Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Organisational Skills

You may have noticed, but I am slowly growing tired of turning up for sessions that don’t exist. So today I decided to be organised. The session with the anaesthetist this morning? I checked his calendar yesterday and found that he’s on a rostered day off. I had my place spotless for house inspection. The 2pm GP tutorial? Called ahead – it was actually at 3pm, so I had plenty of time to prepare. AND, I submitted my (grumble grumble) portfolio three days early!

And now I’m trying to order my takeaway dinner before the place has even opened.

Today, I’m so organised, it hurts.

Crash Report

At first I thought, cool, that's new - I've never had this error message before!

But now I can't open Firefox. Time for a virus scan?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Oven Master

On a happier note, I seem to have finally mastered my dodgy electric oven. The secret? Switch oven on, go do something else for an hour or so, and then return and do your baking. I also leave a baking tray on the very bottom shelf so that my food isn’t burnt to a crisp from the bottom up. I consider it a win. Mmmmm, cake.

Post-Holiday Blues (reprise)

I got a lot more response from yesterday’s post than I expected –not in the comments section, but in personal messages and chats both in person and online. It seems that it’s not just me, it’s not just the students in my region, and it’s not just the rural students who are feeling isolated and overwhelmed. Even the city-based students can lose contact with their peers, miss out on social events and have trouble getting to the extra-curricular talks and events. From the friends who call me frequently, to those I chat with online from time-to-time, to those who interact mainly via Facebook, we are all lacking in friendly human contact and suffering from fractured social circles since basically the start of Year 3.

Should this be comforting? Possibly. At least I’m not alone in my aloneness. But I find it more worrying than comforting. Why didn’t they warn us that this would happen? That the close friendships we’d forged during the stressful first and second-year would be torn apart as we were thrown into different rotations and geographical locations for the even more stressful third-year. That the people we’d come to rely on wouldn’t be around to help with homework, make you dinner or give you a hug when you needed it most.

And here I am whining because I’ve been sad and it’s all the School of Medicine’s fault. I think I need a dog. And a hug. What do you need?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Post-Holiday Blues

I have been feeling a bit sorry for myself since the holidays. During the three-week break I managed to spend a lot of time with my family, my horses, my little dog and my friends back in the city. I had a birthday, I got presents, I went shopping, and I felt loved. Then I came back to my placement - back to work and back to the reality of assignments, exams and other assessments.

And I was lonely.

I know that a lot of the other rural students are feeling the same way. It doesn’t help to know that the student society is running events that we can’t possibly attend, and that our city-based friends are carrying on with their social lives, attending trivia nights and having group dinners and breakfasts. It did help marginally to see our classmates on the big screen during a whole-class video conference, to sneakily chat on Gmail and to wave at the camera.

But the only thing that really snapped me out of my little funk was a 3am phone call from some old showjumping buddies, inviting me to the casino. They didn't know that I'm placed 500km from said casino, but they have no idea how much it helped to know that old friends still think of me occasionally.

We probably all have a few old friends who could do with a phone call ... some of them might appreciate being called at a more respectable hour, but it's always nice to be remembered.

(Photo stolen from www.bluesbrothersgallery.com)

Friday, June 25, 2010

8 months

He’s “just in for a checkup”, his mum tells me as she brings the happy little 8-month-old into the room. I ask about his history ... he had a low birth weight, he’s been lying on the 3rd centile for all growth parameters, he wasn’t feeding well at the start and he’s had a hydrocele. Sounds like there’s a lot to “check up” on.

He’s picked up a bit lately though – started feeding well, he’s been putting on weight and he’s obviously pretty happy about life. I do his weights and measures, and we note that he’s now in the 50th centile on the growth charts, so he’s caught up well. The doctor examines the testes – everything is normal and the hydrocele is gone. And then he has a listen to the boy’s lungs. It tickles and the boy starts a little staccato laugh.

The doctor then tickles the boy’s tummy, and chuckles when the boy bursts out laughing again. And then they just keep setting each other off, the baby’s bleating laughter like a little lamb and the doctor’s deep chuckle. They keep it up for a few minutes and then the boy keeps looking at the doctor with his bright eyes and big smile, kicking his legs and waiting for the laughter to start again. I’ve never seen anybody have so much fun in a doctor’s appointment.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Beautiful ... necks

Because distended neck veins and goitres are all the rage this season.

Picture with thanks to Facebook ads.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The day that wasn't

All I had scheduled today was a GP tutorial from 2-4pm, and a video conference of the fourth-year elective presentations at 5pm. So technically, I had the morning to study and become an expert on all things tutorial-related and otherwise. That didn’t happen.

The tutorial was postponed until 2.30pm, so I did have time to read through the case and prepare some notes. Our GP is usually a few minutes late, so my classmate and I wandered in just after 2.30pm to find his office still empty. We both got out our Oxford handbooks and continued our medical education while we waited for him, until after an hour when I started to wonder if he was coming at all. My classmate wisely suggested that we wait another half hour since the doctor had patients booked in for 4pm. He did struggle in a bit after 4pm complaining of a terrible headache, so we gently excused ourselves and jumped in the car to travel to the next town for the video-conference.

At first I had been rather annoyed to find that our students’ society had scheduled the fourth-year elective presentation on a weeknight during term, because the rural students had no chance of attending. So I was pleased to hear that it would be broadcast to at least one town in our region, and I was keen to attend – especially because elective preferences are due in a few weeks. So imagine how irritated I was when we arrived to discover that the video-conference had not in fact been organised, and since it was after 5pm none of the IT staff could be contacted. Luckily somebody in the audience thought to record the audio, so that should be thrilling listening if we ever get hold of it.

And then we went to McDonalds and they had run out of commemorative World Cup soccer glasses.

Can we rewind? Please? I think this day could be done better.

Dog Parties

Saw this in a bookshop in Melbourne ...

I didn't want to flip through it in case somebody saw me, but I imagine the title is fairly self-explanatory.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Jersey Boys Fan

My Mum has been wanting to see “Jersey Boys” the musical for years - so when we checked into our Melbourne hotel and discovered that it was playing just around the corner, we went straight out and bought our tickets.

We managed to score some special tickets in the Dress Circle, which caused Mum much angst as she then had to find an outfit suitable for such seats. So it was a great moment when we arrived to discover that she was dressed exactly like everybody else, and we could relax and enjoy the show.

Jersey Boys is about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, a 60’s rock band, who were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990. The story basically follows the band from their formation in the 1950s to today, and the actors perform some of their most successful songs throughout the show.

After seeing the performance, I only have one regret: I didn’t enjoy it as much as the stranger on my right. She would start clapping before the singers asked us to, she would sing along to all of the songs, she was marvelling over her purchase of a Jersey Boys hoodie, and for the whole performance our entire row of seats was literally rocking as she danced in her seat. Somehow now I don’t think you are getting the full experience unless you see a show with such enthusiasm. I might try it next time.


I don’t watch much television any more, mostly due to the whole having-to-study-so-I-don’t-look-stupid thing. But when I did tune in over the holidays, I was horrified by the abuse that was dished out (mostly on reality TV), time after time, to a poor innocent word – ‘journey’. I make a conscious effort to not use this word on a daily basis, believing (don’t stop) that maybe I can make a difference, and that eventually this word will have some kind of meaning again.

But I am just one person, and I have yet to see things improve for this poor overused word. I hear it used on television, in lectures and in “motivational speeches” (don’t get me started on those). It is time for us all to join the fight, and endeavour to protect ‘journey’ for future generations of word users.

Examples of inappropriate use include:
“It’s been such an amazing personal journey”
“Her journey does not end here”
“This is the beginning of a long and arduous journey”
In any other sentence heard on Masterchef, Australia’s Got Talent, Australian Idol, Today Tonight, and well, television in general.

Examples of more appropriate use:
“Let us journey forth to the cafeteria!”
Journey’s version of Don’t Stop Believin’ is much better than the Glee version
"Nobody in the band 'Journey' is particularly attractive"

Try and count how many times you hear this word in one day (I personally can’t be bothered) - you might be surprised. And let me know if you hear it used appropriately, so that I too may be surprised.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Cherry Ripe Slice

I went out to breakfast with a friend the other day – his shout, because my birthday is sometime this month. I waited at the table while he went up to order, and then we chatted while we waited for the food to arrive. After about 5 minutes the waitress came up and said, “firstly, you didn’t say what type of coffee you wanted, and second, we don’t have cherry-ripe slice today.” So I re-ordered my coffee and, wondering why my friend had ordered us dessert for breakfast, told her that we probably didn’t need a cherry-ripe slice this morning.

When she left I made sure my friend wasn’t upset about missing out on the slice. Sure he was, because he hadn’t ordered it. We chased down the waitress, who then realised that she hadn’t gotten a drink order for my friend. “So what would you like?” she asked, to which he replied, “Chai latte please”. “Vanilla or spiced?” “Spiced.” “So a chai latte, spiced ... ohhhhh.”

Monday, June 14, 2010

Band Heroine

I am truly no musician. I did learn piano for a few years in primary school, but now my keyboard lives under my bed at home. Still, whilst visiting some of my city-based Med friends during my break, I decided to give Band Hero a go.

I sat in front of the plastic drum set and set the difficulty to medium and we rocked out our first song. Paying heed to my friend’s advice that “drummers don’t think”, I managed to score 86%! A High Distinction!

Having found my true calling, I stuck with the drums for the next song, then became thoroughly confused when the guitarist started playing my solo. “Which side am I on?!” I demanded, and was surprised to learn that my part was actually on the right of screen, not the left as I had been playing previously.

I didn’t even get close to 86% for the rest of the evening.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Vet Trip

We were all dozing in the lounge-room after dinner the other night, when an ad came on TV for the show Border Security, and the sniffer-dogs were searching people’s bags looking for drugs. Suddenly my Mum sat up and said, “you should take Doggers tomorrow – see what’s in my purse”, and then when back to dozing. Upon further questioning I discovered that she actually meant, “take Doggers to the vet for his vaccinations, and check if there’s enough money in my purse to pay for it”. Which is lucky, because I wasn’t sure how he’d do with sniffer-dog duties.

So I took him and Sprite (my dog) for a walk to the vet’s office. We didn’t have an appointment, but luckily it was a slow day. I stopped Doggers from peeing on things until the Vet was ready, then led them both into the small surgery, which smelt very strongly of antiseptic. They weren’t too bothered about the whole thing, sniffing around the surgery and trying to say hello to the groggy cat which had had an operation earlier that morning.

I actually had to hold Doggers down for his injection – not because he didn’t like it, but because the vet’s assistant came in halfway through and he started wagging his tail and tried to jump up and say hello. It was all very quick and painless really.

Later that night when Dad came home, I mentioned that I’d taken Doggers to the vet. “Oh good” he said, “so he’s got his microchip?” Ohhhhhh. That’s what I was meant to do?

The "Volunteer"

I spent my entire afternoon at the hospital yesterday. Mum works there, you see, and she thought it would be A Good Thing for me to come and help tidy up a few of the rooms for the up-coming accreditation visit. Sure, I thought, it’s raining, and what else am I going to do with my holidays?

But of course it was a Saturday, and footy was in town, so in the end I only ended up dusting one of the back rooms. The rest of the time (5 hours, all told), I was looking at X-rays. Before lunch, Mum was called in to X-ray a footballer’s thumb. We couldn’t see a fracture, but when the doctor came in he gave me a mini-tutorial. Which bone are we concerned about in this type of injury? (scaphoid). How long before we X-ray it again? (10-14 days). We had a chat about electives and medicine and he taught me how to reduce a dislocated shoulder (morphine and midazolam to relax the patient, then externally rotate the shoulder, pull it downwards until it pops back in, then place that hand on the opposite shoulder).

After lunch Mum was called back in – to X-ray a dislocated shoulder! How perfect! Well not so much for the patient, because he was in a lot of pain, but I got to cannulate him for the medications and watch as the doctor reduced his shoulder. He did it exactly as he’d explained, and it was very quick, very neat, and very much appreciated by the patient (“f--k yeah!” He exclaimed when he felt the ‘pop’).

It must have been a rough game, because we also X-rayed an ankle (probably ligament damage), and a thumb which had an obvious fracture. I did a bit of dusting in between patients, but in the end I really didn’t get much done. Mum probably knows now not to bring a med student to do the dusting – they’ll just wander off and find patients.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Dog Karma

My sister's dog ('Doggers') really enjoys shirt-fronting the chookyard fence and barking at the chooks. In turn, they fluff up their feathers and try to peck his nose if he gets too close. This is all well and good, as long as there is a fence between them (my sister recently reinforced the fence - not to protect the chooks, but so her poor little dog didn't get pecked).

Today, one of the chooks was on the wrong side of the fence. Doggers saw this as 'open season', and promptly chased after it - they ran into the bushes, and over my own yelling I could hear the skwawking chicken and thought it was all over for the poor thing.

But it managed to fly back over the fence and Doggers emerged from the bushes ... disappointed, a little bit sorry ... and with a large chook poo splattered across his back. Dog karma.

Elmo's Hospital Visit

I rode my horse to the hospital this morning. The hospital in my home town has a large aged-care component, and Friday is excursion day for the residents. Today they excursioned to the grass area near the hospital’s heli-pad to meet Elmo.

And Elmo loved it. There is nothjing he likes more than the adoration of a large crowd, and being a large, black, shiny horse, adoration is what he got. We cantered a few circles but spent most of the time moving between the residents so that Elmo could have his nose patted. Here are some of the comments he received:

“He’s very black isn’t he – even his darn legs are black!”

“Oh you’re beautiful. You should have Princess Diana riding you”

“Your dressage is world-class”

“Look at him in his fancy clothes” (he had his show bridle on)

“This is the most exciting day of my life”

“How old is he, I wonder?” (3 times in the space of two minutes, and yes, all from the same resident)

“Come to mummy. You’re a good girl for mummy, aren’t you Elmo?”

“You’re such a good dog”

"Forgive me - I'm a little short-sighted - what's his name again?"

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Cut Lip

The three-year-old had fallen off the trampoline and cut his lip quite badly. The doctor had some trouble assessing it – “No no no you can’t look at it, it hurts!” but his Daddy held him still. It was his lucky day – the GP proceduralist and the GP anaesthetist were both on duty. They decided to give him intranasal Midazolam before injecting the local anaesthetic into his lip ... this was also quite difficult – “No you can’t put that in my nose, I don’t want it!” but his Daddy held him still again. It was worth it – within minutes the boy was laughing and pulling faces at everyone in the room (see diagram).

As we were preparing the suture trolley, the boy looked over at me and asked, “is that lady going to do it? Is she going to fix my lip?” After being told that the man doctor would be sewing his lip, he spied my stethoscope and exclaimed, “Daddy look, that lady has pink on her!” I came over and said, “that’s my stethoscope, I chose it myself”. He asked if I liked pink – I told him I loved pink, and then asked what his favourite colour was. He thought for a moment, “ummm .... pink!”

He wasn’t too happy about having his lip sutured, but with the nurse, the anaesthetist and his Daddy holding him still, it was all over in a flash. As his Daddy was finalising the paperwork, the boy started pulling at his lip. Everybody in the room drew in their breath, anxious to stop the boy from destroying our hard work. When his Daddy told him not to pull the stitches, he said, “but there’s a bit of dirt on there!”

He was adamant that he should walk out of the trauma room and not be carried. His Daddy carefully shepherded him out as he drunkenly weaved his way towards the door, barely avoiding crashing into the doorframe on his way out. Looking after a drunken toddler was probably not the Sunday morning anyone had in mind for this family ... but at least they can remind him about it at his 21st.