Friday, 30 December 2011

End of Year

Tomorrow I am training up to London to spend New Year's watching the fire works with mr.  If you're watching on the telly I'll be the one in the bobble hat at the front :) I am currently languishing in essay hell.  One fluffy essay on work life balance is written and submitted but the one off the back of my SSU I'm having much more difficulty with.  See, before we went into a tutorial session with the facilitator, one of my two placement partners asked what essay titles we'd picked.  When we went in to talk to the facilitator, the facilitator asked each of us in turn and the person that was asked before me, the person that had asked what we were doing outside, gave my idea as their own!  Bearing in mind that outside they had told us they were doing something completely different and they are also absolutely disgustingly, sickeningly, sweet and lovely, so you'd never believe they were capable of doing such an under-handed thing.  I was not amused.  It left me struggling to come up with an idea on the spot so as not to look under prepared in front of the consultant.  Now it turns out that there isn't anything to write about in that field and I am a little stuck.  The thing that my essay has turned into is way to big to write a 2000 word essay on and cover properly, but if I go wildly off topic and pick something else, the facilitator will wonder why as it was so different to what I was originally going to do.  I can't complain about the other student because that just looks like I'm moaning and I certainly can't do the same as them.

This year has gone pretty well, looking back through some of my blog posts.  Exams have all gone well, I had a lovely holiday with mr, I've been on some amazing placements, proved to myself that I actually can do this medicine lark, met some inspiring people, and started to try and come out of myself a little more and be a bit braver.  Next year I will be trying to do some sort of fitness each day, make a real effort to stop ignoring emails and messages form friends and actually find time to meet up with them like I said I would and try to moan at you lovely readers a little less.

I hope the new year will bring you everything you want, be it luck, a medicine place, health, friendship, love or wealth.  Happy New Year!

Wednesday, 21 December 2011


Well, the cancer clinic was as dire as I thought it would be.  It was the closest I have come to crying in clinic, which I know is totally inappropriate, but I had to look away and steal myself to stop a tear rolling down my cheek.  A patient came in with their sons and was told that the headache and cough they'd had for the last couple of weeks wasn't a head cold like their GP had told them but a met from lung cancer they also didn't know they had.  They have weeks left.  They joked if they'd have known they would go like this, they wouldn't have stopped drinking all those years ago.  The GP had told them once the headaches had gone they'd do something about helping them quite smoking.  It took a good while for the patient to decide if they even wanted a diagnosis.  That seems alien to me.  Is it better to not know?  To not have a name to call the evil you have to try to fight?  Not knowing would be worse for me.  Funny how different people are. 

I've moved home for the two weeks of christmas holidays.  I am working full tim at the surgery, and spending the rest of my time on my knees trying to find the balls that my cat has lost.  I'm trying to show her I'm the magic ball finding lady, not the terrifying lady she thinks I am at the moment.  She's forgotten the hours we spent under the sofa together and runs away from me now.  Which is doublly sad because I am normally one of those crazy cat ladies/cat whisperer that has cats follow them home and roll over for tummy tickles the first time they see me.  Not my own cat though. 

New Year's is all booked for me and mr to see the fireworks on the embankment in London again.  It will be our third year.  Not sure what we're doing in the daytime yet but train tickets, hotel, restaurant vouchers from tescos points all booked and sorted.  I can't wait.  It's a little sad, but in some ways I'm looking forward to that more than Christmas.  I was trying to find a Christmas card for him, but all the couples card's kept saying about how special it was to spend Christmas with your loved one and how magic they make the day.  One day.  I hope you've all bought the Military Wives Choir song, it should def be Christmas Number 1. 

Hope you're all having a nice break for Christmas and those interviews and offers are rolling in.  Good luck and Happy Christmas!

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Colourless, green, yellow or black?

Can you guess what I'm doing at the moment?  I am about to start my final week on a respiratory outpatients SSU.  I had been thinking that maybe respiratory could be the speciality for me and whilst I have enjoyed these two weeks, but now I've done a little - nope.  Another speciality choice crossed off the list.  It has been the most depressing couple of weeks.  It is probably not the most depressing - oncology, palliative, I can see those as being sad; I would go into them prepared.  This was an ambush of sad.

First patient of the day comes into the room, consultant looks at the scans.  We are sat behind the consultant staring in awe at the proceedings, not quite believing we are in an actual hospital seeing actual patients and trying really hard to look like we've done this loads of times before and sort of know what we're doing.  The consultant has quite a thick accent so I find I have to concentrate a lot on what he's saying to understand it.  What gives the game away though is the look of utter shock on the patient's and their relatives face.  The look someone gets when their whole world falls apart.  That the shortness of breath their loved one has been feeling and the slight cough is actually ideopathic pulmonary fibrosis and there's nothing that can be done.  That they have about 2-3 years left of increasing shortness of breath and decreasing quality of life as the fibrosis rips through their lungs, spreading like cancer.  Repeat this for two clinics a day for two weeks with one and a half days of to work at the GP's and that's my last two weeks.

The consultant was explaining to a patient that they could be put on this experimental anti-fibrotic drug.  It isn't licensed yet and the drug company will give it to the hospital for free to so that if it does end up being licensed the hospital will be more willing to pay for it because they have patients on it already.  The drug may not work, but you might think it's better than doing nothing.  The patient looked at me and asked what I thought they should do.  I had no words.  As they left, the patient thanked me for my time, patted me on the shoulder and told me to enjoy my life.  I know that death is a big part of being a Doctor.  I'm not naive enough to think that everyone can be saved.  I just wasn't expecting to meet it so soon.

A patient was seen with a whole list of problems, but they are happy, up beat, they have a strong family network, they still do things, but they'll be dead in 6 months.  It's incomprehensible   It just makes me want that parallel life with me curled up with mr on a big comfy sofa in front of a roaring wood fire with a couple of dogs and cats lying about the place.  I want my life now, I don't want to keep waiting for it.  It doesn't help I'm currently trying to write an essay on work life balance (as in my lack of one and the changes I plan to make to get one), and that January is creeping ever closer.  In January mr starts the longest period of time we've ever been apart.  He goes from being far away, but not too far that I can't go visiting some weekends, to ridiculously far away.  He's not going anywhere scary, but he is going far away for roughly 98 sleeps.  We don't have the exact dates yet.  Thank goodness for whoever invented Skype.

It might be a little hard to believe from the way I'm moping, but between writing this post and the last I did cheer up considerably.  I had one of those special moments girls get when they go clothes shopping and realise they've dropped a dress size.  Fantastic feeling.  I also finished all my Christmas shopping, I just have to put a few more coats of varnish on things I have been making for family presents, finish writing the cards and I am done.  Tomorrow is home visits and the cancer clinic.  Psyching myself up for it with hot chocolate and biscuits.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Down in the Dumps

I'm afraid I'm not the happiest, smiliest bean ever, so please bear with me while I have a little woe is me rant.  Or not.  Skip it if you like, but don't say I didn't warn you.  Results night I was walking down the stairs at home to answer the door when my ankle gave in and I slid down the rest of the stairs on it, landing in a small heap at the bottom.  Sadly nothing stronger than water passed my lips and I was having a quiet night in, not celebrating like a rock star falling off the table I was dancing on.  One of the good things about being from my University town, is that when my housemates were running around trying to decide who could drive my car (as none of them have one) or whether they should call an ambulance, whilst trying to fight me and RICE my ankle while I just wanted to cry and lop my foot off because it hurt too much and could they please stop touching it with the cold solid thing, I could call Mummy and Daddy bean to drive me to the Walk in Centre because I broke a bit of myself.  3 hours later I emerge with a PIL on foot and ankle injuries, a copy of my X-Ray (batted my eyelids sweetly at the Dr), a sprained ankle and a shiny pair of crutches.

It's been over a week now and I'm still on crutches.  People tend to fall into two categories, those that think I'm being lazy and for goodness sakes it's just a sprain, and those that have also badly sprained their ankle in the past and cheerfully tell me a sprain is worse than a break and is there anything they can do for me.  All I know is if I take 6 steps without crutches my ankle will ache for the rest of the day, or if I try flex my foot, like to do stairs, it aches, or if I rest it on something, it aches, and that it is still swollen.  Still.  Stupid ankle.  My lovely Mr came down and put it in a tubigrip for me this weekend, which is helping, although I nearly kicked him when he put it on it hurt that much.  It's helping so much I would be down to just one crutch except that last night I managed to put my hand on an electric hob on max and am sporting a rather painful burnt palm now.  Crutches are blooming hard work, especially because all the exercise I do normally is lower body not upper.  Everything aches.  It's laughable really; before I wasn't sleeping because I was a stressy-head over exam results.  I was really looking forward to a full nights sleep when the results came out and it turned out I didn't need to worry.  Now I can't sleep because my ankle has perfected this dull, nagging, persistent ache that pain killers aren't touching.  Argh!  I went back to the WIC at the weekend and they said to stay off it for another 2 weeks.  That means my Winter Ball on crutches, and my first week on SSU on the Respiratory Ward on crutches.  Brilliant, just perfect.  Should I mention this is all on top of the inner ear infection I already have that the GP said was viral and I just had to ride out?

Placement was pants, utter pants.  I had such a good placement last time and this was just awful.  It started badly when I asked my partner to give me a lift in because I can't drive at the moment, and they asked me to walk what would normally be 30 minutes to meet them so they could drive a really convoluted way, instead of the direct route which goes straight past my house.  I had explained why I needed the lift and when I told them the direct route they got really defensive and said since I was asking the favour I should be nicer to them.  They then were so paranoid that we would be late they arrived 10 minutes early to pick me up and we arrived 40 minutes early.  I was with 2 GPs.  One completely ignored me and didn't involve me at all.  The other was the nice one that I had last time only this time the questions he asked me I hadn't a clue about (diagnosing Paget's from the clues of bilateral hearing aids and hip pain, and spotting CREST) and he just made me feel like an idiot for not knowing them.  My attempt at taking blood didn't work as the patient's vein disappeared when he straightened his arm out, and only once I'd tried did the patient say "Ah yes, the hospital always has trouble taking my blood".  My ankle was killing me after that day as the GP was full of come over here and have a look at this boy's spots/man's cyst/lack of an inguinal hernia/letter that I'm holding in my hand/etc.

Finally, the forces have been in the spot light a lot recently, with Remembrance Sunday, Military Wives Choir and Frontline Medicine recently.  Being completely and utterly selfish and probably just a big bag of silly girly hormones again, but I'm finding it really hard to be supportive for Mr.  My heart bursts with pride and love for him, but I don't know as I'm ever going to be strong enough to be left behind, waiting for him to come home safe.  The first of his intake from Sandhurst was killed on tour recently and it's made it all hit home.  I keep beating myself up about it because as sad as I get and for all my doubt in my own strength, it's not about me, it's about him, and I shouldn't be so.... pathetic.  Hundreds of women do it, there's no reason why I shouldn't be able to.   I just don't want to have to try.  I was watching the choir programme and they were saying that they had chosen this life and so that's how they get through it, but I didn't chose this, I fell in love with a guy I met in a club.  I need to man up, stop dwelling on it and deal with things as and when they arise.  I need to take my own advice, that it's not about me, it's about Mr.  And maybe one day I will.

In happier news, I passed my clinical competencies in IM injections and musculoskeletal exams with excellents, and the GP passed me on cardiovascular exam competency.
Hopefully I'll be happier next time,

Friday, 11 November 2011


Results came out at 11.30 today.  I PASSED!!!  Not only did I pass, I did rather well, a bit of a closet clever clogs really :p  I got 41, which is up from my last score of 28.  I am in the top 5% of the year so I got my excellent and a bit of snooping through the exam reports tells me that I'm actually 6th in the whole year.  To say I am excited right now is an understatement.  I even passed the passmark for the 5th years.  I am shaking I'm so happy.  To have been so worried about it and to have it all turn out all right, and even better than all right is just fantastic.  I'm off to go bounce off some walls now :)  Thank you for your lovely comments yesterday, they really cheered me up.  Have a great weekend.  I'm up early tomorrow to go to a day of Podmedics lectures.  Now my only worry is maintaining that score!

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Fret, fret, fret

I should be excitedly telling you how I aced the AMK, or crying because I failed the AMK and am feeling pretty dismal.  I have dutifully waited the normal two weeks.  I am getting my insomnia and then sleep walking when I finally do drop off, as is usual when I'm fretting about something.  Results day should have been yesterday.  Tuesday we got an email saying that due to unforseen circumstances there was going to be an unavoidable delay in the release of the results, for another two weeks!  This bean is not amused.  I'm not sure I'll last that long on this little sleep.  It's all very well saying it's no use fretting, and why don't I try going to bed early but it's not that simple when you're this side of the fretting, and when it's not your results, or not your family you have to tell if you fail.  We then got an email from the Dean telling us of for a facebook group that had been discussing AMK questions and the rumour is that we've done better this time than we were supposed to, hence the delay as they try and work out how to moderate it.  This was the first time I'd heard about any such group and really just adds to the fretting, as it presumeably means that a whole load of people have done very much better than me and when the grade boundaries are set according to how everyone else did that really doesn't bode well for me.  I don't know how you picture the little bean in your head but she's pacing up and down right now and could probably do with a swift slap across the cheek and being told to calm down. 

Apart from that this case unit has been pretty massive - covering endocrine, diabetes, the eye and the leg in the space of two weeks.  I have done my usual shifts at the GP surgery and so having an inability to shut down and go to sleep means my productivity is up pretty high, as long as you don't mind your bean rocking a zombie look the rest of the time.  After this case unit there is a study week, so as long as the GP's don't claim me I should get a bit of a break then which will be nice. 

The new cat is now out from under the sofa.  She now lives under the table, but at least she's more accesible there.  She adores getting tickles but isn't comfortable enough yet to come and ask for them.  If you want to contort yourself to get to her and give her them that's fine, but if you don't that's ok too.  Hopefully we'll start giving her the run of the house soon as she's confined to the living room for now until she's less fraidy.  It is very therapeutic going over every day to tickle a cat though.  Should be prescribed. 

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Exams and Cats

The AMK went.  I'm not sure if I can say any more than that, just that I have done it.  The results are out next week, so I shall have to wait and see until then.  This was the first time we sat it on paper and not on a computer, and I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not.  On the computer the questions come up in blocks of 25 and once you complete a block you cannot return to it.  It's difficult to think of timings so I had a tendency to be very cautious.  On paper you have three hours to look through all the questions as many times as you like, so you can convince yourself you know more than you actually do.  Because of this I answered a lot more than I normally do, so I think it's either gone really well and it was a good paper, or it's gone really badly.  I'm tying myself in knots, I don't like it.

Yesterday I sat me first clinical competencies of the year in intramuscular injections and musculoskeletal exams.  I had spent the last month practising for the IM injections every Friday for an hour, so I was pretty confident.  It threw me a little because the vignette wasn't the one I was expecting, but I muddled through and did pretty well. I got all high excellents and one satisfactory because I didn't wash my hands after I gave the injection.  I was just too pleased to be finished without stabbing myself and that I remembered all the bits and did it in the time limit.  Hopefully that will come out as an excellent.  The MSK also went well.  She picked me up for not looking behind the patient to see how high up they could get their hands, but I didn't do that because it wasn't on their demonstration video so I didn't know I had to.  I got all low excellents for that, with high excellents for communication skills and introduction.  I'm not sure what else I could have improved upon. That one will probably moderate out as a satisfactory.

Another big thing that happened to me in my break between writing was that my cat died.  We'd had Amber since she was 8 weeks old and she died at the age of 13 at 7.45am on 1st October.  Her liver had started to kick out all the stored fat into the blood stream for some reason, making her blood really thick.  She was so poorly in the end we rushed her to the emergency vets who tried but couldn't save her.  She was the best, funniest, cleverest, stupidest, fluffiest, warmest, most loving cat in the world, with the biggest personality.  Whenever I was upset or ill she'd come and find me.  She wasn't terribly good at being a cat - couldn't really jump that well and was never very good at catching things but she knew how to play each member of the family to get exactly what she wanted.  Whether that was being carried to her food because she didn't want to walk, being taken and let out the front door because she didn't want to go out the back, sitting on what ever you were working on because you weren't paying attention to her, getting hugs and tickles when ever she wanted, or sitting on you because you were wearing something soft that she thought must be for her.  She was more than our cat, she was my sister and she is sorely missed.
 Our family was devastated getting that call from the vet.  We cried for weeks.  Without her the house just seemed so empty.  This weekend we went to the cat shelter and we got a new cat.  Nothing will ever replace Amber, but we've had cats in our house for as long as I can remember.  I was practically raised by them.  There's pictures of one of them, Shilling, sitting on my moses basket watching me sleep.  Apparently, if I woke up she would walk back and forth down the basket to rock it and send me back to sleep.  She didn't know what I was, but she knew I was to be cherished and protected.

Freya is our new cat and she is 2.  She is currently under the sofa.  She is very happy, not scared, will have tickles and food and wash and lick you and fall asleep flopped on your hand.  She just won't come out from under the sofa.  Except at night time, when she comes out and goes nuts.  Once she's sure everyone has gone to sleep she has quite a night of playing.  The first night the tail came off her catnip mouse.  The second night the mouse was annihilated into fluff and bits of fabric and scattered around the room.  The third night a ball of wool was unravelled and re-wrapped around every chair and table leg in the the room.  So, every day I go over, clean up whatever she's done and spend the next three hours lying down beside the sofa with my arm jammed in up to the shoulder tickling the cat to try and get her comfortable enough to come out.  She came from a multi-cat household with very little human interaction.  She's just finding out that ear tickles and tummy tickles are the best thing in the world.  If she would just come out from under the sofa....

Friday, 21 October 2011

Vampire Bean

Hi, I know, I know, it has been ages since I last wrote.  I probably don't need to tell you I've been busy a) because of the length of time since I wrote and b) because I'm me and, let face it, when am I not busy?  I had to stay up late to type this now though, because today has been all sorts of awesome.  Firstly, a little catch up.  Second year has well and truly landed.  We've done two case units so far.  I am frantically trying to revise for the first AMK coming up next week and my first competancy in IM injections and musculoskeletal exams the week after.  We've also been given prep work to do for a whole myriad of other exams that we have to pass this year, way more than we had to sit last year.  Alongside that, all the hours I have betwen 8.30am and 6pm that I am not in lectures I am working at the surgery because there is a massive backlog there.  I also went up for and got a promotion to Data Quality Analyst Assistant, which means I do more computery, techy stuff for them 8 hours a week and got a nice pay rise for the other hours I work for them too.  I found out my Special Study Units I've been allocated for the year, and am really happy to say that, once again, I got the ones I wanted.  I have three weeks on respiratory, looking at inflammatory respiratory disease and three weeks looking at use of language and how your choice of words can reveal things about you.  In non work and uni news I have been to visit mr a couple of times and we celebrated our 4 year anniversary.  We had another beautiful walk with the swirling birds and the sunset... but you don't want to hear about the gushy romantic stuff do you?  You want me to get to the awesome :)

If you are a medic, or a big reader of medic's blogs, you will probably recognise the allusion in the title.  I shall spell it out anyway because i'm just too excited.  Today I took blood for the first time from a real person :)  Today was also the first time I gave a real person an IM injection :) :)  Then I took more blood from a different person, just to prove the first time wasn't a fluke, and swapped the vials over to get three tube fulls.  The degree of loon grinning going on right now is pretty extreme.  I have had a full day in a GP practice today on placement and the GP I was shadowing in the morning had to take bloods from a patient and asked if I wanted to give it a go.  I was torn between really REALLY wanting to say yes and knowing that I have only done it once on a plastic arm about a year ago and haven't practiced it since.  I didn't want to let on I was nervous and hadn't done it on a real person before in case the patient revoked their consent or tensed up anticipating I would do it wrong.  But I seized the opportunity, pulled it off without a hitch, got compliments from the patient and the GP and was altogether pretty chuffed.  Later I was shadowing the Practice Nurse who let me take more blood and give an injection.  I'd been really nervous because everyone has come back from placement saying how hard it was and how they got grilled and didn't know any of the answers.  I hardly slept last night I was so nervous.  However when it came to it, every time the GP asked me a question or asked for my diagnosis, I got it right.  I am floating on cloud 9 right now, I really have had the best of days.  A second year and taking blood, blood pressure and doing injections on real people?!  I love my course. 

Thursday, 6 October 2011

In Limbo

Sorry I've been a bit quiet of late, have you missed me?  Here's one I wrote but never got the chance to post.  More recent update to follow.

So I'm in kind of a strange position. I've moved into the shared uni house but I'm still going to work at the pension company as usual. Not quite a student, not quite a real working person. I moved in on Sunday - packed my little car to the roof with my stuff (how do I have so much stuff? I've already done two trips to move stuff in?!) and moved in Sunday night. I did it this weekend because I thought everyone was also moving in this weekend, and I didn't really want to be left out. When I turned up there was only one other person and he was off out to the pub. He did invite me out, but I had bits to unpack to get ready for work the next day. Surrounding the house were 8 police cars, a riot van, an ambulance and a police bike and the road was cordoned off due to what I've heard was a hostage situation up the road (no casualties thankfully). I sat on my bed looking at my life in boxes, in this massive, empty, cold house, listening to the police sirens and felt so lonely and isolated.

It was such a contrast from the day before where I'd been showing pre-freshers around my old halls site as an open day helper. Seeing all their excited faces and answering their questions made me really excited to be starting again. Best question of the day: while in one of the common rooms in one of the flats a guy pipes up "so, when I get here, will there be an X-Box and TV?" Erm, only if you bring one! Closely followed by a comment I heard one of the mum's make about her friends' son. Apparently instead of washing his underwear he just bought new ones, so came home at the end of term with 42 pairs of boxers for his mum to wash. Magic :)

Things are looking up now though. One other person has moved in, only two more to go. We have internet up and running in the house. Well, apart from the top floor because the booster router still has the previous tenants' mystery password on it but we're working on that. A couple of people have come to look at the spare room and my housemate is really excited about one of them, so fingers crossed. I've received my hours for going back to the GP job next week. I just need to stop feeling so old and try and gee myself up to going out to some of the freshers events. It gets to 11pm and I think bed time not party time. Leaving you with a bit of bean silliness - after work yesterday I went to Tescos to do grocery shopping for the week and had just put all the food on the conveyor belt to be scanned to pay for when I discovered I left my wallet in my other bag. Oops. I had to get them to put it in a chiller for me whilst I ran home to pick up my wallet. Except then I got distracted by fixing the internet (housemate had plugged the router in to the wrong hole in the wall). Oh dear. I did redeem myself slightly though by making a delicious mushroom and spinach lasagne. Om nom :) (which I eventually got to eat at 10.30pm). Next week, student bean returns!

Friday, 16 September 2011

Confused Bean

I've been rather confused this last week. Somehow, it's been decided I'm the most responsible of the group and it's been left to me to sort out utilities and broadband for the house share I'm moving into next week. I was kinda hoping since I found the house, someone else would take on the mantle of doing all that stuff. Unfortunately, no one stepped up and then one of the lot announced they were moving in four weeks earlier than we had to be there to start lectures. They also weren't offering to sort bits out so I started doing a bit of research. Broadband was alright. I understand we need unlimited broadband as fast as we can get it and as cheap as we can get it. That's logical. I managed to get us a deal with Orange with a £40 Sainsbury's voucher and £50 credit. If you're going with them too and want £50 credit, send me an email and I'll tell you my Orange email address you need to quote to them to say you've been referred by me.

Gas and electric however, completely floored me. There are so many different tariffs available, how do I know which one's best? Is it better for us to be on a standing charge or not? Currently the house is economy 7 which seems like a stupid idea for a bunch of students, so how do I go about changing it and do I have to, and will it cost and *pop* (small bean explosion). All the comparison sites want to know how much you'll use before they give you answers and lots isn't one of the options available to pick. I know there's 6 of us, well, there will be, there's only five at the moment, we're still looking for a sixth. I know it will be expensive. There is nothing out there that is a rough guide to sorting out utilities for students moving into shared housing for the first time. I know technically it's not my first time, but, somewhat shamefully, a different housemate sorted it all out in Southampton and I didn't bother getting involved to see how they did it. I'm paying for it now though. I've picked a plan, and I'm getting the meter changed over next week. I do feel very pleased with myself I've figured it out and sorted it. I just hope I picked correctly.

In other exciting news I have children! I have a boy fresher and a girl fresher. One of them is a mature student I think, although they aren't replying to my messages at the moment :-s Although I guess if you had a randomer sending you a message on facebook saying "hi, I'm your mum", you'd probably ignore them too. Wifey and I are planning on cooking a meal for them at our house. Details of our tutors have been released and our intranet page is looking very whizzy now as more stuff is added to it.

I'm working at the uni this weekend as an open day helper which I'm looking forward to. It's been ages since I did anything like that. To be honest, it's more the £7.33 an hour I'm looking forward to. There's been an announcement on the intranet they will be advertising for people to sit in our life science room which has books, computers and plastic models in it and be a life science technical helper. Talking to last years' second years, it's an evening job that involves sitting in the room and making sure no one trashes the place or steals things. They're quite happy for you to sit and work while you're there. I'm seriously tempted to go for it, although I wonder if I'd be able to fit it in with my GP job I'll be going back to. That's as well as trying to be better friends with my housemates than I managed to at my last degree. I think my downfall there was the hours I spent working in my room that they spent downstairs watching telly or going out together. I have to try and make more of an effort this time. Oh, and this week I need to decide if I'm rowing with the city club for this year or not. It's my last chance to row with them, and it looks like there's a perfect squad to fit me, if I can just maintain the oomph to go train and fit it in with the rest of my life. If someone could just sponsor me to do med, that would be great. That way I wouldn't have to decide between course, friends, sports, jobs, cooking and sleep.

I mentioned last time listening to music while I work and the song I linked to last time is a favourite Friday song of mine. Had you been a fly on the wall, after one particularly busy Friday you would have seen me playing that song on full blast dancing around Mr's room like a loon, with him smiling at me and wondering how he landed himself such a funny, strange girlfriend. I believe people must think that of me fairly often, as I frequently find myself bopping away to the songs I'm listening to whilst sitting in my chair at work. It's only small dancing, but there's definite swaying, tapping and bouncing. Ah well, life would be boring if we didn't have our oddities, wouldn't it? Another song I'm loving at the moment is Titus Jones - Pokestar  The whole album it's on is great, but there's a couple of stand out songs for me and this is one of them.

Friday, 9 September 2011

A hodge podge of placement, work and music

Happy Friday! Continuing the trend, I have two weeks to go!! Placements were released yesterday, and I've been given a rural GP's. Still making my mind up about that one. I'd wanted to go to the one I already work at as a receptionist/administrator, because that would have completed the circle nicely. I would have seen everything that surgery does. I can't work out if a rural GP's means I'll get to do more because they may be more relaxed, or I won't see anything because they are so tiny. I'm not looking forward to the 20 minute commute to get there, but it could be worse. Some people have to go much further than I do.

All that's left to find out now is what my SSU's are and who my fresher children are. I'm trying to work out what to do with my children on our parent's night. My parents took me bowling. I'm torn between that, cooking a nice meal for them at my house, or showing them a great pub in Exeter they may not discover by themselves. I'm sure they'll be a little weirded out whatever, as we are an odd couple. I'm a mature female student and the girl I took for my wife repeated first year. I cooked for my mentees at Southampton the first time I met them, and that worked well. They appreciated having proper home cooked food for once. Well, it went well until one of them had an epileptic fit on the driveway and we had to take him to hospital. Hmmm. Anyone have any suggestions?

I'm somewhat buried at work. My boss is going on holiday next week, so gave me his backlog of work to clear as much of it as I can before he gets back. That's on top of the projects I already had from him to do. Most of those are just starting to get big and actionable as people are finally responding to the questions I sent them weeks ago, now they realise I'm going soon. With that, comes the little spreadsheet queries people have, as the people that are used to me being here that I have worked with over the years fall back into the mind set of 'Oh, it's a spreadsheet thing, Bean'll do it.' I did get a little stressy last week. I had a day where I was given masses of stuff to do, which looked simple at first but none of it was in the end. I cleared none of it that day, I was so frustrated and just felt completely rubbish at my job. Just as things were getting too much, mr and I's song came on the playlist I was listening to (a radio station made of all the songs and artists I love on It's not really a happy song, but it always seems to come on when we are together - a busker will start singing it, or it'll come on the radio or start playing in a shop. It calmed me down so much. He's on exercise at the moment, stuck on a moor somewhere and pretty much out of contact for a few weeks. It's pants because I normally speak to him everyday and I really miss chatting to him. At Southampton we used to work together and if either of us got stressed with what we were working on the other could tell and would initiate a five minute break of a chat and a back rub. At that moment, silly as it sounds, it just felt like he was watching and he knew I was stressed so he sent that song. I know, I know, I'm soppy beyond redemption. Shoot me now, disgusting loved up person that I am.

Songs are really important to me. I love songs that remind me of events, people, places and great times. So, my loved playlist is pretty eclectic, but putting the right music on can really alter my mood. For example, I have masses of work to do at the moment, so I have dance music on so the beat helps keep my motivated and concentrated - Chase and Status today and the bootie mashup by DJs from Mars - Show Me in the Deep (Listen here). Bootie mashups are great because they can put a really different spin on songs. There's a couple where I love the mashups more than the original. If I'm learning I like either dance, house, funky folk (Seth Lakeman, The Bad Shepherds) or something soft and quiet, like Joshua Radin or JJ Cale. Rock guitar and grizzly vocal pieces come out if I'm grumpy and am happy to stay grumpy for a bit, like Queen sung by Paul Rogers or Daughtry, or happy cheesy stuff like Sara Bareilles and Colbie Caillat if I don't want to grump anymore. You can tell a lot about me by listening to what music I'm playing. I listen to music all the time, I love it. I like so much there's bound to be stuff you like and others you don't, but I don't care what others think of my music taste. I listen to it because it makes me happy.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Marking Time

4 weeks, just 19 working days left. I am as excited this time as I was this time last year when I was waiting to start for the first time. Although, I have less of the 'what ifs' this time; I know what's in store, I know I can do it, I just want it to be here now. Well, I do and I don't. I would like a little extra time because I have quite a to do list at work and I don't think I'm going to get it all done. Ever the perfectionist, I hate leaving work unfinished. Having the three day weekend was lovely. Can all weekends be three days long from now on please? I got so much done, it was great. That is one thing I really do miss - the joy that comes with it being a Friday or a bank holiday Monday. You just don't get the same feeling being a student.

Our new medical school intranet site has gone live, so my obsessive checking habit has now turned to checking the intranet to see which groups I'm in, what my timetable will be, what GP Placement I'll have and which SSU's I will be doing. Timetables are up, but that's not a lot of use without knowing what group number I am in. I can see I finish every Friday at 2, which I like very much, though I'm sure my part time job will soon have something to remedy that with. The Life Science group lists are up, and if I know that I can work out what I'll be for everything else, but I can't access them! I get an access denied message which is somewhat frustrating. Apparently the fourth years have their bits up so hopefully they shouldn't keep us waiting too much longer.

I've had another weekend at Mr's where we went blackberrying and found that our favourite restaurant in Salisbury, Charter 1227 had burnt down and won't be open again until March. We had a meal in the Officers Mess but because it was the holidays there was only the two of us booked in for dinner. The chef cooked us the most elaborate, delicious, fancy meal I think I've ever tasted. He'd done the table up with flowers and really gone to town for us. I normally feel guilty enough having silver service for ordinary meals as it is, but he went to so much trouble, and he was so humble when we told him how much we enjoyed it. Nothing much else going on at the moment.  I'm just waiting....

Friday, 19 August 2011

5 July

On the 5th July 2006 the bottom fell out of my world. The 5th July was to me what the third Thursday in August is to A Level sitters. Judgement day. I left high school with good GCSE's and when I picked up the college prospectus I couldn't pick just 4 AS/A Levels, there was just so much that looked interesting. Tucked in the back half of the prospectus was a course that would let me keep my diversity and do loads of subjects. While all of my friends went off to do A levels, I enrolled on a course none of them had heard of and prepared myself to study the equivalent of 8 A Levels. In hindsight, I may have been a little crazy and a slight sucker for punishment. What can I say, I'm never one to take the easy route. 5th July is the International Baccalaureate results day. The results come out on the IB website at a certain time of day. I was feeling fairly confident because despite a few hiccoughs, a chemistry tutor and a swap of subject levels, I had worked my socks off, why shouldn't I have the results I deserved? That's how it worked, right? I needed 655 in my highers. I got 644. A black hole opened in my stomach, white noise filled my head and through the tears I squinted at the figures on the screen, trying to make them change to be what I needed.

It actually felt like my world ended. I had worked so hard and I hadn't gotten the grades. Maybe I wasn't good enough after all. I had been in slight disbelief when the Connexions career test said I should be a Doctor, as it hadn't ever entered my head. Since then it had always been in the back of my mind there was no way I was clever enough. This just proved it. Telling my family I had failed was hard. They'd been so proud I got a place at medical school and I'd let them all down (apart from Dad, because I was the first from his side of the family to stay on at school past 16, so he was proud of me just for going to college). I went off to Uni in September to my insurance choice: same uni, different course. I sat on the bus on the way to lectures listening to the medics laughing about how they weren't going to that lecture because they were too hung over and they weren't doing that essay because they couldn't be bothered. I hated those bus journeys. What I wouldn't give to be in their shoes.

I wouldn't change my path to medicine for anything. It all worked out in the end. I met my wonderful boyfriend, got involved in new sports, considered other career options I hadn't dreamt of before, tried my hand at research and thoroughly enjoyed it, found out just how far I can push myself until I physically break and how to cope with continuing to work whilst broken, met fantastic friends, got all my partying done and learnt to settle down and work when I cannot stand the subject material I'm working on because I can see the long game. Most importantly I think, I learnt to value my place. I had to work harder for it than I ever imagined when I first applied in October 2005, and having felt both the elation of an unconditional and the despair of an unsuccessful I will never forget how gutted the 16 other people I fought off to get my place must have felt.

So, if you opened your results envelope yesterday and didn't get what you were hoping for, take some time for yourself to re-evaluate, look at the new opportunities that are open to you and really think about what you want to do with your future. Perhaps you've been a little too focussed on one thing for so long you hadn't thought of all the other things you'd be really good at and could enjoy doing. If med is all you want to do after thinking through that then don't give up. Keep working until you've exhausted every opportunity and you really are down to your last shot. Each knock back should only make you stronger. You know you can do it, you know it's for you, you just have to convince other people. It will mean plenty of dog work on volunteer work experience and all-nighters writing essays about topics you couldn't care less about, but if you want to, you can focus and get done what needs to be done to achieve your goals.

If you got your results and you are going to medical school in September then congratulations, but the hard work starts now. Don't forget the people who weren't as lucky as you, those who got unsuccessfuls or lower grades, because you now have to work to show you deserve the opportunity you were given. There are many others who would have your spot in a heartbeat and you'd be surprised how quickly you forget how difficult it was to get in and how stressed you were during the application cycle waiting for the magic words on Track. Apart from that, have fun celebrating and packing. My top tip: take a door stop and biscuits to help you make friends with housemates when you first move in.

Monday, 15 August 2011

6 weeks...

Firstly, thanks for all your lovely comments on my last post, they really cheered me up. This last week I've had Mr down to stay so I've been really spoilt being able to come home from work to him every night. We went out for meals, had nights in front of the telly and went strawberry picking for the biggest, reddest, juiciest strawberries I've ever seen. It was great. That went some way to lessening the blow that came with me doing a sensible thing and extending my contract at work for another week, since we start back a week later than I thought we might. I now have 6 weeks to go. I am currently wading through 100 divorce cases to compile a tracking spreadsheet so you can easily see where we're at with every case and see if I can find some we haven't charged for yet. Each case gets us £1,500, so I'm potentially going to generate lots of money for the company. Divorce is expensive! Unfortunately for me, the files are all stored on an online/intranet storage website and there's so much paperwork and correspondence to sort through to see what's happened. It doesn't help I've never had any dealings with divorce before, so had to have a quick divorce procedure 101 before I started. To say my Monday is dragging is a serious understatement. 6 weeks, 6 weeks, 6weeks….

In other more exciting news, I've started planning my elective!! :) Slightly ahead of schedule… I wanted to see what the options where, to give myself plenty of time to raise funds if an overseas one was feasible, or time to decide it wasn't and plan a UK one. I've had my heart set on an overseas one since I first started considering medicine as a degree. Seeing all my college friends go off on their gap summers and gap years while I went to work in an office with very little natural light and an over active air conditioning system only made me more jealous. I've always known it was somewhat of a pipe dream, and not getting a fee loan further put the kibosh on any hopes of me doing an elective somewhere hot and sunny. Doing a bit of digging and it turns out it may not be as unachievable as I first thought. It will be a lot of money, but if I can put some away I should be able to afford it. If the Student Loans Company decides to be silly and not pay me in the intervening years, well then I can use the money for fees, and still have plenty of time to plan a cheaper UK alternative. For now though.. I'm dreaming of Fiji or Malta, or the Bahamas…. I have a dinghy, a Laser Radial XD (with an interchangeable 4.7 rig), that I never sail anymore. I just don't have the time. It's such a shame because I love that boat and I have a horrible feeling if I sell it I'll never get back into sailing again. It was a present, a beautiful boat and it clears my head so much sailing it. When I'm in it it's an extension of myself; I love being out on the water. But being realistic and cold-hearted and grown up I haven't been out on it in years, and because of where I have to keep it, I probably won't for years more. I can't keep paying for club membership and boat mooring fees if I'm not going to use it. I'm going to try and sell it and put most of the money towards paying for the awesome elective I've always dreamed of, and use a little to buy myself a kayak so I can still get out on the water that's a little closer to home.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011


This weekend was lovely. Friday night I had the choice between my work's summer event and a leaving do. The summer event is where the company I work for hires out a local children's theme park and the employees and their families and friends get the run of the place. You tend to see managers running around the soft play area, having a whale of a time in the ball pool pit and geeing themselves up to go down the death slides. It's normally a good night. The leaving do was for one of the trainee GP's moving on and a receptionist at the GP surgery I work for term time. I figured I'd been to the Summer event before but these people only get one leaving do so I went to the leaving do in a restaurant I wasn't familiar with instead. I had such a good night, it was lovely. I got chatting to some of the GP's who don't normally talk to me because I'm just an office girl, and they were quite surprised to find I was a med student. One of them is in charge of the exams at my med school and another is a personal tutor so was giving me some tips about writing the portfolio analysis essays we have to do.

It was spoilt some what by one of the nurses who I haven't really seen before and haven't talked to. Upon finding out I was a med student from one of the GP's that I do talk to, she yelled across the table at me in all seriousness that I would never be a Doctor, I wasn't suited to it and I should find something else to do as I'm too quiet to make it as a Doctor. I'm sort of used to being told I'm not good enough because it's an argument my Mum always used to use against me when I was younger and messed up at something "You'll never be better than stacking shelves at Tesco", but I've never heard it from someone outside at all. Secondly, I tend to be whatever I need to be for the situation, I don't know if anyone else does, but different situations need a different side of me. When I'm coxing I'm serious, direct, motivational and forceful. That's not what's needed at a leaving do that's not mine, after a long week at work, surrounded by people I don't normally talk to and sat opposite sub Deans of my university! I've had my fair share of rejections in the past and I know it shouldn't, but that comment cut quite deep and keeps playing over in my head. A negative to my face is somewhat harder to swallow than a faceless 'unsuccessful' on UCAS. Truthfully, I don't know I'll be able to do it until I get there, but I'm hoping I should be able to pull together different facets of my personality to be whatever is needed of me to succeed.

Sunday was much better. I went to my Aunt's and my Goddaughter happened to be there. She'd just started walking earlier that week and she's so cute. She has some genetic problems that her paediatricians are still investigating so she's hitting the normal development milestones a little slowly. It's fascinating to watch her and see what she can and can't do. She can understand everything you say but her speaking vocabulary is only about 5 words. She tends to say something once and then won't say it again, and as I said, she's just learnt to walk at the age of 2.5. To be honest, she has such an adorable smile it doesn't matter about her health problems. She just has to smile and you'll do anything for her. She has so many appointments and tests coming up but hopefully when they are done we'll have a better idea of what's wrong and how best to support her. She's happy though, and really, that's all that matters. She's surrounded by people that love her, and she's happy.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Office Bean

I have fully settled back into office life now. I have my work to do spreadsheet fully up and running, colour coded for when things need to be done by and rapidly filling up with "can you do this for me by the end of the week?" jobs, and "when you have a minute, can you look at this for me?" jobs. These must be fitted in with the "oo, Bean, do you know how to make it do this?" quick fixes. Slowly the last year goes a bit fuzzy round the edges, like it didn't really happen, and I slip back into feeling like I've been here for years and I could stay here for years more. I'm making the most of being able to paint my nails shockingly bright colours (electric blue today, if you wondered), of finishing work at 4pm and playing cards every Thursday lunch time. I'm still a little sniffy, but much better than I was. Today I had a jolt that prompted me to wake up and start counting the weeks until I finish again; a reminder that this life is not my only life. I had an email inviting me to enrol for second year. :)

For the last two weekends in a row I've been lucky and have been able to see Mr. Last weekend was his Summer Ball, and my presence was requested in a pretty dress. It was a lovely evening, with much mingling, dancing, alcohol and a little coughing, hidden as demurely as I could. Before the ball we went for a walk on some moor land close to his base. We saw wild rabbits, jumped over giant muddy puddles and stood hand in hand in the middle of a flock of swirling birds. It was beautiful. Long distance relationships are hard work, but that walk really made me think about what I want for my future and what I'm working towards. Our mantra at the moment is very much 'one day'. One day we'll be a normal couple, we'll have a house and dogs and cats and we'll go for walks and we'll be a normal couple. I know that's not normal really, but it makes a pretty picture in my head.

One of the biggest problems I have with the drive to see Mr is the nutters that appear to be on the roads. The first weekend I went up there was a car coming at me head on my side of the road, trying to overtake but horribly misjudging it, and a bean sandwich between two milk lorries that nearly made for a squished bean. This time however was the worst. I really did think that was it for me and I was about to die. I was on a roundabout and I looked out my window to see a massive BMW bearing down on me, having decided to move from the inside to the outside lane without checking it was clear first. Luckily I was able to shoot off at the exit on my left and sit quietly in the crosshatched extra wide mouth of the exit for a little bit and slow my heart rate down. I'm more cross that all I could manage was a feeble "eep" instead of finding the horn to frighten the idiot as much as he scared me. I'm really not a bad driver, and this never happened on my commute to Southampton and back. I'd quiet like it to stop though, I don't need my driving skills tested. A nice quiet, uneventful drive would be good.

Finally, it's no secret to those that know me, that beans run on biscuits. Custard creams, shortbread, digestives, I'm not fussed - if I get hungry biscuits are usually what I reach for. To try and healthy me up a bit I've started having Graze boxes and I have to say they are really tasty. Normally I come home from work starving and head straight for the biscuit tin, but not since I've been snacking on these throughout the day. They are tasty and there's a real mix of things available for if you're in a healthy mood or not. If you'd like to try a box for free, use this link on the website enter this promotional code 8N13FZ3

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Snotty Bean

Not a lot to update you with I'm afraid.  I walked 300m in the rain (not even that, it was drizzle at best!) in a dress and cardigan and I come down with a stinking, horrible cold.  Lovely.  Whilst I'll admit it's been nice to have time off work sat at home doing not a lot, I'd quite like to stand without wobbling, smell things, go more than 3 minutes without soaking a tissue, have muscles that don't ache and not be addicted to max strength cold and flu tablets and lucozade.  I think everyone has staples they turn to when they are ill don't they?  Things that make you feel better, whether they work scientifically or not.  For me it's supermarket brand cold and flu tablets, lucozade and chicken noodle soup.  My knitting is coming along nicely, and I'm finally watching the Godfather trilogy for the first time.  I'm getting a taste for what it must be like for other students who do nothing in their holidays and don't work, something which I haven't done in 6 years.  That said, my facebook is filling up with people complaining they are bored.  I keep thinking how much work I have to do and everyday I call in my boss sounds more and more upset (I have a feeling this isn't because I'm ill, it's because I'm not there to do my/his work).  However, when I can't walk for more than a few metres without holding on to something and when I think 3+3=5, I really don't think work is the best place for me at the moment.  There is a highlight to my day though.  I have just discovered Kleenex balsam fresh tissues with menthol in them.  Genius idea :)  I shall bid you a snotty adieu and hopefully next time I write I shall be a healthy bouncing bean again.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

In time

Sorry it's been so long since I posted.  Lots to fill you in on, as inevitably, all things work themselves out in time.  Firstly, I am enormously happy to say I passed!  I was sat on the plane hiding my phone from the stewardesses and praying for the pages to load faster before I absolutely had to to turn off the phone because we were taking off when I finally saw the magic green word satisfactory.  I passed both the AMK with a score of 28 and the EoY1 with a score of 50.  Both comfortably above the pass rate and the cohort mean.  I was so happy, I was grinning madly all the way to Lanzarote, and every now and then whilst on holiday I would suddenly be struck with the thought that I was a second year, or a fifth of a Dr.

Playa del Papagayos

The holiday was amazing.  7 days of blistering heat with enough of a breeze to just about stop Mr from melting, beautiful scenery, a couple of days on the beach or by the pool and the rest was spent sight-seeing.  We went to a couple of amazingly well done landscaped gardens and houses, took a trip around a volcano and down lava caves and saw a natural lagoon in one of the lava tunnels in which lives the only colony in the world of small, white, blind crabs.  Very bizarre!

Cafe in Jameos del Agua ( near the blind crabs)
Evenings were spent in the bar playing cards with Mr and indulging (sensibly) in the free bar, or wandering round the local town and harbour front.  We ate sausages cooked over the heat of the volcano and had the nicest squid I have ever tasted.  We had ice creams in the shade over looking the beach whilst small lizards ran between our feet, and on our last night one of the cats at the hotel came and curled up to go to sleep on my lap.  It was bliss.  I'm not sure what it was and can only speculate it was the minerals in the water from the volcano, but my hair has been the nicest, shiniest, softest it has ever been.  It's like I've stepped out of a Pantene advert.  Unfortunately the Lanzarote for Beans fund couldn't raise enough money to keep me there for the sake of having beautiful hair and finally being warm.
Lazing on Playa del Papagayo, enjoying the sun
It was lovely to be able to spend so much time with Mr, and time where I'm not rushing from place to place, not worrying about things, not thinking of the enormous piles of work to be done or trying to recall nerve tracts and muscle names.   I heard news from home that my office job were going to take me back, so once I got back I had one last week at the GP's and I have just finished my first week back at the office job.  I have been promoted to senior and had a small pay rise which is nice.  I have been tasked with setting up control environments for them, so working out how things should be done and constructing spreadsheets with control elements for people to fill in as they progress through tasks to ensure nothing is missed and it is easy to see where hold ups are and where they are with tasks.  I also have 40 30-page documents to write on how administration has been going on some of the schemes and am head up a task to ask all the trustees of schemes whether they want to adopt new government rules about pensions or not.  All in ten weeks.  Except most of this week has been spent completing tasks my boss has emailed me that are due out urgently today this minute now!  It is nice to be back though.  The knowledge of how to do things is slowly trickling back to me, and, I won Thursday cards! I was very happy.

After many phone calls, threatening to get my MP involved like I had to do last year, threatening a formal complaint, having some outright lies from them, hearing each person I talked to tell me something different, I finally managed to get Student Finance to give me money, and an apology letter.  I shan't entirely believe it until I see the money in my account in September, but things are looking hopeful.  All in all things are going pretty well at the moment :)

[All photos taken by me]

Sunday, 26 June 2011


Tomorrow mr and I jet off to sunny Lanzarote.  It's currently 33 degrees over there; I am exstatic and mr shall just cook.  I was born to be in a hotter climate than this one.  Mr jokes I'm a little like a lizard: I need the sun to warm me up.  Apart from that, it will be lovely to have a whole week of me and mr being a normal couple.  I am currently typing this from his office on base whilst he finishes up some work.  It's just like we were back at uni again, most of our dates were spent sitting side by side in a computer room somewhere doing our work.  A little sad possibly but needs must and it works for us. 
Also tomorrow the results of the AMK and EoY1 exams are due out, so unless I can find WiFi I'm afraid I shall have to keep you in suspense over whether or not I passed.  It is a four hour flight and I anticipate going slightly nuts as the results are released just 20 minutes after we take off.  Rest assured the first thing I will be doing when we land is turning on my phone and praying for a text from Mum hopefull containing the magic word 'satisfactory'. 

Quite a few people I know have recently got their degree results, so well done to them.  I was waiting nervously for them to post their fate with everything crossed trying to summon some more cosmic good will their way.  Everyone I heard about did well, so I'm thrilled for them and hope they had fun celebrating.  I really hope the good will is extended my way, although to be honest, I'm not terribly stressed out.  I have a gut feeling everything will be all right.  Though that never worked out for me in Southampton, everything I thought went well did the opposite :-s  But, nowt to be donas was the about it now. 

After I made the decision to go back to my office job once I got back from holiday, I am now still waiting for them to confirm they actually have availability for me which is annoying.  I may have to make a call to the GP's when I'm back next week and work there after all.  As long as I'm working, I don't really mind where.  I'd kind of made up my mind about the office job and was sort of looking forward to the challenges they'd be asking me to fix.  In the last week at the GP's I spent two solid days coding diabetic retinopathy results and basic medical record stats like BMI and fixing telephone number data errors.  I spent a whole day on the front desk and telephone line and met my first patient that really, really annoyed me. 

They phoned in the morning and booked an appointment for the following week, which they were happy with.  I always sign off a call by confirming the date, day, time and Dr the appointment has been booked with, just to be clear.  A nurse from the hospital then called whilst sitting next to the patient to book an INR blood test for the same time, only she thought the appointment was tomorrow, not the next week.  She was getting really angry at me, as was the patient.  The hospital wanted to hand care over to the GP now, but we physically couldn't fit them in until the following week, we were all booked up.  The nurse was trying to say that since the INR would only take a couple of minutes, did it have to have a nurses appointment, couldn't the GP do it in their consultation.  Firstly, the patient DOESN'T HAVE AN APPOINTMENT, and telling me they do isn't going to make their name magically appear on my screen.  Secondly, no, that's not how it works.  GPs don't do INR's, nurses or HCA's do, and as we are a busy practice and the types of appointment are grouped so all the bloods and all the imms are done together, ringing me the day before an expecting an appointment is a little unreasonable.  I thought they were all fine with it, grumpy, but they understood there was nothing I could do.  That afternoon, the patient in quetion turned up at the desk 'to confirm their appointment time tomorrow.  I spoke to someone this morning'.  Nice try, it was me you spoke to, and surprise surprise we still don't have spaces since you called 2 hours ago.  They got their appointment in the end.  They came in the next day for the appointment they didn't have and made so much fuss the nurse and a GP fit them in in between patients, and were subsequently running over 30 minutes late.  It's fine for the patient, they got to be seen and to feel like they got one over on the mean receptionist keeping them from medical attention.  They didn't have to be receptionist sitting there fielding evil glares and queries about when they would be seen from the waiting patients because morning clinic over ran.  They did it again the next day, again turning up for an appointment they didn't have and again the day after because, despite being given a clean bill of health from us, they'd gone to the Emergency Department anyway that evening for the same complaint and been sent home fine.  They'd had blood tests, so came in to use the following day because they wanted to know what the blood tests had said.  Cue the GP asking me to contact the ED and find out why the patient went in and what the bloods showed.  That was fun, because obviously everyone who had been there had since gone off shift.  Did it though.  The Dr was very pleased.  The bloods were clear. 

I like to think I'm a resonable person, certainly I've had many other patients compliment me on empathy and going above and beyond for them.  This is the first that has acted like I have purposefully been difficult.  If there is an emergency, or you are a green flag patient so you have open access (generally for the really sick) I can make a space for you whenever, but just because the hospital have decided they don't want to treat you anymore and your GP can deal, or because you turn up and yell at the receptionist, don't be surprised we can't see you immediatley.  That's what Walk in Centres and ED's are for, and even there you have to wait. 

That's probably enough from me for now.  I shall go and finishing combining my bag with mr's and prepare for the horrible early start required to drive to the airport and catch the flight.  Have a great week. 

Friday, 17 June 2011


The end of year exam went well. I hope anyway.  It felt like it went well.  It was certainly a lot better than I expected.  There was a lot of anatomy - along the lines of " if you were to inject someone here, what would you have to careful not to hit?".  Probably about 60-75% I could answer without thinking and the rest I could make educated guesses on.  There were only about 4 out of the 100 I couldn't answer at all.  It takes the standard AMK format, so a wrong answer is -0.25 and a correct answer is 1 mark, with a blank being 0.  Results for the End of Year and the final AMK are out on the 27th.  There was a question about what movement a lady found painful when shutting drawers and when people got to that question you could see them all going through the motions.  It was quite funny to watch.  I'm fairly happy.  I wouldn't go so far as to say I'm not nervous about the results, but the butterflies in my tummy aren't pterodactyls (as the lovely madsadgirl would put it). 

I am currently working at the GP's and in a bit or a battle with hours.  I would like to do full time but they can't afford me full time.  Bearing in mind their full time is 42.5 hours a week, I asked for 33 hours and have been told they can definitely give me 28 but can't confirm more than that however they really don't want to lose me.  The problem is, my old job have asked me back.. sort of.  One of my old bosses has a project he wants doing, and he thinks if he goes to the board and says I'm free I'll do it, they will allow it.  Then there's other bits I can do whilst there for the rest of summer.  They pay more than the GP does.  I will earn £800 more at the office job than doing the 33 hours at the GP, and £1100 more than the 28 hours at the GPs.  Now sneaky BIS have re-written the rules to exclude the loophole they had previously been ignoring, and all the campaiging that is being done to save GEM is ignoring us grads on five year courses, it's looking less and less like I will get the fee loan money after all, so anything I earn now is important. 

I worked out I am covered for year 2, I can afford fees and rent there, and I have year 3's fees sat in an ISA, so it's rent and fees and rent for 4 and 5 I'm saving for now.  So, head says go for the more money.  Heart says I want to do a job I love, a job that is relevant, where everyday I'm learning new bits that help my degree.  I'm not coming home shattered like I do at the office job even though it's longer hours and more repetitive 'boring' work (that acctually I really enjoy).  I'm not using my brain to problem solve as much as I get to in the office job, I don't have autonomy, lunch time cards or the responsibilty my office job gives me, but still....  I can't be pleased.  Those that tell me to do the one I love I tell the money side to, and those that say do the money job I tell the enjoyment side to.  I am completely stuck.  They say you should flip a coin and in the split second it's in the air you'll know the one you really want to do, but even that doesn't work.  I didn't get the job at the hospital to boost the GP job money and do the two part time, and I don't think the office job will let me be part time.  I am hoping the decision will be taken out of my hands.  I've told the GP's my final offer of 33 hours a week and if they don't meet it I will have to go back to the office job.  It's the sensible, grown up thing to do.  You can't have what you want all the time.  And it won't be for very long.  People who read my blog who are further up the course than me, how do you find balancing a job with being a 3rd, 4th or 5th year?  Is it possible?

If we ever get around to booking it Mr and I are going to Lanzarote in a couple of weeks for a cheap week in the sun together.  Looking at the horrible rain we've had today I cannot wait.  I have a to do list that is ridiculously long with work to do, rooms to tidy, stuff to sort out and cull, christmas presents to start making, baby clothes to finish knitting, I have to decide what if any rowing or coxing I'm doing this summer.  And summer doesn't really seem to be that long to get it all done.  I tell you what though, I can't wait for it to be over :)  I want to see what the next case unit is, and where my placements will be.  :)

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Medically Racist

Well I've had my placement at the Chiropractors.  I'm probably a little more pro-chiro now than I was but I'm not sure I'd ever go myself.  He said there were two types, the traditional that believe they can fix any problem because the spine is the centre and needs realigning to restore flow to the nerve roots that come from the spinal cord.  Then there's the mechanical type like the one I saw that manipulate the spine to fix back pain but refer on for anything else.  He did get quite hands on and jump all over the patients, contorting them in strange positions and hugging them tight, jerking them to extend the stretch until the joints cracked.  There was one patient who was finding it really uncomfortable and seemed to be in a fair amount of pain but he was just ignoring it.  He berated her somewhat afterwards by saying that if he could move her neck there was no reason she shouldn't be able to which I thought was a bit harsh.  It's only natural that if something hurts you don't do it.  He might very well be right, I just felt there were probably more sensitive ways to say it.  He seems to have gone the opposite way - where Peninsula teach us to treat the whole patient including their thoughts and feelings, he treats spines, and just spines.  I did like how he explained to the mechanic about his back comparing it to a car engine, but he didn't treat all his patients equally.  We got into discussions about where GPs refer to.  He was upset that many will refer to a physio but not to a chiro.  He called it being medically racist, which is a novel idea.  The GPs I've spoken to say they won't refer to chiros because they aren't NHS; they aren't in the 'toolbox'.  He sort of understood this at the time, but then later referred back to GPs being medically racist, as though he was willing to accept my input, but had already made up his mind and that was what he thought.  What made me laugh was how he said he wanted tighter regulation and didn't want to be associated with the traditional chiros who do all sorts of strange treatments, but then said he uses a blend of physio, osteopath and chiropractic moves.  How is that better? He's still going outside his remit to treat how he feels works best.

Exam prep is still going pants.  I'm more on the 'I've got so much to learn and I'll never get it all done in time' mindset now.  I found out I passed my last assessment essay, so passing through to year 2 is all riding on the AMK or EoY1 test now.  As a class we've taken to accosting members of staff to see if anyonehas any knowledge of our AMK scores.  No joy yet.  I also found out I'm going to Truro for my fifth year which I'm pleased with.  I've collected the set now with years spent at Exeter, Plymouth and Truro.  Mr and Mum aren't too thrilled as it means I'll be really far away.  The way I see it, I'll be too busy to have the time to just pop home.  Plus it's no further from home than when I was in Southampton and Mum didn't have a problem then.  I'm happy because it's pretty, I've heard good things about the teaching as people have the time to teach you and they are friendly.  I'm not fussed about the lack of nightlife, and I'm pleased I have the opportunity to go to Cornwall as a local and not a grockle.  If the foundation school applications change to reflect the proposals I was emailed about earlier in the year, it'll mean I do F1 there as well.  See you on the other side of the dreaded end of year :-|

Saturday, 4 June 2011


I am about to start the last week of being a fresher.  It's quite a scary thought.  I'm not really ready for it to be the end of the year.  Not because I'm not looking forward to the exam at the end, rather I'm having a blast!  I've worked so hard to get here, and it's amazing.  The placements I get to go on, the skills I'm learning, the science.  I'm having such a good time, I don't want a break for 3 months.  As for the exam, well I really don't have the motivation.  I seem to swing wildly between thinking "I'll be fine, I can do it", to "I don't need to do it because I've passed the AMK, so I don't need to work too much for it", to "OMG I have no idea what I'm doing about anything, all the work I've done has been focussing on the wrong things and I've now run out of time to cover it all properly and I don't even know where to begin".

I'm getting rather fed up with Peninsula keep changing our timetables.  I organise meetings and work and then have a double check and it's all changed! Not useful.  It's been a pretty quiet week otherwise.  Placement is next week because of the bank holiday.  It's at a chiropractors which should be interesting.  I have an open mind, but I'm not the biggest fan of alternative medicine to be fair.  Although there are two chiropractors we get sent to on placement, I don't think this is the one where the guy doesn't believe in DNA.... (I wish I was kidding)

I'm getting married next week :)  To my medsoc wife and we shall have fresher babies in September :p  My wife-to-be and medsoc mum and a friend went out last night for pizza and sangria to celebrate my birthday.  I'm 23 tomorrow.  I had a really good night.  There was a lot of sangria and I bumped into a friend I hadn't seen for about 8 years.  It was a shame more people didn't come, but I guess that's what I get for not socialising with them that often, and spending my nights with my head in the books.  Maybe I'll see what I can do to try harder next year.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011


The results came out.  Amazingly I passed that shocking competency.  I was so pleased, I was grinning all day.  Today I found I also passed the essay I had to submit after the dermatology SSU I did just before Easter break. I got marked down for silly things that were IN THE HANDBOOK AND WE HAD TO DO(!!), again, but at least I passed.  In the feedback I was told not to reference the BNF, which was a bit weird.  Anyway, it all means that I am only one exam away from being a second year.  Either the AMK I did last week, or the End of Year coming up a few weeks.  How exciting!  I'm confident for the AMK, I really think I've passed it.  Which is dangerous for me.  Given my track record it means I've probably failed it horribly and they have serious doubts about my passing into the second year.  I'm always pants at second guessing exam performance.

Yesterday at work I had to handle my first complaint.  A patient had had an operation and needed their stitches out.  The 7-10 day window they were given to have them removed in falls on a Saturday, Sunday, Bank Holiday Monday, Tuesday.  The only free appointments on the Tuesday are with the HCA.  The patient was as pleasant as you like until I told them it was an HCA they were booked in with, at which point they demanded a nurse or a doctor - someone 'medically trained'.  It didn't matter how much I explained that our HCA was lovely and fully trained to inspect their wound and remove their stitches, they were adamant they didn't want to be seen by a 'sham nurse'.  They asked to speak to the Practice Manager to put in a formal complaint that they felt they were giving us plenty of notice and our services were poor that we didn't have anyone medically trained to see them.
It would seem that perhaps some members of the public don't want a multi-disciplinary team way of working?  In case you're wondering, I sent the patient to the walk in centre where they can wait for hours to have their stitches taken out.  I'd laugh so much if an HCA did it there after all.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Pooped Bean

Did I mention the week I've just done was going to be horrid?  It was horrid.  By Tuesday I couldn't wait for it to be Friday.  Monday I had placement at the mobility centre.  It started with a tour of the factory where they hand make all the casts and shoes and prosthetics.  It was sweet and sad all at the same time.  The factory was pretty large and the walls were lined with pictures of what the factory used to look like with all the benches full of workers hand crafting things.  Now each room had maybe one or two old men who were proudly showing us what they were working on and the design process.  They were smiling at me and telling me that because us Doctors were becoming so clever at our jobs and noticing problems faster and finding new ways to surgically correct them and since plastics became so easy to mould there wasn't such a need for hand made casts and prosthetics anymore so they'd slowly all been laid off.  They make shoe insoles and permanent leather casts, but that's it.

Next, I spent an hour watching a physiotherapist run a rehabilitation session with a man who'd had his second leg amputation 9 weeks ago and was learning to walk with two prosthesis.  Although to be fair, the physio didn't have to do much.  This man was amazing - willing to take on any challenge, keen to show all the tools the physio had, any 'game' she explained to help him master a new trick on them he wanted to do, and do, and until he'd perfected it.  He had three great danes and was determined he was going to walk other on the moors this weekend, as he had done previously when he had only one leg amputated.  Even if that meant walking round the facility time after time after time, trying to find someone to play football with him in the carpark, stepping from balance hedgehog to balance hedgehog to practise for the marshy ground up on the moor.  This man was awe inspiring, truly.  Whilst he was training another man came in in a wheel chair, not as far along in the acclimatisation stage of getting used to his leg but it was still fascinating to watch - his determination, and his strength.  He joked that he thought it was a lot easier to learn to walk the first time.

Eventually there were three guys, all getting on with pushing themselves to learn how to adapt with the new changes in their lives.  Incredibly to me, another guy came in looking at what was going to happen, smiled and said he was having his operation to remove his leg next month.  The other patients looked at him and smiled and one said, "Congratulations!  Having mine off was the best thing I ever did."  Such a strange concept.  Through listening to them talk, it turned out all the patients were ex-forces which was quite upsetting for me as  I wasn't really expecting it.  I haven't really been challenged like this before, in terms of having to put my personal circumstances on a back foot and ignore it.  I managed but I have to admit there were tears in my eyes as I was walking away from the factory.  I can't imagine myself ever being strong enough to watch Mr have to learn how to walk again.

Tuesday bought my combined clinical competency in respiratory, gastrointestinal and cardiac exams.  It went pants.  I got the most pernickety examiner and I'd gone through it so many times with my partner, all the run throughs blurred together in my head and I couldn't remember what I'd done in the test and what I'd done in practise.  I was so frustrated with myself.  On the marksheets I got some excellents, some satisfactories and a borderline.  I really don't know if I've done enough to pass once my score gets moderated.  I don't think I will have done because the evaluation reports say Exeter students do worse than Plymouth students, and I've been in a bit of a pessimistic mood lately.

Wednesday bought the last AMK of the year.  I thought it went quite well.  I enjoyed it actually. I answered more questions than ever, again, and I took longer at it, again.  There were more questions I knew the answers  to because of my degree and revision, and educated guesses I could take from seeing things at work.  On the other hand, everyone else seems to have hated it.  I'm not sure if that's a good thing and I'll therefore have done really well, or if I was really wrong with all my guesses.  Because they are meany, we don't get the results in the normal two weeks, it'll take 5 and half.  Which means I don't know if I've done enough to pass the year and if the end of year exam is necessary for me to pass or just a formality.  Meanies.

Then it was Thursday, and Mr's birthday, and no, I hadn't sent him a birthday card, or present :( Bad girlfriend.  Hope he understood.  I also had an essay to write for the next day - on Ethnicity, Race and Health.  It was to based on a chapter from a sociology book we'd been photocopied and given.  I had real trouble with this one because I didn't actually agree with anything they had to say.  Apparently the genetic differences between different races were too minute to be significant and therefore there's no such thing as race or ethnicity, they are just social constructs.  We shouldn't treat people any differently because of what they look like, which I do believe in, but to say there's no difference between people from different parts of the world is ridiculous and PC to the extreme.  Hopefully, I got a mark in the AMK for remembering the NICE guidelines suggest one line of treatment for the under 55s or non Blacks/Afro Caribbeans and another for the over 55s or Blacks/Afro Caribbeans because they have lower levels of renin and so ACE inhibitors don't work as well.  Should I ignore this fact then because the difference isn't 'significant'?  It's rubbish.  I managed to write it in the end, ticking the I'm not a racist box and putting my own point of of view across.  They did say there wasn't a wrong answer and I've got to do better than one of my peers who decided to end his essay with "well, it could be worse, at least I'm not Irish".  Not entirely sure that's what they were looking for.

To get over this week I made the best cake using up some rhubarb I had - rhubarb and custard cake.  It's amazing.  This has been a bit of an essay, so I shall leave it there.  Tomorrow I start the last case unit of the year, how sad.  I wish you all good luck in your exams!

Friday, 13 May 2011

Hormone Soup

This week has been one of those where I'm reminded just how pants it is to be a girl.  Crippling stomach pains, crying at the most tenuously soppy things, broody at anything baby related (even the maxillocraniofacial babies), grumpy for the tiniest things and the next minute bouncing off the walls hyper with the slightest good thing (surprise strawberries in my veg box from Mr this week!!!).  It's a wonder half the population function like normal human beings to be honest.  I've managed to keep the worst of it behind my bedroom door, so I haven't snapped at anyone or gone mushy at them which is good.

Since exams are looming it is also time to welcome the stressy bean ball back.  Panicking that I haven't done enough and I won't be able to fit it all in before the exams.  Insomnia because I can't switch my brain off from worrying enough to sleep.  Not eating properly because I'm picking at bits throughout the day whilst I work.  It's not good.  What makes it worse is I know I'm over reacting.  I know it's just the stupid hormones exacerbating normal nerves over something that matters.  And that when I'm like this it's not me.  I'm not a soppy person.  I'm not broody.  (I'll admit to being a little grumpy sometimes though).  Next week I have the final AMK of the year.  If I pass this I pass into second year and it doesn't matter about the End of Year 1 test.  On the other hand, if I fail the end of year it's a good indication I'll fail year 2, apparently.  The day before the AMK I have a combined clinical competency in cardiovascular, respiratory and gastrointestinal exams.  The day before that I have to give a five minute presentation on why the placement I will have been to that morning deserves £50,000 of theoretical money.  I am not looking forward to next week.  One bit.

Friday, 6 May 2011

The Many Hatted Bean

I had a toughie today, I really had to restrain myself.  I was at job number 2, the GP surgery and was working on the front desk on my own.  A mother rang up clearly upset.  She was asking for an appointment as soon as possible for her young son because the anti-histamines weren't working and she didn't know what to do.  She said she kept giving him more but all they were doing was making him sleepy and difficult to wake in the mornings which she was feeling very guilty for.  Without thinking, whilst looking for open appointments my med student hat slipped on and I asked what was wrong, although I had pretty much guessed from her description.  I was correct, her son had eczema.  He's fine in the morning, but his skin gets redder and itchier throughout the day, so she wanted an afternoon appointment so the Dr could see how bad it was and how the anti-histamines weren't working.  She was so upset and beating herself up about giving him poor care, and I really wanted to tell her that all anti-histamines are given for is to make them drowsy enough to sleep through the itch at night.  I've just done my dermatology placement see, I know about eczema.  I don't like to think the Dr didn't explain the treatment regimen to her, I would hope it's just she didn't quite understand.  After all, if we get an itchy rash because we're allergic to it we take anti-histamines, but it doesn't work that way in the little ones with eczema.

A little later on, a patient was being very particular with the appointment slots they wanted, and I came across a colour of appointment slot I didn't recognise.  We use different colours to denote different classes of appointment, for example purple would be admin, green slots are bookable only on the day, red for bloods, orange for imms (the nurses get upset if they have to do more than two baby imms in a clinic, they don't like making the babies cry)  etc.  This one was a sludgey green and when I asked my colleague she peered over my shoulder and said 'oh, that means there's students in.  So you see a student and the Dr just observes.  Are you sure you're alright with that, you don't have to, you can see a proper Dr.'  She made it sound so awful, as though it was unimaginable anyone would want to be seen by a student because we're all such horrible people, aren't we?  It was a fifth years clinic as well, so they're pretty much qualified, especially given our strange exam style.  Ooo, I so wanted to tell her to be quiet and stop painting us in such a bad light.

I also had a bit of a silly bean moment.  I was summarising patient notes, and one set said a patient had had a termination, and the tests carried out on the fetus showed it was a mole.  I'd never heard this term before and was puzzling as to how a person can be pregnant with a cute, blind, fluffy thing (a la Moley from Wind in the Willows).  Especially because one of the random facts stuck in my brain is that humans are the only animal that cannot breed interspecies.  When the sperm reaches the egg, if it's not human sperm the egg locks down and it can't penetrate.  Cool, huh?  Anyway, after some googling I found it's a molar pregnancy and it's when the egg doesn't have any DNA, or the egg is fertilised by two sperm.  This results in either a 46 chromosome all coming from the sperm, or a 69 or 92 chromosome foetus that doesn't develop properly and can form a cancer.
Photo from photobucket

Oops.  Ah well, can still hide under the big "I'm a Fresher, don't laugh at me, I know very little" placard for a little while longer.  Job number 3 finishes tomorrow, no more censusing bean.  And I should be able to fix my car, once my parents give me back the money I lent them.  I've applied for another job, it's perfect.  Ha, another job, I can feel Mr groaning and rolling his eyes, telling me I don't need another job, I need to study.  Which is true, but I need both.  Dilemma.  Anyway, this one is to potentially replace job number 1 and be my full time summer job.  It pays slightly better and is set in the hospital, collecting data for an endocrinology randomised control trial.  Reading the blurb about who they are looking for, you couldn't write one better suited to me if you tried.  The only problem is that the closing date for applications is June 10th, the last day of term.  Ideally, I should be telling job number 1 I want to come back now.  I can't really tell them I want to come back and then pull out at the last minute if I get this awesome job, because that's not fair and they'll never have me back again.  On the other hand, if I leave it they may not factor me into their work planning and budget.  Plus HR are unbelievable slow at sorting contracts and log ons and swipe cards to enter the building (since they de-activated mine and they can't re-activate it *sniff*).  Sooo, I don't really know what to do.  I've been hankering to get back into research since my dissertation, and if they want to pay me to do it, all the better.  I may even be able to wheedle my name onto the end of the authors list of the paper, you never know.  But I can earn £3000 for definite at job 1, which is a major chunk of money, and not to be sniffed at.  Even if I am finding the job incredibly dull since starting my double life as a wide-eyed in wonderment med student.  I don't know!  Inspiration and a firm decision either way kindly accepted.  Can pay in chocolate, since I found when going home for Easter that I hadn't actually eaten last years Easter eggs yet..... 

PS.  Mr gets awarded a shiny sword today for being very clever and coming top of his Army training course. I'm very proud of him and although I couldn't be there to watch him get awarded it, I'm sure he looks very nice in his fancy uniform with a new shiny sword.  *Beams* <3