Tag Archives: grumpy days

A New Dawn, A New Day

It is a law of the universe that every once in a while you’ll have a day that is a complete disaster from beginning to end. A day that makes you think that you might have been better off not getting out of bed. A day that arouses in you the childish urge to pull the duvet over your head and demand a rematch.

Yesterday, I had just such a day.

It began when I left my travelcard on my desk, which meant £8.90 and a queue at the ticket office and led to the second disaster: jumping onto the train that was on the platform without checking to see that it was the right one. It wasn’t. It was a train that took me into the wrong train station, leaving less than fifteen minutes to dodge through the other commuters and run through town to the station that the connecting train leaves from. I had not planned to start my Tuesday with a half-mile jog across the city while wearing boots and a winter coat. On arrival at the hospital, I came to realise that I had an unexpected girl problem to take care of and this improved my mood not at all.

And so with these various disasters having already transpired to wreck my journey into work, the day began and I went to a meeting with my educational supervisor.

Do you know the difference between a perforated ulcer and a penetrated ulcer?

I had got it into my head that they were the same thing. I was presenting a case of a perforated duodenal ulcer. It went well until I started to talk about the emergency management of acute upper GI bleeds and the prognostic value of the Rockall score. My supervisor realised that I had gone very very wrong and proceeded to grill me on the blood supply to the alimentary tract, as all my anatomical knowledge fled from my brain and left me to sit there looking like an idiot.

The important things from that part of the story are: a) perforated ulcers cause peritonitis, b) penetrating ulcers cause haemorrhage, and c) blood vessels run behind the duodenum.

It is true that you learn more from looking like an idiot than you do from being right. Still, feeling desperately incompetent is never fun for anyone.

Today, a friend offered me a lift in and my commute became an hour of warmth and good conversation and Radio 4. I answered a question on the ward round. I spent some time with my F1, who made me a cup of tea and taught me how to prescribe vancomycin and gentamicin and warfarin. I passed my first nasogastric tube. I was complimented on my examination technique by a consultant surgeon.

And that’s the thing about bad days.

They end.


Now playing: Gregorio Allegri – The Symphony Of Harmony And Invention

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Posted by on March 2, 2011 in Blog, Medicine


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So Near, So Far

I am becoming convinced that the sole purpose of the last week of term is to slowly suck the life out of all medical students. This is Academic Week. It is five days of shivering in lecture theatres with inadequate central heating while being talked at about things that we already know.

Yesterday, we sat through an afternoon that would perhaps have been useful if we had had it in Year 1, Week 1. Not Year 4, Week 16. The unfortunate soul who had been asked to deliver a lecture on basic immunology opened with a statement that nothing he planned to say would have any relevance at all to our exams. In a reference to Th1 and Th2 cells, he said doubtfully that some of us might have heard of those. I’d be surprised if more than half of the year was awake — especially after he said out loud that we wouldn’t miss much if we went to sleep. I think most of us who stayed awake did so only because it was too bloody cold to go to sleep.

Today, three separate people referred to the Disability Discrimination Act as though it still exists. I am probably not the only one who thinks that a conversation about disability law would be more valuable if it was had in the context of the actual legislation.

I live in hope that the rest of the week will be less painful, but I am not holding my breath.

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Posted by on December 14, 2010 in Blog, Medicine


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A Commandment Worth Remembering

This week, I had the worst day I’ve had since I started revision.

I’ve had rubbish days and I’ve had unproductive days. There was the day when I tried to work in a study room in the QM, but that turns out to be a lot like working in a prison cell and it doesn’t really do much for someone who goes slightly crazy if she can’t see the sky from time to time. And the day when I had a complete meltdown over the conus medullaris, of all things. And the day when my study partners and I were sitting at the kitchen table, stressed out and stressing each other out and trying to learn things and really getting not a whole lot done. And the day of iron deficiency anaemia, when I came so very close to setting fire to Berne and Levy. Do you see where I’m going with this? The last five and a half weeks have not exactly been shiny and fluffy.

But this was different. Because in spite of all that, I’ve been happy. Mostly. I’m generally a happy person and I always try to look for a good side to everything, and I’m well aware that that might drive some people a little bit nuts, but it’s how I want to live my life and it certainly makes for a better experience than the alternative.

So, when I started staring at a folder full of notes and thinking dark thoughts and deciding that there was no possible way for me to pass this exam and wondering what kind of idiot I’d been to think I could do this and despairing over how slowly the work was going and how quickly the time was going…

It’s not like me.

I’d barely slept the previous night — going to bed very late (which was entirely my own fault) and then being woken up at dawn (for reasons that were unforeseen and totally unavoidable) combined to mean that I’d got maybe three and a half hours sleep, and looking at it from the other side of a good night’s rest, I know that I was cranky because of the sleep deprivation and the work was going slowly because of the sleep deprivation, and that the whole thing spiralled from there. I’m back to my normal, terrified-but-chirpy self now, but I know that I’m far from being the only student to have had those dark thoughts in the last few weeks and I read something today that I thought was worthy of sharing. It’s the conclusion to the new Hippocratic Oath:

“While I continue to keep this oath unviolated, may it be granted to me to enjoy life and the practice of the Art, respected by all, in all times.”

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Posted by on May 21, 2009 in Blog, Medicine


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Look, I was never expecting Drugs in Sport to be the thrill of a lifetime but it did look from the little blurb on the year website as though it would be reasonably busy while not being manic. I have had nothing to do. I’ve been in for perhaps an hour and a half a day, on the busy days. The assessment was based on a presentation and an essay, and for the first two weeks I hadn’t been given a title for either of them so couldn’t even do any reading. In the little blurb, it said that part of our assessment would be a lab report, but that was abolished and thank God for that — there were two labs, one that involved half an hour of being told how a flow cytometer works and one that involved watching a lab technician pipette some reagents into some test tubes and then put them into a centrifuge, and, bloody hell, I was a biomedical scientist, the value in me watching someone else use a pipette is so far non-existent that it begins to actually have a negative value.

The highlight was the lectures by Professor Hillis, who asks questions and is engaging and interested in his subject and the only thing that kept it from being a total loss.

The other ‘highlight’, awarded on the grounds of unintentional comedy, was the guy who was meant to give us a lecture on pharmacodynamics but unilaterally decided that that would be a waste of time and instead spent an hour telling us how Pfizer is going to save the world. I’m still not convinced that he wasn’t a drug rep.

So, what have I done in the last five weeks?

I’ve made cakes, I’ve helped campaign for equal rights for LGBT couples, I’ve spent a weekend singing in Giffnock, I’ve arranged to spend one of my empty days in clinical practice and seen some patients, I’ve got bored and actually started researching specialties, I’ve lived in the SL on most weekdays and managed to completely rewrite and revise all of my notes for Block 7 and Block 8, and I’ve still managed to give a presentation on the role of exercise in reducing hypertension and write what I think is a decent essay on doping control tests for performance-enhancing peptide hormones. It has not been a waste of time. I have got other things done and I know that I’m going to be enormously grateful for the time I was able to spend going back through last term’s work. It was just not what I was expecting it to be.

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Posted by on February 27, 2009 in Blog, Medicine


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I’m in a weird mood. If I were a cartoon, I would have a grumpy face and be standing underneath a tiny black storm cloud. It’s just been one of those weeks. I’m finding this SSM duller than a very dull thing, I’ve been spectacularly unproductive, I’ve got thoroughly pissed off with certain parts of the faculty, I’ve spent most of the last three days stuck at home, and I’ve found myself buying into (or at least being affected by) other peoples’ negative attitudes when usually I do a much better job of ignoring them.

I had a brilliant day in clinical practice on Monday, but that was just about the only bright spot in what’s felt like a very long week.

I need to shake this off. So, this afternoon, I need to get a new matric card from the Registry and then I’m going for a run, which should help to regain some of my equilibrium. I haven’t been running since the beginning of the week, and I think that’s at least part of what’s wrong with me. I’ve got most of this weekend to myself and that should help, too – work to do, yes, but it’s been far too long since I was able to spend a couple of days alone. I’ll have church on Sunday, and I’m spending Monday evening with a group of good, non-medical friends. I know how to get myself out of black moods, I just need to actually do it.

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Posted by on February 13, 2009 in Blog, Medicine


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I Didn’t Like Physics When I Was At School, Wither.

This PBL — which is due tomorrow — is all about pressure gradients and gravitational forces and gas exchange, and a few minutes ago there was something about Boyle’s Law.


I’ve not been so uninspired by a PBL since the huge glucose metabolism thing in Block 5.

We’ve got one objective that isn’t about physics, on the diagnosis and management of thromboembolism. I’m saving that until I’ve done the rest of it. So that I’ve got something to look forward to.

Ah, well, I suppose there’s no chance it’s going to do itself, so. Back to work.

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Posted by on January 15, 2009 in Blog, Medicine


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