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!

Friday, 21 May 2010


Hello people :) It’s Friday and it’s sunny!!! Can you tell I’m happier today? :p Firstly: it’s Friday, which is pretty much as good as a working week gets, bar the odd dress down day or bank holiday Monday. Next, an update on the Hep B antigen fiasco: Dr rang PMS, Dr rang lab, lab said they’d do the right test. Intriguingly, I got the results as a screen dump printed from my records the next morning, which hints slightly of ‘well, we’ll just fill the screen in as though she had it to keep the med school happy’, if I was being a cynical person. Especially because they said before it would take three weeks to get the results back, and I know I’m not that much of an important person to get a rush job done. Ah well, stop complaining bean. I sent the screen print off yesterday and so I am all sorted and should soon be a fully confirmed Peninsula Medical Student. How exciting!
Things aren’t entirely all going my way however as I’m under a mountain of work – to the extent that everything’s out of target and it’ll only be moved up the pile if I’m chased for it, which is not how I like to work, but needs must. Mr’s present STILL hasn’t arrived, and it was his birthday Wednesday, and I found out this week that my cousin in law’s cancer has come back, which is pants because she’s only been in remission 2 years. Fingers crossed for her. Aww, and my cat’s got an irritation of some sort with her eye so she keeps blinking it shut and looking at me mournfully, however it does make her look a little like a pirate which is hilarious. She is not amused with me keep laughing at her though. I’m getting grumpy faces from my pirate puss.
However all of that is out of my mind, a) because it’s Friday, b) I’m seeing mr tomorrow (eee! – but panic - where do I get a decent birthday present from?) and c) Hey, Soul Sister by Train. How can you not smile when you hear this song? They were on CSI the other day and I found the album and the first 4 songs on it have been on repeat for the last two days :) Enjoy the sunshine guys.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Pickled Bean

Well today finds me in a bit of a pickle, but overall happy. When I had my first offer for Southampton, they asked that I start my Hep B vaccination straight away. I never finished the course because I didn’t get in. One of the conditions of my Peninsula place is having a clear Occupational Health test, which involves having a clear Hep B surface antigen test. After the fun of having my blood taken (see last post), I rang up the next day to double check the right test had been asked for, which it had. When I went to collect the results on Friday, the receptionist happily told me I was Hep B immune. Now, this shouldn’t be possible to tell from an antigen test. Here comes the science: Antigens are little bits of the pathogen cut up and displayed on the outside of cells, ready for the antibodies to come along and try and recognise, which they would be able to do if you’ve seen something before. If they do, they replicate and mount the appropriate specialised response which helps you beat it quickly and efficiently, if not, you have to tough the buggy out with your normal non-specialised, less effective approach. So in short, an antigen test would say whether or not I had the thing, an antibody test would say I had seen it before or was immune to it. So you can see I was a little perplexed. The test that had been asked for was indeed an antigen test, but the lab had decided an antibody test would be more appropriate. Grr. Now logic says if I’m immune to it, I can’t have it, so I bundled all my paperwork together and sent it all off to PCMD. I called them this morning to check that given the results, the antibody test would be fine, but they were adamant they wanted an antigen test. *Sigh* I called my Dr’s and explained, and then got a very shouty call back from my Dr about time wasting and money wasting, and he doesn’t seem to want to listen to me saying that I know this and I’m sorry and I’ve told them but they won’t budge. Eeep! And my Dr’s always been so nice to me 0_0 He wanted PCMD’s number to yell at them himself, so I’m waiting for the fallout from that. Oh dear… How can I be in PCMD’s bad books when I haven’t even started yet :(

Other than that, it was a good weekend. I finished the jumper, and apart from being a little tight across the, er, chest area (making me look massive, lol) it’s lovely. I’m hoping it’ll be better with a shirt under it, squishing me in, and not the horizontally stripy thing I was trying it on over. I had a club day at the rowing club learning about safety and welfare and proper warm ups and I super-duperly passed a hamstring flexibility test :) Flexible bean.

I also went sale shopping and am very nearly all sorted for uni now. PCMD has two balls a year – a summer and winter. I bought a load of dresses off ebay before I went to Southampton, but then I lost a load of weight whilst away, so my old size 12 wardrobe doesn’t fit me now I’m a size 8. I’ve been slowly replacing things over time as required – like jeans and jumpers and work stuff, and now I also have a summer coat, and some dresses, including a beautiful floor length dress perfect for mr’s commissioning dinner. I had to get a cardi as well, because the army has some silly rule about dresses not being allowed to show the ankles or the shoulders (because the sight of bare ankles and shoulders drive men wild don’t ya know?!), and it’s nearly impossible to find one that does both and doesn’t make me look about 50. I’m so excited, I can’t wait for an excuse to wear them now, they’re so pretty! I wouldn’t say I’m terribly girly, I normally can’t stand giggling silly-ily dressed girls (what’s wrong with jumpers and coats?), but I do like a nice swishy dress :) Don’t worry, you’ll still never catch me in pink or anything flowery. All that’s left to get now is another pair of work trousers, chocolate brown ones I think, some stationary bits and a couple more textbooks. And then I’ll be an all sorted bean, exciting stuffs!
Mr’s birthday present hasn’t arrived yet, and it’s his birthday this week, eep! I’m seeing him at the weekend, so hopefully it’ll arrive before then, and I’ll only be a couple of days late with it. Aww, and in other rubbish bean news, I lost my seat in the boat because I had to miss that one outing because of the silly nurse. Boo! I’ve been demoted from stroke to 2. Altogether now: thiiiiiiiiings, can only get betterrrrrr, can only get…… :D Have a good week guys.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

What a Difference A Day Makes

After my grumpy post last time I did indeed go home and curl up on the sofa with knitting and hot chocolate. I have nearly finished my jumper now, just have the neck band to put on, although I have to do a bit of repair work on it because in my eagerness to see what it would be like I managed to undo the stitch holder and a whole load of live stitches slipped off it. It has been gingerly put down until I can take a crotchet hook to it to pull the stitches back up, else the whole thing is going to unravel :-s I did buy some Sirdar Crofters self fair-isling wool to make some tank tops for when this silly jumper finished.

Oh, and the final verdict is that I love the jumper, it’s very me: nice and long in the sleeve and short on the body, so now I just hope I can rescue it! I also used a bit of retail therapy over the weekend too, and bought some super comfy new black heels for work, and a backpack with laptop compartment for uni. Also quite excited because I noticed some more things have gone off my Amazon wishlist.

When my alarm went off Monday I was super happy for some reason. I opened the curtain, saw the beautiful, blazing sunshine and was wide awake with the first alarm, whereas I’m normally still groggily trying to sneak a few more minutes of sleep by my third alarm, 20 minutes later. I would like to think that when I’m doing a job I actually want to do and enjoy, getting up won’t be such a struggle as it is now. Hopefully. I was early to work, and even though I was on my own all day because the rest of my bank of desks was on holiday, I was smiley and happy all day.

Today was completely different. I opened the curtains and it was grey and miserable. No wide awake bean raring to get up and start the day here. I wasn’t too late for work, only about 10 minutes, and as long as you do 7 hours a day and are here between the core 10-3 hours, they don’t mind. I did my morning reports and then an Internet Explorer window opened and started loading. Three seconds later and another one opened. And another, and another. As fast as I was shutting them, they were opening more. I got 65 windows in the end, which I thought was quite impressive. Ever get the feeling today isn’t going to work?

I had my blood test scheduled for thismorning, so off I poddled, straight in to the nurses room, on goes the tourniquet and the nurse asks if I have any problems having my blood taken. I explain not really, but I do have quite a low pain threshold. She says she's the same, so she’ll be gentle. She started tapping an odd vein I thought, not the normal one I get my bloods taken from, but the cephalic, further over. I looked away for the scratch and when I looked back because it seemed to be taking a long time, there’s no blood going into the tube and she’s wiggling the needle and digging it deeper and deeper into my arm. I can see the vein is going diagonally across my cubital fossa just under the skin, but she seems to be putting the needle vertically up my arm. She eventually gets a little dribble by waving the needle and sometimes it orientates in the same direction as the vein, quarter fills the tube, and grabs another tube to fill. I asked what the second tube was for because I was there for a Hep B surface antigen test. She says one is for a full blood count and one is for ferratin levels. I corrected her and I guess that threw her a bit because when she went to take the needle out she yanked it straight up out of my arm, rather than drawing the needle out of the same path it went in by. Suffice to say, it’s quite painful now, and I’ve had to drop out of rowing tonight because I can’t really bend my arm without it being painful. Rather than having a nice neat little dot, I have two large dots, a centimetre apart and a line joining them, like a cat scratch. She smiled at me as I was leaving and said she hopes I recover and isn’t it funny how it’s always the people with the low pain threshold who it’s hard to get blood from. I’ve never had a problem before…. o_0 I will be very surprised if I get the right test done after all that, though I did tell her a few times. I really hope she was having an off day and not like that all the time. Ah well, I guess bad experiences will only make me a better Dr, since I’ll know what it feels like. I went to Sainsbury’s on the way back to work and got a pain au chocolat for being a brave bean at the Dr’s :) The afternoon is so far bringing lots of computer crashes, email server’s down and it’s raining. Today def should have been a duvet day. Although, I have found this interesting website, which looks promising. I have to admit the idea of MTAS scares me a little, since it doesn’t seem to have had the best track record. The week can only get better, right?

Friday, 7 May 2010


So the rest of this week has seen a somewhat deflated bean. Not for any particular reason, rather a collection of small ones. I seem to get like this every now and then, you may have noticed it in some of my other posts. I have been completely and utterly bored at work. I am doing the same thing day after day after day. When I first got promoted, I was really excited about being on a more technical team and all the spreadsheet playing I’d get to do. While it is true that I am working with spreadsheets every day, for the last month, and probably the next one coming as well I have actually been doing the same thing every single day. Argh! I get a slight respite when someone comes to my desk and asks for some help with something, but 9 times out of 10 they want something that I’ve already written up how to do in the instructions I was asked to write for them, which they could find by scrolling to the document and reading a single paragraph detailing very clearly how to do it. I made the template for the document they are trying to use, and I included a helpful instruction sheet on basic troubleshooting with what could go wrong. Do they read it? No. Even their boss, the person that asked me to make the template and include the instruction sheet, he doesn’t even read it! I get chirpy little emails from him asking if I could help so-and-so because the contents page just isn’t working, no matter what he tries (read: nothing)! Grr. Now my work is building up because I’m getting back the items I’ve sent for checking, but can’t complete them yet because I’m waiting on data I requested from another department back in March.

At home we have two types of workmen at the moment. There are gas men replacing the pipes and builders building a new set of flats. They’ve coned off loads of areas so there’s nowhere to park and every morning they are blocking me in so I’m late for work. Combine that with the bin men trying to squeeze through and I was about an hour late for work this morning. I had to squeeze myself through a tiny gap this morning, and missed hitting my neighbours car (parked next to the cones because he couldn’t find anywhere else) by 0.5 cm. Spatial awareness win. This has been going on for 2 weeks so far, and there aren’t even half way done yet.

We also had a visit from my aunt last night, who’s been told that the cause of her severe back pain is vertebral discs disintegrating. The only treatment options she was offered were pain killers and physio or spinal surgery to insert rods to immobilise the two vertebrae and keep them apart, but then she would lose all mobility in them and the problem would move to the two above. I’m sure I’ve heard of disc replacement surgery, so I’m a bit confused as to why that wasn’t an option. Suffice to say, she’s in a lot of pain, and it’ll only get worse. I’m doesn't help that mr has gone back home and I think it’ll be ages before I can see him again. He's brilliant at cheering me up.  Continuing the moan, since I'm on a roll I turned up in all my kit for an outing last night, only to find half my crew hadn’t shown up, and the other girl was busy taking out a single, and didn’t even offer to go in a double with me. Rude, and nice of the rest of them to let me know it was off. Our Sky plus box broke at the weekend, so the engineer came and took the box away and replaced it with a shiny new one. It turns out the problem was actually the dish, which they fixed the next day, but they won’t give us the box back, so I have lost the episodes of Lost and Heroes I was saving up to watch in my own time because Mum doesn’t watch them. I was only sticking with Lost because this was the last series! Grrrrr.

I shall put the ranting bean back in her box now and medicate her with knitting, biscuits, hot chocolate, maybe some shouty music and a sofa to curl up on.

My boredom has lead me to discovering a couple of new blogs which were good, but possibly doesn’t help lift the mood any, rather puts me deeper in it, because I want to be doing what they’re doing. I had an email from the accommodation people at Exeter uni and so have now applied for my accommodation. Applications aren’t dealt with on a first-come-first-serve basis, but those with an unconditional firm status before August are dealt with first, so that kick started me into trying to get my application to have that status. I was quite surprised to see that I could only apply for the Rowancroft halls, I was certain I’d seen somewhere you could live anywhere, but those were kept for medics primarily. My offer is conditional on CRB and OH checks. I’m not sure how to fulfil these any more than I already have, as I took the completed forms with me to my interview. I have arranged for a Hep B surface antigen test next week, I’ve signed the rest of the forms that came with my offer and I just need to print off 4/5 passport photos and send them off with the forms, blood test results and vaccination history which my Dr has already kindly printed off for me. Hopefully I’ll be able to send the whole lot off some time next week.

In other exciting news, I have found an amazing new app for my phone that I’m somewhat addicted to: Speed Anatomy, and what’s more, it’s free! It displays the name of a part and you have to tap it on the diagram of a dissected body before the time runs out, with bonus multiplier points for accuracy. There are different levels, so you start with easy stuff first like skin and heart but then it gets harder (well, I haven’t looked over those bits in my flashcards yet, so they’re hard to me). I can get to level 9 at the moment, which is about the different vertebra, and level 8 nearly caught me out because I couldn’t work out my left and right when identifying blood vessels. Level 6 proved tricky for a while; it’s about muscles. Why is the gastrocnemius in the leg? I keep thinking it’s abdominal. There are 28 levels in total so I’ve got a while to go. Have a good weekend, hope the weather clears up (maybe I have SAD?).

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

London, Anatomy and the Best Mussels in the World

I had a big exciting week because mr came to visit and all the plans we had so carefully made fell into place beautifully. It was so nice to come home from work to find him there to greet me, but it’ll be a long time before it’s like that again. He came down Wednesday and we went out that night clutching an Orange Wednesdays voucher for 2-4-1 pizza at Pizza Express and cinema tickets to see Kickass. The film was really good - a little more violent that I was expecting, but awesome nonetheless, and I can now be mostly found singing under my breath ‘Don’t give a damn ‘bout my bad reputation, na na na na na na naaaa’.  Thursday saw rowing, with mr coxing (he’s an amazing cox :-D) and a lovely meal in On the Waterfront. Friday we went to a comedy night which wasn’t as good as Mitch Benn last time, but was still pretty funny and a good night out.

Saturday we were up super early (for beans, I don’t really like being up before about 8.30-9) to go to London! Being from a little city (city only by default because of the cathedral) London’s quite scary for me because it’s so big and busy. I get quite excited about going, and I’m always really proud of myself at being able to navigate the tube and not have anything stolen (I might have a slightly naive view of London!). I say always, it’s only the second time I’ve properly been to London, other than school trips to plays. The first time was when mr surprised me with a trip for New Years to watch the fireworks. This time he was surprising me with tickets to watch Avenue Q – I love musicals. This one was good, not my favourite - I feel a little bit wrong having watched puppets have sex, but it was very funny and cleverly done, with some amazing singers. We walked through Kensington Palace gardens, Hyde Park, stumbled across Harley Street, which was very exciting, (mr asked if I wanted to wander down and pick out my office :p) went to Camden Lock and went to the V and A but quickly left for the Natural History museum, science geeks that we are :) We had saved up our Tesco vouchers to have a meal in Loch Fyne where I had the nicest, most creamy, melt in the mouth, biggest pot of mussels in the world! The pot was as big as my head, I was in heaven getting very messy in the middle of the posh restaurant, can’t take me anywhere! :p I had started to eat them with a fork and spoon, but they put a finger bowl on the table so I tucked in :) Another thing about me – I love my shellfish (apart from oysters. I read a book where the murderer killed by hypnotising people to swallow their tongues like oysters, can’t have them now). Mr’s smoked roasted salmon was pretty awesome too. I think we’ll be going back there. There was much sleeping and more rowing on Monday, and in the evening mr kicked my ass at Mario Kart for Wii. I will beat him at something!!!!

Back to the medic-ing. I had the best time on the train journeys up and back :) We took the flash cards and blitzed bones of the body - front and back, parts of the ribs and most of the major arteries of the body. On the way up we were sat opposite a lady whose daughter’s a second year at UEA med school. She was telling me that only UEA and PMS do PBL (wrong? V v wrong…) and she was going up to drop off a fancy cardio stethoscope she had bought for her daughter because her daughter was too poor to buy one and had been borrowing one o_0. She did tell me of a web site to try and get some funding. I’ll check it out, but given her other medical knowledge, I don’t hold out much hope. It was On the way back, we were sat opposite a PMS third year who had been based at Exeter for his first two years who was really nice. Apparently, I’m a medic-related magnet (there was a microbiology Dr on the last train journey I took before this back from Derby). He was telling me all about the course and the PMS ethic that they don’t like revision or cramming, nothing in the first term counts at all and the pass mark for the first exam is 3%. He was really nice, and gave me his email in case I had any more questions. This encounter only made more excited to go - there is renewed bouncing. Also, when mr came he was bearing a present from his parents – Grey’s Anatomy for Students (spoilt bean again!) So I shall be genning up on some surface anatomy before I go I think - the third year said that would be useful, and trying not to forget the bones and vessels I learnt on the train :) I’ll bounce off now, have a great week, and good luck in your exams IB people!