Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Somewhere, someone in the PRCC committee must have read that a good way of terrifying your medical students into submission is to stage a mock clinical exam (OSCE) eight months before the real OSCE. That way, your students will realise that they are in no way ready to face the challenges that lie ahead, and after a brief period of major depression, will become “consciously incompetent” and work really hard for the rest of the year. I suppose that’s the theory.

Personally, I crashed and burned today. I started on a rest station, but somehow did not become magically more prepared by sitting there staring blankly at the wall for 15 minutes. My first real station involved a child with a bright red rash on both cheeks. Most of the children I’ve come across in practice so far have been injured, not sick, so I was unprepared for this. And in my panic, my brain shrunk to the size of a pea and when consulted, would only scream “IT’S LUPUS!” Operating without my brain was difficult, although it might have made me a nicer person. I ended up with a mark of 5/20 for this station – 4 of these marks were empathy points.

The rest was not quite so bad, in that my brain decided to re-join the party, and I managed to at least pass the remaining stations. I even did quite well in managing a patient with acute pyelonephritis, although it probably helped that we’d been told to expect a station on genitourinary infection, so I couldn’t really get too far off track. Surprisingly, we all lost marks for not eliciting a positive ‘loin punch’ by lightly punching the patient in her already-painful kidney. The trade-off was, I got almost perfect empathy scores.

After a lengthy group de-brief, my classmate and I drove back to our own town to try and console ourselves, and that was when we encountered the lowest point of our day.

Neither of us could open our beers.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Belly Button

I saw another hernia repair last week. This man had both a para-umbilical and an epigastric hernia, but the surgical registrar doing the operation decided he could repair both using the same long, squiggly incision. The operation itself seemed pretty standard (I’ve seen two now, so I should know) – poke the omentum back in, block the deficit up with some mesh, sew the hole up, and then close the skin. The registrar could probably do with some more suturing practice, because a lot of his knots were tightening before the actual suture was tight, and I had to cut them so he could try again. But eventually he managed to close up the abdominal wall, just like a real surgeon.

Then it was time to close the skin. The incision was long and squiggly, so it wasn’t very easy to line up, and it caused the registrar much frustration. Eventually he had it lined up as best he could and began to staple the poor patient’s skin back together. The theatre nurse, newly graduated, timidly asked the question, “pardon my ignorance, but will he still have a belly button after this?” The supervising surgeon answered, “yes of course – in fact, the way [the registrar] is going, he’ll probably have two!”

"That's Horses"

The alarm goes off at 4am on Saturday, and I force myself out of bed and head outside to feed the horses. I haven’t had much sleep because my sister’s dog has been running laps of the backyard barking at mice ALL NIGHT, but at this time of morning it doesn’t make much difference. Once everything is ready, I wake up Dad and we load the horses (and dogs) and head to State Championships. It’s a 2-hour drive and I think about catching up on sleep, but my little dog is on my lap smiling at me and I know that if I close my eyes she’ll try and kiss me, so I stay awake. We arrive at 7:30am, just as they announce that the course is ready to walk. I drag Jangles off the truck and quickly brush and saddle him, change into my riding clothes and literally run to the oval to walk the course. I have a strong history of losing my way during competitions, so I take the time to memorise the track perfectly, planning my turns, visualising where we will be galloping to make good time.

Jangles warms up beautifully. Mum has been exercising him at home, and he feels good – fit and full of energy. We are reigning state speed champions, and we have a good chance of going back-to-back. The course is not ideal – lots of long stretches and very few turns, but I have confidence in Jangles.

Jangles does not have confidence in himself. We approach the first fence and he carefully jumps over, making an extra special effort not to touch the rails with his toes. I ask him to speed up and he does, a little, as we head towards fence number two. We find a good take-off spot, but at the very last minute Jangles decides not to jump this fence, and our chances of winning disappear in front of my eyes. I line up for a second try, but Jangles has already made up his mind and he refuses again. We are eliminated. All that is left to do is make the walk of shame out of the arena.

I check my watch once I have packed up for the day – it’s 9am. Sigh.

As they say, “that’s horses”.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Doctor Actor

I am a bit slow on my lunch break and have to rush back to the clinic. As I am power-walking to the doctor’s office, I almost crash into her running in the opposite direction and she admits that she’s running late and hasn’t had lunch yet. “What were you planning to do for the next hour and a half?” she says, hoping I’ll find something to keep myself occupied. I admit that I’ll probably be packing for the weekend (State Showjumping Championships tomorrow!). She leans in close and whispers, “I’d pack and get out of here”, then stands up and says loudly, “I’LL SEE YOU AT THE NURSING HOME AT 3:30!”

Not my favourite actress, but definitely my favourite doctor.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

"which way do you insert the stethoscope"

Some poor individual in the US stumbled across this site after Googling “which way do you insert the stethoscope”. I feel that s/he probably didn’t find the required information here at the time, so here it is for future reference.

I will begin by stating that the Stethoscope is generally an external device, and if you were looking to use it for an invasive procedure, you should probably re-think your choice of instrument.

According to WikiHow, you should insert each of the two ear pieces into your ears, directed forwards. This is always a good start, but don’t panic if you’ve gotten this wrong. If you have accidentally lodged the ear pieces in your eyes, simply stretch them (the ear pieces) further apart and try again. If you happen to have inserted the ear pieces into your nostrils, open your mouth and use your nasopharynx as an amplification device. This has the disadvantage of transmitting the sound away from your auditory system, so you will need a friend to listen at your open mouth and describe the sounds to you.

Once you have determined which end you will use, the rest is relatively easy. The bell & diaphragm are situated on the other end of the stethoscope, and are intended to be placed upon the patient. Ensure you expose the patient’s chest so that you are listening over bare skin – a polyester shirt can mimic coarse crackles but you’ll look silly when the real doctor comes and declares the chest to be clear. If you have forgotten to warm up the ‘patient end’ of the stethoscope, you may hear a high-pitched screech from your patient. This is best heard with the diaphragm, which is optimal for listening to higher pitched sounds.

I hope that this has answered your question, oh poor lost soul. If you still lack confidence with this device, try draping the stethoscope around your neck and walking very fast so as to look very busy and important, and hopefully nobody will ask you to stop and use it.

Beer Connoisseur

I was sitting in with the general surgeon this morning, and a well-dressed lady answered the “do you drink alcohol?” question with, “well yes, I make home-brew. But it’s light – I use 200 grams of sugar instead of a kilo”. The (German) surgeon made a face, “does it still taste ... alright?” She replied, “Well nobody else likes it, but that’s OK”.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Steak Sandwich

I only have $11 in my account, but that doesn’t matter because I’ve left my bank card at home anyway. I have a few minutes to run and grab lunch, so I scrounge through my bag for loose change and come up with $6-50 in silver and head for the local deli. The woman behind the counter sighs impatiently as I scour the menu for something I might be able to afford. I can only judge by names though, because they haven’t written the prices anywhere. I decide on a steak sandwich with the lot, and she shouts the order to the kitchen staff before turning back to me and delivering the bad news, “$7-50 thanks”

Oh. “How much is a steak sandwich with ... not the lot?”

She sighs again, scowls at me and says, “$6-50”

I am pretty embarrassed but much relieved, and I order a steak sandwich with not the lot. She shouts out to the kitchen again, “she wants a plain steak sandwich now! Take out the bacon!” There are other customers by now, so I don’t tell her that I actually do really want that bacon but just can’t afford it. But I don’t stay there to eat my lunch – there aren’t any tables for one, and I don’t want to be told off again. I take my little paper bag and have my solitary lunch in the study room at the clinic.

It’s lonely at the bottom.

Monday, March 22, 2010

"Gen Surg"

Today was my first day of theatre in the neighbouring town – I had to drive the 50km because the general surgeons don’t operate in my town on convenient dates. I forgot to call last week to check what time to arrive, so I asked a classmate who said “arrive at 8am for ward rounds”.

I got up super early and got there at 7:30am, just in case I also needed scrubbing training (scrub nurses are sometimes very particular about this). For some reason my swipe card didn’t work for the car park, so I had to park my precious car on the road, but that was ok. And then, because I don’t know my way around the hospital, I thought I would use the bathroom in the Clinical School – my swipe card worked this time, but then I forgot how to turn off the alarm, which started bleeping and soon moved on to wailing before I managed to subdue it. Not a good start.

I finally made it into the hospital at about a quarter to eight, and set off in search of the surgical ward. This happened to be the only ward with no lights on and not a soul in sight. Feeling more than a little lost, I wandered around until I found a friendly nurse, who sent me to the change rooms to put on some scrubs. After I’d put on said scrubs, I realised that I probably wouldn’t be going to ward rounds, so I found my way back to the break room and waited for somebody to tell me what to do.

This took about an hour and a half – the theatre list didn’t start until 9am. There were 14 people in theatre for the first operation (hernia repair), and I think five of us were students. Having made it this far, I put my hand up to scrub in, and joy oh joy, found myself holding the suction to keep the diathermy smoke away from the surgeon’s eyes.

The next operation was a laparoscopic cholecystectomy, so there was nothing to do except sit quietly in the corner and watch the operation on the screen. And by the time that was finished, it was 1pm and time for me to head back.

Was it worth it? Well ... no.


He has severe cramping abdominal pain, which is causing him to retch and vomit up bile. He lies in the foetal position on the bed in casualty, sweating profusely and moaning about his pain, which he describes as “11/10”. He has had this pain before, and has been investigated by the best, but no cause has been found. He insists that the Maxalon won’t help his nausea, and the Buscapan won’t ease his cramps. He wants something stronger.

We give him drugs, run a drip and put him in a bed. He keeps moaning and complaining, expecting sympathy.

The nurse has had children, and I’m having cramps of my own.

Today, sympathy is not forthcoming.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Musical Theatre

Customarily, the anaesthetist is in charge of the music in our operating theatre (see here for his other responsibilities). Yesterday, however, the O&G specialist decided to break tradition. When the anaesthetist stepped out of the room for a cup of tea, and the registrar was operating, he chose to plug his own iPod into the sound system. Starting with the Bee Gees, he decided to showcase the very best of his collection and educate the ignorant youngsters. We heard Alice Cooper, Abba, Sherbet and the Eagles during that operation.

The second he scrubbed in and started on the next operation, however, the anaesthetist wandered over and searched for the most embarrassing songs. That’s when Barry Manilow and the Pussycat Dolls came out and the specialist hastily explained that he had set up “home sharing” and blamed most of the songs on his wife and eldest daughter. But the war had begun. It was a highly entertaining, if long-running, theatre session as the anaesthetist and the O&G specialist battled to embarrass each other as much as possible with each others’ iPod playlists. Good times.

Dilatation & Curettage

She sits in her theatre gown next to a stack of gossip magazines. Her fetus is 17 weeks to date ... and 12 weeks to size. It is not small for its age – it has died. Five weeks ago. The lady smiles at me as I bring over the cannulation tray, looks away and grimaces as I insert the needle and thread the cannula into a vein in her hand. Looks down as a drop of blood escapes and drips onto her white hospital-supplied dressing gown, smiles through my apology and tells me not to worry about it.

I wonder how long she’s known. Apparently she’s had no symptoms of miscarriage – no pain, no bleeding. Did she feel any different? Did something happen five weeks ago? I wonder what her story is, but this is not the time or place to ask.

The nurse leads her into theatre, and she calmly greets the team and goes through the paperwork. She succumbs to the anaesthetic easily and without a hitch. I manage her airway, insert the laryngeal mask and ventilate her until her lungs remember what to do. It doesn’t take long.

The Obs & Gynae registrar gets to work on the “D&C” (dilatation and curettage). Immediately when she inserts the speculum, the whole theatre is overcome with the horrible smell. Even the theatre nurses, who are usually immune to bad smells, have to cover their noses. It is not death: it is decay. I am glad to be helping the anaesthetist as we get to stay at the lady’s head – the registrar must grit her teeth and complete the operation. Suction loosens the placenta and begins to dismantle the decayed fetus. The curette drags out tiny body parts – we recognise a foot, a head. The registrar finishes as quickly as she can, tidying up the uterus with more suction. The lady is at high risk of sepsis, so the anaesthetist hurriedly administers IV antibiotics, and they organise a script for her to take home as a precaution.

The operation finishes, anaesthetic is stopped, and she wakes up smoothly with tears in her eyes.

She is still crying when I see her later in Recovery.
Maybe she knew all along, but now it is real.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Tag & Test

I got an email last week saying that the electrician would be around to tag and test my air-conditioner. I wouldn’t have to be home; the PRCC administrator has my key and she would be there. I didn’t have much time to tidy my house before I flew out the door, so I closed the doors to my bedroom and study – a perfectly acceptable variation of ‘tidying’, in my books. The air-conditioner is in the living room, so they would have no need to access the other rooms, right?


When I got home, every single electrical appliance in my house had been tagged and tested. They had been into my study, climbed over my piles of books, and tagged everything from my computer to my external hard drive. They had been in my bedroom, dragged my phone charger out from underneath my bed and tagged that. They had been through the bathroom, retrieved a hairdryer from the furthest recesses of the bathroom cupboard, and tagged that as well.

The only thing that didn’t get tagged and tested? THE AIR-CONDITIONER.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Giving Birth

We all went through labour today.

After a little introduction and a lot of handouts, we had a brief chat about what to expect in a normal delivery. The lady brought out a model pelvis and a (plastic) baby and showed us how the baby’s head has to twist around on its way out – transverse, to oblique, to antero-posterior. It looked like a tight fit, and a lot more complicated a process than it first appears.

Then we all gloved up, lubed up and assessed the dilation of various cervixes. Nobody thought it was strange when the lady brought out a box of plastic vaginas, and we all paired up and started feeling cervixes ... it wasn’t particularly realistic, with the hard plastic models, but we did our best. One girl offered to make it more authentic for her partner: “Do you want me to lie down and put it between my legs?” But nobody got the giggles, and nobody became embarrassed – until the electrician came to repair the air-conditioner. Six students with their fingers inside of model vaginas suddenly appeared in his line of vision, and it was all he could do not to run away before adjusting the temperature.

We finished the day by taking it in turns to “give birth” via a semi-realistic plastic model pelvis. One “Mum” had to push the baby through the birth canal, the “midwife” would assist by demonstrating panting and inject the oxytocin, and the “doctor” would be in charge of the whole situation. By the time we’d finished, the role-playing was becoming scarily enthusiastic – possibly scariest for our poor classmate, The Only Boy.

Giving birth

Yes, yes it is. It's a box of ... yeah.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Pain Threshold

She has a tiny spot on her nose, and she needs to have it biopsied for her own peace of mind. She freaks out about the pain of the local anaesthetic, the pain of the actual biopsy, the pain of the blue sheet over her face.
“You’re going to have to be brave” says the doctor
“Well I gave birth to my two children without anything much, so I should be fine” she reasons
“Wow. I would have had an epidural, for sure” marvels the (male) doctor
“Oh, I had one of those”

Friday, March 12, 2010

Day Off

4pm Thursday, and I realise that I haven't asked for Friday off yet, even though I've already planned to drive to the city. We're finishing up at the nursing home, and the Doctor says, "you might as well go home now".
I bring up the courage to ask, "umm, it's MT's* birthday tomorrow, and ..."
"Go" she says, then a pause and, "Can you go now?"
"I'm meant to have a session with you tomorrow" I add
"It's alright - I'll cover for you. You go have fun"

She likes MT. Happy birthday.

*not his real name

Thursday, March 11, 2010


I love seeing babies and children come into the GP clinic, but I thought maybe the paediatrician would get all of the horribly sick children that just make you want to cry. Maybe that’s what it’s like normally, I don’t know. This morning’s session was full of happy, bouncy little kids with little problems like eczema, atopy, or a sore foot. It was great. There were only a few patients, but we had the extremes – a 10-month-old boy who’s been quietly tracking along on the 3rd percentile for weight, and a 2-year-old who weighed 17kg and was almost off the chart. Both were reasonably healthy – the little one was atopic, and the big one was running around the room non-stop despite his sore foot. Although I did discover that 15-30minutes is plenty of time to be spending with an individual child, especially those in the “why” stages. One little girl came in with her mum and baby brother and kept interrupting the consultation with “but Mum, why are there two ladies in here?” (me and the paediatrician), “why is there a television?” (video conferencing unit), “but why – where is her terputer?” and finally, “Do you have any lollies or stickers?”

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Team Building

I thought I’d escaped all the team-building, soul-searching, hand-holding, introspective fluff that I’ve suffered through over the years. After all, I’m in the country now - surely we don’t do that kind of stuff out here? In the past I’ve dutifully listened to talks on ‘eating frogs’, filled in personality wheels and personal priority charts, even walked around a room driving an imaginary laughing car. Doesn’t that mean I’ve done my time?

Apparently not.

Today our PRCC group spent the day at a police-run outdoor adventure park. I had high hopes – I really thought it was going to be good. Like, an adventure, or something. After the first few hours of the usual spiels about teamwork (and communication, commitment, cooperation, respect, attitude), I realised that I had been wrong. There were some good points – the lady read us a fantastic kids' book called “The Short and Incredibly Happy Life of Riley”, which I recommend you all go and buy. And the cake we had at lunchtime was delicious. But the rest ... no. I discovered years ago on a similar training day that I’m a “rhinoceros”, task-focused and extroverted, and that’s been my excuse for not enjoying such exercises as staring at my navel and analysing my personality. But we didn’t sort ourselves out according to the animal kingdom today. We were all expected to be into this. We were all expected to use words such as “journey” and “growth”. We were all expected to report back on the pearls of wisdom that we had gleaned from today’s journey, articulate the ways in which we had grown inside due to the challenges we had faced, and all in all cram as many clich├ęs as we could into that never-ending conversation.

And we only got to climb two trees.

Monday, March 8, 2010


The older showjumpers do tend to form their own boys club, even if it’s all in good fun. I’m sitting in the competitors tent on the weekend, when one ‘gentleman’ declares, “Women – they're alright to look at, but not much good for anything else”
The others see me sitting there, “what do you think of that, doc?”
“Oh it’s alright ... we’re trained to forgive the old senile ones their indiscretions”
He looks offended, and warns me, “I’ll remember that”
I just turn around. “No you won’t”

Mundulla Show

All week I’d planned to drive up on Friday night and spend an extra-long long weekend at Mundulla for their 100th annual show. Come Friday, however, it was obvious that I wasn’t going to make it, so it was a 5.30am start on Saturday for the 200km drive to the show. I arrived still conscious, which is a bonus, and then checked the programme only to find that my class would be the final event of the day.

This wasn’t really something to complain about – it gave me a chance to actually see the show, which was very impressive - Mundulla has about 350 residents, but Saturday saw almost 4,000 people enter the showground. This little country show was thriving – trade sites, sideshows, livestock, all manner of horse events, ute muster, vintage cars, pet show, vintage tractors, motorbikes and of course the indoor exhibits. They even had a Grand Parade, just like the Royal Shows, which included all the champion livestock and machinery. Well done, Mundulla!

I’ve been a fierce competitor in the “Watch the Clock” speed class for the last 7 or so years, but I’d only managed to win it for the first time last year, and I was eager for a repeat performance on Saturday afternoon. A $200 sports watch as first prize is great incentive to try your best! And it was a good start – up until fence number 5, I was making good time. But then I made a tight turn up to number 6, and everything wasn’t perfect, so little Jangles decided not to attempt that one. Precious time lost circling around for a second attempt meant that I wasn’t even good enough for a minor prize. My little sister, on the other hand, decided just that afternoon that she would enter the competition, did a lovely round, and won first prize. Some people.

Sunday was Championship day. We started the day off with a ritual that is unique to Mundulla – the “Blessing of the Horses”. The local pastor looks for anything with a reference to horses or animals and gives a brief service, and sometimes some of the dear old ladies of Mundulla will tell us some horsey tales from their youth. We used to sing, until the locals realised that us uncouth horse people don’t know any of the words. And then we take some time to remember fellow competitors and dear old horses who we’ve lost over the last year. It’s always well-attended, partly for the novelty factor of bringing your horse to “church”, but most of us wouldn’t dare miss it.

Jangles is B Grade, and not quite brave enough (or big enough) for the A&B Championship, so he had the day off. Which left me with little to do but help out in the arena, which means “pick up rails and move jumps” (or “yearly exercise”). It’s a great judge of character. You will see the spoilt young riders and rich owners watch a rail fall in front of them and not think to pick it up. Or the “ordinary people” of showjumping, who have worked so hard just to make it to the show and will still always run in to help re-set a jump. We certainly have an interesting mix of characters in our sport, and whilst not everybody wants to work, it's hard to be intimidated by the high-fliers when everybody is sunburnt, covered in dirt and has horse shit on their boots.

We had a terrific change of weather on Sunday night. All day it had been hot and sunny, but just on dark we began to hear the rumble of thunder in the distance, and soon we had a magnificent storm passing over the showground. The lightning was soon accompanied by a downpour of rain, which left the horse yards all muddy, but on the plus side, it washed the dust off everyone’s windscreens.

The storm was over by morning, and Jangles finally had his day on this, the fourth and final day of the show. Some people had left to make the trip home, but there were still plenty of competitors left to take part in this morning’s classes. Jangles was in the mood to go showjumping today, and he cantered around in his best textbook style (yes, they have showjumping textbooks, and they are very interesting). He won both of his classes – next stop, State Championships at the end of March!

Little Sprite, ready to face the day ... unfortunately, I'm not ready to wake up yet

Truck park during Sunday night's storm

Grand parade Saturday

"Blessing of the Horses" - Sunday morning

"Blessing of the Horses" - Sunday morning

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Warm and Squishy

The nurses have all warned me about The Endocrine Surgeon - “he’ll expect you to know your stuff!” Well I haven’t been feeling well, so I only had time to cram for my session today. I’ve heard a lot about his thyroid surgeries, so I read up on thyroids in my anatomy text, my second-year notes (which consist mostly of unrelated drawings) and two of my clinical textbooks. It’s a bit rushed, but I think I’m ready. And then I get to theatre, and see that the list consists of all breast surgeries and a hernia repair. Oh dear.

He doesn’t ask me a nasty, tricky anatomy question straight out like I’ve been warned. He waits until partway through the mastectomy, points to the muscle layer and says, “This is the pectoralis major muscle here. What lies directly beneath it?” I’m not sure if this is the famous First Question that he has reserved for me, so I hesitate, then realise he is waiting and say in a small voice, “pectoralis minor muscle?” Yes. Yes it is. And I am on edge from then on, because (a) it must be a trick, the hard question must be coming, and (b) the nurses still look like they’re ready to swoop in and rescue me.

Between patients, the nurses make me go and get a coffee because everyone else is. And my GP supervisor (who is assisting the surgeries today) quickly gives me some answers to some breast-related questions that the surgeon might ask.

Sure enough, as I am scrubbing for the next operation, the surgeon comes in and asks me to list the reasons for removing a fibroadenoma of the breast.

Thanks to my timely GP tutorial, I can answer:
· Symptomatic (I.e. painful)
· Fine needle aspiration results showed some suspicious cells
· Lump is growing in size
“Very good”, he says, “and interestingly it is the same for thyroid nodules”.

He starts letting me do a lot more then, like cut sutures and hold retractors. During a partial mastectomy he hands me the offending fibroadenoma, so that I can feel its bossilated surface for myself. I marvel at its surface (yes it’s bossilated, but very shiny), its texture (very hard), and silently at the fact that it is warm and the surrounding fat is squishy. And then further marvel at the fact that I wasn’t expecting it to be warm and squishy.

Later, he is repairing a paraumbilical hernia (hernia at the umbilicus, but apparently only congenital ones can be referred to as “umbilical hernias”). He pokes and prods the herniated omentum, trying to force it back into the abdominal cavity, and eventually gets it all back in. Then he invites me to put my finger into the hernial orifice and feel the abdominal wall from the inside. How strange it is! I can feel the muscles, and the fat, and even a loop of small bowel. And OH MY GOD IT’S WARM AND SQUISHY!

I thought the warm and squishy theme might end after lunch, when we started consulting. After all, my specialist consulting experiences so far have involved me sitting in the corner trying to stay awake enough to ask and answer questions. But The Endocrine Surgeon follows up a lot of his mastectomy patients year after year, so of course there are a lot of breasts to examine. I learn his technique, learn to identify ribs, normal breast parenchyma, and fibroadenomas (“like a marble under a newspaper on the kitchen table”). He also tries to teach me how to feel axillary lymph nodes, because apparently in slim people, he can feel normal lymph nodes 70-80% of the time. I can’t feel them at all, but I try ... digging my fingers into a large lady’s damp armpit until he finally allows me to give up. Mmmm. Warm and squishy.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

How Embarrassing

I have a very embarrassing personal health problem. I have been struggling with it for a few days now, and there’s no point in dancing around the issue, so here it is: I have a cold. As a med student I now feel quite ashamed of myself – I’ve been seeing people with terrible illnesses, researching Medicine like it’s going out of fashion, and now I’ve gone and caught a cold, and probably from someone at the supermarket.

It’s been trying to sneak up on me for a few weeks, and I’ve been fighting it off with Vitamin C and chillies and such, but it just wouldn’t go away. And as I was debating whether to just give up and let this cold run its course, or keep fighting it and hope it gives up first - the cold got me.

Yesterday I had to call in sick to the clinic. I actually went there in person. The girl in the office called out a cheerful, “hi! How are you going!” and when I could only reply with “ummm”, she decided that I probably shouldn’t be allowed near patients, and sent me home.

So I dug out all of the cold-beating remedies that I could imagine. I got into the vitamin C tablets, the Strepsils, and the grapefruit juice (a new one for me, but it tastes good), cracked open a box of 3-ply tissues and settled in to make some chicken soup (recipe below). A hot shower, some ugly trackies and heat pack helped soothe the aching muscles. Rum made me feel better about the state of the world.

Realising how miserable I become when struck by a simple cold, well ... hopefully I’ll be more sympathetic when somebody comes in with a serious problem, like a sore throat or dizzy spell. For now though, I’m just trying to re-learn the art of nose breathing.

“Becky’s Kill-Anything Chicken Soup”
8 chicken legs, skinless
8-10 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 chopped onions
4-5 chillies, chopped. Leave the seeds in.
2 tsp (or more) grated ginger
2L chicken stock
3 carrots, chopped
1-2 handfuls of corn
1cup macaroni pasta

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and brown the chicken
Add garlic, onion, chilli and ginger, and brown also.
Add chicken stock, carrots and corn.
Bring to the boil, add water if needed
Simmer 15-30min
Take out the chicken, pull the meat off the bone, shred into small pieces and return to pot
Add macaroni and simmer 15-20min until pasta is cooked
Add salt and pepper to taste

Fun fact: This recipe was created by a girl “Becky” and passed around via spam fwd. Becky created this recipe for her Mum, who “has an auto-immune disease”, so Becky “needed to think up a way of boosting her immune system”. Now I love my immune system, but the second it turns against me ... well, that’s when it’s had its last dose of chilli chicken soup.