Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Chinese Takeaway

Having lived here for 8 months now, I decided it was time to try the local Chinese take-away. I’d had a few unsuccessful attempts earlier in the year before learning that the owners were on holidays, but I was ready for take 2. So I called.

Hello?” a lady’s voice answered
Hello” I replied, a little disconcerted
How are you?” she asked conversationally
“I’m well thank you, how are you?”
Yeah good
... awkward pause ...
Um, I’d like to order the honey pepper prawns, thanks” I ventured
Honey pepper prawns?
Yes. Um wait ... where have I called?” I asked, suddenly scared that I’d called a home number
Chinese, yeah” she assured me
Honey pepper prawns please” I repeated
Is that all?

When I arrived, I had the exact change ready, and handed it over ready to go.
She stared at the change in her hand. It wasn’t too complicated. A $10 note, four $2 coins, one 50c coin and two 20c coins. You’ve probably added it up already - $18.90. Exact change.
“You’re missing one” she said, shaking her head and staring at the money in her hand.
“No I’m pretty sure that’s exact change, $18.90” I assured her – I was starving and just wanted to go home and eat.
She held out her handful of money and I placed it all on the counter to help her count it out, and yes, it still came to $18.90. Finally she accepted that the $18.90 that I gave her was the right payment for the $18.90 meal.

And then I got home to discover I’d just bought the most expensive container of cabbage, sprinkled with 8 or 10 prawns, ever. That’ll teach me.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The many grades of moron

I had a GP consulting session today. I was doing well - I did proper cardio, respiratory and GI examinations for health checks, talked to a lady about her new anxiety medication, did an antenatal check, and even did a pap smear - no problems.

And then, halfway through a consultation, I turned off the doctor's computer with my foot. Oops.

Friday, September 24, 2010

I am not a moron

I feel amazing today. I am on top of the world. I know medical students aren't supposed to have too much self-esteem, but I'm going to just come out and say it anyway: "I am not a moron". Man that feels good.

We had practice OSCEs on Wednesday night, which I was absolutely dreading because at our practice OSCEs earlier this year I was absolutely hopeless. I believe one station I got 6/30 for, and 5 of those marks were for empathy. This time, however, I passed most of the stations and actually did quite well. Amazing! I have learnt something!

And then the next morning we had a practice written exam. I had no expectations because I'd been concentrating so hard on panicking about the OSCE, but I even managed to do OK in that. Sure it was formative, and self-marked, but it made me feel good.

So this morning I marched into clinic, suggested Pregabalin for somebody's neuropathic pain, diagnosed lateral epicondylitis, wrote several sick certificates and sutured somebody's hand. Should I be this excited about being able to do stuff and not looking stupid? I don't care, for today, I am not a moron.

Actually ... maybe I should wait until midnight to say that. The day is still young.

Cartoon from

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Quoteblog #9

I had a bad tummy-wog and I got over that – now I have this sniffle-nose!” – 81-year-old man giving his recent medical history

You’re having a rough trot, aren’t you?” – Nurse to 93yo lady with bilateral pneumonia
I’ve been on better trots” – patient

My nightie’s all scrunched up and it’s hurting my tail” – elderly female patient

I yell, I think, when I’m on the phone” – nurse. She does.

In [my town] I don’t quite know what that means (being well-connected). Like you know somebody that’s got lots of sheep” – rural student

I don’t do vaginas unless it’s recreational!” – male student starting O&G rotation

And this poor little med student’s waiting for Dr C” – nurse giving commentary as I waited outside a consulting room.

What drugs do you need?” – Renal physician to renal transplant patient on follow-up
Nothing. Oh, a bit of heroin I suppose” – patient

I’ve been haemorrhaging for three years” – patient with persistent haematuria post-TURP

I can’t handle these crackpot f-ing midwives” – GP after an argument in the delivery suite

It fuctuates" – Patient, regarding his blood pressure.

So multiple sclerosis is like, I don’t know, acne” – neurology professor

Monday, September 20, 2010


I brought my skeleton, 'Nobody', home for the weekend for a bit of anatomy review. For most of the weekend Nobody sat in a lounge chair, until Sunday afternoon when it was time to load him into the car and head back to placement.

I was in the backyard chatting with Dad and casually holding Nobody in my arms when a family friend pulled up in her car. "I was just passing through and thought I'd stop in and say hello and IS THAT WHAT I THINK IT IS?!"

Nobody knew exactly what to say.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Long-Distance Partying

My friends all went to a wine and cheese night a while ago. I didn’t go because I couldn’t justify driving the extra 900km that week, but one friend was kind enough to call me from the party and let me know what I was missing. I got to talk to each of my friends in turn, including my sister who often stands as my replacement at such functions – Version 2.0, if you like.

And I almost felt as if I were there. In truth, it felt as if I was sitting in a corner, and people were coming over to talk to me one at a time. We would chat for a while, then they would say, “Oh look here’s Michael, you should talk to him”, and then they would leave me and re-join the party. It was almost as if I could just stand up and join the rest of the group any time I wanted. What a strange feeling.

Thanks, my friends, for sitting in the corner with me.

Image from ... obviously

Monday, September 13, 2010


He tells me in his thick Italian accent that he was feeling quite sick over the weekend, but now he is feeling much better. He slept very well last night, thank you. His appetite is much better too.

"I had second helpings of dinner" he says, "and half-"

He stops mid-sentence, leans forward and whispers, "
half a glass of wine"

When he sees that I am not cross, he goes on to tell me about his brother's mother-in-law back in Italy, who is 94 and has a glass of wine every morning before breakfast.

And as he leaves, he turns around and waggles his finger at me. "Remember what I said about the wine", he reminds me, "it will put some colour in you".

And maybe I will have a glass ... just not before breakfast.