Monday, 27 June 2011

barriers to revision

It's too durn nice to be stuck inside revising all day. I think I'll go for a run at lunchtime.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011


[insert obligatory post about exam season here]

Seriously though, I'm looking down the barrel of exams I feel unprepared for on topics I'm not particularly interested in.

Consequently I've not had time to think of something interesting to say about the psych lectures we've been having recently, other than I'm quite enjoying it and I'm actually looking forward to the idea of a mental state interview in the OSCEs this time around.

And I'm dog tired. I think I feel a bit burnt out and look forward to a summer holiday free of medicine. Just got to head down and just get it done.

P.S. the upshot of doing psych lectures at this time of the year is I can tell how well I am/ am not coping by asking myself all the screening questions about anxiety disorders!

Friday, 17 June 2011

ICU consultants part 1

scene: morning ward round

(A phone beeps)

Consultant: It's my daughter. "Dad, what's the stuff that platelets produce when they come into contact with collagen?" Anyone know?

Turns, looking questioningly at the room full of consultants, registrars an SHO and myself

(hushed silence)

Registrar: Why is she asking?
Consultant: She's doing her A-levels. Seriously, no-one knows? (turns to me) do you?
Me: (thinking that it's been more than three weeks since the last time I had to think about the coagulation cascade) No idea.

In retrospect, and with a quick visit to wiki, I guess she meant Thromboxane or ADP?

Monday, 13 June 2011

Sucked in, Dennis

I like much of the blogosphere I latched onto the tale of Amina Abdallah Araf al Omari who presented herself as a "Gay Girl in Damascus", with great interest. Here was a woman who's religion and sexual politics put her in harms way and who blogged about her experiences with clarity and spirit.

I felt particularly moved when I read the post covering a night-time attempted abduction by Syrian governmental agents and how her father had saved her life with words and composure.

Then I felt the outrage only a liberal can know when I read a post from her cousin detailing Amina's abduction from the street. I felt a cold sense of dread that the next post would be a requiem, describing how her body was found in a back alley, obviously tortured and abused.

Except it wasn't.

The whole thing was a literary exercise by an 40 year old American man, studying in Edinburgh.

I couldn't have felt more angry, though I wasn't sure if I was more angry at myself for having been so credulous and breathlessly ready to repeat "her" story to coursemates, or the guy who made this story up for the untold damage he has wrought on anyone who tries to tell a similar tale (except truthfully).

When the abduction tale was posted, Syrian officials were quick to say "We've looked into, this person doesn't exist." I, like many I suspect, thought to myself "Well, they would say that wouldn't they?" Turns out they were telling the truth. And the next time another person in an oppressive regime speaks out online and provides insight to living in danger because of their political belief, sexual persuasion or whatever, well that person will have to fight that bit more to get people to heed their call.

So any number of limp, ashen-faced apologies from Tom McMaster will not appease my annoyance with him. Especially as he had the gall to chastise his readers (and subsequent critics) in the initial post where he coughed to his "brief experiment in nerd psychology".

Okay, I'm spent. Back to your regular programming.

Friday, 10 June 2011

On illness and Admin

Sick Note.
From jk5854's flickr photostream
So what started as a bit of pharyngitis has made a concerted effort to claim everything south of my carina as lebensraum by way of a detour up into my nasal cavity.

This led to me taking today off school as I didn't really want to spend the morning mouth-breathing my way around the DR and then spend the afternoon coughing and spluttering my way through the expert forum (kind of like a Question Time for the week's lead lecturers).

This in turn gave me a day to spend either lying in bed feeling a bit sorry for myself or, once that got boring, addressing issues of admin. A close friend on the course is an army type and has introduced me to all sorts of interesting turns of phrase: "popping smoke", "bring the rain", "danger close" and "admin". This is a phrase that covers everything from polishing your boots to packing your bags to making sure you're carrying enough ammo. There is "good admin" and "bad admin". And I have, of late fallen into the latter camp.

So once the paracetamol, phenylephrine and industrial grade caffeine had kicked in I set to my admin. I've cleared up quite a few bits of IRL BS this week and this morning was an opportunity to finish up some notes, send off emails about next year's project to the person who will hopefully be my tutor, pay some bills, secure my place in next year's Brighton Marathon and then have a bath.

And it was everything I thought it could be. I got to lie still and read for pleasure (something I'm not very good at giving myself time to do) and then I washed from top to toe, had a shave and felt almost reborn by the end of it. I'm still working my way through Full Catastrophe Living and the more I read, the more the idea of giving myself a few minutes everyday of paying attention to my body seems healthy and appropriate.

I find it slightly ironic that I need to be sick enough to not go to school to force me to stop for long enough to just "be". This is something I need to work harder at doing. That and paying attention to my admin.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011


So I've been cycling to school for a while now and have been getting increasingly bored with sweaty-back syndrome caused by carrying my capacious backpack. So in a bid to treat this frankly life-altering condition (carrying a spare t-shirt, knowing that if it rains my books will be soaked, getting my sweat on with the least amount of exercise) I bought a pannier rack and this badass pannier bag.

And the change has been dramatic. No more sweaty back, having a waterproof storage medium (it's made from super hardy trucker tarp), it's large enough to hold my smart dress for clinical days.

It's all good. If a little dorky.

Incidently, this was meant to be a test post of emailing a post from my iPhone. Turns out you need to be careful with your formatting. Duly noted.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

"You've not blogged in a while, have you?"

Thank you, Liz!

My apologies for not having posted in oh-so-long. It's not that I don't have anything to say - I am the kind of dude who always has an opinion and little needs to be done to wheedle it out of me. I am however, the kind of dude who also has priorities and sadly med school has taken up my mental runtime a bit too much of late. I'm not suggesting that I've kicked it into high gear and I'm producing more work than previously, it's just that the work is taking up more of my conciousness than previously.

I guess it's not a useful place to be in especially, but I am doing what I can to nip it in the bud and try and remember how to work *and* play.

Can I direct you to a podcast about priorities? Well, I'm going to anyway. Back to work is a nominally a podcast about business practice (don't worry, it's not as dull/ pompous as it sounds), but a fair amount of the issues that Merlin Mann addresses are relavent to study, too - especially when he starts banging on about priorities and "what can you not ship?".

Can we talk about not doing, too? This is another step I've taken to address the general horror of medical school. I've started practicing Mindfulness which I hope will be fruitful in future weeks. I picked up a copy of Jon Kabat-Zinn's "Full catastrophe living: using the wisdom of your body and mind to face stress, pain, and illness" from the school library and I'm working through it slowly. There's a lot in there and integrating 15mins (and working up to 45mins) of meditation into my daily routine is not easy in terms of finding time. I am learning to be more in the moment and observing what is happening around me without judging it. I am *not* turning into some kind of crunchy beardy type who moves to Vermont and knits their own yoghurt - I am turning into someone who is more in control of their life. There will be more on this as I pursue mindfulness.

I've started a pilates class before school starts, too. Turns out that standing an breathing is waaaaay more complicated than I thought. Just as well I found out now so I can do something about it before the situation gets any worse!

We've transitioned from musculo-skeletal to neuro and psych in modules at school. The former reminded me that I am not a surgeon and after yesterday's primer on neuro-anatomy, I think I can rule out neurology, too. I did enjoy dabbing at coursemates with cotton wool though for the sensory neuro exam, though. Psych is something I have limited experience with, but I look forward to finding out about it and the idea of an assessment that doesn't involve touching someone is novel to me!