Thursday, 31 May 2007

Sunshine and showers

Today was lovely and sunny, but the previous two days it rained constantly! It was crazy, I mean, it's not unusual to have rain but it's pretty unusual to have solid rain for two days. Where I grew up we had what we used to call the '5 o'clock sun' - basically no matter how crap the weather was, the sun came out sometime in the evening. Admittedly sometimes it wasn't at 5pm, sometimes later, but still.

And there's a phrase where I live - 'if you don't like the weather, wait half an hour'!!

Have been going to lectures this week - I know, I know, have the exams then the lectures, very weird, but still. Most of them are useful, although I wasn't expecting them to be! Stuff like how to prescribe things, how to hand over well at the end of a shift, and tomorrow we're getting talks about how to handle stress, medicolegal issues and stuff from the BMA.

Today, it was a friend's birthday - she started the day in lectures with the rest of us, then managed to win a prize draw for £150 to spend in a shop of her choice! What a cool birthday present! We went out for lunch, me and another friend with nine Malaysians - I feel like a giant next to them, it's disturbing! But they are lovely, so all is well.

So not a lot to report - I'm trying to pack up my room in preparation for moving to Big City near to Big City Infirmary in a couple of weeks. It's pretty therapeutic chucking stuff out! The grad ball (or more accurately, the grad ball 3 day extravaganza) is next weekend, I still need an outfit that looks vaguely seventies, any ideas?!

Friday, 25 May 2007

It's nice here on the other side

So, today, ladies and gentlemen, I became a DOCTOR. Yes, me. Yes, a doctor. Who'da thunk it?! I have a badge that says so and everything. The results for the final viva exemption exam went up, and I was on the pass list.

I'm pretty sure there's been a mistake, but I'm gonna keep quiet about it. Shhhh, don't tell. I'm still waiting for the letter saying I was admitted to medical school because of a clerical error.

I'm pretty chuffed, when I really think about it, but honestly it's a bit of an anti-climax. It's like, when you're a kid, and it's your birthday, you feel like you should feel different, sparkly or tingly or something, but actually it just feels like another day (except people give you presents and cake and things). Also a couple of my good friends didn't get so lucky and I'm so gutted for them I could cry. I don't feel like celebrating if I can't celebrate with them, there's no point.

Tonight I'm not going to stay in, don't worry, but I'm going to have some Chinese food, wine and a movie with two of my best friends - I started this epic six-year journey with them and it feels right that we should end it together too. There will be much remeniscing, much chat and probably some old photos where some of us look skinny and young (ah, those were the days) and one of us always seems to have coloured icing on his face. What krazy kids we were.

So yeah. Dr Joey. Freaky.

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Will you still need me, will you still feed me?

Well, I still have exactly 40 years to find out, so for now I will feed myself! Thanks for all the messages people, I felt loved.

Have had a really good day, I talked to my family, I went out for lunch with a friend, I offered my *limited* medical skills to a lady who got vasovagal in the bathroom at the cafe and knocked herself out on the sink (I know, I know, can't take me anywhere or I'll try and do something medical), saw another friend who came round in the afternoon, talked to my family again, and now I'm faffing about. Brilliant.

The exam is tomorrow, I'm not studying any more. I've read everything I wanted to read, I've been over every angle I can see the examiners picking up on yet I'm sure they will ask something I haven't read about. I've heard mixed reports - some people have had a bit of a grilling, some have had more of a chat, I think it all depends on your examiners and your perspective and expectations, and I'm sure the experience alters with hindsight.

This time tomorrow it will all be over, I can't wait for that moment! And 36 hours from now I will know, one way or the other. Wish me luck, I'll see you on the other side!

Sunday, 20 May 2007

Fun in the Sun

Been an alright couple of days, I finally managed to do an eensy bit of work, although still not much. Today though I took a break and went to a beach and forest close to my uni city - it was our church summer barbecue, always held in May before all the students disappear. Here are some pictures.

It was really nice to run about in the sun for a while and play rounders, chuck a ball around and enjoy the sun for a bit. Am now back home, going to do a little work, then we have some friends coming over for a take-away dinner.

This is the last week of study, so I'm really going to try and get my head down. It's my birthday on wednesday (gosh I am so old, I found a white hair the other day and was really upset!) so I'll go out for lunch then, and then my viva exam is on thursday. So after that, I'm free! I hope...

Friday, 18 May 2007

Friends in scary places

Today I had lunch with a good friend who is a medical student in Big Scary Teaching Hospital where I'm starting work in August. It was lovely to see him, although he got stuck in a tutorial so I was wandering about for a while feeling lost and panicking that there were two 'main entrances' and thoroughly regretting my decision to move and wishing I'd chosen to stay in Uni Teaching Hospital where I know my way around and who to be scared of and where things are and I recognise people and feel like I belong!

What a wimp. I'm sure I'll get used to it quickly, and it's not the most complicated hospital because although it is massive it is pretty new, so it was built in a sensible way and doesn't have random extra wings tacked on like Uni Hospital. Also it has a lot of artwork on the walls which is good for navigational purposes (oh, look, here's the big wooden thing, I must be near radiology.......of course this bites the dust if they ever move the art around...). I'm getting more scared by the day, it's all going to be new and they have different blood bottles and a different bleep system and I don't know anybody, but thankfully if there's an arrest the number is the same!

Anyway it was great to see my friend, who is currently my only friend in a big, alien, rumoured-to-be-not-that-friendly hospital, and I appreciate that and him so much! He's even offered to come and do some bloods for me because they don't get much chance at his med school. What a sweetheart.

Back at uni now, after picking up the car and driving back (and feeling quite sleepy - had the occasional moment where I thought, 'oh, I can't see' and realised in a truly petrifying manner that my eyes were CLOSED and that's why I couldn't see! Cue opening windows and turning up music! DO NOT tell my mother about that bit!). Feeling actually like I'd like to do some work tonight, which is awesome, must capitalise on motivation while I can!

Thursday, 17 May 2007

Home on the range

I write this from home, where I shall shortly move permanently, on the very snazzy iMac which currently graces the study desk. It's a beaut, but at the moment, since the study has become Editing Suite Extraordinaire while my brother is working on stuff for the band, there is the iMac screen, then another screen, then a tv all on the desk, so I feel a bit overwhelmed by technology! The weirdest thing is that I click on the safari icon on one screen and the window opens on another screen, and the mouse cursor moves between the two. Clever.

It's nice to be back, although I may feel the need to clean things in a while - my brother's flatmate is fastidious about his personal appearance but doesn't lift a finger otherwise, and consequently I am baulking a bit about having to clean my contact lenses in a bathroom where you can no longer tell what colour the tiles are! This current flatmate is moving out in the summer and a different guy, who just so happens to be the drummer in the band and a bit of a neat freak (hallelujah!) is moving in, so all will be well when I live here!

It's always nice to see my brother Stephen, and always interesting to see what he looks like - he changes something every couple of weeks! I understand that he has to be on trend for the type of music they play, but I still find it very entertaining that he knows more about hair than I do! He's starting to get recognised now - we went to pick up a copy of a music magazine in which there is a very glowing review of the band, and some girl gave him her email address, which was weird but good!

Anyway, I like to have the chance to catch up on band developments, fashion changes and things when I'm home, but on this particular occasion he had a slightly disturbing tale to tell...

(You should know, my brother is not ugly. In the slightest. He has never even seen the ugly tree, whereas I clipped a few branches on the way's ok, I'm fine with it, I got the brains, he got the braun!)

Part time, Stephen works late shifts in a busy bar/club in town in order to fund his developing rock-and-roll lifestyle (!!). Mostly these shifts go off without a hitch, but recently, he was working on a pretty quiet bar, mainly serving two American men. He wasn't alone, there was another female staff member, who was chatting to the men too.

As the night progressed, they chatted to these two guys while serving other people. Then one of the guys calls my brother over to a quiet corner of the bar and beckons him to listen:

GUY: So what time do you get off work?
STEPHEN: 4am. Why?
G: Want to make some money?
[I have sussed what's going on already - naive brother has no idea]
S: Sure, doing what?
G: You know where the ****** hotel is?
S: Yeah...(getting suspicious)
G: Well, you could meet me there.
S: But why?
G: We could, you know, fool around and stuff.
S: (horrified) NO WAY!!!!!!
G: Oh, ok, how about for £100?
S: NO WAY!!!
G: Ok, is that not enough? How about £200?
S: No, I don't think you understand me, I said NO WAY!!
G: Oh, sorry, £300?
S: (growing more horrified by the second) What part of NO WAY do you not understand?!
G: Oh, right, ok.

[Guy exits, Stephen relays the story, traumatised, to his colleague. Shift forwards a few hours, the men are about to leave...]

Guy: How about £400?
S: (verging on GBH) NOOOOOOO WWWAAAAAAYYYYYY!!, I was so horrified! If I'd been in the bar I would have said (after I had knocked the guy senseless for hitting on my straight-as-an-arrow brother, oh my word) that solicitation is illegal in this country and I'd take his £400 as payment for not shopping him to the fuzz!

My word! Once I'd got over the horror, it was actually pretty funny, but what was even funnier was the look on Stephen's face as he was saying, 'but I was just being nice, why do people not understand that I'm just being nice?!'

So that was the main shocker of the day, but also the main hilarity! Poor kid, apparently it's not the first time he's been hit on by a guy and not had a clue what's going on, it seems that it's not possible to look individual and still convince people that you don't paddle the kayak that way!

Back to uni tomorrow, final

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Change of heart?

Had a good day yesterday, despite not doing any work whatsoever! (Unless watching ER counts...) Went with my lovely friend to Local Posh Area where there is a beach and lots of nice shops and cafes to wander around. We had some lunch, talked about medicine a bit, which might be thought of as work, wandered around the shops, went for a walk on the beach and generally enjoyed the sunshine (yes, the sun was shining!). Enjoyed it, was a great way to not-work. I figure if you are going to skive, you should do something fun with your day!

Today has got off to a similar start, but I am DETERMINED to do something this afternoon! Perhaps I should change my working remit though? If I think, 'I am working for the portfolio exam' then I tend not to do anything useful and just get cross about it instead, but perhaps if I think 'I am working because I start work in 8 weeks and people will die if I don't know stuff' then I will feel The Fear which is a very good motivator! I know that this thought is something of a hyperbole, I would hope that if I don't know something then someone else more senior will come and help me, but that rather detracts from The Fear, which as mentioned I need in order to work!

My parents called the other day and told me about their summer plans - it gets VERY hot in their part of the world during the summer, so they are planning to be 'swallows' and fly back west where it's cooler for a bit! (Oh, and they also might be coming for that graduation thingy that I have to go to!) Anyway, they are coming back at the start of July for a couple of weeks, then my dad has to go back out and hold the fort for a while, but my mum is staying for 2 MONTHS!!!!!!!!!! I am SO EXCITED!!!! Man, I miss them LOADS and it will be so awesome to have them back, and to have my mum for so long is brilliant. She wanted to be here for when I start work, and is staying till the end of August so will achieve that! My dad's coming back for a couple of weeks at the end of August so they'll go back together. So much looking forward to some good parent time, they've been away over a year now but so far I've been able to see them a fair bit - on the way to my elective last summer, then for a while on the way back, then a few other wee trips too.

I am also hoping that my dad will help me buy a car (hopefully this one) while he's home - I currently 'share' a massive Nissan almera with my brother (by this I mean he has it most of the time and I occasionally get a look-in) but I really need my own, and I don't want to buy my first car without my dad (yeah, I know, 'but Jo you're an adult grow up etc etc') and also I need help with finances until September when the cash starts rolling in!

Right, enough spraffing, really must go and learn useful things now, like when to call the procurator fiscal, which I have no idea about!

Monday, 14 May 2007

Motivation? Where?

Gaaaaah, it's now ten days till the dreaded portfolio viva exam which will elevate me to the long-awaited Doctor Joey, and I am having trouble studying!

Today I have hit the snooze button about 20 times (actually, some of the time I just switched the alarm off for half an hour to save waking up every 8 minutes to press the button again), got up, did some cardio, had a shower, dealt with emails, listened to some music, ate my Special K, and now I'm really hoping that when I've dried my still-all-wet hair it will be lunchtime so I can put off learning stuff for a bit longer!

Apologies for the lack of funny stuff to post about these days, apparently exams and studying just aren't that amusing...I'll endeavour to improve on the funnies soon, I promise.

Right, it's definitely lunch time now, more skiving coming up!

Sunday, 13 May 2007

Social conscience

What happened to spring?! I'm so cold! Plus I put the heating on yesterday and when we got up this morning we found a big puddle on the kitchen floor under the boiler, which is never good, so we are kind of afraid to put it on again, which means many jumpers and much shivering. And several pairs of socks.

I've really enjoyed being sociable this weekend, although I've seemed to manage to offend people left, right and centre - mainly Offended Flatmate (who is a bit sensitive if you ask me), but I've been coming back from these social gatherings and wondering how I did.

I often wonder this, ever since I was a kid and used to say stupid things around strange adults who used to come to our house a lot (usually my parents knew them, but as a kid they all look pretty similar), which I'm sure was embarrassing for my mum, but what do you expect if you put a kid in a be-polite-to-the-guests situation almost every sunday?! One such guest was a colleague of my dad's, and I always thought he was a bit weird...anyway he came back to visit when I was in early uni sometime and reminded me that he had come for lunch and I had kicked my brother under the dining table. Thanks for that, I thought, I really needed reminding of my ineptitude in social situations!

The thing is, I either talk too much, or I don't talk enough, or I don't follow the conversation closely enough and end up saying something really inappropriate. Once we had someone staying at our house who I didn't know and have not met since, but I was home for the weekend before some exams and was really stressed out, which always rids me of any social graces I still had. Anyway, I had seen my primary school teacher at some event or other and she hadn't recognised me, and I said later, 'oh, I don't care, I'll make more money than her one day anyway.' WHAT?!?!? Who was this monster who said that?! I don't care about money! It was such a ridiculous thing to say, my mother was horrified, I have no idea why I said it, and it still haunts me to guess at what this poor woman who was staying must think of me.

During third year of uni I got really depressed for quite a long time, and to be honest I don't remember a lot of those months - apparently I wrote a Cochrane review for a paper that one of my supervisors was writing, but I have no recollection of doing so. I basically hid in my room for about 6 months and avoided all forms of social contact, because it was too hard for me to smile and say 'fine thanks' when people asked how I was and I really wanted to die and not smile ever again. I stopped going to any events where there were lots of people, especially happy people - Place To Avoid #1 was the uni Christian Union, which, though I was an active member for many years, was always a place inexplicably full of perfect slim blonde (usually Irish) girls with perfect teeth and pearl earrings, and since I never really fitted in with these people to start with (my friends are an altogether more normal-looking bunch, who I love dearly - this means you, people who I know read this!) it took more effort than I had to smile back at them and say, 'yeah, fine thanks, six miracles in my life this week, how about you?'

I actually hate it when people ask 'how are you?' and don't listen to a proper answer - especially I hate it when people say how are you as they pass me in the corridor without breaking their gait, it's so pointless! But after a little experimentation, I discovered that as long as I smiled and nodded I could say anything and they wouldn't notice. I tried this out on a bloke I used to date (who to be fair was not noted for his observation skills), and when he asked how I was I smiled and said, 'pretty terrible actually, life is really crap at the moment' and he said 'oh, that's great, pleased to hear it'. Wonderful.

How did I get onto all this? Ah yes, social stuff...

Anyway, the main thing is that I spend a lot of time after social gatherings wondering 'how I did' - did I say anything disgraceful? Did I join in the banter/teasing of someone with too much gusto? Did anyone actually want me there at all?! Did I talk too much? And so on and so on ad nauseum.

I'm so much better than I was in third year, not depressed at all any more, but somehow this fear of social situations seems to be the thing that still lingers (along with some excess weight, thank you mirtazapine). I wonder if I'll ever shake it?

Friday, 11 May 2007

Several things

Still feeling terrible about offending the flatmate, but the other flatmate says she has walking on eggshells all week so I should just put it all down to stress...haven't seen Offended Flatmate since the incident so hopefully she won't kill me when she comes home! Gah I can't wait to live with boys, they are so much easier, and next year one of the boys I'm living with is my brother, so no hassles there!

The portfolio got handed in today, which was a great relief - I'm so pleased to be rid of it! Again is was a great disappointment actually handing it over. Where was the parade? Where were the balloons? Where were the party poppers and the cake? I was very upset. All I got was, 'right. Fine. Next?'


I've got quite a sociable weekend coming up, which is great because I've been such a boring recluse recently. Tonight I'm going to a wine and cheese party for some friends who are leaving soon, which sounds very civilised, and it will be nice to see some people and chill out for a bit. Then tomorrow I'm going to another friend's birthday picnic, which will be awesome! I really hope it doesn't rain, it's been weird weather here recently.

So hopefully I'll get some chillout time this weekend, I'm reading a great book and I'm planning not to do much work if any until monday, when it starts again in earnest to prepare for the portfolio exam which is on the 24th.

What are your weekend plans? I hope you have fun...

Thursday, 10 May 2007


I am feeling awful right now - I just really upset my flatmate and I had no idea, and now I feel terrible about it. It was just some careless comment I made days ago and had forgotten about, I mentioned Tchaikovsky and she said, 'who's Tchaikovsky' and I thought she was kidding and laughed, then teased her a bit about not having heard of Tchaikovsky, which I guess was mean, but I just thought it was a general knowledge thing not a specialist musical thing.

Then this evening she asked what work I had left to do now that my portfolio is finished (yes, finished!!) and I said I had to study for my viva which is 2 weeks today, and she asked if my viva exam is a written exam and I said no it's a viva and she got really upset and said she didn't know what a viva was and I was making her feel stupid and I feel AWFUL about it. I totally didn't mean to upset her, I didn't know that she didn't know what a viva was, do all courses not call interview-style exams vivas?

Anyway, I went and apologised and she said it was ok but I think she's still mad at me. I don't think she's stupid at all, but she seems to think I do, and apparently I haven't done much to convince her otherwise, but I had no idea.

Man, I am such a horrible person, I'm going to my room to hang my head in shame. What a bitch.


My final portfolio for this endless degree is due tomorrow, and I am playing solitaire.

There is no fun in doing nothing when you have nothing to do. Idleness, like kisses, to be sweet must be stolen.

-Jerome K Jerome

Monday, 7 May 2007

Terror again

Today has been a day of many things. First of all, I did an exam - it's not a major one, it's a computer assessment that we have sat every year since first year, and the idea is that we improve our percentage scores over the years until, in 5th year, we are meant to pass it. The pass mark is 70%, and last year I got 78%, so I wasn't that worried - I really hope it hasn't backfired on me! I did study for it, honest!

Secondly, I did some work on my portfolio, which is due on friday, and which was very boring but necessary.

Thirdly, I did some boxing and it felt awesome! Really enjoyed it as usual.

Fourthly, I GOT MY JOBS ALLOCATION which is really good to know, but TERRIFYING again! My scariest job would be to start in acute receiving, on nights, with the arrest bleep. And guess where I'm starting? Acute receiving. In Big City Infirmary. Ooooooooh I am so scared, I can't stop giggling! I really hope it's not on nights or with the arrest bleep. I may start throwing up now, with several weeks to go before starting!

So, the lowdown: 2 months in acute receiving with 2 months of GI medicine in Big City Infirmary, then 4 months general surgery in Big City Infirmary, then 4 months general medicine in Fairly Nearby DGH. So all in all, my ideal jobs! More medicine than surgery, some time in acute receiving, and some time in both a big teaching hospital and a DGH.

But man, am I scared!!

Thursday, 3 May 2007

End of an era

I'm writing this on the eve of my last day on the wards as a medical student! Man, it's been a long time coming. I don't think bricking it is the term really any more, I've reached a whole new level of stress, which is manifesting itself on the ward in a variety of embarassing ways...

Firstly, I have developed a fear of the blood book. Each day on the ward round, one of the juniors has the folder with all the blood results in it and, if asked, tells The Boss what the bloods are doing. Now, the old Joey would actually quite like holding the blood book because it gave her something to do, but the scared new one is terrified that when asked she will either say the wrong value, not be paying attention, or, most likely, forget the normal parameters for the results (which are not written on the sheet) and read out something plum normal when asked for the abnormal values. Much potential for mistakes, especially with Terrifying Registrar around.

[I had to bleep her the other day, I was shaking, but she was nice, so that was good, and I live to see another day!]

Secondly, I have started to miss bloods. Especially when I go to see a patient, blood tray in hand, thinking I will be fine (as I always used to be), and the patient says, 'oh, well, you can try, but Dr X tried 10 times yesterday and couldn't get a drop', at which point I almost immediately adopt a defeatist attitude and think, 'oh well, I'll never get this' and give up after the third attempt rather than carrying on till I get something. I bet if there are more senior people reading this, they will think I am a moron, but please remember the days when to you this was a big deal too, I'm not a total fool, I just want to get it right!

Then there's the slightly panicky going back to patients after I have taken the bloods (especially ABGs, man, especially those) and checking the puncture site to make sure that they are not bleeding all over the place or I have not knackered their arteries so their hands go blue and then black and then fall off and I get sued.

Now you are thinking, 'call the shrinks, this girl's a nutter!' but it gets better!

What if, when I start work, I prescribe paracetamol for someone's pain, and they have actually already had some and they get liver failure and it's my fault? Or what if, when I start work, I prescribe ibuprofen and someone gets a peptic ulcer and bleeds out and dies and it's my fault? Or what if I miss their crazy arrhythmia on the ECG and they die and it's my fault?!?!?!

See a pattern here?!

I'm getting a bit sleep deprived because I stay awake thinking about all the things that can go wrong, so my bedtime reading has, for the last week, consisted of frantic cramming of medical knowledge in a vain, petrified attempt to avoid such disasters.

I said once in this post that fear was a good thing, but at this magnitude, and so early? Am I going to be like this in worsening degrees until the dreaded 1st August?! I really hope not because I need more sleep than this!

Right, I have to go write up a case for my assessment tomorrow, but to end this on a totally un-medical more positive note, I have recently started to do some boxing again - I used to go to Muay Thai kickboxing training on a wednesday night for a few years, and I absolutely loved it, but then I had a few shoulder injuries (that looked like this) and had to call it a day for a bit, but I have started again very gingerly and am getting huge endorphin rushes from it, it feels amazing!

But now to the case, no more procrastination...