Saturday, December 30, 2006

New Year's Resolutions

Yes, it's that time of year again.

I honestly prefer to plan what I am going to change during the year and get on it right away rather than establish a list of things and then suddently try to set about doing them. However, as the following year is due to change so very much, I thought I would write a quick list and we'll see how I go.

1. Keep up with study. Yes, my plan is to keep up with the study from week to week. I'm not a crammer, and I'm too afraid that I somehow got into medical school by some statistical errror (stupid impostor syndrome strikes again) so I really need to keep up with things. Plus, I'm studying to be a doctor, and with this comes great responsibility. One day I will be like those doctors I work with who are incredible fonts of knowledge and full of kindness, patience and care for the patients that they work on and the people they work with. There are a few of you, and you are rarer than gold and more valuable.

2. Make time for family and friends. Make sure that relationships don't deteriorate at all. I'm not a regular visiting/phone contact person anyway, but it's important to me that I don't lose touch with people. I don't even send Christmas cards. Really, I'm very slack. So this resolution should read that I'm "not to get any more slack in my personal relationships." Why is it even here? Hooray, an easy one!

3. Stick to my budget.
No, seriously. We have been pretty generous with the planned budget here, and I'm a big fan of beans, rice and fresh veggies, so it shouldn't be too hard. All I have to do is stay away from clothing stores and I'll be fine. Honest.

4. Join that running club and run that half-marathon I've been thinking about for years. This is probably the one I'm keenest about but am least likely to do. All it has taken in years gone by is a couple of broken toes and midnight encounters with thirty-something women who have had MI's (myocardial infarctions) and subsequent hypoxic brain injuries resulting in death, which were brought on during fitness kicks, and I have been put off. I need to pull my finger out and join a running club. Full stop.

5. Don't shave my head. Because we all need one resolution that we are really very very likely to stick to without any effort.

A Happy New Year to you all, and good luck with your resolutions! I'll be playing board games and drinking with friends, and eating whatever I can be bothered throwing together tomorrow morning. Honestly, I'm tired of cooking. Which, for me, is VERY new.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Note to future self . . .

. . . when feeling over-sensitive in the future, remember inner dialogue from today:

Why do doctors take their frustrations out on those around them and treat me like garbage? I need to give myself a mental hug.
I wonder who gets spoken to the worst - hospital staff who work with doctors, or medical students?
Hmmm, I'm thinking it will be medical students. Oh crap.
How the hell will I handle being a medical student?
Am I really cut out for this?
Perhaps I should quit now and write poetry for a living. And dance in the meadows with the pixies. And seed clouds.
Wait, it usually doesn't bother me when I get snapped at when the doctors are having bad days. Why is today different?
*Light goes on inside dimly-lit skull*
Oh, PMS, I love you and hate you at the same time.
Actually, scrap that. I hate you.

Yes, some things in life really shouldn't mix. Especially working with cardiologists and having PMS.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Is it April already?

Seriously. I could not believe it when I read this on the on-line news.

I always feel comforted knowing that somewhere in the world people are solving environmental problems by such innovative methods:

Cloud seeding is a weather modification process that aims to boost rainfall by impregnating clouds with chemicals, making it rain.

Fan-freaking-tastic. Just when you weren't worried enough about what was in the rain that makes do odd things to your car paint in the long-run. I'll bet sales of reinforced umbrellas go up.

Here is another gem of a quote from Natural Resources and Water Minister Craig Wallace:

"We believe that we can trap the clouds coming in from over the Darling Downs and western Queensland - trap those coming in and get the planes up in there to seed the clouds to see if we can increase the rainfall," Mr Wallace said.

How on earth do you trap clouds? Is he for real? Does anybody else have a mental image of a massive, well-trained flock of birds carrying large fans which blow the clouds into floating cloud-cages, where they are held for the duration of their natural life and pelted with little chemical pellets until they bleed to death?

I wouldn't be surprised if somewhere in Queensland there is an office where CSIRO scientists are trying to crack the secrets of the Weather Machine.

And the good news - uni starts in January. And I am almost unemployed!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Hints and tips from foreign friends . . .

Here's a handy holiday hint:

If you are living in another timezone that is completely different from the person you are ringing, and that timezone is fifteen hours ahead, DON'T call them at 10am your time and expect it to be 3pm their time. Take five minutes and do the maths. Get a calculator if you have to. Take an extra five minutes. Phone a friend (in your timezone). Make a wall chart. In colours. With bright and colourful pens. Take another five minutes to check the maths. Just make sure you are getting it right. For the love of god!

My mother's cousin (who lives in the USA) thought she was ringing my parents at 3pm on Christmas day, when instead they were phoning at 3AM Christmas morning. There was a phone in my room. For one moment I thought that work had tracked me down and I was somehow being called in for an emergency. On-call haunts me, even when I'm not on-call.

We had just managed a few hour's sleep, as we were sleeping in the room next to the room occupied by my snoring uncle, who had spent the previous day feasting on chips, steak, chocolate, cake, whisky and is an overweight diabetic. (Yes, that popping noise you heard was my brain exploding.) He got up the next day and swore black and blue that he had hardly had any sleep. The rest of us just looked at each other. Somehow we knew that he had managed more sleep than us.

My parents aren't quite as vindictive as me. I wanted to call back at around 6pm our time to wish them a Merry Christmas right back, but for some reason my parents didn't follow through on my bright way of spreading international Christmas cheer. Perhaps next year.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas!

Having just spent four hours cooking in preparation for tomorrow, (during which time I made split pea and veggie soup for lunch today, chocolate chip cookies, pineapple right-side-up cupcakes, vegan spanish omelette and some dish involving seitan, salad and udon noodles) I now feel thoroughly ready to pack my bags, drive to my parents' place and spend 24 hours drinking somebody else's liquor.

I hope that you all have a safe and happy Christmas day and that Santa doesn't bring you anything too offensive, and that if he does, I hope you manage to laugh hard and at the appropriate moment. I watched Bad Santa last night, so when things get rough, I hope that like me, you too can grit your teeth, smile, and reminisce about the scene when Willy gets gunned down by the police trying to deliver the fluffy pink elephant to the little blonde boy, in front of a whole row of small children. Good luck.

Saturday, December 23, 2006


As is often the way, on my first of a whole 5 days off (one of them being Christmas) I appear to be coming down with something. So please excuse me if some of this is hard to follow. You know how it is - you finally have some days off work and have arranged to visit your friends for an afternoon of fun and entertainment, and two hours before you're due to go over you find you can't stomach your lunch, you feel dizzy and ache all over.

Maybe it's all in my head. Maybe I like to have attention and feel that the pregnant girl in the room is getting too much of it and I need some. Maybe I really don't feel like cooking and contributing something for Christmas day to be asked a million questions about it. ("Are these cupcakes vegan? Really? But they would have to have egg in them, right? Really? How do they not just cease to exist without egg or dairy?" "Oh, you don't eat meat. But there was chicken in that dish you made. It was tofu? Really? I thought it was chicken. Are you sure your husband didn't put some chicken in there as a joke? What do you mean he values his life too much? Wait, he's vegetarian? But he eats fish, right?" Have you seen this video? Funniest thing I've seen in ages.)

I could look on the bright side - it is the best excuse possible for taking it easy. It IS the season! Actually, in my parent's house it seems to be the season to run around like a maniac and cook and clean. Does anybody else experience the very strange phenomenon when at some point after the main meal all of the females over a certain age seem to congretate in the kitchen and try to wash and dry up all at the same time? It seems to happen at my parent's house. There will be five people all drying up at the same time and more will be coming up to me asking for dish towels. It's sick, I tell you, sick!

So perhaps getting ill isn't the curse I seem to think it is. Maybe it is the best excuse for relaxing by the pool with a cool drink in my hand and a vegan cupcake in the other, wearing my new swimsuit and ignoring the background comments of "if only she'd eat a steak, then she wouldn't be sick."

By the way, I'm a pretty "covert" vegan in real life. Not many people even know I am, and there were a lot of surprised comments at the work Christmas lunch on Friday. But most people don't really react much, as I don't make a big deal out of it. However, we went out to dinner last night (having called ahead first to make sure they would have something because I think that is the polite thing to do), and when I mentioned to the waitress that I was vegan, her first reply was, "What?" I explained again, "We called ahead, and I'm vegan, so maybe you could ask the chef if there is something suitable." Her facial expression looked like I had leaped up on a couch and done this. She wouldn't talk to me for the rest of the night and didn't even take my plate away when I was finished my meal, although she happily took my husband's plate. What on earth???? I'll agree with some foreign visitors to our country, yes, some of our waiters/waitresses leave a LOT to be desired.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

How to give a cat a pill . . .

Ever read that e-mail forward "How to give a cat a pill?" Welcome to my life at the moment. One of our cats has been bitten by another neighbourhood cat and has an open bite-wound on his back. I have to give him antibiotics twice a day for six days. Does anybody know where I can get a pair of those gloves that Falcon-handlers use?

Our largest male cat will just sit still and let you get the pill-popping over and done with. He had a UTI and subsequent urethral obstruction (poor boy!!!) and after I got him home from the vets I had to give him 12 pills in one day, and then six pills a day for a week or so after that. He took it all in his (massive) stride.

After having dealt with human patients for so long, I was shocked to learn that they have to put the cat under a general anaesthetic and stitch the catheter into place! No wonder he didn't mind me giving him pills - it probably seemed mild in comparison.

This time it is the diva-cat who has the infected wound, and this morning it took two of us to give him the bloody pill. We even have one of those devices for administering the pills ("Pill-Pop-R"). He weighs a whole 6 kilos and it takes two grown adults to give him a pill.

I'm so glad we have needles for human patients.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I survived!

Well, thanks for the good vibes, they must have helped, as I survived the Shopping Centre!

I managed to avoid most of the Characters I mentioned earlier, but ran into another one who is closely related to the Aggressive Car-Park Seeker: the Car-Park Stalker! I was stalked twice, the first time on my way back to the car to drop off my first round of shopping, and I did the polite thing and shook my head to let him know I wasn't leaving. Some people won't do that because they hate being stalked, but I think it is a reasonable thing to do, and it is the Season to be Jolly and all that!

I also bought my first pair of swimmers in six years for my Annual Swim on Christmas Day. I'm so proud! Buying swimmers (aka a "swim-suit") is something I have avoided for years. I'm tired of using the old Speedo bikini - it looks fine, but it just isn't that glamorous.

I also found a few stocking-fillers. There are some WONDERFUL silly Christmas-tree ornaments for sale at the moment, and they make the best little presents for people for whom you just need that extra something. I can't wait to see my brother's face when he gets his tree ornament of a bikini-clad frog lounging on a hammock with a cocktail in it's hand! (We have a history of exchanging odd gifts. Good fun!)

So now my Christmas shopping is done until next year. Hooray!!!

Send your prayers my way . . .

. . . for I am about to risk all of the wonderful Christmas Cheer that I've accumulated (for the first time in years) by braving the Shopping Centre!

Yes, the Shopping Centre will have it all:

First, I will have to brave the Angry Grannies, generally found in the Grocery Store. I seem to attract them somehow, perhaps as I look like a sympathetic ear. One time in the fresh produce section I was accosted by a lady brandishing the snapped stalk of a broccoli at me.
"Somebody snapped this off and took the best part, and now you and I will have to pay for it!"
If she hadn't gone away there and then, I would have offered to pay her personally just to leave me alone.

The same section is notorious for the Crazy Children. They race in front of your trolley, they grab at you from the child seat and poke your groceries while their mother isn't looking, they scream REALLY loudly and make me want to order a tubal ligation and a vasectomy for my husband just to MAKE SURE that none of them actually happen to us. (I am trying to pre-order the Kid Dressed In Black, who sits in the corner with his/her arms folded and swears about the hideous capitalist markets and their hypocritical cheuvanistic ideals. At 5 years old. I will teach him/her to drink decaf and Rant at the Injustice.)

Then there are the Blonde Clones who run in packs, generally in the more expensive clothing stores. ("You too can pay $200 for this dress to look like a skank from the eighties!") They all look the same as each other and look down their noses at anybody who isn't a clone of their bleached-blonde ironed-straight locks and oh-so-original eighties clothing. I don't hate blondes - it looks lovely when done well. But when bleached white (especially with black eyebrows) and accompanied by a dark tan, it looks very very sad. I like to frighten this kind of person by wearing jeans and my "Secret Society of Vegans" t-shirt. Try it some time, it's good fun!

Last, but not least, my other favourite group is the Mo-thers. You all know the type. As I am very tall, they seem to think that they can push in front of me in a queue, by pushing their small child in first, and then following, thinking that I'm so tall that I cannot see anything below five feet in height. When I just keep going and don't step back to let the Mo-ther in, ("Crush the Small Child! I can't see her anyway!") they generally chime in with a VERY LOUD "Excuse me! I was here first!" and acting the part of the Wronged Mo-ther.
Arguing doesn't help with these people, but acting excessively politely often does.
"Oh, I'm so very, very sorry, would you like to go first? I didn't see you there!" If they have been a bitch to you in front of a large group of people, then being very nice to them is even more fun than using a witty retort, as you end up looking like the Good Person. And they often let you go first anyway. Win-win!

So I had better go, otherwise I will have to brave the wrath of my LEAST favourite Shopping Centre character - the Aggressive Car-Park Seeker.

Good luck with your holiday shopping, too!

Disgust . .

And the award for the country that has managed to ensure than no foreign doctor or nurse or other health-care worker will ever want to work there again to help their people goes to LIBYA for this little piece of work.

And the fact that the families are trying to claim $15 million for each child lost just makes the trial even more of a farce.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The future

Lately a lot of people have been asking what I want to do after I graduate from medical school and apart from being familiar with the different areas of specialty and what they do, I have felt a little silly. You see, I know WHAT the doctors do, but I don't quite know how it is that they get there.

The training system in my country is quite complicated, and we don't just go straight into specialties immediately after medical school as is the usual style in the USA. There are multiple colleges that regulate and prescribe the training of those who wish to become accredited specialists in their areas and almost all of their training regimes are different to each other.

I knew it was complex, so I didn't look into it until now. I have been so focused on getting in and looking at the smaller details of the entrance and study process that the details of specialising afterwards were avoided. Having spent an evening or two examining the intricacies of becoming (for example) a cardiologist or a nuclear mecidine specialist, I am flabbergasted! It is RATHER complex.

Another thing that scared me slightly was that there seem to be very few specialty training places for all of the graduates that will be released onto the market here in a few years. I realise that the problems with this are still a good 6 or 7 tears away, but as they involve me directly I sincerely hope they sort them out very soon.

Many of the consultants who I ask about this say that things will open up a LOT over the next few years and I shouldn't be concerned. Here's hoping. As somebody who tends to pay attention to negative news and opinions I'll be only worrying about things that I can affect directly. (Worry without action is a waste of energy.)

In other news, my friend called me today to say that she is having a girl. I'm so excited for her (and relieved that she told me this six days before Christmas so I can go buy an appropriately-coloured present!)

Saturday, December 16, 2006

My promise

Lately I have been obsessed with counting. I have been counting down the days until Christmas, counting the days I have left in my Real Job, counting the days until university begins and counting the weeks until we go on holidays.

Years ago I made a promise to myself not to wish the time away. There is a story behind this vow:

A couple of years ago I was completely sick of work and counting down the days until I started my holidays. A group of us were talking at work and one of the staff members mentioned that as a shift worker in the Hospital he always seemed to be on the late shift, and his fiance worked an early shift at her workplace, so they never got to spend much quality time together during 
the week.

We whinged and bitched about work taking over our lives, and I wished even harder that the time would fly.

When I got to work the next evening, I found out that his friend had called the Hospital in the morning to say that he wouldn't be coming in because his fiance had dropped dead in bed overnight. (In the end it was probably cardiac arrhythmia, but as with a lot of sudden cardiac death the cause will never be known.)

He had performed CPR on her until the ambulances arrived, but she still died. She was 30.

I felt so terrible - I had spent the last day that they had on earth together wishing that the time would go faster. It made me think about how when you wish that the day would fly, you are wishing away the last hours of another person's life.

It also made me realise that you will never really know when your last day on this planet will be. There is a phrase in "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff at Work" which talks about how we should all become members of the TGIT club, celebrating Thank God It's Today. I know it is a cheesy as all hell, but he makes a good point.

If we cherish each moment and squeeze it for all that it's worth, then chances are that we won't look back and regret not living each day as it comes.

In a few week's time I won't have the regular contact with the wonderful people with whom I work, and I'll miss that. So instead of thinking that I only have X days left of work, I'll enjoy the X days I have left to cherish their fantastic company. It's all we really have.

Friday, December 15, 2006


Well done to our postal service! They delivered a Christmas card to our house yesterday 
and I don't quite know how they managed it to get it quite so wrong. According to the neatly-written address and name on the front, they delivered it to the wrong:
  1. Name,
  2. Street name, and
  3. Suburb.
The only things that were correct were the street number and the first letter of the street. Well done, post office!
Now the only thing to work out is if I put it back in the letter box and hope it doesn't return to us again. Nothing would surprise me.

Also, well done to our grocery delivery service. (Yes, when I am on-call I am a Bad Wife (or a very good one) and get groceries delivered. Some obscure law of physics dictates that if I am standing in a queue anywhere, I would be urgently needed at the Hospital. Besides, grocery shopping at 8pm after a 12 hour work day is not my idea of fun.)

I needed some kind of cooked/roasted peanuts for the dinner I was making tonight. I clicked on "scorched peanuts" thinking it was some kind of dry-roasted peanut product. When I opened the delivery box, I found Milk Choc Peanuts. They were quite clearly labelled Milk Choc Peanuts, and the words "scorched peanuts" were nowhere on the packet. Yes, I seem to remember my grandmother talking about scorched almonds once upon a time, so I suspect the fault is mainly mine. But they should have actually labelled them by the name on the packet!

My other half is happy, as he now gets extra chocolate this week, and the walnuts we ate as a substitute tasted good and were probably healthier anyway. But that's beside the point! If you're selling something on-line and don't have a photo of the product, you need to be specific in your labelling, especially for silly young people who don't know that Milk Choc Peanuts (EWW!) were once-upon-a-time labelled as "scorched peanuts".

There, I'm done.


Wednesday, December 13, 2006


There isn't much worse than spending a massive amount of hours of overtime in a team of people 
working on a patient and having the attempt fail.  Unless of course you are the patient for whom the procedure has not succeeded.

I was part of a team today who worked for hours trying to help fix a chronic health problem suffered by a young patient. Unfortunately it didn't work (this time) and he'll be back for another try in a few months. I felt bad for him as he was wheeled out of the room, and had to get him some tissues to clean up the tears that were rolling down his face. There were no sobs, just tears. It must be so disappointing for him and his family.

I wonder how doctors deal with it when they can't help a patient, no matter how much they try. In situations I have been in, you have to let it go, knowing that you did your best and that you've spent the maximum amount of time and effort possible (without causing further harm) helping that patient. But I have never been the doctor with whom the buck stops. How will I handle it? I don't give up easily.

In this case the patient will not die in the interim, and will be back for another procedure which, based upon our work tonight, will most likely succeed. But that is the bright side. For now, he has to go to bed tonight knowing that for all of the pain and effort he is no better off than when today started. It must be tough. I hope he has somebody good to talk with about it all.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

New toys and nightmares

My new PDA arrived today. I would have been tempted to get it out and play while it was charging, but as if by magical coincidence one of the ladies I work with had the 
exact same model at work as I received today. So now I have been able to take a look at what it looks like when working while not needing to compromise on that inital battery charge. I know this is dullsville, but I am excited!

I had some dreadful nightmares last night and woke up terrified. I can't quite remember all of the details at the time, but I remember comforting myself by some self-talk during my dream, saying that the dreams weren't real and that they were symbolic of my feelings of helplessness and fears caused by the massive change in lifestyle that is about to happen. Yes, I told myself that in my sleep. Sad, isn't it? I am one of those people who know they are asleep and dreaming (lucid dreaming?)  and have some control over the situation. I have always suffered from graphic and terrible nightmares, so it is probably some kind of coping mechanism, rather than some new-agey way of knowing myself.

There is nothing quite like waking in absolute terror and panic and not quite knowing why. The tough part is that it sticks with you the following day and you tend to be jittery until you get a full night's sleep the next evening. I'm still a little twitchy - I made the mistake of drinking a diet coke earlier tonight and felt like I was shaking.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have yourself hooked up to an EEG for a few nights just to see whether your readings were anything out of the ordinary? Perhaps one day I'll have the chance. After all, aren't they keen for volunteers at the psychology departments of most universities?

Sorry if these posts have been kind of scattered. Work has been driving me nuts and the situation at the moment is stressful. I could be called back in to work the rest of the night at any moment. Oh well, it would be good for the "Textbooks and Beer" fund!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

It's raining babies . . .

The best thing that happened today was that we went to our friends' house to hang out, talk
and play board games.  It is a weird time in our lives. My best friend is pregnant with her first child, and we are all VERY excited for them. I know that everything is going to change from now on, and this makes me a little sad and nostalgic, and then I feel incredibly guilty for feeling this way.

Children are beautiful, and I love working with them in the Hospital and playing with other people's kids. But I am very much not ready for children and we won't be having any for years to come. To be frank, when we visit it is a relief to hand them back at the end of the visit, and I need to go and have a nanna nap. At least I now know how to pick one up! I worked out that the best way to do it was to treat them like a cat. 
All the squirming in the world and I still have them held nice and tight! It is so strange to think of them becoming parents, after we have done so many things around about the same time throughout our whole lives.

To be brutally honest, we are reaching that point where we are starting to be the odd ones out for NOT having a little nappy-filler running around the house. We won't be there for a few years yet, and this thought fills me with such relief.

The other one I keep hearing is that I shouldn't "leave it too late!" Honestly, do men EVER hear this? I know that a woman's fertility drops dramatically with age, but men don't seem to be held to the same kind of standard of reproductive timetabling. I have even seen a book out there called 
"Oh no, we forgot to have children!"
I realise that the title is humorous, but it annoys me quite a bit. Women who haven't had children by a certain age have not been ALLOWED to forget about having them, as we get asked about it by every second person we meet for the first time.

I'm quite sure that I will NEVER have the following conversation:

"Hi! I haven't seen you in ages. Did you have kids?"
"Damn! I knew there was something I should have added to the to-do list! That, and buying more cat litter!"
"I told you not to leave it too late!"
"I know, I'll NEVER get the smell out of the bathroom! Now what was that other thing again?"

I even get asked whether I'm having kids soon by people who know that I'm going to be spending the next 4 years as a broke and stressed medical student. What kind of a question is that??  Here is something else you'll never hear:

"Roll up, roll up and see the Amazing, the Incredible, the Unbelievable! She's the Worried Womble, Super Mum and Medical Student, able to balance a baby on one hip and an open copy of Rang and Dale's Pharmacology on the other, able to breast-feed while simultaneously practicing auscultation on her baby, with the ability to juggle lectures, childcare, a mortgage, cooking, cleaning AND study, all on zero hours sleep! For an extra five dollars you can poke her with a stick to check that she's real!!"

Never. Yes, I know it won't be easy having children as a doctor. But at least there will be money for things like childcare, nannies and FOOD. Food is good.

I am very much looking forward to my friend having her baby. Although she'll have less time for the frivolities of child-free life, it means she'll be able to drink again. And that's what REALLY matters here. (I'm kidding. Really. I already have presents for the baby stashed away. Just don't tell her.)

Everything changes . . .

Grief is an interesting beast. For me, naming it takes away a lot of its power and lets me look and love it for what it is. 
Feeling it means that I have been attached to something special, something worthwhile. So feeling it is not always bad.

When we leave one major phase of life and go on to another, I think the awful feeling of stress we feel can be called grief. We are losing life as we know it, and a lot of the comfortable way of being is going to be lost. We grieve for the experiences we know that we would have had if we had stayed, and for the loss of contact with those whom we have gotten to know and love.

I'm more prepared for it this time. In the past it has really shaken me, and I have let it stop what I was doing. But now that I know what it is, I can deal with it in a much more sensible manner and acknowledge that the feelings are real and are being felt for a legitimate reason.

It can come upon you suddenly, this awful feeling that you are doing the wrong thing, you are leaving something behind that you really shouldn't and that things will change for the worse. Or it can be this overwhelming sense of fear and loss, and you can't work out where it comes from. I have had panic attacks in my sleep before. Usually it happens when I'm not paying attention and acknowledging the way I feel. You can't plow on through the work and ignore the distress you are feeling, because it catches up with you when you are not looking, even in your dreams. I'm ready for it this time.

I have to say goodbye to my job, the wonderful people I work with, the lifestyle I am used to (four years seems so long even though I know it isn't!) I'm moving on to something wonderful and exciting, but for a while I will be swimming in the darkness before I work out where I am and manage to find my way. There is no way I'm going to turn back from this.

I hope it will help to have some concrete things around to ease the transition period - I have bought a few textbooks, am getting my stationery sorted, have started revising anatomy, as well as being sensible with money like we will have to be in the next four years. I'm trying to ease into the student lifestyle over the period of a few weeks. Hopefully it will make the shock a little less brutal.

I can only imagine how tough it must be for those people who have to move to study medicine, particularly if they are leaving an established career, group of friends, family and home. That is a big list of things to grieve for. I know a number of good people who don't know yet whether they are studying medicine next year. Which means they may have less than a month and a half to resign, move and establish themselves in a new city. That would be one of the most distressing things I could think of going through right about now, and it is so cruel that they are on the receiving end of what seems to be such a cold and thoughtless process. Some of these people have to move their whole families.  My heart goes out to them.

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Dear santa, please get me some more vodka from the fridge . . .

Today I went stationery shopping! I know it is sad, but I LOVE stationery megastores like Officeworks. Mr Womble often jokes that I'm going back to study so that I have a legitimate excuse to buy more stationery. I think he's jealous. (Just kidding, Mr Womble!)

On another freaky note, it is only two more weeks until Christmas. At our family get-together every year there tend to be two distinct groups of people. Being a southern-hemisphere Christmas, it tends to be DREADFULLY hot, particularly at the main celebration on Christmas day. One group get thoroughly happy by about lunch-time, spend all day jumping in and out of the pool so that we don't melt, drinking, eating and having fun. I generally make a Christmas cake that is so rum-laden that it can be classified as drinking AND eating simultaneously.

I also do a LOT of drunken text-messaging on Christmas day. (Being vegan I tend to disappear around about the time people start beheading prawns. The smell gets me more than anything. Plus when I'm drunk I'm likely to start adding sound effects. "Where's my mummy? I'm scared! It's so dark in here! Ow! Ow! Ow!" Before anybody gets offended, I'll just add that it goes both ways - I get asked whether I'm worried about the carrots being in pain when I eat them because "plants have feelings, too" (no, I'm not worried, I hate the damn carrots and eat them slowly to cause them extra pain) and I get to tell stories of how when I was a child my family killed and ate my pet chicken. But we all have fun, and nobody takes it too seriously. We're all used to each other's quirks by now.)

The other group seem to spend the whole day sitting in chairs in the shade, looking miserable and asking when lunch is going to be served, or sitting inside and watching the television. My Dad took a picture of them last year. There was a row of flustered, red-faced, miserable people of all ages sitting around a table next to each other. At that point in time, all of the fun people were in the pool (or near their mobile phones). If I did the Christmas card thing, I would make this picture the cover for my cards. It was a great photo of The Dark Side of Christmas.

Ok, so I am being a little narky at these people who choose to spend their Christmas day with all of us. And it IS nice to have them there. Even when somebody starts telling creepy and inappropriate stories of his last business trip that I won't go into here. Family is family.

Thank god, this year more FUN people may be turning up, from the other "happy drunk" side of the family (as opposed to the car-stealing side). The great part about my genetics is that there seems to be a "happy drunk" gene firmly implanted in the x-chromosome, and everybody on that side shares it. So bring on more of the happy drunks!

We've also tried to agree on a sensible Christmas present year this year. There is nothing worse than a room full of people spending hundreds on presents for other people that they don't necessarily want. And yes, I'm easy to buy for, even cheaply. Just give me some stationery and I'll be a happy girl!

Friday, December 8, 2006

Those frickin' holes . . .

OMG, like, the bottom of the skull has so many frickin' holes. If you believe in a Creator God/Sky God/whatever, then he is a sadist who hates anatomists. It's like somebody staged a competition to see who could stick the most little holes and things in the bottom of a skull, make them all necessary, make it all functional, and that being's submission became the design for the human head. And they got a certificate and permission to design the virus of their choice. As a prize. Clearly.

Or perhaps the opposite is true - somebeing submitted a design that required the LEAST amount of holes possible for a functional head and brain-based organism, and THAT design became the main one for the human person. If that were the case, then THANK GOD things weren't more complex than they had to be. And perhaps THEY got to design the ULTIMATE KILLER T-CELL, and thanks to them, we are alive.

Or not. I'm always half-way between believing that there has to be some kind of design behind all of this, or thinking that the cosmic force behind the universe knows that what is best is what will be worked out or developed, or seeing the suffering that happens in life due to flaws in development and design, and believing that either it is quite ramdom and we are meant to use nature to what is best, or that Creator is a sadistic bastard who doesn't care (i.e. the Blind Watchmaker theory).

Or perhaps the above ramble is thanks to vodka. In that case, then on of the Best Things That Happened Today is that I did my first drunken post! Woohoo!!!!!

Huzzah and all that stuff

Hooray! I got up early this morning and actually enjoyed anatomy study. Or maybe it was the coffee, the lack of sleep, and the fact that tomorrow is Saturday and I'm not working or on-call this weekend. Meh.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Another day, another dollar

The best thing that happened today was that I started to revise anatomy. I have learned most of it before, but that was several years ago, and apart from the vascular side of things, I haven't really covered cerebral anatomy for years!

It was really strange looking through all of the names of things like "mesencephalon" and remembering the word but not remembering where it is or what it does. I think that the key this time around will be to look at the function of things rather than just the name - my last anatomy subjects were almost pure rote memorisation of names, and I hated it.

When I remember just how much hard work I had to do in anatomy classes (which was at least as much time as all three other subjects put together) I wonder whether I am cut out to pursue studying medicine. However, I forget the benchmark test that I made for myself - if I was clever enough to pass the entrance exam (aka MCQ water-torture-test), then I should theoretically be clever enough to study medicine.

And yes, I do know where the major landmarks and organs and everything else are. I'm not going to be one of those med students that you hear about in the paper ("Medical Students Fail Basic Anatomy! World Ends")!

The weird part about anatomy is how many section of the body are named after breasts. Seriously. The mastoid processes, the mamilliary bodies and so on and so forth. Those anatomists must have been a seriously obsessed bunch! Honestly, how did that happen?

Anatomist 1: "Hmmm, what do we call that little lumpy bit of bone?"
Anatomist 2: "It looks like a breast!"
A1: "Everything looks like a breast to you."
A2: "I'll call it the mastoid process!"
A1: *with head in hands* "Not again."

Back to the books, I guess. At least having seen so much of it in real life at the Hospital, it is making more sense this time around.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

One among the many

I have just worked out that my blog is kind of hard to find. Which, in a way, is pretty good.

It isn't that I don't want people reading this. Why on earth would I put this on the net if I wanted it to remain unread? It is just that I don't want anybody working out who I am in real life, and running into me on one of my many forays off the Island.

I won't ever actually put any names or photographs up, and will probably never post any locations. (Although things are pretty busy at Christmas Island this time of year - perhaps I'll need some help!) I'll probably say what I am studying and whinge about it from time to time.

But sometimes it is nice to be one among the masses.


The best thing that happened today is that I started this blog. I'm far from computer-illiterate, but this has been a challenge that has taken a couple of hours to try to get going. Just the passwords and log-ins alone have been a nightmare!

But on the bright side, it is done.

It is a beautiful day here, and all I can think of is how overwhelming everything is at the moment. I am about to leave one career and embark upon study for another. The frightening part is that I'm moving into something new, where it is going to be VERY challenging, and I am not entirely sure that I can do it.

I passed the MASSIVELY difficult exam, flew through the interview and have accepted a place in the course. But I'm not sure that my brain is actually big enough to cope!

I found an interesting description the other day that accurately describes what I am feeling. It is called Impostor Syndrome.

Basically, it describes the fear that I feel when I wonder whether the people who interviewed us have made a mistake letting me into the course, or whether there was a mistake on the exam that led to me passing without us actually being smart enough. People who I think of as being MUCH smarter than I am didn't pass the exam, or at least get a mark good enough to get an interview. Yet I did.

When I am logical, I can tell myself that I did well because I worked my arse off for a year getting ready for it all, and making sure that I would do as well as possible. A lot of blood, sweat and tears went into this little venture. It is this fact that reassures me that I will do well during my studies. No matter how hard it is, I'll work to the best of my ability to make sure that I do as well as my little brain allows.

So here goes. Wish me luck! And happy beginnings to this new little venture!