Saturday, March 29, 2008

Free with purchase . . .

We just had the funniest experience of our week this afternoon.

We bought a couple of work shirts for my husband at Myer (an Australian department store). Being a man and the shirts being standard fit, he didn't try them on, he just picked them up off the rack and bought them.

They were folded and put in the bag and we took them home. I took them out of the shopping bag to hang them up in the cupboard, and didn't notice anything amiss.

However, when I was about to close the cupboard door, I noticed the edge of something that looked round and shiny in the breast pocket of one of the shirts.

I checked the pocket, and found a pair of mens reading glasses, with prescription lenses (long-sighted, by the look of it)! Somebody must have tried the shirt on, put his reading glasses in the pocket out of habit (although God knows why), taken the shirt off, decided not to buy it and then put the shirt back without remembering to take his glasses out again!

My husband recently got a new pair of glasses, and this pair are not particularly fashionable, so I think we'll take them back to the store. ;) (Just kidding - of course we would take them back! Somebody is probably panicking somewhere.) I have called the store to let them know, in case somebody rings them to ask if they have been handed in, but as my husband says, anybody who leaves a pair of glasses in a shirt pocket that they are only trying on is unlikely to know that they left them in a store in the aforementioned piece of apparel. :)

I hope they do return and find their glasses. They need them more than either the store or we do. Who knows how long they have been sitting there in that shirt pocket, waiting to be found and returned home.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Break time!

We are pretty much one quarter of the way through the year and I have decided to take a break from study for a few days, to refresh and relax.

So far, it has been simply devine!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Any Friday off is a Good Friday

However, this one is followed by a Monday off, which I suppose makes it better than all of the others!
Plus, come Tuesday, the best cheap chocolate-buying time of the year begins. ;)
This year, I plan to be eating lots of chocolate bunnies!!! 
Yes, the picture is much, much longer than the blog post.
But look at those bunnies! Don't they just scream, "Take me home and make me yours"?
I feel a personal responsibility to give several of them a good home. They will be very loved. >:D

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Fresh is best

 Stupid busy supermarkets - making me save money and be healthier!!
We went to the supermarket today to buy groceries. When we got there, it was PACKED - there were huge queues in every line and it looked like a solid 30-minute wait just to get through the checkout. There were so many people walking around the store that it looked like the lines were only going to get bigger.
Seriously, what is it about long weekends that makes people panic as if armageddon were around the corner and they need to stock up on foodstuffs just in case?
We decided that this was ridiculous, so we went to the butcher directly outside the store (very friendly, helpful and good quality) and bought a variety of meat for about a week.
Then on the way home we picked up just over $50 in fresh vegetables, eggs and milk. I even went crazy and bought sugar snap peas and sun-dried tomatoes. Madness, I say! :D
All up we paid less than we would had we gone to the crowded supermarket (due to lack of processed food and junk food), saved ourselves a tonne of stress, and now have healthier fresh food for the week.
Not bad, all things considered. Now I just have to source some Tim-Tams from the corner store, bread from the local bakery (mmm, fresh bread!) and all will be well with the world. :) 

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


I was wondering why Rang and Dale's Pharmacology was getting so many votes, but today I am using it for some study and have worked out why. It is such a good text for explaining a difficult topic.

Drugs scare me a little, but this book helps it all make sense, so I now see why so many people love it. :)

(BTW, this isn't a sponsored plug or anything - it is just a good book!)

The poll is yielding some interesting results - I am interested to see that Kumar & Clark is getting a LOT more votes than Harrison's, but I suppose that the former is more of a medical student-level text than the latter. 

I am looking forward to seeing how it all pans out in 30 days time. :)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Studying is just like every other job. Some days you just don't want to have anything to do with it.
Today is one of those days. 
Often I try to harvest the power of fear in order to motivate myself. It seems that I have built up a resistance to this kind of stimulant, so instead I am trying for a different method: interest!
Wow, look at these pathology diagrams - aren't they interesting.
Even more interesting are the drug names, classes, side-effects and interactions.
Memorising the fiddly parts of anatomy makes them possibly the most interesting parts of the lot. (You know - the interesting parts that only seem to have relevance to future microsurgeons.)
But don't forget about EBM and Public Health - they are so interesting they deserve to be in their own course. 
Yes . . . interest . . . 
Hopefully I'll find some clinical correlation and it will all fall into place, going from interesting to being genuinely interesting.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Well done! Now go celebrate!

Today, thousands of hopefuls flocked to examination centres throughout Australia and sat through hours of painful questions in the torturous process that is the GAMSAT exam.
We were all thinking of you today.
Remember, most people walk out of the exam feeling like they have failed. It is MEANT to be hard, in order to separate the candidates from each other. Your marks will be mainly based on where you come in the pack.
Many of us who are now in medical school felt like they failed the exam but ended up with solid scores. A lot of people have to sit it more than once, and then got into great universities. It is character-building, really tough, and you should just be proud that you have given it your best shot.
If it helps, think of it as a rite of passage. Congratulations. :)

Friday, March 14, 2008

Me likes to read good books of cleverness . . .

This year I have begun to indulge in one of my oldest and most favourite hobbies - losing myself completely in decent fiction.

I had forgotten how much enjoyment I get from ploughing through a good book in a day or so. As I have the attention span of a gnat when it comes to fiction, if I don't get into it quite quickly I become excessively familiar with the characters and they tend to go from the fictional version of my new and exciting friends to those dull and predictable relatives that you just can't get rid of at family gatherings.

Okay, that probably sounded quite harsh, but it is true. Generally the more I enjoy a book, the faster I will read it.

The other day I started reading "Romulus, My Father" at 10am on a day off, thinking that I would get a couple of chapters in before lunch. I finished it off at 2pm, having devoured it, cried a little in places, and thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing.

I haven't read through books like this in years, since I was in highschool. I don't know why I fell out of the habit - probably stress, inattention and a decrease in my attention span that probably corresponded with my beginning consumption of university residential college food as well as completing a physics degree.

To be honest, I suspect our high-school librarian who stocked our library had a pretty good taste in literature, as I hardly ever bombed out on any book that I borrowed. I had no idea how lucky I was. After that, I went for bookstores, and bombed out in fairly spectacular style a few times. My bookshelves still have quite a few books on them that I couldn't quite force myself to finish. After I stopped finishing a lot of the books I started, I guess I got discouraged and stopped reading fiction.

The book that I blame for reintroducing me to my oldest of vices is "A Spot of Bother" by Mark Haddon, sent to me as a Christmas present by my in-laws who generally have similar taste in books to me (except for Atonement - hated it, sorry everybody). I loved it, loved his first title, and haven't looked back.

I know that, as a medical student, I should be spending all of my time studying. But it is amazing how much extra time you can find in a day if you just turn off the television. Plus, I need down-time like I need oxygen and water. It is an investment in my mental health - well, that is my excuse to justify it, anyway. :P

The joys of clinical signs

One of the things that has surprised me the most about studying medicine is how much I enjoy examining patients.

Using the framework and knowledge that you have gathered from past study (plus the little bit of experience and invaluable advice passed on by teaching doctors), you can look at a patient and get some idea of what is going on with their body.

We have been studying this for more than a year, but now that we are wandering around more by ourselves and examining patients, it is great when you find notice something unusual, come to your own conclusion about it, then go to the notes after the examination to find that you were correct!

Usually the hospital patients are sick enough to have quite obvious clinical signs, which really helps.

Of course, the qualified doctor who initially examined the patient generally has noticed a LOT more than we have (we are only second-year medical students, after all) but it is still a thrill to see so much of what we learn in theory come into play in real life, in individuals who you can talk to about their experiences.

Bringing study content into the light of reality is the fastest way to make it fascinating.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


I love the weather at this time of the year. It is a great season to be sitting at my table, with the view of the yard, reading textbooks, watching recordings of lectures, drinking coffee, switching the coffee to herbal tea when I start to twitch, and generally enjoying being able to read about all of the things that interest me as they come up in the course (and occasionally when I just want to read them).

I also have a brilliant view of the front door, so I don't even have to get up and move in order to tell the people who come doorknocking to get lost! I just look up from my book/computer, and say, "Sorry, not interested!" The funny thing is that the path up to my house is rather long, so they take ages to get here before I tell them "No, thanks!" :P

Yes, I could be happy like this for some time yet. :)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

New Poll

Because I am a big giant monster nerd who loves her textbooks, I have added a new poll about those lovely tomes, and which one you love above all others.

There were lots that I missed (including anatomy texts - but does anybody seriously prefer their anatomy text over, say, Robbins?) so feel free to comment about which one you would rescue from the fiery inferno.

Another answer could have been, "I would save me credit card and buy new texts with the insurance money," but I am not heartless enough to think that you would let your favourite book burn if you had the choice. ;)

And the winner . . .

in the first poll of the year (before I replace it) is:

The phrase, "Hi, I'm a medical student" fills me with: Panic - how the hell did I get here?

with 35% of the vote, followed closely by:

the feeling of embarrassment (27%) and pride (22%).
Dread came last, with 15% of the votes, which is either a reflection of healthy outlooks on life or reveals a certain amount of optimism on the part of the voters.

Nice to see our feelings are as diverse as the med cohort. :)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Chipmunk face - not an insult

No. At least, not in a medical sense.

It is a sign of thalassaemia major. (This includes bossing of the skull, hypertrophy of the maxillae which tends to expose the upper teeth, prominent malar eminences and depression of the bridge of the nose.)

Of course, it could also be taken as an insult. Imagine a group of gormless medical students surrounding a patient's bed, attempting a clinical examination. One of them begins, "I examine the patients face, and note that the patient appears to exhibit chipmunk face."

I wonder what would happen next.

A new outlook

Things are getting quite stressful at the moment, so I have decided that it is time to take a bit of a new outlook on life. Less negativity, more positivity!

Less watching the news, more reading novels and writing light-hearted blog posts.

Less worrying about study, and more actual study and getting involved with the material.

Oh, and more baths with smelly stuff and a good book.

This year is going to be better than ever, I can tell!

The cat on the mat with the rat . . .

My cat deserves to be promoted to living in a barn on a farm. Perhaps he was a farm cat in a past life. (Don't read any further if the thought of little furry creatures being eaten offends!)

In the past 24 hours, I have seen him catch three mice! I'm willing to bet that he has caught others that I haven't seen! Three!!! This is during a period in which he spent a solid 12 hours locked inside, as we keep them in at night to keep the native nocturnal wildlife safer.

Thankfully he only brought them as far as the front yard, which I can see from where I study, and not into the house. I have only ever seen him catch mice or rats, not any little native creatures or birds, for which I am grateful.

I'm thinking that one of our neighbours has a SERIOUS pest-control problem somewhere in their house or yard, as I see him bring them in from across the road. Perhaps I should start charging for pest control services. ;)

He is lying on the carpet right now looking very happy with himself, but if I get up from my desk he will yell at me for food. Somebody is slightly greedy. Or has a rampant case of worms! Ew. Time to go to the vets for some pills, methinks . . .

Monday, March 10, 2008


I can't believe that this would happen in my country. According to the article, a nurse in a remote community was attacked, which was terrible enough on its own, but then her lack of treatment by those who were supposed to be looking after her (imagine being raped and then told by your employer to just start work again at 9am the next day) was beyond words.

It is difficult enough getting health workers to move to remote communities, but after this I would imagine it will be almost impossible for quite some time. I realise that the writing is very emotive and inflammatory but the if the details of her treatment are correct, it is beyond belief.

Who is looking after those who are trying their best to look after others?

Friday, March 7, 2008


Sure, television is fiction, but this just goes too far. Surely they know that anything medical on a fictional show is immediately assumed to be true, even if the show is The Bill.

Why don't they just abandon all pretense of reality and have a ghost or zombie plague of house robberies and murders? Or better yet, they could install a special crack-squad of vampires to deal with night-time criminal activity. They could write all kinds of storylines based on locker room squabbles (leaky blood bags: a spilt snack or an infection control nightmare?), inter-species romantic interests and workplace discriminations based on dentition.

It might make it more interesting. ;)

Monday, March 3, 2008

Out there

You know you have reached a cool point in your studies when you start running across references to diseases that are shown in the X-Files, rather than the "everyday" stuff shown on the normal medical shows.

Does anybody else remember the X-File ("X Cops") when a woman spontaneously dies from symptoms of the Hantavirus, without actually having the virus, but because the haemorrhagic fever is the thing she fears the most in the world? I'm reading about Hantaviruses now. Great stuff. (To read about, not to have!) :D