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'?