress levels are through the roof. I am on edge, feeling very tense and anxious, and unable to concentrate. Everything is worrying me.

I think it is a combination of worrying about Canada (some details are yet to be sorted out, plus the travel, plus anxiety over my placement), worrying about Spring Harvest (church camp…) and the lost of my support systems (family still in NZ, all my friends and housemates gone home).

Everything makes me cry. Phone call to my parents, programme on telly, song on the radio, a very silly film… I just want it all to go away. I want to feel on top of everything, in control.

And imagine what happened when I sat and watched My Girl yesterday, after buying it in a fit of nostalgia from HMV. That's right, I nearly drowned in my own tears.

Anyway, I am going to Spring Harvest this week, well Tuesday to Sunday, and I hope that I will feel better once I am there. Ha! Who am I kidding? I’m hoping to get out alive, and not be eaten alive by the Jesus Freaks. When I said yes to this particular adventure, I was feeling positive towards Christianity and my faith. Positive, in that faith might eventually come back to me. Now I am certain that even if I do find it again, it won’t be this week. I will endeavour to write posts by hand that can be posted dated, but in all honesty I think the next time I post will be slipped in between unpacking from Skeggy and packing for Canada. So probably a short one!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Made it!

Yay exams finished! Today’s was considerably less excruciating than Monday’s, but I make no predictions of passing or failing. I’ll wait til results day for that (4th May!).

I’ve had the most wonderful afternoon. Mirabelle and I went to the Birmingham Nature Centre, and had so much fun! I fell in love with the pygmy goats, and we also saw lemurs, otter, tortoises, owls, snakes, fish, rats, mice, big hairy spiders, meerkats, o, everything. Best £1.30 I've ever spent in Birmingham! Then we pottered into the park and lay on the grass reading and people-watching. It was a perfect afternoon.

I do feel lucky to have Mirabelle as a friend. I have never in my life had such a close friend. We are so happy in each others company, and I cannot imagine now not being friends with her. She keeps me sane! And I think I do the same for her…!

Anyway, exams are over, I had a wonderful afternoon with my best mate, and this evening we (a bunch of lovely people from my block) are all going to have dinner together at a great Chinese restaurant, then join the rest of our year at a pub and then got clubbing and get mightily merry! Woot!


We didn’t make it to the club. We were tired, and after a few drinks in the pub, drooped far too much to be dancing. So Mirabelle, Sylvia, Lily, Laura, Tom and I went to the all night supermarket and bought cream cakes then came back to our house for tea. It was lovely. Genuinely lovely.

Monday, April 02, 2007

2 down, 1 to go...

O dear. Today was the first exam – MCQ on CRU (cardio-renal-urology), EDEN (elderly care, diabetes, eyes, neurology) and CBM (community based medicine ie general practice).

It was horrendous. I hope that I’ve passed EDEN and CBM, but God only knows how I did on CRU. Most of the stuff I didn’t have a blithering clue about.

I also had a poster presentation to do in the afternoon, which was surprisingly good. First, seeing your mini study all printed out shiny and big as an A1 poster is so exciting, and second it was very cool chatting to two consultants and them actually engaging with you, listening, and discussing, not teaching. It felt really good.

O, and I have finally spoken to my family in New Zealand – I have desperately missed having my mum at the end of the phone during revision stress, so it was great to have a little catch up. Although the 3 second delay on transmission is a little troublesome! And it is so weird to speak to them at 10.30pm Monday here, when its Tuesday morning there. Technology is a wondrous thing.

Currently eating: those shrimps and bananas again…

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Disjointed Rambling

Me again! You lucky devils…

Today has been spent avoiding revising, which is bad when you are so lacking in clues as I am. I am scared about these exams now. Terrified in fact.

And revising has not been helped by going t’pub for lunch with nearly all my housemates. A lovely time was had by all, but another 2 hours lost…

My parents, brother and sister flew to New Zealand today. Alright for some eh! I would be extremely jealous, but am managing to hold it to very jealous as I am flying to Calgary in less than 3 weeks. I may keep mentioning the Canada thing. I am a little excited about it.

I am also very excited about the light evenings and the spring days! Everything is so much brighter, but the sunshine is again calling me out to play, while I sit inside and try and learn something.

Argh. Writing is like getting blood out a stone. Only more painful as the stone is my head. I will try to get better, I promise.

Currently listening to: The Fray - How to save a life. Still undecided about them. Pleasant enough I guess. Not sure it's going to be a love affair. Not like The Feeling - I have just booked to go see them do an open air gig at Cannock Chase! Yay!

O and this tickled my fancy this afternoon! Teehee!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


I’ve been thinking about his for a long time.

For a while, life has been so busy I’ve barely had chance to draw breath, let alone post here. And after being away for so long, coming back seemed weird. But for the last few weeks (!) I’ve started to have ideas for great posts, and have started to want to come back.

So here I am. I’m going to write again, and see how it goes, but it may not be forever. Argh! I’m sorry, I thought I knew what I would say before I started, but I now I see that possibly I don’t have a clue.

Ha! That’s probably the truest thing I’ve ever written.

Before I carry on as before, here are the big events you have missed:

1. I am going to Canada for 6 weeks to do my elective in palliative medicine, from April 17th to May 29th. I have a 4 week placement in Toronto, with a hospice in the middle, and we’re spending the first in Calgary, and the last week bumming around Toronto or possibly doing a flit to New York. I’m terrified and thrilled. I have never travelled out of Europe, so that’s a big thing. I’m going away with two very close friends, my housemates Di and Mirabelle, which will be fantastic. I have no idea what the placement will be like, which is scary.

2. I have finished all the clinical placements for 4th year. And yes, the last block was most definitely the best. Musculoskeletal was brilliant! I loved fracture clinic, I loved Rheumatology, I loved orthopaedic surgery… I actually ended up have a long chat with my favourite consultant about becoming an orthopod. He was extremely helpful, but did convince me that it wasn’t right for me. Much as I love the mechanics of the whole thing (oooo power tools, x-rays, bones!), I want to have a life. I want to be able to work part itme, to have maternity leave, to have free time when I can paint and sing. Orthopaedics would mean giving all of that up. In all honesty, I am beginning to swing back towards general practice…

3. I have signed up to the Race for Life in Sutton Park. It’s 5km. Which at the moment is not achievable. So I have to grit my teeth and get running.

4. I have not ended my ridiculous crush on Tom. Sigh. It’s the whole friends thing that’s causing me difficulties right now – if we weren’t friends I would have forgotten him by now. I am however cultivating a wholly inappropriate crush on a lovely lad from the medic’s choir, and that’s providing a delicious distraction. And of course the yummy orthopods I’ve been spending all my days with!

And that concludes the update. I hope to be back here most shortly…

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Yes I quite frankly am rubbish. But being so busy I don't have time to post means lots more interesting things to post when I finally do.

(And blogger is blocked at my current placement - under 'Personals and Dating' - so that's stopped me doing any lunchtime/freetime blogging. And using my hotmail account. Damn the Nazis in management)


This is to bring a little smile of happiness to your day: a cute, clever and funny paper stop-motion animation.

Sunday, January 28, 2007


Mirabelle has fractured the base of her right 5th metatarsal. Which is shit. Utterly. She slipped down her stairs on Friday night – this is pre-punch-drinking – and bust it. However, being the amazingly strong and stoical person she is, she managed on Friday night (Sylvia’s birthday – picture was finished and muchly appreciated thank goodness!) and only decided to go to A&E on Saturday morning, where it was proclaimed broken. Rubbish.

So at this moment I am in her room, because I am on the ground floor with an ensuite complete with bath. She is in the attic up said scary stairs, so I am up here. It’s weird and I don’t like it. I am sure it feels the same for her, worse probably, because she is immobile (alright, so only relative to her previous mobility) but I really want to be in my own room, with my things. I am weird like that.

But I am tired right now, and have a fracture clinic appointment to attend tomorrow t 9am. So I am off to bed!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Still a crazy week… Sometimes I wish I had Bernard’s watch, and could stop time until I had done all the things I wanted to – work, sleep, exercise, more sleep. But unfortunately life is not as simpleas children’s TV would have us believe, and even if I did actually have Bernard’s watch, I am quite sure people would soon notice. You’d have to be very careful how you used it. Maybe just for sleep – you could pretend to be one of those people who only need 4 hours sleep a night, but actually be getting 8 or 9. Hey…maybe there are no people who onlyneed 4 hours sleep… maybe they all have Bernard’s watch.

Anyway, I am currently still enjoying cardiology, which is fairly surprising. I am also enjoying a rather full social life, which is unsurprising, as I am the Life and Soul. Of anything and everything!

Currently reading: Cold Mountain, by Charles Frazier. Yeah, I know, took me long enough, but now I’m really enjoying it.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


O I've been soooo busy! I had a lovely week of much socialising... and painting! So here is the work in progress that's occupied much of my week (it will be a birthday present for Sylvia - her comission was 'green please'):

Quotes of the day:
'It makes me want to hurt myself'
(Hana, girl who gives me a lift, on listening to Daniel Bedingfield whinge on about the lost love of his life on radio. We were all sitting and listening quietly when she announced it.)

'Take any other drug except cocaine'
'Any drug doc?'
'Yeah, just not cocaine'
(Consultant cardiologist's advice to 21 year old patient in clinic)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Happy Birthday

This blog is a year old. For one entire calendar year, I have been using this space to dump my thoughts, feelings and ramblings.

And I really like having somewhere to do just that. I’d hate to leave my rubbish lying around just anywhere… here it is safe, anonymous and instantly accessible. As a kid, I kept various diaries, but despite enjoying writing them, and having them to look back on, I was terrible at keeping up with them. The diary I kept (sporadically) in the first three years of medicine is probably the longest I’ve ever had.

But this is more than just a diary. Yes, I write about the way I am feeling and what I am thinking, but it also allows me to communicate with people from across the world. And to share the funnies, the photos, and generally do so many more things than is possible with pen and paper!

So what has this year of blogging brought me?

Well, this was the year of my first OSCEs. I passed 2 of ‘em, both terrifying, but maybe showing that I am going to be ok. I’m made lots of new friends, which may seem like a dumb thing to have achieved, but two of my closest friends, girls I’d lived with for 3 years, moved away this summer. I thought living with other people would be awful, but living with my new housemates has brought me new friendships in places I hadn’t thought possible. And new friends have been made on my course – friends I never would have picked out of a line-up!

Most importantly, this year has shown brought me the courage to articulate, with absolute truth, my fears about medicine. I am afraid of what medicine has been trying to turn me in to, but I feel ready, after a year, to fight back. I still don’t think I’m totally set in life, and I will continue to blog about this for a while yet, I can tell you now.

My very first post, dated January 17th 2006, makes me sad. It is such a miserable dejected post, and written on such a shit day. My new consultant, in the second week of my 12 week placement, had almost made me cry. He was a git, and this is confirmed by a friend of mine currently in 3rd year and attached to his firm this year. She’s 2 weeks into her placement and hates and fears him in equal measures. The problem was not mine, it was his.

Looking back on that post now, with the enormous benefit of hindsight, I was crap during that first teaching session. But I didn’t deserve the treatment dished out to me. And I now know that I have been enough this year. I have made it, exams passed, projects handed in.

But more importantly, I have made it in one piece. I’m still me. I might feel as medicine is crushing me sometimes, but right now I am enough.

PS This is confirmed by an example of me keeping my cool this week: after ward round on Monday, I was collared by an A&E SHO, who imperiously told me to ‘take bloods. You have done it before right?’ I, angered by her attitude, said yes of course I had. Off I trotted (fellow med student in tow) and found a confused little old lady. With non-existent veins. Eventually I managed to locate one, but it wasn’t good. I asked my fellow med student her opinion, and she said ‘I wouldn’t, but you can try’. And I thought, well, I will. Because in 18 months it could be me in the middle of the night needing to get blood from a vein like this. I need to have at least tried before. My first attempt was unsuccessful, but the second? Superb. Sorted. I did it. I was enough.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

This is the real deal

My new glittery red Mary Janes arrived by post today... and I think it's love.

Thanks Schuh!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

It's all coming back

I had a good day today, despite getting SEVEN BUSES in one day all over the Black Country. That's not exactly my idea of fun, but I made through...

I also kind of had a revelation about the whole 'I don't want to be a doctor' thing. I still am unsure, but have started mentioning this to people (read: other medics) and its commoner than I thought. Anyway, today I attended a suturing skills session, and it was so much fun. And, dare I say, I was quite good. And suddenly I started thinking about the exciting possibilities of studying medicine. I could still be a surgeon, and I was getting excited about it. About doing plastics (in the cosmetic sense obv! hehe) and orthopaedics (my first love as a child doing the 'Body' topic at school. Aged 10 I labelled a school worksheet skeleton picture using my mum's anatomy atlases and then drew out the bones of the hands and feet because there wasn't room to label all the individual carpals and tarsals on the school one. My teacher was totally flummoxed but gave me a merit for it!). And then a patient came in who reminded meof my interest in rheumatology. There are now all these thoughts buzzing round my head, and I am interested in medicine again. I'm still not sure I want tobe a doctor, but my interest and curiosity and passion for medicine is stirring again. And I am tentatively thrilled. Long may it continue!

Just read this back before posting, and wondered if having the courage to say 'I'm not sure I want to be a doctor anymore' has given me back my enjoyment. Maybe because I've released the pressure of feeling stuck on the everlasting treadmill, I'm able to look up from the tiny part of medicine around me (namely exams and studying) and see again the things that brought me here in the first place.

It's National Delurking Week (8 - 12 January). So anyone who's out there and doesn't comment,please say hi. I'm not really thinking there is anyone, because I think this is the kind of blog where the people who do read it comment, but just in case!