Monday, October 27, 2008

Ah, how things change

This time last year, I was a medical student. And not even a very good one at that!

This year, I'm a doctor, and I'm teaching the medical students, and really enjoying it too. I did an hour session on the hip today, for the 3rd years. I took their base knowledge as zero, and managed to cover (very briefly!) the lot. Anatomy, pathology, radiology, history and examination. They seemed to enjoy it, but maybe it was just show for my benefit, I don't know! I got them doing the examination on each other, which was comedy! Especially Trendelenburg and Thomas's tests...

Anyway, doing this session has really enthused me to do other sessions, including practical things such as cannulation. I'm going to do an hour on knees next, and throw my chest x-ray presentation (which is SUPER SPANGLY even if I do say so myself) at them at some point soon too.

Really, this is just a post to point out the good things about being a doctor, since I'm having a good week :) Probably linked to my evil consultant being away this week, and the fact it's still only Monday!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

So September has come and gone, and we're well into October. Wortk is hard, and I don't seem to have very much time for anything else.

Sometimes being a doctor is brilliant, and I feel like I'm really making a difference. Most of the time it's ok, I get on with it. Sometimes, it's stressful and time-consuming and I don't enjoy it, but just keep plodding on through.

And then there are the days like yesterday, when I had to lock myself in the toilet after the ward round to cry, after my consultant called me a 'bad doctor' in front of oner of my patients.

That's when I hate it.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Do you know, all my friends are coupled up? That’s right, every good friend I have is happily involved with a lovely boy. Some are living with said boy, some are even engaged. I dread and delight in equal parts the first marriage.


I will never be that girl. I am destined to be Anna all alone all my life. There is nothing that can be done to change that (I’ve heard the ‘you just wait for the right guy’ line a million times – it’s rubbish) and I just have to learn to live with it. It hurts. Truly, deeply, absolutely, it hurts. I want to be loved, but I except that true love can not be everyone’s fate. Some of us have to learn to be happy alone. I am finding that very hard. I am thoroughly pissed off that all the rest of my friends have fun – I don’t even have that. I am just ignored, alone and unloved


I know, I am wallowing. But sometimes I just have to, to keep some semblance of sanity. I wish there was a palpable reason for my lot in life, something I could put my finger on, that I could change, Sadly, there just bloodly isn’ t. It’s one of those things you just have to live with. You know, I’m blonde, blue eyed, artistic, alone. Just part of my character, something that will last til the end.


And everytime it breaks my heart again. I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to that.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Zombie

Working is turning me into a zombie who goes to hospital, comes home from hospital, eats, sleeps, goes back to hospital. I feel like I have no life except the one I have there. Especially on days like Wednesday, when I did a 14 hour shift: 8am-5pm as my day job, T&O F1 and then 5pm-9.30pm as Medical F1 on call (I know thats only 13.5 hours, but I was there til 10pm finishing off clerking a patient and handing him over). I think that may not be entirely legal, and I shall be looking into this for further discussion with medical staffing...

The on-call was pretty hard. I've been arsing about in T&O with no real patients of my own for a week, and it was big shock to have to actually see patients with real medical problems and have to use my brain for more than working out whether that x-ray shows an intra or extracapsular fractured neck of femur. I feel I am going to do most of my learning on MAU this block!

I am averaging about 2 episodes of panic a day currently, a major reduction from the first day, where I was completing 2 full episodes of panic every 10 minutes, but still enough to be causing high stress levels. I haven't cried yet - nearly did in pre-op but managed to hold it together AND sort the problem out too. I know, that's just like a real doctor.

My brain is also pretty scrambled by it all, which is of course the reason this post is so ridiculously jumbled and flighty. Being a doctor is hard.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

So, it's been a week. I'm beginning to get used to being called 'Doctor' both as a title and as a generic name from nursing staff I don't know. They usually want me to sign something. Quite often it's a warfarin or insulin chart. Joys.

This first week has been challenging, terrifying, exciting, boring, fast, slow, everything. Not all at once, but I've been through many permutations each day! My team has had no patients since Friday, as my consultant is away, but I've been pimping myself out to help the other T&O teams. I've kept myself busy - mostly anyway!

The whole doctor thing is slowly sinking in. I think I've learnt a goodly amount this week, even if most of it is organisational rather than clinical. My SHO is an absolute sweetheart, and we get on very well, so that's helping. She has a great manner with patients, and it's nice to have a good role model so close in age and career path. Saying that, apart from one bad egg, all the orthopod juniors are really nice.

Although in general, it's going well, there are still moments of soul crushing doubt and fear. At least once a day I get turned into a quivering wreck of insecurity, mainly if I have to prescribe something I've never heard of or if someone needs blood! I'm getting better at faking it though, and everyone (so far!) has been happy to help. I'm wondering how long it will be before their patience runs out...

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The first day

I have to say, I have never run around so much in my life, or been so stressed and scared, as I have today. Today, all the SHOs and Registrars (bar one!) were in induction ALL DAY. This left me, and only me, on the wards, and so I covered all the in-patients for T&O, and carried the on-call T&O SHO bleep.

It was terrifying - especially the first time it went off. I believe my exact words were 'O crap' which the elective orthopaedic nurses thought was hilarious. It wasn't. Thankfully, only 3 (!) patients were admitted as emergencies, who I clerked and sorted for theatre, with the help of my absolute star of a reg. He was so helpful, even when I bleeped for the millionth time to ask another inane question!

To be completely truthful, this morning I felt totally out of my depth and utterly confused. I couldn't believe the position I'd been put in, or the things I was being asked to do. By lunchtime, it had started to feel ok, as I realised I could do the job, and when I wasn't sure there were many people willing to help. I can't believe the difference being a doctor makes to nursing staff's attitudes towards you - you suddenly have a use to them and so they want to be nice to you. It's a revelation!

Today has been long and frightening, but I've achieved so much, in such a short space of time. I finally feel I might have it in me to be a doctor - I still have a very very long way to go, but I also know I'm going to get there one day.

You know, sitting here thinking about it now, I'm quite looking forward to tomorrow.

Monday, August 04, 2008

So far, so good

One day in, and it's all going well. Mostly because all I did today was listen to lectures on bleep procedures and how to contact out-reach (very important for when a patient goes off and all your seniors are stuck in theatre doing a million hip replacements). And I got a free lunch. Always a fine perk.

I also met some very lovely new people, who I hope will become very lovely new friends shortly. I think the social side of working this year will be fun. Yay!

Still not sure about the work. Especially as I'm on both medical and surgical on-call rotas for the next 8 months. Yes, for both T&O and A&E I have to do medical and surgical on-calls. Not cool. Definitely not cool.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Tomorrow, tomorrrow, I'm working tomorrow...

...it's only a day away!

Holy shit, it's only a day away. Oh yes, tomorrow Dr Anna will be in the house, attempting to actually do the job she's spent 5 years training to do.

I'm absolutely terrified. I've suddenly realised that it's going to be me. I will have responsibilities that I think may be utterly beyond me. I'm not sure I want to do it. Most worryingly, I'm not sure I know what I'm meant to actually be doing, what the job of a doctor actually is...

Lucky that tomorrow is a day of induction lectures, isn't it.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The streets are steaming

So I've been MIA for a while. I've been busy. Very very busy, mostly having the best few weeks of my life. I've swum in the sea three times, got a real tan, eaten 5 ice creams in one afternoon, had tea at the Ritz, cried as the Captain embraced his children, spent twenty minutes on the phone calming and coaxing a very rude patient, driven 5 miles to Tesco at 11pm for icing sugar, graduated as an actual doctor and spent lots of quality time with all the people I love best in the world.

And now I have one week left before the start of the rest of my life. I'm scared and yet so excited.

(Oh, and the title? It's been incredibly, unEnglish-ly hot for the last few days, and this evening we were treated to a mother of a thunderstorm. Afterwards, the streets steamed. It was beautiful.)

Monday, July 14, 2008

Graduand to Graduate

I graduate this morning! I'm excited and nervous - mainly about tripping up on the steps....

Wooooo! I graduating!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Registered!

An official envelope arrived today, addressed to Dr Anna. It was from the GMC and inside was the certificate for my provisional registration as a doctor! Eeeeeeek!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Och Aye


I've been away this week, and went cold turkey from the internet. I was in Edinburgh, the farthest North I've ever been (the city of York being the previous holder of that title). It was a fantastic four days in the city with Lily, seeing many exciting places and walking many many many miles! There were also quite a number of tea and cake stops. Yay!

I have to mention the train journey. We travelled up first class on Virgin Xcountry, and I don't think I'll ever be able to go back to cattle class. First class has a trolley service serving tea and biscuits, every seat has a table and there's so much more room. We got a great price on the tickets because we booked so far in advance, so I shall just have to spend my life booking everyhting well ahead!

Friday, July 04, 2008

Untitled post passing the time of day with the internet

I haven't been upto much. Extended holidays don't make for interesting posts... Here's a quick run through of what I've been up to for the last week or so:

1. Making earrings from beads and buttons. Yes, I know, just what I need before starting a new job, another time and soul consuming hobby.

2. Watching the new Narnia film, and being disappointed by its lack of heart. It's spectacular and glossy and magical and completely lacking the spark that makes you care. I loved the first one, and after all the hype surrounding this one I was just so disappointed. I wanted to love it and I just couldn't.

3. Going to Ikea and blowing the budget. Wheeee! I am very excited about putting it all together but that will sadly have to wait until next weekend, as most of the stuff I bought is too big for my car and will have to come up with my parents at graduation. Watch this space for updated photos of my room!

4. Being a glorified taxi service for my brother and sister. Next time I come home for the week, it will be on the train, to avoid having to take them places, pick them up from places, and wait while they have job interviews/driving theory tests/dental appointments. Sigh.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Moved..ish

So all my stuff is now at Lily's. Mostly in boxes.

Nowhere feels like home anymore. So many things need to be done in this house for it to be sorted. Most importantly at least one new bookcase, and a new bed (so bed boxes can go underneath for shoes). Until this happens this pile will have to stay in the corner of my room:(Yes, both those Ikea bags are full of shoes. Yes, this is my reduced shoe collection - only shoes I really really need. The rest of them went home a few weeks ago... And no, I don't usually keep them like this. Normally they are arranged in pairs inside my bed box, ordered according to use. I know, I'm cool.)

Friday, June 27, 2008

Moving house...

I hate moving house. This time even more than the last move, as I've been in this house for two years, and I've become very settled. Still there are LOTS of things I hate about this house (the damp, the slugs, the tiny size of my room, sharing with 4 others), so moving out won't be all bad.

My new house is very close to my current house - still in Studentville. I've got mixed feelings about that... Although it's nice to remain in an area I'm familiar with, where there are lots of friends close by, I still feel as though I am not really moving on. I think this feeling will pass with starting work, and I am definitely sure it will pass once I get my first pay check, but until then? Nothing's moved on for me.

I think this feeling is compounded by my best friend moving into a grown up flat with her boyfriend. The icing on the cake (or salt in the wound...) is my parents mentioning their horror about my continued single status.

Possibly I am about to become a complete reincarnation on Bridget Jones.

Meh, whatever. At least I don't have to live alone. I tend to got a little (more) barking when left alone for long periods, and I do not relish the idea of ever living alone. Although I am starting to see it as a viable option for the future. Well, perhaps less 'viable', and more 'necessary'. Sigh. My new housemate is Lily, dear friend and the most talkative person I know, bar myself. Which may be a slightly bad call, as I don't think either of us will ever stop once we get live together!

As far as packing goes, it's not really happened. I had some professionals come and move it for me today (they were soooooo damn slick - in and out in 30 minutes and they arrived early! Although this was not such a bonus at the time as I wasn't dressed. Cue a 2 minute mad dash to get dressed and attempt presentable. Not sure I achieved it). Unfortunately, once the piano was out the full extent of the dirt in the 'music room' - the glorified lean-to next to my room - was revealed. It was baaaaaaaaaaaaaaad. I was forced to make an emergency dash to Sainsbury's for cleaning supplies (including an actual scrubbing brush - who knew they made them anymore?) and then spent two hours scrubbing and wiping and mopping. My favourite way to spend an afternoon.... I then started shoving things in boxes, but kept being sidetracked. By really important things like painting a box to keep my paint in, sorting my stickers out, eating Maltesers, dusting the living room and other useful stuff like that.

Tomorrow the parentals are coming up for the final push, and hopefully I'll be fully installed at Lily's by the end of the day. I don't have to be out of here until Monday, so there's still time...

Oh, I hate packing.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Black Country Living Museum

IS SUPER COOL.

I hold my hands up now and confess that I am a big museum geek (this is the girl who spent an entire day at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Yes, from the opening time of 10am to the closing time on 5pm I was inside the museum. It was awesome). I absolutely love museums. Today I indulged that love with a trip to Dudley.

The Black Country Museum is an open air living museum, which basically boils down to a great big field filled with old houses, taken brick by brick from their original sites, populated by costumed volunteers who can tell the story of the house and the people who lived there. The area known as the Black Country includes Wolverhampton, Dudley, Sandwell and Walsall, and is so named because of the high concentration of industry there in the 19th century. The vast numbers of coal mines and iron foundrys turned the area black with smog (or so the legend goes...). The accent's pretty damn special too. And very different from the Brummies! Never confuse the two, or you'll be in trouble...

It was a great day out - especially the fish and chips for lunch! The secret recipe? Fry them in beef dripping... Sounds repulsive, tastes absolutely divine!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Final Year Dinner 'Weekend' Away


On Sunday, Monday and Tuesday last week, the final year medics took over a lovely hotel in the Cotswolds. It was a celebration of finishing the last five years alive. A chance to party with friends who are soon to leave, a chance to let our hair down, and a chance to dress up to the max!



We had Pimms, a BBQ, a gala dinner, several yummy breakfasts, a day in a field duck-herding, driving buggys and shooting arrows, and wall to wall sunshine. It was fantastic!

Friday, June 20, 2008

The daftness of youth

When my sister was three years old, she cut her hair. On three separate occasions. Each time, she denied having done it, despite large chunks missing from her fringe, and lots of short hair in her bed. Needless to say, she was in a lot of trouble (increasing levels with each subsequent episode of hair mutilation). We thought she had finally learnt her lesson after the third go.

But no. 10 years down the line, and she cuts her own hair again. Not just a bit of a trim (which can be down accurately to one's own hair, especially a fringe tidy), oh no, my sister has to go the whole hog and attempt to cut in a new fringe. That's right, my thirteen year old sister thought she could restyle her own hair in the bathroom with a pair of nail scissors.

Unsurprisingly, it looked terrible, the mothership went spare, and my sister had an emergency hair appointment the very next day to have it rectified.

She did have to endure a day at school looking like a plonker though - maybe this will finally drive home the lesson 'Do not cut your own hair if you have not done a three year hair-dressing diploma'.

Sadly, I don't have high hopes for her ever learning this fact.

Friday, June 13, 2008

It's Official

Today has been rather a big day, for two reasons.

Firstly, final results were out today. I had no resits or borderline results, so I knew I was going to pass, but opening the email was still a bit scary. Unsurprisingly I didn't win a prize. I've always been a decidedly average student, and made a point of accepting this when I first arrived at uni, but still... a little bit of me wishes I was good enough for such honours!

Secondly, today was my final day of shadowing and my final day on placement as an undergraduate. It turned out to be a really good day. This morning's trauma meeting included an hour of teaching, and then my F1 'allowed' me to do all the work on the ward round, including talking through red flag symptoms with a back pain patient. Which I felt ok about, as I am a good communicator and he is not. I then headed to theatre and got all my shadowing forms signed off (my trust's form was a A4 sheet of tick boxes including ridiculous boxes such as 'talking to patients'. Yes, my consultant really did have to tick off that I had spoken to a patient during two weeks of shadowing). I then met up with Mirabelle (she's working at my hospital in August! Yay!) and we went to grand round. Where I had a amazing free lunch of fish and chips with salad, followed by tea and cake. I could definitely get used to that! The grand round talk was extremely interesting - all about the current provisions fro undergrad teaching and improvements happening in the future, plus an interactive quiz about learning styles.

Mirabelle and I rounded off our undergrad career by bunking off the afternoon (a classic med student tactic) and going shopping. Wooo! And tonight the girls and I celebrated finished with a low key evening in the pub. It did get a wee bit rowdy at times, as we copiously toasted five years of slog, finishing our degrees, and friendship.

I can't get my head round it though. I've finished. Actually finished my degree. There's nothing left to do but graduate. It's over. Really over.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Almost ready. At least, I think. Well, maybe.

I finish my job shadowing tomorrow. It's been an ok week - my lazy F1 palmed me off to the other T&O F1 for most of the week, and he is very sweet and hardworking, and gives me jobs to do. And having something to do makes me feel useful, and therefore content. Even a big pile of TTOs to drawl through makes me happy. Easily pleased, moi? Hell yes!

The trauma meetings every morning are great - especially when the trauma board is quiet, and the consultant leading the meeting starts a teaching discussion. They start with me - as the student I get the easy job of 'Describe this film'. I can usually acquit myself well. Then the focus moves to one of the F1s 'How would you manage this patient in A&E? What would you look for on examination?', then to the SHOs with 'How would you definitively manage this patient?' and finally onto the registrars when I really lose the plot as they begin quoting papers and reviews and the like at each other to discuss the pros and cons of various techniques. I may not know what going on at this point, but the x-rays are still cool!

Today one of our patients started to go off. In a bad way. My F1, who thinks I am really rather useless but is loath to actually do any work, sent me to do an ABG (arterial blood gas) on the patient. I was nervous about this - I've never done it unsupervised and I'm a bit rubbish at it, but I got it first go (big plus as reduced discomfort for the patient - I felt mean doing it even the once, as she really wasn't well, and it really is very unpleasant) and returned within moments to present him with my little tube of arterial blood. He didn't look impressed, and dispatched me to A&E with extremely vague instuctions to use the ABG machine. I was wetting myself because, as students, we've had so many lectures telling us horror stories about the damn things, mainly how easy they are to break and how expensive they are. I did not want to get it wrong. I eventually persuaded a nurse to help, but she wasn't happy, and even less happy as I squirted blood all over the floor in my attempt to expel any remaining trace of air. I know, I'm cool. She also stood over me as I cleaned it up, which pissed me off. I am not the kind of person to leave a mess behind me, not at work, its too important, and I would hardly have left a puddle of blood on the floor in resus. But, I guess she doesn't know me, and safety dictates she should tar me with the 'all doctors are lazy bastards' brush.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I got the results back, the patient got more oxygen, she got a wee bit better. Job done.

I think the most important thing I've learnt this week is that I am ready for the job. I want to be making a patient list, writing down jobs, prioritising, getting on and doing things, and feeling the satisfaction of a job well done. I want to be able to sign my own TTOs and drug charts, and not have to trail around after someone with the power. I'm ready to answer my bleep and run to save someone's life. Well, maybe write up some fluids anyway!

Don't get me wrong, I still terrified about actually being a doctor, but I'm also really excited about it too. I'm really looking forward to starting work, to having patients what are mine, and to being of some real use on the wards, instead of a spare part.

Wooo! Roll on August!

Monday, June 09, 2008

Pants.

I'm in hospital. It's far far too early to be here. I left the house before 7am (the magical cut off point - before 7am = bad, after 7am = I'll cope). And the blasted ward round I was so determined not to be late for? It's not bloody on today. I could have had another 30 minutes in BED. Damn damn damn.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Pianos, organs and a pink pencil.

I went to a wedding yesterday. I didn't know the couple, as I was only there in my capacity as church choir alto section (yes, I am a natural soprano, and yes, I'm the only one who can sightread the hymns each week...). It was a small low-key wedding, but it was a lovely service.

However, it was also the first I'd heard about a problem with the piano at church. Last Sunday, it had been discovered that a whole section of notes around middle C were somehow sticking together and not playing properly. The piano tuner had been called, but had been unable to come in a fix it yet. All of which left me in rather a quandry as to what I was playing on Sunday morning...

We have a church organ. It's not a big organ, but it has two keyboards and a full set of pedals, and I've never played it before. I played the organ for one church service at home, before I came to uni, it was fun but I had to put in quite a lot of practice beforehand. This was going to have to be done on a quick run-through after the wedding on Saturday afternoon and another practice with the choir on Sunday morning.

It sort of worked. Ish. Let's just say the hymns were fine, but I really should work on my introductions, as somehow I manged to play every single introduction badly, and then be fine on the hymns. I didn't use any pedals, but I did have lots of fun pulling out lots of different stops for a multitude of sound effects! There is a weird treacly feeling when playing the organ, and a sensation of not being in time with the choir, due to a time delay from the action of my fingers and the sound coming out of the organ. I think you'd get used to it (maybe!) but it was really disconcerting.

After the service, one of my friends came up and congratulated me on a job pretty well done. He's a guitar teacher who works part-time in a music shop, and he volunteered to take a quick peek at the piano, and see if he could at least work out what the problem was. He took off the front of the piano, and lo and behold, there was the problem.

A bright pink pencil was wedged under the hammers.

He removed it and the piano was instantly returned to its usual melodic self. I was highly annoyed I'd not seen him before the service started! I have a worry that I'll now be asked to play the organ more often...

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Um, yeah... whatever.

I don't really have a lot to say. I have been doing absolutely bugger all for the last week, and its been goooooood. I had a nice weekend at home, I've had a number of high quality lie-ins, I've done a bit of pre-house move organising, and I've been drawing. It's nice for me but doesn't make for stimulating blog entrys. Sorry about that.

On a lighter note, how good is cherry Carmex?! I think it might have changed my lip balm habit FOREVER. I've suffered with a serious addiction to lip balm for several years now and tend to have little pots of the stuff secreted everywhere. From the obvious places - handbags, car, bedside table - to the much less obvious such as my pencil case. I also like to have lots of different types on the go at once. My previous favourite was a delicious Boots one with sage and almond oils, but at the same time I was also working a honey one and a propolis one. It's not like I have particularly dry lips, I just like to be fully moisturised at all times, and what better way than to always have a pot of lip balm handy. I ought to confess here that I also always carry a small tube of E45 for impromptu moisturising of hands, knees, elbows, and any other miscellaneous dry patches, as well as keeping an enormous 500g tub in the bathroom... I just like to be soft and smooth, ok? You got a problem with that?!

Ahem, so anyway, back to the point.

Sadly, after the impetigo incident I threw out all of my lip balms due to the irrational fear any/all where infected, and so far I've only bought one repleacement, the cherry Carmex. It's delicious - sweetly scented, softening and really tingly good, but I am going to limit myself to the one pot. Really. The obsession must stop.

I might just get another of those sage and almond ones tho. You know, just in case.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Job

As part of GMC requirements for medical students graduating, we all have to complete at least one week of shadowing on our job for August. I started my shadowing yesterday. And of course you're gagging to hear the gory details right?



I started on the ward round, which is very disorganised. There are two F1s covering 6 orthopaedic consultants, with a bunch of regs and SHOs of whom I haven't worked out which is which or what any of their names are. Sigh. The F1s seem randomly allocated to cover various consultants patients, depending on who's around and who gets first dibs on the smallest patient lists. It's rubbish. The F1 doing my job is an overseas graduate with several years of experience behind him. He thinks the job is 'easy' and has a rather laissez faire attitiude to it all. No-one writes a job list, which I find very very upsetting. How can you know if you've done all the jobs if you don't know what they were in the first place? Argh!



I haven't met my consultant yet, as he's on holiday, but I'm already thinking he is going to be rather a drag. My official hours will be 8am - 5pm, but he will expect me to meet him on the ward at 7.30am every Monday and Tuesday to see patients before the 8am trauma meeting. Oh joy of joys. I won't be going home any earlier. But there are huge gaping holes in the day with nothing to do, where the F1s hang in the mess and play pool, or shop online. It's going to drive me bonkers - I like to be busy and doing all the time.

I'm really enjoying all the x-rays though!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Sunglasses, sunshine and Vaughan Williams

Three things of note today:

1. I bought my second pair of sunglasses. As in my second pair of sunglasses ever in the history of the world. My first were a pair of yellow-framed heart-shaped beauties, worn and loved when I was four years old. It was the summer before I turned five and attended school, where the school nurse discovered I am as blind as the proverbial bat. This consigned me to a lifetime of glasses (that sounds as though I hate them and I don't, I love my glasses) so rendering sunglasses out of my reach - prescription sunglasses are prohibitively expensive, especially in terms of this country's low levels of bright bright sunshine and my ever-adjusting sight. However, the situation has completely changed with the advent of me joining a direct debit scheme for my occasional use contact lenses, so now I have to use 10 pairs a month. Therefore, I won't only be wearing them on nights out, I shall be wearing them most weekends, so I can also wear... SUNGLASSES! Wooooo!

2. The sunshine has gone (thus prohibiting the wearing of item no. 1) but I'm bringing it back with this appropriately named yellow jacket from M&S. Which actually looks much better on me that it does the model - no really, honestly truly it does!

3. I bought lovely CD of a bunch of Vaughan Williams pieces because I have fallen big time for this particular fantasia (unfortunately that isn't a great quality recording, but it's the best youtube could offer me in 2 minutes of searching). Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Skin

I’m in the middle of a love-hate relationship with my skin.

My natural skin tone is fair, with yellow undertones. Despite being a natural blonde, I don’t have the pink and white skin tone of the truly fair. So although in the winter I look more sallow than English rose, I tan beautifully, and quickly. However I am extremely adverse to sunbathing. There are many reasons, including:
1. Sweating – sunbathing is just too too HOT.
2. Wrinkles – sun damage ages your skin. I’ve seen the effect on my Grandmother (skin like a old leather sofa) and it’s not going to be repeated by moi.
3. Boredom – too bright to read a book, too hot to sleep…
4. Skin cancer – well, doesn’t do to risk it does it?
But I still want to be brown. Why? Because brown is beautiful darling! I look good with a bit of colour (although not too much. I don’t want to channel ‘WAG’). So faking it is the way forward, and, after many trials, I think I’ve finally found a product that works for me. I don’t like ‘fake tans’ because I am incompetent and always miss a bit, but I love these new gradual tanners. Last year I trialled the Dove version, but it did make me a bit too orange and a bit streaky. This new Nivea one is great – good even colour, and firming too. I love it! And I look absolutely delicious, and not day-glo orange, or streaky or too dark. Just as if I’ve spent the last week sunbathing in the park (and doing it naked to have achieved the completeness of colour that I have…!).

However, Fate has stepped in and burst my little balloon of sun-kissed happiness, by giving me a nasty case of perioral impetigo.

I have no idea how I got it, but I feel like crap. It’s extremely uncomfortable – tight, itchy, sore – and I feel very conscious of its nasty crusty appearance. I feel like a revolting leper. It’s completely battered my self confidence. I sat in the GP’s waiting room this morning feeling like an absolute freak, and hated going to the pharmacy and actually conversing with people. I am not confident about my appearance at the best of times (ha, understatement of the year!) and the voice in the back of my head is telling me that I’ve brought this upon myself by being so pleased and proud of my gorgeously brown body. I spent the rest of the day hiding in my room, refusing to entertain the thought of going to placement. It’s grim, and I hope the antibiotics start working their magic very very soon.

Monday, May 12, 2008

A Curious Limbo

So, I've passed my final exams, I've done everything required by medical school - I'm a doctor right?

Theoretically yes, but technically no (I understand it...which isn't very far). I won't really be an actual real life doctor til after graduation, which is 14th July. Which means right now, I'm still a bloody medical student. And this means the Medical School can still send me to placement - and if the Medschool can make our lives harder, they will. So yet again, I am on placement. Oh joy!

This week I am doing a radiology placement (yay imaging!). But although the images are awesome, the actual placement is super dull. Hanging around, watching radiographers inject dye, waiting for patients to be portered down from the ward. It's remarkable how much it feels like 3rd year again. You know, hanging around waiting for something, anything, to happen.

So it didn't seem that incredible when a sonographer introduced me to a patient as 'Anna, the third year medical student'.

I didn't like to jump in and say 'well, actually...' because what would I say? 'I may be a medical student but I'll be a doctor after graduation'? All med students can say that! It just so in between right now, being not just a medical student but not quite a proper doctor. That said, I'm not sure I ever will feel like a proper doctor!

The oddness of it all is compounded by the placement being at the hospital where I will be working next year, the same hospital where I had my very first placement all those years ago. There's 6 final years hanging about at the hospital at the moment, and most of us will be working there next year, so sitting having lunch together seems a premonition of things to come - in a good way and a bad way!

Two months until graduation, and only three until I start my job. I'll never be ready.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Passed

The title rather gives it away doesn't it?

Yes, it's true, I passed. This girl is going to be a doctor.

Monday, May 05, 2008

All over - at least for this moment

I finished my exams on Friday. Maybe forever, but I can't think like that yet.

Especially conisdering how the exams went.

Therapeutics was Wednesday's joy. I had to pretend my 30-something year old male lecturer was a 65 year old woman and counsel him about taking steroids for polymyalgia rheumatica. While discussing dietary measures to reduce osteoporosis risk, he told me he was 'a meat and two veg kind of girl'... Whatever I didn't do right, at least I didn't miss the crackingly obvious inferior MI on the ECG, as one girl did. Oops.

Thursday was the Medicine OSCE. My management station was a list of bloods with hypercalcaemia, which I bombed. In rather spectacular fashion - the poor consultant was quite literally dragging any info he could from me. I was gutted because the cycles running alongside mine had a hyperkalaemic ECG or pleural effusion CXR to recognise and talk about management. Both of which I could have aced, so I was gutted. My patient stations were pneumonectomy, heart murmur (please God, let it be MR) and a man so yellow he quite literally glowed. He was pretty damn sick, and I had to talk through a lot of my exam because he wasn't well enough for me to get him sat up, or rolled over, or even do any deep breathing... Poor guy.

And the final torture was a 90 minute GP OSCE - 3 12-minute simulated consultations and 3 vivas. I flunked the hyperthyroid viva (SEs of carbimazole anyone?) but the others were ok... I think. Although we may have all failed the smear consultation - everyone fininshed really early, and no-one took a sexual history, despite her mentioned previous promiscuity, in the context of increasing her risk of cervical cancer. Everyone reassured her but no-one asked about her current sex life... Ah well, if we all failed they'll just have to lower the pass mark for that one!

I've had a good weekend not worrying about the results, which makes a change! Saturday afternoon Jenna, Di and I watched the music channels, drinking banana milkshakes and eating strawberries, while plaiting each others hair. It felt a bit like we were 12 again! In the evening I drove home to Sussex, and I haven't done a lot since. It's been very very nice.

I can't think about Friday and the results, because either way it's just too big. I'm simply enjoying the moment, this moment of not having anything to do. It feels very strange - I have this nagging sensation in the back of my head that I ought to be doing something... No matter, I expect I shall get used to it.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

2 hours until the start of my therapeutics OSCE. I've been sat at my desk revising the management of everything I can think of. All the drugs and numbers are rattling about in my brain, I just have to hope the right ones come spilling out in the exam.

I feel so sick. I've been dreading this exam since I found out about it in 3rd year. That's a long time to build up a goodly amount to anxiety.

Oh, oh, oh.

Well, I had better go at look at some lunch. I think I am beyond looking at my notes and books.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Oh my. It was bad.

One of the MCQ questions was a table of ABG results (A through to J) from which we had to pick the correct one for each clinical scenario. A tiny sentence. It was HIDEOUS.

Roll on Friday.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Here we go...

First exam tomorrow afternoon.

Argh.

I've been sat at my desk all weekend (or so it feels), making a concerted effort to push knowledge into my grey matter. So far, I feel it hasn't worked. I've been reading and highlighting and reciting out loud for quite literally hours but I'm not sure how much has stuck.

And tomorrow we find out. Oh dear.

Friday, April 25, 2008

It's been a long two weeks.

So today I finish my GP placement. It's been a good placment - lots of hard work but very interesting. I feel I've come on leaps and bounds in confidence, and my management plans are starting to actually make sense! However, I've been working long hours - 8.30am til 5-5.30pm and what with revising every evening and trying to have a life, I've rather lost the blogging plot and haven't been keeping you updated with my escapades in GP land. Sadly, I can't even promise that this is going to change soon - the exams are next week...

I can't believe this placement finishes today. Mainly because (fingers crossed, touching wood) it is the last placement I'll do as a student. Oh, God, I hope it is. I am very very stressed about this next set of exams - I've got an MCQ (Monday) and 3 OSCES - therapeutics (Wednesday), medicine (Thursday) and GP (Friday).

These exmas are huge. If I pass, that's it, I'm a doctor. If I fail, well, I have the humiliation of telling everyone (2/3rds of my friends have already passed this one) and the massive stress of resits. Which would be a rather inappropriate first time for me.

I can't think about either outcome, not until I have the results in my hands, because its too big. Far far too big.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

It's Kal's birthday today. His birthday gift is this link.

And this bit of shameless plugging: Kal is ambulance technician (now training to be a paramedic), who blogs about his experiences, telling the beautiful, touching, complex, grim and sometimes downright nasty stories of the people he meets. He writes with grit, compassion and a deliciously sideways sense of humour. I recently discovered him and have been avidly reading his 'best of' posts. It's blogs like his that make me thank my lucky stars to have been born in an age with the internet...

But anyway, what are you still doing here?! Go will you, go!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Trialling Tarts

Sylvia and I have a dream.

The perfect treacle tart.

The dream began a few weeks ago, when we discussed the sublime treacle tart of our fevered imaginings. Golden, sticky, oozing filling in a light pastry case. We meticulously planned the evening of the baking and eating of the tart of dreams. We found a recipe, we bought ingredients, we measured and stirred and baked.

But it was all a lie, and we were heartbroken. The tart was not as good as we wanted. As we needed.

I've been mulling over the imperfections in our tart over the last few weeks, and after a read of what our Heston and some others have to say, I made some changes to the original - increasing the amount of filling, bringing the syrup content up to twice the bread content, adding an egg and some cream, plus a touch of nutmeg as well as ginger. I stuck to our original choice of a shortbread pastry base, because it was the only good thing about the original tart.

And this time? Oh, it was perfect. Utterly sticky syrupy deliciousness in a shortbread pastry case.

Sadly, it was eaten too fast for a picture, a la missbliss, but I promise that next time, there will be. Somehow, I don't think it'll be too long until the next time.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Collected thoughts

Whilst playing in church this morning (that gig is going much better thanks, fewer and fewer terrible mistakes) the choir mistress tried to make me go faster, in a hymn that 1) didn't need to and 2) was causing my fingers to tie into knots. I don't like being dictated to over speed, but will normally comply. Something in me snapped today, and I just didn't want to. It was post communion, we were nearly done, why bother tying myself in a knot? After trying to drag me faster with her voice, then clicking her fingers, then encouraging the choir to all go faster I snapped. If she wanted a race, she was damn well going to get one. And off I went, anger lending my fingers the dextrity to fly across the keys. By the end of the hymn, the choir were struggling to keep up, breathless and creased with laughter. Goodness knows where the congregation were...

Don't mess with me, because if you want to race, I'll give as good as I bloody get.

*******************

I had a very very delicious dinner tonight - spiced lentils with some cracking chilli and coriander laced pork sausages. Italian inspired. Ish.

*******************

Tom was at the fancy dress party I went to last week. It seemed as though everything was back to normal - we interacted without any awkwardness, even having a proper half hour gossip in the kitchen over tea, just like the good old days of being truly just friends. But then I bumped into him today in Sainsburys and it was intensely awkward. It wasn't helped by Mirabelle's prescence either - she hates him and he knows it (as any good girlfriend should, Mirabelle instantaneously offered to go and rip out his liver when he did me wrong). Anyway, it all adds up to an afternoon mulling over the friendship I've lost as revision distraction. Not fun.

Oh and the radio kept playing the Kooks:

'...and I always thought I would end up with you, eventually'

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Dress

I've found it! And my mum's bought it! The dress for the Final Year Dinner! Woop Woop!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The way ahead is unclear

There's 2 weeks left until medicine finals.

2 weeks left until the last set of exams.

2 weeks until the end of 5 years of work.

I'm terrified. Firstly, because 'ohmigod it's like medicine finals, they're soooo hard!', and secondly, because this the last hurdle to the real world. I've spent five years working towards this moment, and I'm worried this is going to be the one I fail. I'm going to cock up, and everyone will know I'm a fraud.

Passing these exams would be massive. It would be the start of my life. Once you get over medicine finals, you're a doctor. Yeah, a real life actual honest-to-god doctor. This means you are supposed to know stuff. Clever, useful medical stuff. I don't. Ooops. I've got through the last five years by half arsing my way through every topic and every set of exams. And now I'm supposed to recall this information?! It's all going to go horribly wrong.

I desperately want it to be over, and I desperately don't. Argh. Everyone keeps talking about after exams, and making plans, and I can't. I am very superstitious about this sort of thing, and have been touching wood even more than usual in the last few weeks. I'm scared that taking it (it meaning passing medicine and the whole getting a degree thing) will jinx it, and the future I want is going to go skipping off into the merry sunset with some other lucky bastard.

My brain can't cope with the enormity of the whole thing. Put it this way, 4 weeks today I could be finding out I've made it, I'm going to be a doctor. Or I could be crying into my emails because I've fallen at the final hurdle...

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

A Mild Case of Cannabalism

While sat on the sofa with Sylvia watching Neighbours at lunchtime (I love Neighbours and I love Channel 5 for putting in on 3 times a day and an omnibus at the weekends), I waved my leg in the air and began a tirade about their width and how I hated them.

Sylvia, kind soul that she is, tried to reassure me 'It's all muscle, you know it is. Oooooh, you'd be really tasty. I am 100% vegetarian, but I'd go for a bit of cannabalism.'

I will be locking my bedroom door every night from now on.

Monday, April 07, 2008

In A Former Life...

...I was definitely a drag queen. I went to a fancy dress party on Saturday as a peacock (the theme was 'P'). I had a lot of fun with my makeup:

Evolving Language

I love the way new verbs are created from nouns.

Such as the medschool classic I heard this morning in a clinical skills session (yes, they were finally teaching us to take blood - after 3 years of doing it...). We have a system in place for clinical staff to flag up a potential problem students by filling in a concern form. The form is used for students who have a personal problem, or who seem to be struggling, or are unprofessional (rude to staff or patients, late, low standards of personal hygiene - I kid you not). The form is a bright lemon yellow, hence the ubiquitous phrase:

'That bastard surgeon yellow-formed me for being late to the start of his list!'

Ah, the sweet sweet joy of the evolution of language.

Friday, April 04, 2008

It's Official: I'm old

I rang my family last night (to warn of an impending package and negotiate some money from the bank of Mum and Dad), and spoke to my little sister first:

'Mum's finishing her dinner... She says ring her back in 5 minutes.'

'Can't I just talk to you for 5 minutes?'

'Why? I've got nothing to say to you.'

Humph. Yeah well, I managed to keep her in some sort of conversation for 3 1/2 minutes, before my Mum took over.

'So, did she tell you her bit of news?'

'Umm no, she was rubbish, and didn't want to talk to me.'

'Well... [dramatic pause] ...she became a woman this week.'

Cue momentarily silence from me as I work this one out.

'Oh God! Poor kid. That sucks. Now she knows how rubbish it is to be a woman. And its for the reat of her life. Nearly.'

So there you have it. My baby sister is reproductively mature and I'm officially old. Am I mean to be jealous that she didn't start her periods til 13 1/2 years, and I was only 12?

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Performing

I love performing. One might say I'm a born performer. If I know what I'm doing, I can rock it. Usually a song, but even presentations if the subject is one where I'm sure of what I know.

I do not rock playing the piano. I'm competent but hate playing in public. When I took my grade 5, aged 15, I vowed I would never take another piano exam. And I haven't. I sometimes regret that choice - I played to the level of grade 8 with my teacher, but never took any formal exams to prove it. Maybe one day I'll go back and rectify that. Maybe...

Playing the piano keeps me sane when things are tough. If I'm playing, and especially if I'm playing and singing, I can block out everything. Troubles, worries, the passage of time... I am eternally grateful that my Mum persuaded my 10 year old self it was a good idea to take lessons, and gently nudged me to practice fairly regularly. Although even from the beginning, when I could only string together a few notes and chords, I truly loved sitting and playing. I just wasn't very good at directed playing, ie directed towards learning my scales (I failed the scale section of my grade 4 exam...).

Last summer, my dear friend Felicity took a long summer holiday, and wasn't around to play at church, as is her usual job. So she (rather rashly, I feel) asked me to play for her. I am perfectly capable of doing this, I'm just not comfortable doing it. But, a wage packet came with the playing, and as I would be in church anyway, I gave it a go. I sort of managed, and have become the usual suspect if Felicity needs a week off, which does imply some sort of faith in me. I've become less hung up on playing in public, and better at keeping going even when all fingers have become entangled and no correct notes are issuing from the piano. God love the Anglicans, they'll keep droning on the words to their favourite hymns whatever cock ups I make.

And there's been a quite a few rather spectacular mishaps. Like the time Felicity unexpectedly came into a church service when I was playing, and I freaked out and addded a whole bunch of unneccesary sharps to the introduction of the next hymn. A quiet reflective communion hymn. It was hideous.

And the Sunday (I may have been a leeetle hung over) I played a crashingly bad introduction to the first hymn and some old bat in the front row shook her head and whispered to her neighbour(loudly enough for me to hear!) 'Oh dear...'.

Oh, and the time I played an extra verse of the hymn, and was halfway through the second line before I realised no-one was singing, and then trailed to a slow and halting stop...

Oh yes, there's the time I played a gentle piece of music for the vicar and his altar attendant people thingummys to process out to, then tried to turn the page halfway through and dropped the sodding book on the keyboard. That one was applauded, and to this day I don't know if it was because the congregation thought if they clapped I'd stop, or they thought it was a brilliant end to a very modern interpretation, or if they just didn't notice...

I am getting better though... I played last week and only made a couple of marginal mistakes. And I'm playing for the next couple of weeks while Felicity is on her elective. Of course, I've now jinxed those by saying I'm getting better.

I'll keep you posted on how it goes.

Do you know what I've been singing all afternoon?

Algy met the bear,
The bear met Algy,
The bear was bulgy,
The bulge was Algy...


(and that's a song for innocent little school kids. Why do all seemingly 'nice' kids stories and songs have some sort of creepy moral to them?)

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Loneliness

I'm lonely at the moment. I don't mean for friends - I am extremely blessed in the friendship department, with some truly spectacularly good friends - I mean for a 'someone'. Someone to belong to, and have him belong to me.

My best friend is moving in with her boyfriend in a few short months. They've been discussing children, and I don't mean in a 'let's call them Mufasa and Sauron the Dark Lord*' kinda way. I mean in a 'when and how many' kind of way. It's very real, and very far out of my reach.

I'm definitely not ready for that yet, but I would like to be at least able to relate to that. To be able to think, yeah, I'll be there in a few years. Right now, it all seems light years from me.

And I'm worried that loneliness will turn me into a bitter old woman before I ever get the chance.

* yes, these really are the names of my brother's future children. Let's hope no woman is ever daft enough to procreate with him for the sake of said future children.

Sunday, March 30, 2008




Acrylic, ink and coloured pencil on Bristol board

(I really wish I had a super duper scanner, so you could see her in all her glory. I'm not 100% happy with it, but it was fun to mess around with. Did you know, photographing paintings is damn hard -this is the computer jigged version: brightness and contrast and cropping etc. None I really have a clue about, but she looks ok now I think.)

Friday, March 28, 2008

Not working, but should be

It's my week off for Easter, and I'm faffing. Not really working, but not really relaxing either. Just blithering somewhere inbetween. Grr.

On the other hand, I have finished a painting (of a flying purple hippo) and re-read several early Discworld novels. Oh, and done muchos housework, dragged entire trees (in pieces clearly) up our garden and chauffered my siblings here, there and everywhere.

The weather's up the spout too. Even more bipolar than the usual British spring. We're have hail, snow, showers, downpours and glorious sunshine this week - sometimes all in one day. No wonder I'm so unsettled.

Currently very pleased with: my new foundation brush from the Bodyshop. It's wickedly good for even smooth applications!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Never go on a a home visit to a patient with D&V

Because you end up losing the better part of half a week to it...

I started my GP placment last week. We are attached to two practices - an 'inner' practice, which is city centre based (Birmingham, Dudley, Wolves) and has a group of final years, where we consult and have tutorials, and an 'outer' practice which is supposed more rural, but mine is basically still Birmingham, in a 'nice' area. I'm the only student there, and all my time is spent consulting.

I started at my outer practice last Monday, and instantly felt at home, becasue the practice is so warm and welcoming. I had a good first three days, and then should have gone to my inner practice on Thursday and Friday. Unfortunately, on Wednesday evening, after my choir rehearsal, I started to feel extremely nauseous. By 10.30pm, I had my head down the toilet puking my guts up, and returned there at regular intervals throughout the night. And I mean regular - every 20 minutes for the first four hours. It was the worse night of my life. Thank God for ensuites!

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I spent Thursday day sleeping, Thursday night sleeping, and Friday morning sleeping. After that I felt much better, though a little wobbly. It wasn't until yesterday, when I was bouncing around with my usual vim and vigour, that my housemate remarked I 'was back to normal'.

Of course the moral of the story is: Don't bother your GP with diarrhoea and vomiting. You'll only end up sharing the joy.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Last Concert

Last night was my last concert with Medchoir, the medschool choir. I've been a member for the entire time I've been at Medschool, a grand total of 5 years, and now it's finished.

When I started at Medschool, and went to the Freshers Fair, the first thing I wanted to be signed up for was the newly formed choir. Everything else could be considered, but the choir was the thing. Sure enough, I found it, and signed myself up. During that first year there were about 10 members. We sung simple music, and did a 10 minute slot in the Medschool orchestra's concert. At the end of my first year, when the choir was 2 years old, it was decided that it needed a committee. So I put my name down, and became the treasurer.

Over the next four years I remained on the committee, becoming secretary and then finally president. I watched the members grow to nearly 40, and our hard work bring together concerts in several local churches. We've even sung for the Lord Mayor and for the Free Men of the City in the Council Houses!

Medchoir has always been a choir for everyone - even if you've only ever sung in the shower and don't read music. This can make rehearsals slow and limit the music we can sing. So two years ago we started a chamber choir, for people whose were better than your average. It's transmuted into a female vocal group, of about 8-10 of us, and we have a lot of fun. It relieves the boredom of listening the altos learning the same line over and over for the tenth week in a row!

But last night was the last concert I'll ever sing with them. It was fantastic - a joint concert between all the music groups in the Medical school, including the orchestra, choir, chamber choir and flute group. It was just as it ever was and ever has been, but I'll never do it again. I'm going to miss all of them, my singing friends. But what a way to go! The first time the choir and orchestra have ever completed a joint piece: Handel's Zadok the Priest. It was an amazing high at the end of a long and tuneful road. And here it is, by the magic of the internet - not in perfect quality, half the orchestra seem to have disappeared, but here none the less, for your enjoyment!
(I've also included the female chamber choir singing the Dance of the Magyars, because it sounded great and we loved singing it!)

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Balls

It was the Medic's annual ball last night, in the ICC. I've been every year since I started - a grand total of FIVE of these things. They're great - champagne reception, 3 course dinner, then dancing and a casino after. Plus all your friends, all shiny and glam and gorgeous and having a good time!

I had a really good time, but I'm so knackered now... I'm way too old for this going out and staying up all night malarkey.

And I've just worked out that I don't have a free evening until the end of term - in two weeks time. And I start general practice tomorrow. At 8.10am. An hour's drive away.

It'a going to be a loooooooong fortnight.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Medicine

I finished my medicine block today. Apparently I should know all the medicine I'll ever need for F1... I wish that were so.

On my role reversal form - based on me taking the F1's bleep and doing all her jobs for the day (under supervision of course!) - my team's F1 wrote in the comments section: 'polite'. On my PBA form (professional behaviours and attitudes) the Reg wrote 'always well presented, professional attitude'.

I may be going to be a crap doctor, but at least I'll be polite and well presented about it.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Shallow but happy

I love make-up. It brings me more pleasure than should be allowed from mere frivolous pigment. And I really wear it...

I like to wear slightly off the wall make up. I love really dark soft smudgy eyeliner (Barry M does a fabulous one) worn in a heavy ring. Or precise liquid liner in an elegant wing. I adore brightly coloured eyeliners and eyeshadows - electric blue, golden green, punky purple. I wear them in intense blocks, or blended together in arching rainbows (a current favourite is 4 shades of blue, from kingfisher to almost black - mmmm). I also have a love affair with deep dark lipsticks - my favourites are a rich blue-toned red and a juicy blackcurrant stain. Obviously, I don't wear all of these items at once. That would be off the wall. Very off. Eyes or lips, people, eyes OR lips.

Because makeup is so important to me, it can often be the foundation of an outfit. I'll decide on the makeup, then fit the outfit round it. For instance, this weekend is the medic's ball, and I'm wearing the dark red lippy. So I've therefore picked a black dress with shiny silvery accessories to go with the lipstick....

My dear housemate Sylvia (my running partner - and yes, it is going well, we're up to 18 mins, which is prob about 3km) is gorgeous in a casual Cameron Diaz way. She has the coolest kookiest dress sense, and always wears fab necklaces. But no makeup. She can manage concealer and mascara, and that's it. So this year I have been teaching her how to apply makeup. Its been tricky - despite being competent and confident, she is completely cack-handed as soon as a mascara wand is in her hand. And also, what works on me (anything) doesn't always work on other people. God blessed me with large eyes framed with high open brows. Plenty of space to work with!

Anyway, tonight we finally got Sylvia's makeup perfect. Subtle, flattering, easily reproduced by the girl herself. And I was so immensely satisfied.

I love makeup.


Currently wearing: my new ring - a treat to wear for the ball on Saturday.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

She Came, She Saw, She Conquered... ish

Ah, the ECG.

That squiggly line on the pink graph paper that represents the electrical activity of the heart. The line that has struck dread deep into the heart of this medical student since the first time she saw one.

But no longer!

I spent Thursday evening revising everything I'd ever learnt about ECGs, and it made sense. For the first time ever. And on Friday afternoon, the hospital teaching fellow took us for some amazing ECG teaching that brought it all together, and I finally feel as though I understand.

It's only taken 3 years.

But still, no more will the ECG paralyse this student on ward rounds! No, instead I shall proclaim my diagnosis with confidence!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

I'm all yukky

PC: horrid coughy cold

HPC: 1/52 coryzal symptoms, 4/7 productive cough, 3/7 complete and utter pissed-off-ness at life

PMH: several previous episodes of pissed-off-ness, usually coinciding with bad placements

DH: paracetamol and cough mixture

SH: fed up of stupid hospital placement, non smoker, drinks within accepted units

O/E: pt appears grumpy, apyrexial, obs stable

Diff diagnosis:
- TB
- Pneumonia
- Medstudentitis...

Plan:
- Continue cough mixture and paracetamol therapy
- Sleep
- Hang on til the weekend when everything will seem better. Hopefully...

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Earthquake Update

I really wasn't making it up. A tiny bit of me did wonder if I was mad or not, but the Beeb have kindly confirmed it for me.

WE JUST HAD AN EARTHQUAKE.

Oh yes. I was sat in bed reading, should have been asleep, and suddenly the room shook, firmly but gently, for about 5 seconds. I was like 'holy crap, what the hell?' and disbelieving to be honest. And then scared, cos I realised it was definitely not the housemate above me having sex. It was a flipping EARTHQUAKE.

So then I my on my dressing gown and stuck my head out to see if anyone else felt it, but no such luck, all asleep.

I turned to the internet, but there was no record yet. I found a likely page, and refreshed a few times, and then there it was:

12:56:46 AM UTC
England, United Kingdom ( 53.32N, 0.31W )
Magnitude 4.7
Depth 6 miles


Holy crap!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Yearbook or Why is everybody just the same?

After (nearly) five glorious (mostly... well, sometimes... alright - hardly ever) years at Medschool the time has come for the Yearbook. Ah yes, where each of my peers distills 5 years into one page of soundbites and a single photo.

I'm horrified by the identikit nature of said yearbook entries. In 10 years time, everyone would like to be a GP in the country and, if female, making babies. I did not put this, because right now I don't know what I'll be doing where, and I'm enjoying the freedom. Maybe I will be settled in 10 years, maybe I won't. I don't know. And the 'how I want to be remembered' question? Everyone has put something along the lines of 'a fun-loving, easy-going, loyal friend'. Ha! No-one's put anything mean, even the really bitchy girls.

I would like to point out that my friends have done me proud on this - there's a few identikit answers, but everyone's pulled out at least one interesting/funny/bizarre answer. Mine is of course a paragon of wit and poise, just like moi. Yeah, ok, so the picture I chose is ridiculously safe and doesn't really look like me, but at least I don't look crazy (as I do in many many photos on Facebook. Damn Facebook and it's mass photo sharingness).

I guess the Yearbook really just proves one point. We're all pretty much alike. At least in the way we think of ourselves, the way we want other's to think of us. Maybe it's just that there simply isn't that much originality in the world. Everybody wants to be unique, but how many truly special people do you know?

I don't know many people who can 'light up a room', but I have many many friends who are all completely unique and special, but would all look the same on a piece of paper. And some friends only became friends after a long acquaintance, because it took me that long to find the 'special'. Some people in my life are special because of the memorys and genes that we share.

I'm really glad I have them, you know. Even the ones who want to remembered as 'easy going' or (shudder) 'fun loving'.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Jumping through hoops

Being a medical student is not all sweetness and light. It's hard work most of the time, although I think most of us adjust to the level of work required and consider it normal. When I lived with non-medics, my work-life balance was just set at a completely different level. I went to lectures everyday, all day, because that's how it was. One ex-housemate attended just 4 hours a week, because that's how it was for her. Neither was wrong or right, it was what it was.

I accept, nay, embrace, all this. Medicine is hard, and I didn't walk into with my eyes shut, expecting an easy ride, or even a 'normal' student experience. But I am beginning to have some serious issues with the level of rubbish we are expected to do on top of our medical education. The stupid hoop-jumping for the sake of it stuff.

Take this term for instance. It's our final block before graduation, leading up to our last set of exams. We're trying to consolidate and revise everything useful from the last 4 and a half years - and its hard work. So the Medschool decides to set a couple of pointless and ridiculous projects just to add to the fun in our lives.

Firstly it was the patient information leaflet project. As in, critique and rewrite one. Yes, because that will be an important part of our role as doctors, something we should definitely know how to do. Because it's not like the NHS spends a considerable amount of money of paying people to do this stuff. The Medschool's argument is that we need to understand how to communicate to patients. Eh? Have we not just spent 4 years having sodding communication skills lectures and practicals? Surely the obligatory patient counselling stations we have in every single OSCE will have shown up the idiots who have no people skills? No?

(There is a conspiracy theory doing the rounds: any good leaflets are passed on the NHS to be used in the real world. I wouldn't put it past the Medschool, I really wouldn't.)
And now we have an ethics project to complete. In order to prove that we take notice of the world around us and understand ethical issues in the media, we have to summarise 25 articles (at least 15 from broadsheets) to show that we read the papers. It is a pointless exercise. All of mine have come from my once-weekly perusal of the Sunday Times, supplemented by BMJ News articles. Its taken me all afternoon to do the summaries for 5 of them. A whole afternoon when I could be learning something useful, say, how to read an ECG.

I have endured the hoop-jumping up until now, but now I'm reaching the end of my patience. I want - need - to learn medicine, not write summaries of newspaper articles. I feel like throwing the bloody hoop back.


Gratuitous pretty countryside picture taken on my lovely walk last weekend with Zombie. You'd never believe we were only 30 minutes from the centre of Birmingham... Alright, we were just into Worcestershire - oh yeah, I'm moving to the country in the summer!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Enormity of it All

So, last night was my first middle-of-the-night-I'll-never-pass-this-module panic. I think this is the record earliest affliction of said panic. Unfortunately, it's probably justified. 'Medicine' is a huge module, and I'm going to have to know a serious amount of stuff. Oh, and be able to read accurately and diagnosis from an ECG. After almost 3 years of clinical work, it still looks like a goddamn squiggly line on pink graph paper to me. Task for the next week: learn something (anything!) about ECGs.

I did attend some extremely useful teaching on Friday about prescribing - not what, but how. Oh yes, the actual nitty-gritty of putting things on the chart, things like sliding scales, digoxin loading doses, fluid regimes, and acetylcysteine for paracetamol ODs. It was very enlightening. Enlightening as to how to do these things, but also as to how ill-equipped we final years actually are to hit the wards in August. Our theoretical knowledge is there (in theory...) but our practical knowledge? Medical school has been tough, but nothing like the curve we'll all be climbing come August...

It's going to be a loooooong summer.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Somebody wants to employ me?!

This summer (finger crossed, and wood touched) I will become a doctor. Frightening stuff for both me and the good people of Britain. I'm still unsure as to how I got here without being kicked out...

The first two years out of medschool are called the Foundation Programme, F1 Aand F2. Each year is split into three jobs of four months each. During F1, most rotations include one surgery job, one medicine job, and one other, which may be another med or surg, or something entirely different. F2 is a bit more random in job rotations, and usually they're geared towards a future career, but not always.

To get onto the Foundation Programme, you must apply to a Foundation School (FS). A 'school' is a geographical area with one central office in charge of training. Some are huge and some tiny. My Foundation School, Hereford and Worcester, is one of the smallest, only containing 3 hospitals under 2 trusts. There are approximately 70 F1s there, compared with 800+ in the largest FSs.

After being allocated to a FS, we had to rank the different job rotations in our FS. This was a particularly long and arduous process (and I only had 25 jobs to pick from...) again online, on a very poorly designed site.

Anyway, today was the Big Day when F1 job allocations were released, and we would all know exactly where we'd be spending the next year of our lives.

I got my first choice. Hurrah!

Next year, my rotation is (again, fingers crossed and touching wood):
- Trauma and orthopaedics
- Medical Assessment Unit with general medicine and elderly care
- Accident and Emergency

I'm so ridiculously excited! And scared too. But mostly excited and disbelieving. It's going to be a big big change, but I really glad to have got rotations that are going to test and improve my diagnostic skills and also teach me some real-life patient management skills. Yay!

Most people in my FS were pretty happy with their jobs. Lily, my soon-to-be housemate, also got her first choice job at the same hospital as me, and Mirabelle got her top choice too, which will bring her to our hospital for one 4 month block. Not that I think getting first choice was typical - Lily and I had gone for a rather maligned little DGH, that we love but is considered somewhat dull by others, and Mirabelle has an unfortunate passion for psychiatry (I don't hold it against her, she's my best friend). I don't know anyone who was desperately disappointed though, so the system is apparently working. Seems madness, but is clearly true.

Oh, it's just so big, I can hardly get my head round it. But at least I can really start planning the next year of my life.

And I must also pass my medical finals. Mustn't forget that one last rather important step...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

You know you're spending too much time in hospital when...

On passing a random SHO in the corridor you are told:

'I'm beginning to see you round here more than the house officers paid to be here'

(Jobs are out tomorrow - eeek!)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Trippy goodness

So, me and my two good friends (I forget their names, but you should know that one's a lovely human guy and the other a beaver-person-type thingy) cross-country ski down to the train station. On skis made from bark. There's no proper snow but the icy slush makes the perfect surface to slip and slid on.

We reach the station, an old fashioned place with a pre-war feel. The train's waiting for us, so we get on. I don't know where we're going, but that's no problem. There's a minor tussle over seats, but all three of us eventually get sat together, and the train sets off.

The track begins to rise up from the ground, and suddenly we're travelling throught the tops of giant horse chesnut trees in full blossom. The creamy blooms are pushing through the windows, and we lean out to touch them and revel in their freshness.

Then the trees end, and we're travelling past icy mountains, with a foamy sea lapping at their feet. The sea is close and powerful, yet I feel no spray on my face, and have no sense of danger. This changes when I realise the train is headed straight towards a cliff, and isn't going to stop. I panic, and my companions reassure me - the sea is not all it seems, in truth it is the entrance to another world.

We plunge into the sea, and instead of wet and cold, I feel warmth and light, as the train becomes a dragon flying through an orange coloured sky. Riding on the back on the dragon is marvellous, but I know I am nearing my destination. We have reached the home of the beaver people. The dragon drops me and my companions on the back on a giant golden beaver, a statue I think, in the city, and we slid down its back to the ground. There I meet the leaders of the beaver-creatures, the same as my companion, and find out I am part of a task force to win a war for them.

Sadly, before I can find out more about these fascinating people, and perhaps formulate a plan to save them from the terrible war which has already maimed so many of their kind, I wake up.

The End.

*readers should note I was not under the influence of any substance, legal or illegal, at the time of this dream.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Medical Wards

You've gotta love 'em.

This week has been a good week in the land of general medicine. I skipped the post-take ward round on Tuesday morning (well, I hadn't really been on take, so what was the bleeding point?!) and instead headed to an excellent cardiology teaching round. I listened to a number of leaky hearts - including a patient with 2 mechanical valves, which sounded like a wristwatch from the end of the bed. How you would sleep with that clicking away inside I do not know! But it was excellent OSCE practice and made me realise I have to go and revise my murmurs to get them really slick. At the moment I have to think about it all a bit too much...

My own firm's ward round have been pretty good too - we've got an interesting mix of patients. Including one who's 98 years old, and damn sprightly with it. When asked by the reg 'How are you feeling today?', she replied 'I'm feeling old' with some feeling... The 3rd years have also been on the rounds this week, and its good fun. And I enjoy being trusted with jobs. I like being useful, even if my uses are somewhat limited - keeping a jobs list, re-writing drug charts, finding lost notes, doing lying and standing BPs. Not ground breaking medicine but better than standing around!

I also managed to successfully take blood cultures this week, using a syringe. I'm generally a bit rubbish with syringes. Having originally trained with vcutainers, I'm a big fan. They make life neat and clean and easy, and when you've got a patient with shocking veins (as on my surgery ward last year) a little green or blue butterfly is a much easier option to take multiple blood bottles. But to do blood cultures you need a syringe full of blood not neat little vacutainer bottles. I've not have much luck with syringes in the past, but yesterday all went extremely well and I was very pleased with myself. It's silly really, but achieving something concrete and practical always makes me feel happier with the world. Again, it's better than standing around doing nothing...

Most brilliant entry in a patient's notes: 'Fan therapy commenced' - roughly translated means the nursing staff put a fan in the bed area of a patient who was feeling hot. Genius.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

On Take

Well, I should have been... Except the SHO thought that either I should observe clerking or take historys from patients after he'd clerked that. WTF!? I left early, unsurprisingly, because I was bored out of skull. I'm going to be a house officer in 6 months (touch wood), how can I practice clerking skills without actually doing it? Even the 3rd years can take a history and do a reasonable examination for goodness sake!

I did spend a productive half an hour on the Royal College of Radiologists' website though, while sat in the doctor's office. I am very taken with the idea of radiology. And it has absolutely nothing to do with the really quite delectable radiology consultant at the local hospital, who I happened to see in Sainsburys today... Honestly, nothing at all.

Oh, and how glad am I to see Skins back on TV. Its brilliant. Shaky start to today's first episode, but it picked up and by the close I was enjoying it as much as ever. Especially the crazy outfits, Bill Bailey as a West Country builder ('alrigh', my luvverr?') and Maxxie, the gay dancer. Me and houseamtes (congregated on the sofas to watch) were debating whether fancying him is right or wrong, considering how young he is - quick check on imdb.com and he's 18 - but I think that's part of the charm. He's an amazing dancer with a wickedly toned body, always a plus, but I think his relative youth completes the attraction. He's a newly minted man: clean, fresh and undeniably hot.

Hmmm, you can't tell I'm in the middle of a man-drought at all, can you?

Saturday, February 09, 2008

New Toy

I'm on the new laptop! Woop woop!

So far so good, will fully update on how cool it is when I stop playing with all the buttons...

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

I feel bad for my lack of posting of late...

My laptop died last week, which has been rather traumatic. Especially as the hard drive is probably bust and I may have lost everything on it. I'm rather upset - and cursing myself for not having backed up the important stuff. Including a wee project that was due in last Friday... Thankfully it wasn't a difficult project (critique of an existing patient info leaflet and writing our own) so I managed to knock another one together in time for the deadline!

However, what with a new placement and no laptop of my own, it's curtailed my late night internet forays somewhat, and so I have not been keeping up with my blog reading or writing. But I am fortunate to have the best most wonderfullest parents in the world, who have bought me a new one that's going to be ready to be collected at the weekend. I am going all the way home to do the collecting, approximately 320 mile round trip, but it'll be worth it. So worth it. And then I shall catch up on all my reading and maybe write some interesting posts on the things that have been swilling round my brain of late. Or not, as the case may be.

In other news, my new placement is 6 weeks of medicine at the large and dreaded hospital where I spent 12 weeks as a 3rd year hating every moment. The very place that drove me to start writing this blog... I'm attached to a general med/elderly care firm, and so far it's been ok. Not riveting, but not too dull. I've been writing out drug charts, doing TTOs and radiology forms, and being a very good general dogsbody. The firm also has 5 3rd years, and I quite like it. Not when they witness me getting a dressing down by the consultant for my utter lack of knowledge, but when they ask me questions I can actually answer! It does happen, I swear.

And finally, I submitted my job choices tonight, and I find out what I've got on 20th February. Not long, not long... I really want my first choice, it's an awesome rotation. But I'll be happy with any of the top 10, and if I don't get those, well, I'm fairly easily pleased. I'll find the bright side.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Results

I bloody did it. I passed Surgery and Agenda. Not exactly brilliantly, but it was a pass...

Now I only have Medicine and GP to get through. Holy crap. I 'm really really going to have to work over the next few months.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

First one done, but that was the easiest bit. Turn up, write name, tick boxes. Of course, reading the paper and choosing the most appropriate answer is helpful on the path to passing...

Tomorrow is the first of two OSCE - AGENDA. That's A&E, GUM, ENT, Neuro and Derm.

At the moment I swing between calm acceptance and blind terror. These are just another set of exams to get through, just another hoop on the road to graduating. And on the other hand, they're my FINALS. Words to strike terror into the hearts of medics across the land.

Monday, January 14, 2008

I'm fighting waves of nausea and have a very tense, painful neck.

Exams start tomorrow.

Friday, January 11, 2008

The long and and short of it

It's been a funny old week.

All the 3rd and 4th years have been starting brand new hospital placements, their little faces all shiny with excitment. Or possibly just perspiration. In contrast, all the 5th years have been in an odd sort of limbo - we had to return to complete one week of our last block of 2007, before a week of exams. Our faces were definitely shiny with perspiration. The perspiration of finals terror.

Personally, I found myself doing a week of Dermatology. I wasn't looking forward to it, as peering at other people's spotty, pimply, scaley bits has never been my idea of fun, but it hasn't been as bad as I feared. It has still been an extremely looooong week though. I have taken one history this week - under supervision (what?!) - and described many erythematous, crusted lesions, but I didn't get to do anything else. And that adds up to a lot of hours spent listening to a consultant dermatologist explain the treatment of eczema...

On the other hand, this week has flown by. Next week are the dreaded surgery finals, and I've been trying to choke down as much revision as I can. I don't think its enough. I didn't work very hard during my surgery placement - at least not in the academic sense. I think being on the ward round every day at 8am for the ward round and then spending countless hours bleeding patients and taking forms to radiology does count as working hard, but although it may teach you a great deal about actually being an F1, it counts for bugger all when faced with an MCQ/EMQ paper and an OSCE. I really could have done with this week lasting considerably longer and including a lot more hours of work than it has.

I forsee a weekend of utter misery ahead.

PS On a brighter note I have swum 2560 m this week. But could only fit in one run so far - the next one is tomorrow afternoon. Unless it's snowing.

PPS Go watch this. Bill Bailey is a genius.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

I'm in!

Worcester and Hereford, are you ready for Dr Anna?

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Tomorrow...

Tomorrow is the Big Day.

(Alright, so it's probably not the Biggest Day this year. After all, this is a year filled with Big Days. Most so Big I am too scared to even think about them... )

Tomorrow is the day our Foundation school allocations are released. This is a the first part of a complex process designed to find all medschool graduates a job in August. It will effectively allocate us all to an area of the country. Some of these are pretty big - the whole of Scotland for instance. The West Midlands Deanery is fairly small, and is split into even smaller Foundation Schools. My top choice only has 3 hospitals, all of them friendly DGHs, with a nice line in countryside surroundings.

I decided I wanted to stay in the West Midlands for F1 and F2 sometime between 3rd and 4th year. I know the area, I know the hospitals, most of my friends are staying here too. West Midlands FSs were my top 3 choices, and I really hope I've got one of them... I considered moving elsewhere, but apart from returning home to Sussex, I have no other draws to another area. And moving back home isn't really an option anyway - my close friends are in Brum, and the FS home fall into is huge and encompasses part of London. Hmmm, so the competition won't be too high then! Sadly, I keep have a recurring panic that my choices will have registered wrong (it's all done electronically and I just don't trust it) and I'm going to end up miles away. Like in Scotland.

I really want to know where I'll be, so I can start making decisions. Important ones, including where to live. I won't be staying in this house, and I won't be staying with these housemates. Mirabelle is moving in with her boyfriend, Sylvia has another year of medicine to go and Di is moving into the centre of Birmingham as she's going to - hopes to - remain in the city, at one of the big hospitals. At the moment, my plans for next year are tentative little things, sitting on hold, waiting. Lily and I hope to houseshare next year, and keep planning things and getting excited, and then have to remind ourselves that we'll only be housesharing if this goes in our favour... I hate the uncertainty. It's just like A-levels, UCAS and going to uni all over again. Sigh.

On a more positive note, Sylvia and I went for our first run of the new training programme. We've started at Week 5 of a 9 week internet programme, due to last year's work, and it felt just about the right level. Hard, but not I'm-dying-hard. Starting in the latter half of the programme will stretch it out - we're going to spend two weeks on each level. Hopefully this will make the transition to each level up easier...!

Monday, January 07, 2008

Addendum

Ahem. I forgot one resolution:

5. I solemnly resolve not to form inappropriate attachments to men who are not interested in me.

I fear this will be the hardest to keep...

Sunday, January 06, 2008

New Year, New Term, New...Me?

I've finally decided to make some resolutions for the New Year (yeah, I know, but better late than never):

1. Complete the training plan Sylvia and I devised tonight to get us to running 5k over the next 8 weeks, and then run 3 miles 3 times a week.

2. Cut out dairy until February, and then reintroduce slowly. I'm full of snot and feeling rough, and it'll make me feel sooooo much better. Especially after all the decadences of Christmas...

3. Make better food choices and reduce snacking (Mirabelle the Food Nazi will be on this one after exams. She shouts 'Do you need that?! Do you REALLY need that?!' everytime I go near a biscuit whenever I ask her to help me trim down. Works like a charm for fitting into ball gowns) to get my BMI below 25. Where is really ought to be. Sigh.

4. Go to bed at a reasonable time!

Friday, January 04, 2008

Urgh. Enthusiasm for life has drained out of me in inverse proportion to the size of the lymph nodes in my neck. So much so, I'm staying home for another night, taking Night Nurse and snuggling in my bed. Mmmmm bed.

I did manage to raise a chuckle to this corker though. I feel a bit sorry for James Blunt, but then I consider the utterly awfulness of his new song and I stop.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

The Last Times

2008 was always the Big One, that moment up ahead where I would finally get there. Where ‘there’ was, I didn’t actually know, but I knew it involved becoming a Real Doctor. It probably also involved weighing a stone less, being considerably blonder and a whole lot wittier. I think it maybe meant being grown up, what ever that is.

Well, it’s bloody gone and snuck up and arrived hasn’t it. Without warning, 2008 has burst into my life, and I’m not there. Not remotely there. I don’t feel anywhere near grown up (and I’m still carrying that extra stone. And the mousy hair. And I’m not very witty either. Bugger).

Suddenely, the slow inexorable march of the Last Times has begun. The last time singing with the medics choir at Christmas; the last time walking from home to see the lights in Bournville; the last time I’ll attend the Medschool carol concert.

Soon those last times will be tainted with excitement, pleasure even. The last time of introducing myself to a patient as a medical student; the last time I write my university exam number on the top of a paper; the last time I fill out a form as ‘Miss’…


There's a last time for everything, I guess.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year!

Wow! Can you believe its 2008 already? Where did 2007 go?

I’m feeling quite positive tonight. Which may be due to having just watched my brand new Hairspray DVD (man, I wanna shake and shimmy like those kids!) but I hope it is a new kind of optimism…

Mind you, I do have to get through the next lot of finals in 2 weeks time. Eeek! The surgery OSCE is going to be stiff. Definitely the toughest yet. A few days ago, I was terrified about failing, but now I can see that would not necessarily be a disaster. If I fail this block, I can resit no worries in the summer. I’ve passed everything so far, the Medschool would not freak out. I think the worst bit would be telling all my mates!

I missed blogging over Christmas. Unfortunately it is one of my uni routines that gets thrown out of whack by being at home. I have had a lovely time tho – eating, drinking, sleeping, present opening. My wonderful wonderful parents gave me the best gift – they’re going to pay for my final year weekend away with the rest of the graduating lot in June AND a new dress too! They are so good to me.

Seeing all my family has been lovely too. My poor Nan is knackered and thin after her op and the radiotherapy (which only paused for Christmas Day and Boxing Day) but bearing up well. My cousins, my brother and I are getting on even better than before, which is lovely. My paternal cousins (is that the right description? Who knows, but it works right?) are all a little older than me, and all never really wanted to know. I mean, nice enough, but not close. But the four of us on my Mum’s side of the family really are. And that’s great.

My uncle treated us (me and my brother and sister) and the cousins to a Christmas outing to see the Tutankhamun exhibition at the O2 arena last week. It was amazing. The gold glittered, the colours punched out bright and clear, the craftsmanship was superb, and all over 3000 years old… Truly incredible. The only disappointing aspect was the gaping hole left by Tut’s death mask – you know, the famous gold and blue face and headdress placed on his mummy. Apparently it was too fragile to leave Cairo, but it is a shame for it to be missing.

I’ve also been doing a bit of walking with the parentals and various siblings. The best have been to my two favourite beaches – Cuckmere Haven in the Seven Sisters Country Park, and West Wittering. The Witterings is my favourite beach in the world. It may not be the most beautiful, or special, but I spent so much of my childhood paddling there, learning to swim in the sea – which involved swallowing most of the sea! – that it will always hold a corner of my heart. My dad used to take me out to the sand banks, exposed by low tides, and we’d collect the shells and I’d make him carry them all back so I could show my mum. My mum would always be sitting on the beach, reading a book, keeping an eye on my little brother, who’d be digging a very large hole. No castles for our John, only big holes…

Rose and Dad had new digital cameras for Christmas, and of course John and I both have one, and we all took them to the beaches. Poor Mum was quite left out! Here’s my favourite from the Witterings (which is very different for the sunny, busy, summer at low tide pics on the site!):