Friday, 17 December 2010

And now for something slightly more relaxed

Hi, well the SSU got completed three days early, and the presentation on it went very well considering  was trying to teach a bunch of first years with no background knowledge how plasmids work in the space of 3 minutes.  The essay itself counts for nothing, but we will get professionalism judgements from our tutors.  I then spent the next couple of days relaxing, it was amazing.  It wasn't entirely what I'd had planned as I wanted to go up into town to do Christmas shopping, or do some more shifts at the surgery, but karma had its way.  My foot has been a little sore for the last few weeks.  I thought it was possibly a stress fracture on the ball of my foot from dancing in (tiny) heels at the numerous Christmas balls recently.  However, when I woke up the day after giving my presentation I couldn't move my big toe and it was lying in a plane a little lower than the rest.  I couldn't bear for anything to touch it: I couldn't even get my foot into a shoe without crying in pain, so I got my housemate to drive me to the walk-in centre. Turns out I have gout or mono-arthritis (both pretty similar).  Not entirely sure how that happened as I'm certainly not overweight, hardly drink and border on anaemia I eat so little red meat.  It's doing much better now, but I've been told to keep off it and keep it elevated for the next two weeks.  So I've been spending my time hurriedly making jewellery for family for Christmas since I couldn't get into town to buy them anything.  Hopefully it'll be better by Christmas.  And it had certainly be better by New Years because mr and I are going to watch the fireworks in London again and there are a load more museums we want to look round (medical ones of course, geeks that we are).

I'm back with the pension company for Christmas so I may be quiet for the next couple of weeks.  Long term readers may remember me talking about Christmas being a really busy time because of reports and checks that have to be run on all schemes.  I started them in Summer, but surprise, surprise no one has touched them since and my boss wants me to clear as much of it as I can, so I don't know if I'll have time to post.  Because of that, I hope you all have safe journeys wherever you need to get to this Christmas, that you get everything you want and that you get to spend it with the people that matter most.  Happy Christmas everyone, your hobbling bean.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Buried under a mountainous to-do list

Eeep, hello, I almost didn't see you there. Sorry it's been so long since I updated this. I have discovered the more things you try to do in a day, the faster the day seems to go.  Since last time I have done another placement - another GP's where I saw a 6 week baby check (so cute!) and had the pleasure to sit in on a consultation of a very quiet man recently diagnosed with HIV.  He was so calm and collected, he had all his scores written in a note book so he could keep track, he was utterly charming.  I went to an amazing Paediatrics career evening, so as is tradition (you want to be whatever the last thing you saw was, as long as the people you met were nice) I now want to be a Paediatrician :).  They told us that as Doctors we will have the privilege to be part of defining moments in people's lives - whether it's telling them good news or bad news, or even just lending an ear when it's needed and I definitely felt that with the HIV patient.  Cue the warm fuzzies (I'm a Peninsula student don't you know, we ooze the warm fuzzies, we're people persons).

I wrote 100% pure grade waffle reflective essay on how I've been learning so far and handed it in with my super organised portfolio (the second person in the year to do so, 4 days before the deadline, geek).  I choose my SSU title for the formative SSU1 which I am currently battling with now.  I chose a very interesting topic, unfortunately there isn't any information on it that isn't heresay or classified.  Smart move bean.  I got allocated my SSU 2 and 3 topics and I'm really happy with them - Biofilms and Eczema in Children.  I get to be a science geek because I LOVE biofilms (disclaimer: I will not be saying this when it comes to SSU2, I know this and ask you please kindly refrain from pointing it out to me when the time comes) and think they are really cool!!!  Aaaannnd, I get to spend time on actual wards talking to kiddies!  Granted about eczema, which won't be quite so exciting, but it was a 'red spot' topic so it was really popular with limited places so I'm amazed I got it, especially as I know quite a few people who didn't get any of their choices.

I went to an extra lecture about the acute abdomen and got my first taste of what third year will be like being grilled by a consultant: [Him]"What muscle causes renal colic?" [Me] "Err, I don't know", "Never say you don't know, that's what my 15 year old son says and I give him a clip round the ear.  Where is the muscle?", "Um, we haven't done the kidneys yet!"  If you wondered, he squeezed out of me in the end and it was the ureter.  Apparently, you can open someone up and watch the ureter wriggling when they have renal colic as the muscles spasm.  (See, mean man = don't want to be a vascular surgeon).  When he wasn't asking you a question he was pretty cool.  We all left muttering/singing 'nerves C, 3, 4, 5, keeps the diaphragm alive'.

Mr came down last weekend and we had a lovely weekend gallivanting around town.  I wish.  On Friday night my hard disc drive failed in my laptop so the most amazing (electronic engineer) mr that he is took me to PC World, bought me a new HDD and then spent the rest of the weekend fitting it, trying to recover my old data and updating the now blank laptop with Windows and Microsoft Office.  And all I've done since then is snap at him cos I'm super stressed and busy.  Bad, bad bean.  I really hope he knows how much I love him and appreciate him deep down underneath the seething waves of stressage.  And no, not just because he knows what to do when I look at him with a quivering lower lip babbling "b...b...brokken" and pointing to my computer.

He also downloaded me this new fancy freeware that backs up my documents to a cloud server in the sky.  It's very clever.  You download the program, tell it what folders or files you want backed up, and then everytime you make changes and save a new version or add something to the folder it uploads the changes to your secure webspace.  You get a website and a password so you can login to your files from wherever you are, even mobile devices, and work on them, then when you go back to your main computer it downloads and integrates the new changes.  You can email files straight to your cloud server and they will be ready downloaded to your main computer when you come back, and you can share files or folders with other people and they can either see or see and edit them.  Oh, and pictures you upload can be sent straight to facebook so you don't have to upload them to things twice, but I haven't played with that bit yet.  Can you tell I'm very impressed?  You get 5GB free storage, but if you sign up using my referral link by the 31 December you get an extra 500 MB free (and so do I :) ), after that I think it might be an extra 250MB.  If you complete all their getting started steps you get and extra 250MB as well.  Soooo, click and download it, that way you'll never lose something important.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Stopping to take a breath

Wow, what a busy week!  Since student finance don't seem to be sorting themselves out I updated my CV and a cover letter and dropped them round the local GP surgeries and luckily was called in two days later by one for an interview a couple of days later and started work the next day.  It's nothing terribly amazing - I'm an administrator on a zero hours contract, so I work when they need stuff doing and when I have the time.  At the moment I am working through their backlog of letter dictations and I'm having the best time!  I find it really fascinating to be able to combine my administration know-how with medicine, and I'm hoping that immersing myself in medicine a bit more might make it easier to learn.  I would also really like a dictation/transcription foot pedal that works with Real Player so I can type my lecture notes streamed from the online uni portal faster.  The one at work is amazing!  I have descended into a whole new level of geekiness from which I fear I cannot be saved.

Asides from paid work I have sat my clinical competency exam in basic life support, taking blood pressure and examination of the pregnant abdomen, and am happy to say I passed all three with top marks.  I have been to lectures both boring, interesting and extra.  One which I found fascinating was some new theories being tested about treating septic shock patients.  The macro-circulation vasodilates but the micro-circulation (the capillaries) vasoconstricts, so although you can oxygenate patients the oxygen doesn't actually get to where it is required, so although the sats appear normal (because we can't measure oxygenation of the microcirculation) the septic patients still die.  They have been able to visualise the blood moving through the capillaries and in normal, healthy people it flows freely, in anaemic people you can see the lack of red blood cells and in septic patients the blood moves slowly and gets clogged up and stuck.  The theory being that now researchers should look for drugs which target the capillaries and vasodilate them.  I found that I really missed going to lectures where the material comes straight from the lab.  I love the clinical lectures that we do, but I miss hearing about the exciting new research.  It's great to be taught by someone who is so passionate about their work, and the way they explain it makes the science sound so elegant.  Hmmm, maybe I'm already to geeky to be saved :)

I also donned my fancy dress and sparkly shoes for the Medsoc Winter ball which was fantastic.  The committee did a great job.  We all got these free insulated travel mugs printed with the Peninsula logo which will make morning PBL session so much more bearable.  We have finished the last case unit of the year and now move into three weeks of SSU (student selected unit), but seeing as it's a formative SSU, I don't think we have much contact time so most people are treating it as an extension to the two weeks we get off for Christmas.  There's just an SSU essay and a portfolio analysis essay to do and that's me done for the year.  It seems to have gone very quickly.

Because the next three weeks will be so slack, it sort of feels like Christmas is a lot closer than it actually is.  This isn't being helped by how cold it is.  We don't have any snow down here, but when I was rowing this morning we were having to break the ice with our blades to get them in to take the stroke, and there was one terrifying moment when I went to put the blade in and it bounced straight off the surface.  We were going round a corner at the time, so if we can't row we can't steer and we were heading straight for a bank.  Luckily there were no accidents.  Every time splash came up it froze on us, the blades and riggers had icicles hanging off them and I was wondering why I wasn't warmly tucked up in bed.  I really should start Christmas shopping....

Saturday, 20 November 2010


I am adding to the list of animals which have been sacrificed for my education.  Starting with flies, maggots and sheep for the IB, moving through frogs, mice and hamsters for my first degree I can now add pigs to the list.  Thursday afternoon/evening saw me taking a scalpel to a pigs trotter so I could learn how to stitch it up again.  I'm not sure I've ever felt so guilty but had so much fun in my life.  If I'm being totally fair, the sheep and pigs were just bits left over from a butcher, the frogs were saved from being frogs' legs and the mice are specially bred to be lab mice.

We have various societies here which, instead of organising socials, organise extra lectures and workshops, and this was one of them.  There was only one other first year that got a place, and only ten of us at all, and otherwise us first years don't get to learn suturing until the end of the first year when it will probably be a 30 minute session before being whisked off to learn something else.  This was two glorious hours.  My theory was that I am pants at sewing, utterly pants.  As in, I sewed patches on my jeans because I had holes where a lady probably shouldn't have holes and try and get away with calling it fashion, so I bought material, made a patch and sewed it on.  Half way through a trip out to town all the patches fell off.  Embarrassed bean.  I figured therefore, I would be a good idea to get as much practice in as possible, and I am still on a mission to collect skills that show yes, I am actually training to be a proper Dr, not just doing another science degree.  I can now do plain interrupted sutures and mattress interrupted sutures and the facilitator said my stitches were excellent :D

Mum had great fun telling my aunt I got 8% in an exam and watching her squirm before explaining how our exams work.  My aunt has always been very supportive, but has also always been the first to point out to mum that medicine is very hard, and only the cleverest get on, and wouldn't I rather do something else instead.

I also went to a careers event in the week - Women in Surgery which had some amazing speakers.  There was a Dr from the GB health team that went to the Beijing and Athens Olympics, an amazing Romanian Plastic surgeon who was terrifyingly brilliant - by the time she finished med school she had 55 poster, 30 papers and had spoken at loads of conferences.  She figured if she tripled the entrance requirements no one could tell her she wasn't good enough.  Apparently, although at medical school the gender balance is equal, only 8% of the Consultants in Britain are female.  I can't remember if that's all Consultants or Surgical Consultants, but it's not good either way.  All the speakers were great, with fantastic sense of humours and I got free food, it was a free event with free transport and a certificate :)

Finally, congratulations and commiserations to all the people who got their GAMSAT results yesterday.  It seems all the people I was rooting for didn't pass so I really am gutted for you.  It is a ridiculously hard exam, no matter what anyone says.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

First AMK Result

AMK results went up this morning......... I passed!!!!  I got 8%, which counts as a satisfactory pass, and I am above the cohort mean of 7.5% so I am a happy bean.  Unfortunately it doesn't count for anything, but I was happy to see I answered correctly the questions on the topics we had done so far, and I even beat some second years.  It's a good score to work on I think.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Acrylic eyes

Tar barrels was amazing, although I got much closer than I was expecting.  I had anticipated being on the edges of the crowd, watching from a distance, but instead on several occasions I found myself right next to the gaping, flaming mouth of a huge barrel with a crowd surging behind me, trying to push to get closer because they wanted to touch the barrel.  Both amazing and terrifying.  Apart from that, it was a nice, relaxing weekend with mr.

Monday was my community placement, this time with the national artificial eye service.  It was pretty cool, I have to say.  This one man travels around hospitals covering all of the south west - Dorset, Devon and Cornwall, with a case full of trays of prosthetic eyes; mainly blue, since apparently one type of eye colour is more prevalent in certain areas than others - and the west country is blue.  An impression is made of the eye socket and one of these temporary eyes he carries with him is selected based on best colour match to the other one, cut to shape and fitted.  The impression is sent to Blackpool where a bespoke eye is handmade and hand painted with oil paints, with the veins being made of individual red silk threads laid on.  Every six months to a year the patient can come back in to have the eye sanded down, buffed and polished to get rid of the build up of proteins from tear fluid and to check the fit to see if a new prosthetic is required.  We met a patient in his 60's who had lost his eye in an accident when he was a little boy.  It was really nice to see how well adjusted and happy this man was.  The prosthetist and the patient spent a good 15 minutes chatting about the man's life in general - his family, work etc which was great, that he had that much time to really build up the rapport, and he'd obviously been seeing this man for some time and remembered details about his family life.  The prosthetist was a history graduate, and it was great to see how much he enjoyed helping people and the continuity of care.  We were told about how few healthcare professionals know about the service, which is a real same since it's free and it can make such a difference.

Unfortunately, and rather embarrassingly, I nearly fainted twice in my placement.  It wasn't because I was grossed out, because I found it freakishly fascinating to be honest and the things we were discussing at the time were perfectly innocuous.  I just started to get really hot, sweaty, dizzy and my vision blurred and I got the sense I'd fall down if I couldn't sit soon.  It even happened when I was with the patient which was seriously embarrassing for me.  The rest of the day I didn't feel right - really weak, too hot, too cold, fatigued and then really achy.  So I am typing this from bed where I have been all day bar a quick trip to the Dr's who thinks I have some sort of major viral infection emerging and that I should stay in bed and keep away from sick people since I am immunocompromised.  I missed clinical skills today, which was pants.  I hate missing things, especially awesome things like that, but I'm not too sure I could get to clinical skills and back without falling down.  That and the fact that tonsillitis and freshers flu round two is currently going around the medics, although I seem to be showing symptoms in the opposite for either of those - everything hurts and is stiff, swollen lymph nodes make it feel like I'm swallowing rocks every time I try to swallow and a fever but no cough or runny nose.  I guess it will get worse before it gets better, but I hope it goes away soon.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Busy Busy!

Wow, well I'm not sure what happened to that week.  I survived the AMK.  I answered 22 questions, so I have somewhere between -4.4% and 17.6%, which I'm happy with.  There were probably some questions I could have guessed at - I got a few down to a 50:50 choice that I really couldn't pick between so I left.  Equally there were some where I didn't understand any of the answers, so I sensibly left them too.  There were a lot of Don't Know answers, but I find I'm not as freaked out by that as I was expecting to be.  When I left one of the guys who finished at the same time as me only answered 2, and I've found someone who answered 122, so the odds of me being somewhere in the middle and therefore passing seem pretty good.  The top 5% get excellents, the bottom 5% fail the next 15% up from that get borderline and everyone else gets satisfactory.

I promised some information on my placement.  I was shadowing a community midwife in one of the roughest, most deprived areas of my city.  This was a really big culture shock to me, and the first time I've had my views really challenged.  We went on a home visit to an 18 year old girl with a 7 day old baby.  The baby had been sleeping fine, but the night before was up crying all night and the mother didn't get much sleep.  She was sobbing on the phone when we said we would come round and she continued to cry almost constantly throughout the visit.  Her mother was there and was being really supportive, although her two younger sons (around 7 and 14 I guess [7 years old and an Uncle!]) were running around being noisy which possibly didn't help.  The mother was telling us how she had fed the baby every time it cried, but still couldn't get it to settle.  The baby was a little grisly when we got there, and didn't like being weighed, but when the midwife held him it was like she knew a special off-switch, the baby was instantly silent and sleeping.  The midwife explained that babies need other things besides food, and at that age they don't know what it is they want exactly, just that they aren't happy.  The biggest thing for me was how young she was.  Inside my head was screaming go back to school, you shouldn't be having to deal with this, you poor thing.  I kept thinking of my housemates who were 18 and how they couldn't look after themselves, let alone a baby.  I know that at that age our bodies are most prepared for having a child, I guess it's just that it's so incongruous with my upbringing, where the focus has always been on education.  The second girl we saw was 20, with a two year old running around and a history of miscarriages.  She was living in a one bedroom flat paid for by the council, and her partner was living with his mum so the council continue to pay her rent.  She had had a big argument with her boyfriend the night before, had no job and her previous successful pregnancy had left her with post natal depression, which she was still being medicated for two years later but had stopped the pills immediately when she found out she was pregnant, although the pregnancy was planned.  Again, I just couldn't help thinking this is no environment to raise a baby in.  I'm not saying she shouldn't have kids, I'm just saying she should get a bit more stability in her life first.  She did come out with a gem though: when asked if she had any heart problems she said "No.....Though I do have a heart murmur, does that count?"

My my am I looking forward to Christmas when the PBL groups swap over.  I really like PBL, I get a lot out of it and prefer it to lectures (especially since a lot of this is revision for me, which is nice).  My problem is the closed-mindedness of my group.  I get the impression that because I look the same age as them, they aren't going to take anything I say seriously - if they haven't done, it can't be true.  When it was explained to me, Peninsula like grads because we can bring our prior knowledge to the group and help out a bit.  My group just shoot me down and get really arsey with me.  Now, normally I can stand up for myself, but when it's 8 against one ad it happens every time, I'm seriously losing patience and am thinking of just shuting up in class and let them do it the hard way.  But I can't really do that, because we get judged on how much we talk in class and how much prior knowledge we bring, so I'd just end up shooting myself in the foot if I'm quiet.  An example being in our case unit this week.  It's on immunology and they decided one of the questions they wanted was when is it not appropriate to give antibiotics (the stimulus being a mother wants antibiotics for her child who has a respiratory infection and you as the Dr don't want to give them because they won't help).  Now, I don't know the A-Level syllabus, but I said well, antibiotics wouldn't help if it isn't a bacterial infection, so only give it if it's bacterial.  Would they believe me? No.  Another was what was the age of consent for medical treatment.  Now we covered this in the first case unit with what age can you get an abortion at.  We should also have looked it up for interview prep because Peninsula is hot on ethics.  Apparently they only looked up rules on contraception, and thought it might be different for everything else?!  So I explained Gillick's competency and Fraser guidelines and so it's 16 normally or minimum 13 with Fraser guidelines but still they wouldn't listen.  We ended up with questions about what is a respiratory infection, and what does a practice nurse do?  Seriously!!!  They are smart people, why the stupid questions?  And I don't even think it's just making questions for the sake of it to pad out the number we have to make it look more impressive.  Any paper evidence I bring to class is shot down and I'm made to feel like I'm disrupting class, being deliberately difficult or something.  Arrgh, rage!!!!  In any other setting I get on really well with them, because we are together for quite a lot of things, it's just PBL.  I guess it shouldn't bug me really, because it just means I have a really easy question to answer, I just get frustrated that I don't feel like a group equal, that my knowledge doesn't count for anything and that they can be so childish and un-accepting.  Meh, maybe this is just the storming part of group dynamics and it'll calm down, but somehow, I don't think so.

In more exciting Dr news... I learnt how to take blood.  Eeeee!!!!!  It's actually real now.  I am bean the medical student, and no one is going to say they made a mistake and I shouldn't be here.  Tomorrow I'm going here :)  Us Devon folk are right nutters!
Tar Barrels!

Good luck GAMSAT people, not long to wait now.
Bean x

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Another first

Today was the first time I got to use my stethoscope (Purple, initials engraved for those freshers who wonder) on a real life, actual person.  Ok, so it was another student, but it was the first bit of medicine I have done that wasn't pretend or on a manikin.  And it wasn't exactly taxing being as it was taking a blood pressure, but I'm still excited.  Well, excited but exhausted.  In the two hour session we covered examining a pregnant abdomen including determining position and lie, fundal height, fetal heart rate, blood pressure manually and with a steth, heart rate, respiratory rate, temperature aurally and under the tongue, and plotting it all on obs charts.  It was interesting and good fun, but man - my brain was leaking out of my ear by the end.  Just complete information overload.  And to top it off, we have competency tests on it in a couple of weeks.  Eeek!

Even more of an eek is that tomorrow I have my first exam.  An AMK - acquired medical knowledge test, that will be 125 questions in 3 hours, multiple choice with 4 options and a don't know option.  1 mark for a correct answer, -0.25 for an incorrect answer and 0 for a don't know.  The test is set at Junior Doctor level, although I was told last week that even a consultant would only get 60%, so I'm a little confused at that.  I also get the feeling this is the test that will be sat by all Doctors every five years after qualifying to retain their license to practice under the new guidelines.  I think we are only supposed to be getting about 2% because it's our first one, and technically it's formative so it doesn't count for anything anyway, but it's still fairly terrifying.

Most people on my course will be stressing I think because they will be used to getting 90%+.  Having done a degree and had proven to me on many occasions I know nothing, this does not bother me so much.  What is most nerve wrecking for me is that you can't revise.  I'm a great one for cramming, but you just can't for this.  There's so much I don't know, I wouldn't know where to begin.  I'm confident in what I do know, but that amounts to pretty much nothing in the grand scheme of what I should know in order to do well in this test.  I'm also worried that I'll recognise some of the words from my biomedical days and be tempted to have a punt and end up doing worse than I should.  The questions are all clinical cases including symptoms and test results requiring a diagnosis, or what would you do in this situation (with the answer conveniently being some GMC guideline on the appropriate action to take), so I think I might recognise some of the answers, but never have looked at the science in a clinical context I'm not going to know the symptoms.  Fingers crossed I can show restraint tomorrow.  Wish me luck!

I have more news to tell about my midwife placement and confrontations with my PBL group, but I think I will leave that to later on this week and go to bed now with some camomile tea to try and abate the insomnia I always get before an exam.  See you on the other side.
Bean x

Tuesday, 19 October 2010


Last Monday I went on my first placement.  It was at a GP's surgery, which just happened to be where I did some work experience about 5 years ago when I was first applying to medical school, so I already knew a few of the staff and how the practice works.  From start to finish I just had the best time.  From looking at it, I didn't get to do anything terribly exciting really, I just sat on a chair in the corner of the room and watched the consultations and spoke with the nurse or Dr about them afterwards, but from the grin that was on my face for the rest of the day you'd have thought I single-handedly diagnosed all the patients myself.

Firstly, I was introduced to all the patients as a student doctor, which actually made my day :)  I got to see a wide range of patients including knee pains, IVF requests, 12 month immunisations and cervical smears.  One of my two most memorable moments was sitting watching this lady ask for a referral to an IVF clinic as she had suffered 19 miscarriages and buried two children born prematurely, which was heartbreaking to hear about.  There's no way I would be strong enough to put myself through that, she was such an amazing lady.

The other moment was when I was observing a cervical smear from the other side of the room to give the lady some privacy, and the nurse some room because the table was sort of squished in an alcove.  The nurse asked permission if I could have a closer look, the lady consented and I bounded across the room - you have never seen a bean move so fast. I had a peer, saw the cervix, and then had a moment of realisation that I knew absolutely nothing, and here was this lady letting me peer at her privates as she is having an uncomfortable procedure and in possibly one of the most undignified positions you can be in.  It was really useful for me to see because it tied in nicely with the case unit we'd just been doing, so now I've seen it in books and real life but once she was dressed I made sure to thank her properly for giving consent.  It seemed the least I could do.  It might only have been a simple thing for her to do - to say yes - as I guess she was already embarrassed enough anyway, so having one more person looking probably couldn't add to that feeling, but it was incredibly useful for me.

The reverence required to be around patients when dealing with sensitive matters soon left our class however, as later on in the week we were doing genital exam on rubber manikins in clinical skills.  There were several incidents, including one person managing to fire the glans head of the penis across the room while trying to milk out any discharge, and the facilitator casually reminding us to be careful of where we put our thumbs.  We were all so intent on getting our fingers deep enough to feel the ovaries, we all had our thumbs firmly jammed on the clitoris.  Ooops.  Oh well, I guess clinical skills is the place to make these kinds of mistakes :)
We were told you can laugh as much as you like now, just make sure when you do it for real you aren't partnered with the same people, otherwise you'll make eye contact, remember this day and dissolve into fits of giggles.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Week One Survived

Not counting Induction week, my first week at uni is finished, and all I can say is...WOW!  It's everything I hoped it would be and more.  It's so cliché, I know and for that I apologise, but I am just having the best time, there is such a big smile on my face all the time, albeit only visible through the frazzled, exhausted haze my life has become. The smile shines brightly through though.  This week has seen plenaries (lectures) on conception in culture, anatomy of the reproductive systems and pelvis, reproductive ethics and mitosis/meiosis; Life Science sessions on medical imaging, anatomical language embryology of the reproductive systems, the menstrual cycle, spermatogenisis and oogenisis; an essay handed in two days early (nerd that I am) and my first PBL revealing a case on the topic of conception.  Wow :)  Embryology was one of my favourite topics, and I'm so happy that things are coming flooding back to me, rather than struggling to learn them for the first time.  I am certainly glad I did a degree first, actually.  It was definitely the best way for me to do it.  I'm not afraid of hard work, and I know how to take lecture notes, which everyone else seems to be struggling with.

The work load is tough, I can't lie about that - there's so much to do although I do keep forgetting a case unit lasts two weeks so I have twice as much time as I think I do, sort of.  Bearing in mind I don't know what new stuff there will be next week yet... Argh, anyway, tough as it is, I'm loving it.  It's so nice to be back studying again, and to be studying things that are really interesting to me - this must be what it was like for everyone else who picked degrees they liked and got in first time.  I can sit down to study and look up three hours later thirsty and wonder where the time went.  It's awesome!  This was definitely the right course for me too.  I love how everything is taught with a bit of science and then here's the clinical context, straight away.  I went to a plenary on pelvic anatomy, I watched Aclands Dissection videos that we have access to online, I coloured in the anatomy colouring book, I played with models and felt the landmarks on my life science partner and I can now say that I fully understand the anatomy of the pelvis.  It's amazing.  I've never had that sort of clarity built by seeing things many times from different angles before.  Everything is built up, bit by bit and there's lots of cross over between sessions, but with a different slant, so instead of being repetitive, it's clarifying - you see one bit and then it's built upon because this other bit you're learning about is connected to it in some way.  I really hope I can stay this enthusiastic about the course.  I see other medics on TSR complaining about modules of their course, but mine is taught so differently from theirs, I hope it stays this interesting.

My beautiful God-daughter, Irys
In non-medic related news, Mr came down last weekend for my God-daughter's Christening, and he was down this weekend because it was our 3 year anniversary.  We went out for a meal Friday night, Saturday night I cooked for him - gnocchi and bolognese, all cooked from scratch I'm proud to say and enjoyed with wine and Seven Pounds, a Will Smith film I've been waiting to see for ages.  Sunday morning I cooked him his favourite breakfast in bed and then we took a wander up into town.  It was a lovely weekend and it was really nice to see the mr.  My housemates were looking jealously on as I cooked for my mr, and the little bean in my head was saying, well that's what you get having a steady girlfriend instead of a string of girls you pick up in clubs.  Catty bean :p

I'm feeling really lucky at the moment - I'm on a great course, making lovely new friends, with a fantastic mr, and only a few marly points.  Most recently being the fantastic people at SFE who decided to do a manual re-calc of my entitlement and pull my funding for the rest of the year "because my course dates changes"  Wha....? 0_0  Cue one very polite, quietly simmering, angry phone call and a hasty apology, "I have no idea why they did that, I'll put you in for another re-calc tomorrow.  It'll take 4-6 weeks to come through."  Stupid people...

I'm off for a shower before my first placement tomorrow and then blast through some more PBL questions.  Have an awesome week people, I hope my excitement rubs off on you and things go your way.  Good luck for the UCAS deadline potential medics!!!  It is totally worth it.

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Death By Powerpoint

Hi, sorry it's been a while since my last post.  It's just been crazily busy!  The two weeks off I had were spent unpacking bags from last time, completely going through all of my things and chucking bits out and then repacking for uni.  Saturday I went to a craft fair and got some new beading bits to make pretty things with, though having seen the programme I'm now not sure when I'll have a chance to sit down and make them.

Sunday I loaded the car up with all my stuff and my parents followed my down while I cycled down, which took me all of ten minutes.  It is a very strange feeling to be going to uni in my home town.  I keep forgetting everyone else doesn't know their way around like I do.

None of my house mates are medics, which was a bit disappointing to be honest, I thought that they put us all together.  I have one Business Studies, four Sports Science and one sports Science with Psychology, and of those only one other is a girl.  Having said that, the guys are getting nicer as I get to know them more, but it's a bit awkward because they're all doing main uni things whilst I'm doing medic things.  I'm really feeling the age gap between us as well.  I've got 8.30 starts every day this week so far apart from today and they really haven't, so have been staying up late and making lots of noise each night, including bringing back lots of giggling screaming girls - gah!  That said, for the last two nights I've been so tired I've slept right through anyway.  They'v also made up flat rules which they keep catching me out with, so the next time I drink with them I have to do 30 press ups now I think.  I actually can't wait for freshers to be over so they have some work to do and stop going out so much, gosh I sound like such an old moany lady!  I must be channelling Grumpy :p

The course isn't terribly interesting so far unfortunately, and what interesting bits there are have been swamped with boring admin-y, common sense lectures.  They appear to like telling us everything three times in three different lectures all by different people, but using the same slides, so it would be nice if it were more streamlined and they had a bit more communication between them, that way maybe we wouldn't need such early starts!

I've found my PBL group number and we have our first session tomorrow which is PBL themed to be a formative introduction to a PBL session.  Unfortunately off the back of this there will be an essay on what type of learner I am to be handed in at the end of next week.  It's International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge all over again.  We've had a clinical skills introduction and seen the rooms and some of the robots which look like they will be fun to play with and learn from.  I've found out where my placements are and it looks like I have some pretty exciting ones. The first one is actually at the GP's I did my work experience with, which will be nice.  I also have another at a different GP's, one at an artificial eye clinic and one with midwives.  I'm really looking forward to them.  It still hasn't quite sunk in yet that this is actually happening, and I'm feeling like a massive pretender with my ID badge clipped to my trousers like I'm a real professional who know what they're doing - crazy.

Nights out have been all right, though I'm finding it hard to get motivated to go since I know I have such early starts the next day.  The first night was a Pirates night in Walkabout, Tuesday was a UV rave which was great fun, last night I had tickets to Hayseed Dixie who were amazing though it certainly wasn't a student event, even though it was held on campus.  Tonight is Doctors and Nurses.  I do want to go since I got an outfit specially, but I'm having second thoughts because I'm really really tired, have another long day tomorrow (8.30-5.45) and I have freshers flu.  Grr, silly freshers. My fantastic logic before I came - I was thinking I wouldn't get it because I wasn't going anywhere new.  Completely forgot the masses of people bringing their new bugs.  Silly bean.

Anyway, I have to dash now to an Occupational Health Appointment, fingers crossed they don't have a need to give me any jabs!!  Bye!!!

Friday, 10 September 2010

Unemployed bean

Well today is my last day at work. I have masses to do, and the systems are all down, so I can't do any of it. That's why I've been so quiet this week - super busy bean! And I'm so excited!!!!!! I may have to be physically restrained to stop the bouncing. I spent all of last night baking cookies and cupcakes, as is the work place traditional offering for a last day or a birthday. Last weekend Mr came down in his uniform which was a lovely surprise :p We went to Bideford regatta where I was supposed to be coxing a mixed crew, but due to a lack of a fourth member I ended up rowing and mr coxed. We were put up a level to race with people more senior than us, and had to borrow a boat from Bideford club due to a clash as the people due to use the four we had bought after us were racing for the championship and we had never rowed together as a crew before, and I hadn't rowed for a month. All in all, we weren't expecting to do very well, but in the end we came a respectable third, beating the home club on the line in their own boat, which was an awesome feeling.

After today I have two weeks left until I start, and quite a to-do list outside of work as well: buy saucepans and pots, buy stationary, pack, tidy room, throw out a load of stuff, do a recce to find someone mr can park when he comes to visit, buy some iron supplements to take daily, finish Goddaughter's christening present (I know, I know I started it ages ago….), be super excited!! Argh :D Apart from that, I have been very boring this week, so I shall leave it there for now. Hopefully have another update next week, but I don't know if I'll be able to get on to the computer. Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

As Promised…

I'm back! I'm certainly browner, calmer and happier and lots has happened since my last post. I drove to Sandhurst to watch Mr pass out to become a Second Lieutenant mr. I was so proud. The parade went really well, they were inspected by David Cameron and also present were a load of foreign dignitaries like the President of Yemen and the King of Swaziland. It did rain on my pretty dress and beautifully straightened hair, but it held off anything more than drizzling until they'd finished their parade and the horse had gone up the steps of Old College. The ball in the evening was amazing. It was held in the largest marquee tent I've ever seen. The Killer Queens played, who are a fantastic Queen tribute act. From where we were sat we couldn't see the stage, and we just thought they were just playing a CD they were that good. At midnight the officers were allowed to remove the home made covers on their shoulders to reveal their pips denoting their new ranks and mr's smile was so big, it was great to be there with him. I snuck off to his bed after that so he could carry on partying with the rest of his friends - I was absolutely shattered. The anaemia's getting better, but I'm still not 100% yet.

A couple of days later and we flew off to Mallorca to stay at a small all inclusive resort in Callas de Mallorca. It was a really touristy part of Mallorca, miles from anywhere, but there was a beautiful little sandy cove down a rocky path and crumbling steps that was gorgeous. The water was lovely and clear and warm and because it was so hard to get to it was quiet too. It was a roasting 32 degrees everyday, which is definitely my sort of temperature, dipping down to about 26 at night. After dinner we went for a walk most nights and sat and watched the bats swoop closer and closer to us - to the extent you could hear them squeaking and their wings flapping. It was lovely. We took a trip to Marineland to watch a dolphin and sealion show, Western Water Park - a water theme park and the Drach Caves. The Caves were amazingly pretty as someone has been through and dotted thousands of lights to compliment the natural structures, and at the very bottom it opens out into Europe's largest underground lake where classical concerts are held on rowing boats everyday. We were able to take a boat across the lake to get a closer view of some of the structures, and the water is so blue because of the minerals in it. It was stunning and I definitely recommend anyone to go and see it. We also took the bus to Palma for a day and had a wander round. Dotted around are various modern art sculptures - we saw an upside down house balanced on its chimney and a couple of giant granite pigeons. The old town blends seamlessly into the more modern developments and they appear to be really big on their underground developments - the bus station, major shopping area and all their rubbish bins feed into an underground system. It was rather surreal - after getting off the bus and following the crowd to a lift, when you step out of the lift you're in a public park and between the raised beds are massive frosted glass boxes, which are all lifts to the underground bus station.

Getting home was a little bit stressful as Ryanair only had one person to check in the whole plane. We weren't asked any security questions, as by the time we got to the desk we had 4 ½ minutes to get to the gate before it shut, a whole 15 minutes away. It wouldn't have been so bad but we arrived 2 hours early, as organised by the transfer company. We did make it in time, the plane was 20 minutes late leaving because of the slow check in process, yet somehow we still arrived 10 minutes early.

Waiting for me at home was a letter from my local MP saying the Student Finance Company should have written to me by now, one from Student Finance reminding me that I hadn't sent back my signature they wanted to confirm I was to be paid nothing (funny that…) and another from them telling me I had been calculated and would be getting over £5,000! Result!! Sort of. Still not getting the fee loan, and because I'm not getting that my maintenance is all loan and no grant, but at least I am actually getting something. I shall wait for confirmation from Peninsula that they are a Level 7 course and send that to SFE and hope they give me the fee loan. Next slight problem is that it says my first payment date should have been 23 August, and as yet still nothing, but I'm hoping that's because they didn't have the signature. I sent that off last week and so fingers crossed I should get money soon.

I joined the BMA at the weekend. I've never had a union before so that was exciting - in and it's all getting closer and more real now. Funny thing is, as close as it's getting, though I'm getting more and more excited, my fear level is increasing as well. With a definite case of the 'What if's'. What if I'm actually rubbish and can't do it, what if I can't learn it all, what if I don't get on with anyone in my group/flat/course, what if I get ill again, what if I fail, what if it would be better to stay at JLT, playing with my spreadsheets, coxing my guys' crew where it's safe, where I know what I'm doing and I know I'm good at it. I know I'm being silly and it's all normal anxiety - sillier still because I've done the whole fresher thing, I know I can do uni, but I still have the fear. The fear entertained mr on holiday because when I'm nervous about something I sleep talk. Apparently I make a lot of sense in my sleep.

Hope your exams results went as planned, and if they didn't, trust me - it's not the end of the world, just look at my story. It might seem devastating, but it could be a good excuse to step back, look at all your options, and you might find there's something else you're really good at to take a chance on, that had previously been forgotten because of months striving towards one goal.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Happy tinged with uncertainty

I'm not really sure how I feel at the moment: sort of happy but unbelievably sad all at once because it's all going a bit wrong. Firstly, the rubbish things I think. My anaemia got really bad last week. I wanted to go home from work but I was shaking so badly I didn't think I could drive. I got home from work, ate tea and fell asleep on the sofa at 8.30pm, half woke up at 10 to go to bed properly and slept through until 8.45 (was briefly woken at 7 when the cat decided she wanted breakfast so scrabbled on my door). Luckily I haven't felt that bad again since. I got new pills from the Dr, exactly the same as the old ones, but inexplicably they seem to be working.

Secondly, student finance. Sigh. Student Finance are taking themselves to court so they don't have to pay. They are claiming they were incompetent when they wrote the rules and so the rules are wrong. They want the independent assessor's report overturned. A grad starting PMS with me in September that I met at interview sent me a link to their student finance online calculator. She said she filled it in and used what it said to get them to fund her. It says I should get full maintenance loan (£4,950), a long course loan (£249) and the fee loan. Win! Sort of. If they're dealing with this court case they aren't going to stall as much as they can, and they still haven't given me a proper first assessment yet, so it's not like I have anything to appeal against. It's such a mess. I wrote down everything and sent it all off to my local MP half heartedly, but within hours had an email from someone in his office asking for contact details and my student finance number, which might be promising. I'd be happy with just the maintenance loan for now as that would cover fees and then they can back pay me the fee loan later. I just want to know I'm getting something, anything, and I can't get the PMS bursary if SFE don't give me anything.

Finally, it had been suggested a couple of years ago that I could continue my full time job part time working from home. I asked to take them up on this offer and was told it would be fine, they just had to make sure they had the budget for it. Now they've told me they have the budget but I can't do it because I wouldn't be coming into the office. I tried to sign up with the part time jobs agency at the uni, but can't until I get a uni email address, and I won't get that until after 19th, by which time everyone else will have one too and that scuppers my plans of getting in early to be sure of a job.

Now for the happier stuff. I saw Les Miserables at Bristol and it was amazing and I cried :) I love musicals. On a slightly stranger note, in the vein of being brutally honest and spilling what goes on inside my head - I have friends! In my home town! Friends who do stuff and want me to do it with them! I've never had that before. I went to small schools where most of my classmates lived out of town, so I never saw them outside of school. I keep myself to myself, and if I'm not asked to join someone doing something I'll assume it's because I'm not wanted and would never dream of inviting myself along.
Because I'm trying to say yes to more things to try and be a more open and friendly, happy, bouncy bean for uni, I said yes to going on my first ever girly night in with some girls from work and their friends from outside work. Now I'm much more of a boys mate than a girly girl. I don't do pink, screaming, giggling, going googoo over boys - it just grates with me, but I went and we did facemasks and played uno and drank wine and gossiped and I actually had a really good time. I went to see Inception with a couple of them, which was great and there's rumblings of going to pet civets, see Hayseed Dixie play and go camping in Padstow. I don't know if that will actually happen, but it makes me happy that there are people that want to do that sort of stuff with me. I just wish I'd met them all at the start of the year and had been able to do this all year, instead of just before going back to uni.

This weekend I'm going to watch mr passout of Sandhurst. I'm very proud of him and so pleased his beasting is over. He moves on to Stage 2 training slightly closer to me than he is now. On Tuesday we jet off to sunny Mallorca for a week, so it might be a while before my next post, but I shall endeavour to return tanned, warm and happy, and hopefully with more encouraging student finance news. I only have 15 working days left. Uni is fast approaching :)

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Wanted: Iron

Sorry for the gap between posts, last week was pretty pants. I must have called SFE about 4 times now and have been told different things each time. One bloke told me I'd put I didn't want to be income assessed - which isn't what the pdf of my original application says, but they are adamant their systems say I only want the minimum non-means tested bit. Despite that, they still say they are waiting for my parents financial information and I will be reassessed when they get that. They've reached my Dad's information now, but they still haven't recalc'd me, and they haven't even given me a maintenance loan, which is the least I should have. One bloke told me I was entitled to full funding, but when he went to check he was told I wasn't because I'm not doing an integrated med course, which would apparently mean I should have stayed at Southampton and 'topped up' my BSc to a MBBS. Seriously? And this was his supervisor telling him that's how you get a med degree.
A student at HYMS has produced a report analysing the T+C's of the student finance system, and it turns out because a med degree is technically a Masters and so a higher level than a BSc, we should get full funding including the fee loan. This has been independently assessed and verified as correct by the Business, Innovation and Skills department. Whenever this student rings up he seems to be being told they are rolling the new rule interpretations out immediately, but whenever anyone else rings up they get told its maintenance loan only. I rang Peninsula fees and finance department to see if they'd right me a letter confirming they were a level 7 course, which the medical schools council says they are. They didn't realise they were and have to ask the Universities of Exeter and Plymouth if they can up their status. So now I don't know if they are expecting me to pay fees, or if they are taking it in faith that SFE will be paying. I have sent a letter to SFE confirming I want to be means tested, Mum is a housewife, and here's a report confirming I should get funding, and so now I'm just waiting and watching the Matures student's finance thread on NMM for updates from the HYMS student.
On top of all that I found out my anaemia is back. Now I say back, I'm not really sure I ever got over it, but I def felt much better than this. I'm borderline microcytic anaemic with practically no ferritin. To cope with the lack of iron my body has overproduced tiny red blood cells, so I'm just on the lower limit of normal, but normal has a really wide range at 60-170 mcg/dL, so it's still not good to be so low. The biggest problem is my ferritin which is what your body stores excess iron as, is 3 (normal 12-300ng/mL). Your body is very good at recycling iron, so it should be a pretty closed system - cell dies, iron is stored, new cell is made from stored iron, but with no stores I can't make effective new cells - I make tiny ineffective ones.
This means my life at the moment is quite a struggle. At uni my housemate had a version (low RBC, normal ferritin), but it didn't seem to affect her in the slightest, she was still up early every morning, bright and peppy and gyming everyday. I don't seem to sit well with anaemia. When I wake up in the morning all I want to do is curl up and sleep more, no matter how early I went to bed, it's like a piece of elastic keeping me in bed. I trudge round the house in morning and as I'm climbing the five flights of stairs to get to work I can feel my legs getting heavier and heavier to the extent I feel I won't make the last flight - not that I need to sit and rest, that I want to curl up and sleep. A flight of stairs being 11 steps. Pitiful really. I am a fit athlete, I row, I'm young, I'm strong, I should not be being defeated by a set of stairs. When I look in the mirror I'm pale so I use blusher and a pale bronzer and try and get a bit of colour in me. My arm's are nice and brown from rowing, but my palms and face are pasty pasty. I have an aunt who's always telling me how pale I'm looking and I should get some more sun, so I'm a sucker for all those radiance moisturisers to try and hide it. I was teased while coxing the other day because I kept using the wrong calls - saying bow side when I meant stroke, and having to quickly correct myself. Or when I'm trying to do a process at work that I've done many times before, I get stuck thinking what to do next. I know what I want to say or do, but my head is fuzzy, like there's cotton wool in it, and the word or action I need eludes me so I say something close and hope that prompts me into remembering what it is I want to say, or sit and stare at the options and hope it comes back to me what to do next. When I came back home I didn't tell anyone I was ill. My close family know, and mr, and my Dr, but that's it. So my crew just think I'm being ditzy, or a sleepy teenager who's up too early. I take lucozade with me to rowing and I eat biscuits before I go, so I can row just fine, but I can't survive on biscuits and lucozade.
I'm annoyed really, because I can't see where my iron goes. I swapped to an iron fortified cereal, I love my steamed green veg, I eat rare steaks, I have steamed spinach every week, I take the pill with no breaks which will apparently mess with my fertility but my Dr suggested it to help get me strong before starting uni again. I just don't know what else to do. I'm back to taking iron tablets, with orange juice because the vit C helps iron take up, once in the morning and once at night, making sure it's one hour before or two hours after food or dairy so nothing can tamper with the iron uptake mechanism. It's frustrating beyond belief. I want to be better, but I've totally run out of ideas.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Down to Earth with a Bump

Chagstock was amazing. Cleverly laid out, well organised, not too wet and with amazing bands – notably The Bad Shepherds, With Nell and Eye and The Hoosiers. The main stage was set up so you could see the tors of Dartmoor in behind and it was just beautiful. Camping was successful and we didn’t get blown away in the fierce gales of Saturday night. I had to get my Dad to run my coat out because it was much, much colder than I was anticipating, but it was my first festival so I’m allowing myself that one oversight and it’s not like I was far from home. I’m looking forward to the early bird tickets released for next year.

The guys I’ve been coxing have come on really well this week and I’m confident for Greenbank Falmouth Regatta this weekend. Balance isn’t all there yet but everything else is looking good. I also had a phone call from mr who has succeeded in not gaining any extra holes or broken bits and has nearly finished his exercise.

That’s all the good stuff done, now for the rant. Student Finance England is just the most useless company I have ever come across. I cannot believe they are entrusted with such an important task when they appear to be completely incompetent. I appreciate it’s a big undertaking, organising the finance for all the people that go to uni. But I expect a team of children could do a better job than them. I’m not sure that I’ve had even one year of funding that’s gone smoothly.

I had an email telling me I had been assessed and the results were on my account online. I checked, and that just said they were awaiting financial info from my parents, which I sent to them in the middle of June. The rest of it still said I had asked for the maximum but was entitled to nothing. I rang them and they said they’d done an initial assessment on a non-means tested basis and the assessors had decided I was entitled to nothing. They received my parents’ financial information on 16th June and had scanned it on the 29th June and were so far up to processing the 24th June. They have now decided they want a letter form my Mum confirming she is a housewife and dependent financially on Dad, which they hadn’t asked for when I called in May. Also when I called in May they confirmed to me I would be entitled to a fee loan. No one will tell me what has changed since then, and usefully the guy I spoke to noted on my records I had called and he had asked for the passport and financial evidence, but not that I had funding confirmed. I’m so upset; I just don’t know what to do. If they had told me from the off that I wouldn’t get funding, I wouldn’t mind so much, but the fact that for all this time I’ve thought I’d be covered… Plus with their backlog they won’t get to the letter from my Mum in time before I start the course. It’s just a mess, they’re pants. And I was in such a good mood this morning as well. Why do I want to go to med school again? At every turn something tries to stop me.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Shiny Happy Bean

Today finds me really happy :) I had some lovely comments on my last post, which always makes me smile. Thank you, they really do mean a lot to me. It’s Chagstock on Friday and aaarrrrghhh I’m super excited!!!! Even though it is tipping it down with rain so it’s going to be really muddy and apart from wellies I have no idea what you’re supposed to wear to a festival.
We’ve had bees in our shed at home for the last couple of weeks. I used to be of the sensible opinion that if you weren’t screaming and flapping your arms like a loon they’d leave you alone – until I went to Corfu and was happily reading a book on a sun lounger on the beach when a wasp landed on my eyebrow and stung me :( Can’t do buzzy things now. The freezer and tumble dryer are in the shed and you have to go in and shut the door behind you so you have enough room to open the freezer door. The bottom of the shed door has some holes in it, and I was finding bees would hover outside trying to get in. So last week I was in the shed nicely asking the bees outside to leave the door alone so I could leave when I noticed two bees crawling out from under the freezer behind me. Queue much eeping and running away covering my face so the bees don’t get me. 0_0 Impending doom from the front and behind?! Couldn’t just pretend the hovering bees weren’t just the same two curious bees all the time now. After researching what to do with bees and calling the local beekeeping man (who didn’t offer to come and pick them up and take them away like the internet said he would) dad soaked the nest with soapy water (they can’t fly if they’re covered in soapy water) and they all died and he took the nest away. The shed is now bee free. The nest was huge though, I saw it when he took it out, it was massive and made of paper. I do feel a little sad that they all had to die. I was hoping the beekeeper man would come and re-home them, but at least I’ve finally stopped itching all over thinking I have bees crawling all over me.
When I got home from work last week mum gave me a message that occupational health called and I was to ring them back the next day. There was sooo much fretting going on that night – “But, they’ve cleared me now and given me my offer. They can’t revoke it, what’s the problem?” Panic, panic. Well the next day when I called it turns out they couldn’t find my antigen test results and were trying to ask me to get the test done. Sigh, that palaver again! Admissions def said they had all my paperwork, so I’m not bothered. It’s their problem if they haven’t sent it to OH.
Exeter Regatta went well and it was lovely and sunny. I stroked the novice race and we won our heat but lost the final. We would have lost anyway, but one of the girls fell of her seat so we lost contention for second. I swapped to bow and we lost the Senior C race too. It was a pants race, not our best row at all. I then swapped to cox and coxed the mixed novice 4 to a fantastic win, easily 2-3 lengths ahead of the opposition. Winning that heat really improved my confidence as a stroke too; I was grinning all day. On Thursday I’m going sculling for the first time. I’m quite nervous as it requires a lot of balance which isn’t my strongest point, but it makes me happy that soon I will be able to do everything there is to do involving rowing – like I’m some uber-rower or something. I can sweep, scull, do bow side, do stroke side, cox and coach.
I spent all of yesterday teaching someone how to do something on Excel. Out comes the geek in me again, but I was teaching her all of my shortcuts and tricks and by then end of it she’d really picked things up and was confident in coding things herself. I really enjoy teaching. I love watching people progress from clueless, to supervised, to understanding, to confident, and seeing how happy they are with themselves that they’ve done it – they’ve learnt a new skill. I’m really happy Doctors get to teach newbies coming up through the ranks. I hope that’s one aspect of my job I’m really going to enjoy.
There is one sad point, which is that mr’s on exercise. He’s in Scotland for two weeks being beasted and eaten alive by mossies. Eeep, he’s also doing a live fire exercise – no more blank rounds. I’ve told him he can’t get injured because the holiday is non-refundable, lol, as though getting injured was perfectly acceptable normally. But the really sad part, is that although I miss him because I can’t talk to him, I don’t miss him as much as I think I should. I know that it’s because I’m busy with work and rowing and God Daughter’s present (there’s rumours of christening date finally being set – she’s 18 months but her mum was very ill when she was first born and the family own a small business that hasn’t been doing very well with the recession) and all the exciting things coming up, but I can’t help but feel I’m being a bad girlfriend not missing him more. There’s certainly something to be said for keeping busy to keep your mind off things I guess. Either that or I’m being sensible and grown up and not a lovesick teenager. Meh. *Smiley waving good bye*

Friday, 9 July 2010


At 15.45 on Thursday after I last post I got the email I’d been waiting for: “The status of your application has changed”, and when I logged in to confirm, even though I knew what it would say - I had to see it for myself - I saw that magic word: unconditional. Absolutely nothing can stop me from taking my place now. Well, barring a freak accident of course, but still. :) *touch wood

Mr came down for his long weekend off from Sandhurst which was lovely. I know I’ve seen him every weekend for the last three, but now we’re both busy until he commissions in 6 weeks time. It was so nice to have him to come home to after work, and I finally beat him at a game on the Wii. Granted it was Mario Party 8, but a win’s a win!
In rowing news it’s our home town regatta tomorrow and we are certainly not going to win that. Training has been going disastrously, with people skipping training for holidays, bruises, or because they were going out the night before and didn’t want the early start. I’m supposed to be stroking for the Novice race, and the practice Tuesday went so bad I wanted to cry. Thursday was a bit better and we were starting to look promising but I don’t hold out a lot of hope for Saturday. If it’s any consolation, the girl that strokes our boat for the Senior C race we’re entering doesn’t do that much better of a job, so I’m encouraged that it’s the boat as a whole and not just me. I can’t wait to get out of this crew and back to university rowing. It’s a shame because the boats are better here and there are so many small regattas locally it should be easy to pick up points and progress through the levels but my crew just aren’t pulling together, and woe betides anyone who tries to tell them what to do. *Sigh.

It possibly didn’t help that when I went rowing Tuesday I was in a mood, and when I went Thursday I was super bouncy happy because of a couple of reasons. 1) Chagstock tickets arrived. 2) I booked a holiday!! It will be my first time on holiday abroad without my parents and with mr. We’re going in his break between Sandhurst and Stage 2 training which unfortunately is only 2 weeks long, right at the end of the school summer holidays. It was nigh on impossible to pick up any cheap deals anywhere vaguely decent but I’m confident I’ve found a good deal. It’s a nice all inclusive in Majorca. I can’t wait. 7 nights in the sun and I can get a lovely tan before I start uni.

So wish me luck for tomorrow guys and I’ll leave you with a link to this fantastic blog I found. It’s a great insight into being a patient with Cystic Fibrosis and I was amazed by her strength and lust for life. She had such a fantastic way with words and I’m truly sorry I didn’t find her blog sooner. She has changed my outlook on life and the way I hope I will be able to view patients with her post on living her life to the full the best she can and how she wants to instead of being dictated by her disease and hiding from opportunities in case they complicated her symptoms. Eva Markvoort - 65redroses. Enjoy your weekend people.

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Balls, Asthma and Nearly….

My cold is still present, though I’m feeling much better now. I took Friday off because I’d gotten so little sleep after a coughing fit most of the night. Silly me went rowing Thursday night since I was starting to feel better. I thought I could sit somewhere in the bows and we could do a simple light outing, focusing on technique. Silly coach put me back at stroke and then decided to practise a new racing start and high rate pieces ready for our home regatta in a couple of weeks. This properly woke my asthma up and I had my first real asthma attack in a year and maxed out my inhaler. They kept telling me how bad I looked and I need to move faster on the start, so as well as feeling pants from being ill, my confidence as a stroke was knocked too.

Saturday I zoomed up to Sandhurst for mr’s company ball. It was very posh. There was polo and croquet and duck breast and wild boar tureen – very posh for this bean. It was strange. It was really nice to meet his friends and have a fancy night out, but it’s such a different world for me. After seeing some of the other cadets wags, I felt so unglamourous. There were ladies with feathers in their hair and very fancy dresses and I just felt so out of place.

Mr’s been given his first posting and it won’t be too far away, which is nice and I think it’s a really good one. I have a feeling I’m more excited about it than he is, he just keeps saying it’s a job, a job’s a job, but I was positively bouncing when I heard what he’d be doing (not too sure he or the army would be too happy with me posting the nature of his job on a public blog though, so I’m afraid I’ll have to keep you in suspense). Apparently all the guys in his platoon will have to salute me because I’ll be the boss’ partner, which is a crazy thought. I still haven’t quite got the hang of this army etiquette yet.

We spent Sunday wandering round Sandhurst and it’s so pretty, I’m really looking forward to going back for his commissioning ball now. It was back to work Monday to find that over the weekend the systems providers have been changed from HP to HCL and so nothing works, sigh.

I rang Peninsula admin last night as it’s been ages since I sent my paperwork back and I still hadn’t heard anything with regards to my offer being made unconditional. This is required for the accommodation people to start placing me, and has to happen before August for me to be placed first. I had seen that some people who confirmed after me had already had their statuses changed so I was a little worried there was a problem. They said they were still waiting on my Occupational Health clearance to come through, and once it did they would be confirming me. This got me even more worried as my health background isn’t exactly clear, but I didn’t think bad enough to cause me a problem. I rang OH who thankfully said I’d been cleared on Wednesday so the certificate would have been sent Thursday and is probably still in the internal post. I am now obsessively checking my emails, waiting for the ‘Your status has changed’ email from UCAS which should be coming any day now. On a lighter note, I went rowing last night and swapped sides to row bowside and pulled a muscle in my bum. Ouch!

Thursday, 24 June 2010


You know when you have a little niggling bit of an illness and you ignore it and push through, and then it dumps on you from a great height and completely floors you? I’ve had that this week. It hasn’t been fun. Last week I was having problems with my ears, which isn’t unusual for me as apparently I have small ear canals so they are prone to becoming blocked. I put some olive oil in them and carried on. I had a bit of a sore throat on Friday, but I put that down to coxing on Thursday night without a coxbox - I had no microphone and had to yell my commands. I sucked a cough sweet and carried on.

Saturday was Totnes Regatta and I was due to cox my mens novice 4 and then a mixed (men and women) novice 4. It was a beautiful day and the guys were all in high spirits despite being up against some tough crews including Exeter A – our A crew who were only racing at novice level on a technicality but should be seniors, and Dart Totnes A who had beaten them the last two races. We lost our first heat against Dart Totnes A, which wasn’t a surprise. It was close, it was taken from them in the last 50m. We won the second heat against Dart Totnes B by a good 2-3 lengths, but then came last in the final against Dart Totnes and Exeter A crews.

We had been told our mixed race had been moved earlier because some of the crew members of our opposition, Exmouth were supposed to be in the race leaving straight after ours. So we came along side, two guys jumped out, two girls jumped in and we were off to the start line again to wait. And wait, and wait. The earlier race time, 45 minutes before its scheduled time came and went. The race officials said they hadn’t heard of a change, so we waited some more – by this time I’m shivering as I’ve been sat in a puddle of water for 3 hours. The proper race time came and went, with no sign of Exmouth. An Exmouth single scull next to us told us one of the girls who was supposed to be in the mixed crew was in the double about to start up ahead, and it was the double event they had moved the race time for. Fantastic! So after telling us to come early, they pull out, without telling us. We told the start officials, who put a call out for the Exmouth crew to come and when they didn’t we had to do a row through – row the course as if we were racing, but without an opponent. This confused the commentators mightily, but we were cheered home across the line and they collected our names at the end as if we’d won, so I don’t know if the guys will get points from it or not. No shiny things as there were only two of us supposed to race anyway :(

After that I raced home and then to Bristol because….. mr had got tickets to Bill Bailey!!!! After his Women’s Henley crew hadn’t qualified on Friday so didn’t have to row on Saturday he had checked to see if there were still tickets available and amazingly there were, and really good ones too – we were four rows back, just at the side of the stage. I was a bit sniffy getting ready in the hotel before, so I packed my handbag with tissues and carried on. Bill Bailey was fantastic, as I knew he would be and I had such a good time. Within five minutes I couldn’t breath I was laughing so much as he had us trying to sing California Dreaming by the Mamas and the Papas in the style of Slayer – I guess you had to be there.

I drove home Sunday morning, wished my Dad Happy Fathers Day, gave him his presents and we went out for a nice carvery lunch. I had an amazing gingerbread panna cotta for pudding, which it’s probably just as well I was bunged up and couldn’t taste much of as it was packed full of ginger and might just have blown my head off. By Sunday evening, I was snotty, coughing, couldn’t think straight and was generally in a bit of a mess. Monday morning I added feverish and dizzy to the list and called in sick. Tuesday the cold woke my asthma up and every time I breathed I wheezed and when I lay down I couldn’t breath. Mr got quite worried about me wheezing down the phone which was sweet, I was fine – breathing’s very overrated. Wednesday was much better but after waking up to call in sick at 9, I didn’t wake again until 2.30. Now it’s Thursday and I’m back at work. I’m still sniffy, and coughing, and have a fever, but I’m feeling much better in myself.

There are a few things I do like about being ill. I spent my time watching trashy films, tennis, sleeping and knitting; the fever means I’m finally ‘normal’ (for everyone else) temperature and can sit in a t-shirt out of the sun without getting goosebumps; and it’s the easiest way I know to lose weight. I’ve lost 4lbs in 3 days, which is good because I’ve put on a stone since coming back from uni. I would say I haven’t learnt my lesson yet though, unless an illness wipes me out, and I have to stop, you’ll still find me soldiering through, armed with tissues, Lucozade and alcohol hand gel so I don’t give it to anyone else.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Geek, me? Never.

This weekend saw me doing fairly practical things for a change. I managed to get my car parked close enough to the house to wash and vacuum it, which is not an easy task considering all the workman that are still around my estate. The car park at work became like an ice rink when it was snowy at the start of the year, so the landlords dumped piles of grit salt everywhere – it’s almost a gravel car park now. So my poor little car got filthy dirty inside as the girl I give a lift to and I tracked the little stones into the foot well each day.

On Sunday I cycled down to the rowing club and me and another girl from my crew did some maintenance on a boat we’ve been allocated. It used to be rigged as a junior quad but the riggers were hastily changed so we could row it sweep. The shoes of the girl at bow were too small, the slides were all too short and the rigger heights were all different, so armed with Allan keys, screwdrivers, rigger jiggers and a fine adjusticator (a hammer) we set to work configuring it for our crew. It’s not the side of rowing I’m used to as at uni we elected a boat man to do all the maintenance work and if there was something we wanted doing we just logged it in a book. Now mostly it wouldn’t happen until all the problems with the guy’s boats had been fixed first, but that’s boat politics for you. It wasn’t really difficult, and it was good fun working in the sunshine. I got so dirty though, completely covered in oil and grease and general muck. Combine that with walking into a ladder and getting a bruise and a graze on my knee I felt like I was 5 and playing in the mud in the garden again :)

At work I’m doing a quarterly project of mine where I track all the retirements on all the schemes to check we haven’t missed any and the scheme owners are on top of all the upcoming ones. It’s a fairly dull job, it just involves running a load of reports and compiling them all into one massive spreadsheet and putting some code in to compare retirement dates with work completed and in progress. It’s my baby – I came up with the idea and have generated the spreadsheet from scratch. Every time I do it I make it a bit whizzier. It’s this project that was mentioned to the head of our division of the company I work for as being an example of how good an office we are and why we should get more work. Eeep! Anyway, my systems are going sooo slowly at the moment, and the spreadsheet is fairly large and takes a while to compile; it’s taking forever, not helped by the fact it keeps deleting bits of itself. On Tuesday the whole computer shut down, lost all my work for the morning and then couldn’t reconnect to the server. I spent three hours learning anatomy and watching it try and fail to log in: attempt 237…failed, attempt 238… failed. Roll on university is all I can say!

I really can’t wait now, I feel like I’m just marking time. All the people I know at uni are all finishing and having end of exam celebrations and I sort of miss that - the celebrations, not the exams - so I’m filling the in between time with exciting things to look forward to. I’m going to my first ever festival with a girl from work – a local one called Chagstock which the Hoosiers and Adrian Edmundson are playing. We are both so excited. I’m looking at tents and praying for sunshine. Apart from that, there’s a couple of balls at Sandhurst with mr, I’ve got tickets to Les Mis at Bristol with my parents, a comedy night with some guys from work, a couple more regattas I’m coxing, our club regatta where I’m racing, and the free work summer event where they open a local kids theme park for us and families/friends to play in after hours and put on a hog roast. I have something every weekend for the next month and half, it’s ace. There was a little excitement as I nearly got tickets to see Bill Bailey in Brstol for this weekend with mr, but he’s coxing the Sandhurst girls at Women’s Henley so couldn’t get away. Never mind, I will see Bill Bailey at some point in my life :) Right, back to seeing if this spreadsheet will behave. Bye for now,
Your geeky bean.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Birthday Bean

Hiya. Soo, it was my birthday on Saturday :) I’ve been so excited about Peninsula that my birthday just sort of crept up on me without me noticing. My family hit my wishlist hard, so most of my presents were textbooks but that’s awesome. I got Memorising Medicine – a book of medical mnemonics, A Crash Course in General Medicine, Kumar and Clark, Macleod’s Clinical Examination, an anatomical chart of the skeletal system, The Anatomy Colouring Book, The Visual Display of Quantitative Information (it was mentioned as a must read by the xkcd guy), the DVD of Will Smith’s Seven Pounds (I love Will Smith :D ) a pasta maker with lasagne and ravioli attachments (I love to cook), some smellies and a self watering plant tray, as I’m very good at killing plants over the holidays :-/

I was out for most of the day at Plymouth Regatta coxing my novice men’s crew. It was lovely and sunny and they did so well. They came third overall out of four, but it was really close and they were winning until the 500m to go mark, so since it’s only the start of the season and their first ever race I’m really proud of them. They went off a bit hard and got so carried away they didn’t bring the rating down when I asked them to. We think if they can hold it steady all the way through they have a really good shot at winning which means shiny stuff :)

I went out in the evening with some guys from work. We went to La Tasca for a meal and then on to a local nightclub. It was my first night out in Exeter, so I didn’t really know what to expect but I had a great time. Had such sore feet the next day from all the jumping up and down I did, and realised I might dance like a bloke. I’m sorry, but else can you do to Pendulum except jump?

It was really weird to go out without mr, since I’ve been going out with him it’s very rare that he doesn’t come to, or he isn’t waiting for me when I get home. I guess it’s something I’m going to have to get used to though. I’ve been a really lucky bean and have had phone calls everyday from him whilst he’s been away, although he did frighten me somewhat when he called the first night as I only expect calls if he’s injured. It was tough hearing him sound so tired and broken though, knowing there’s nothing I can do to help. I sent him a letter and a big bar of chocolate he can devour when he gets back to Sandhurst, hopefully that should score me some good girlfriend points.

Sunday was a bit of a conveyor belt of family members all managing to just miss each other and it was nice to see them all. Our cat was a little confused as every time she left, when she came back there was a different person sat on the sofa. Talking of cats, next door’s cat, Marmite, has realised what time I come home from work each day and has taken to sitting behind the hedge at the end of our path and ambushing me. He’s a very affectionate cut and loves rubbing up against your legs. He also dribbles. And moults. So not only do you get covered in cat hair, he sticks it to you with drool. He’s like a little fountain. And then he shakes his head and it all flies everywhere. Beeeaauutiful puss. He has this adorable habit of rubbing up against your foot whenever you move it. So if you’re trying to walk anywhere he gets between your legs and rubs against your foot, then you move the other so he dives to that one and you end up having to zigzag shuffle down the path. Or, you can pick him up and he’ll give you a proper cuddle, paws either side of your neck, burrow into the crook of your neck and contentedly dribble down your front and back. Having said that, there’s nothing quite like starting the day with a Marmite hug as you walk to your car to go to work. He’s so happy to see you, and my cat moults so much I don’t notice the extra cat fur. I find cat fur on clothes I haven’t bought yet. Mr’s found it on his beret. I’ve never seen his beret, the cat has certainly never seen it, and it’s been ages since he saw my cat, so that’s transfer from her to me to him to it.

Still no word from Peninsula yet…. 66 working days left!

Wednesday, 2 June 2010


The bank holiday weekend was awesome. I didn’t get done everything I wanted to, but what I did do made me really happy. My parents gave me a stethoscope on Friday. A stethoscope of my very own :D It’s purple, and it has my initials engraved on it. I was very excited on Friday night! I’m pleased to say I have a nice strong heart beat, couldn’t find Dad’s though, which was a little worrying. Well I could but it was really quiet. Little bit embarrassed about that. I was expecting to not know the specifics of what I was hearing, but to not be able to find it at all? Oops. I was expecting it as a birthday present (it’s my birthday Saturday), but I got it as a congratulations-for-getting-in present instead. I’d quite like to take it in to work to show some people there because I’m sure they’d be just as excited about it as me, but I have to keep reminding myself it’s not show and tell and I’m a proper, real person, working bean now. However when I told someone about it at work he said “Wow, a stethoscope of your own? That’s like getting your wand if you were going to Hogwarts isn’t it? It’s the sign that you are a proper wizard now.” Totally is!!!!!! Interesting fact of the day: JK Rowling went to Exeter Uni and Diagon Ally is based on Gandy Street in town. Gandy Street is my favourite part of town, it’s a cobbled street full of boutiques and bakers and there’s the Phoenix Arts Centre which has a metal phoenix statue on the front that moves every hour, it’s lovely.

That’s everything on the kit list sorted. I’d quite like my UCAS status to change to unconditional now. I’ve sent all the paperwork back, about two weeks ago, and I was only conditional on CRB and Hep B antigen, and they’ve got the proofs of those.

Saturday I went to a garden centre with my parents and got some herbs to replace the ones I neglected and died this year between uni :-s oops. My chives survived, and now I have parsley, thyme and apple mint to go in a trough on my window sill. I love to cook, and it’s nice to have plants in your room, so herbs are the obvious choice. All that’s left to get before I go now is some saucepans. I bought a really cheap set from Argos last time and they kept getting holes all the way through the bottom. They did have a lifetime guarantee and I did take them back and got a new set once, but for a £5 for 4 pans set it really wasn’t worth it. The guy behind the counter had a little chuckle when he asked what was wrong with them and I held one up and you could see daylight through the bottom.

Sunday I cycled to rowing because I was due to be coaching some of the Juniors. Oversaw a couple of juniors in single sculls who completely ignored me the last time I went down but were much more receptive to me this time and seemed really happy with the criticism I was giving them. Was then asked to jump in and cox a boat of three novice men, one of which was a complete beginner, it was his second outing, and bow was a girl from my squad who had also come down to coach. We were making really good progress with them on the water and they got so much better. We were challenged to a race by a coach of a Junior under 18 quad, so on paper, the quad should have won – more blades (each boy is sculling so two blades to our sweep oar rowing with one blade), they’re lighter, younger, fitter and have been rowing together for a couple of years. Amazingly, we won! I was really proud of my guys; they were down at the start but took it back steadily throughout the race and beat them by quarter of a length. I cycled home and spent the rest of Sunday and Monday making my Goddaughter’s Christening present. I’m decoupatching 9” high MDF letters spelling her name which will be hung from a curtain pole to make a wall hanging. It’s torn bits of brightly coloured patterned paper stuck on with glue and varnished with glue. The paper is thinner than normal, so when dry it looks painted on. Here’s a chair done in it I found through Google Images (

I’ve done the letters and I’m doing the curtain rings, whilst trying to decide whether or not to do the pole too. It’s looking really impressive, not home made at all. I’m thinking about doing Christmas presents for my aunts and cousins in it – things like tissue box holders and flower pots. Last year they all got hand knitted stripy socks, the year before was home baked fudge and sweets and before that was hand made soaps. I don’t have a lot of money to buy them nice Christmas presents and there’s a lot of them – 2 aunts, 2 uncles and 11 cousins/cousin in laws/second cousins, so I like to try and make them something nice instead.

Mr went on exercise Monday, and won’t be back for about two weeks, so I shan’t be getting a birthday call from him :( I’m really worried about this one because he’s being petrol bombed. I don’t like it when he’s on exercise anyway because I worry about him, but fire?! Am trying to keep busy and not think about it, but I’m keeping my phone close by in case I get a call saying he’s been injured. He’s good at his job, I’m sure he’ll be fine (if I say it enough, I’m sure I’ll believe it soon).

Ah well, 17 weeks to go!!! Then I can stop being a working bean and be a fresher bean instead. Have a good week guys.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Warning: You Should Not Vex a Bean

So a real mixed bag of pantsness and awesomeness this week. It all evens out to happy smiling bean, because the good stuff is just too good. Last weekend I was due to see mr in Salisbury. His present still didn’t arrive, so I cycled to town (I’m trying to be fitter see?) and bought him a Turnbull and Asser collar stay set which he was very pleased with. The hotel was nice enough, in the middle of town this time and the meal was as delicious as ever - of course we went back to Charter 1227, how could we not? We watched Iron Man 2, which was good, but I didn’t think it was as good as the first one, though it had some good action sequences. The cinema itself was weird, it was a proper period building with the black wooden beams and white walls, and the lights were on wrought iron chandeliers. There were only about 6-7 rows in our screen, and the seats were really squeaky, so I felt like a naughty school kid every time I leant into mr to hide from the scary bits. Sunday was spent wandering around the cathedral and sitting dipping our toes in the river whilst watching the ducks. It was perfect :)

When I came back I found an email from a member of my rowing crew saying they had gotten together on Thursday after our outing and had decided there should be no talking in the boat except cox and we should elect a boat captain who can direct the outing, and to make it fair we should have a rota so everyone gets to be boat captain. Basically, they are saying bean, shut up. A bit of background info – I can row both sides, I can stroke the boat and I can cox. Our cox is a 12 year old boy who hasn’t had a lot of practice, doesn’t know the calls to make, can’t feel when we’re doing something wrong, and when he does, he’s too shy to tell us to change it. So since I’ve been at stroke, I’ve been giving him some ideas of things to say, because otherwise our outings are silent from him and we don’t get much out of it. Our coach isn’t that useful either, he doesn’t really speak much or give any critical comments – I haven’t been picked up on anything since our last coach left last year (left because he was fed up of the rest of our crew not doing what he said). Now my aim for the year was to lose my novice status, so I have to win one more race, as was the aim of other members of our boat. This isn’t going to happen unless we get better as a crew, which isn’t going to happen if no one ever picks us up on anything. They’ve already told me I’m a good cox – I coxed them to a three boat length victory at Bideford last year in a higher level than we’re at. So I’m pretty annoyed really. Alright, I know I’m not perfect and I can see how they might not like someone keep picking them up on what they aren’t doing right, but cox has asked me to do it to help him get better. One of the girls can’t take Saturdays off work, doesn’t think we’re good enough to enter races and the only sub we have is a senior C so can’t race with us at novice level. No races for beans then. I volunteered to cox a novice men’s four because I want to win something, even if I can’t get any points from it, and they’re a really good squad with great chances this year. I had my first outing with them Tuesday and it went really well, though I didn’t have a microphone so had to keep yelling and consequently swallowed a lot of flies. Protein anyone? They seemed to really like me, we have a laugh and I’m down to cox two races with them.

At work I’m super busy and have to keep dropping things to deal with silly queries from another office about a data validation exercise they’re running – checking that we hold all the data we should for schemes, as dictated by the pensions regulator. The project’s a good idea, but it’s not ready yet. It works by running a series of rules against the data we have, eg. Member has service pre 06/04/1988 and the scheme is contracted out so they should have Pre 88 GMP recorded on the system. If they don’t that’s a major fail point, so they lose 4 marks. At the end they tot up the fails and I get a final score, a rating a bit like the washing machine energy rating and list of errors. I make an error log and tell the scheme owner what to fix.

The project got put on hold because I flooded them with parameter forms for schemes to put through it and they couldn’t keep up. Then the administrators weren’t fixing the problems it found so the schemes couldn’t have their second run and be cleared off and the whole thing seized up. Admin manager is trying to get a rush job through to please the Scheme and so the Validator team have been sending me little pernickety questions which I have to ask scheme owner about. Then it turns out every thing scheme owner told me when I did the original form in March was wrong and I have to drop everything to do new forms >_< The nice guy I deal with from the validations team was on holiday and I got his boss asking me questions instead. He sent an email attaching one of my forms, asking me to remove some of the details form it. In the form, he’d struck through what he wanted removing. So it would have been less clicks for him to remove himself. He then went on to ask me to change the pension data splits so they fit in with the standard splits they can accommodate. Pension splits work on dates. Between these dates your pension will escalate by this much, then until this date it goes up by a different amount and so on. Pensions is silly. If the dates aren’t the same, there’s nothing I can do, the scheme has its own rules. I snapped. I sent him a very carefully worded, venomous, shouty email back telling him to amend the functionality of his tests as this was the way the scheme works, it’s correct and it differs from his and since the Trustees of the scheme are paying for this, and it’s not the first time this problem had come up it would be better in the long run to change his test. He’s four pay grades above me. Oops. I got a meek email back from him saying he’ll change it, and a nice phonecall talking about what changes would be best. Oh, and a high five from my boss :D Bean wins! Aww yeah, that felt good.

Yesterday I had another cracking outing coxing the guys in the sun and called the student finance people because I hadn’t heard anything and my online account said I wasn’t entitled to a fee loan (PANIC!!!!). They checked and said that as I am a med student I will definitely be getting the fee loan, they just haven’t calculated that bit yet (and breathe...). I also got a letter from the uni saying I'll be getting the full £1,500 bursary for being from a low income family.  Financing thins degree is def becoming more doable.  This weekend will see more rowing, coaching, cycling, maybe some sailing and making a Christening present for my God daughter. Should be good, if the weather’s nice. Good luck with the last of your exams people!