Monday, August 31, 2009

Post-weekend debrief - start of week 5

I went home for the weekend via the regional train. It was lovely to be home for a few nights, but ended up being quite bittersweet (an excellent word suggested by someone more literate than myself).

Not being around my family and husband has been quite difficult for me. I'm so used to having him next to me, living our lives side-by-side, not always doing the same thing, but always in proximity.

The cats were VERY cute. Mr TGWTBS has been coming and going for work quite a lot recently, and so the cats have learned what it means when somebody is packing a suitcase at night.

They were very excited when I came home, but were upset when I was packing to leave. My big boy cat who is quite reserved was all over me, headbutting me, climbing all over the luggage, and sitting on me whenever he could. He is a darling, and he clearly misses having me around.

Coming back was very hard to do. I was at home, enjoying the space, company and comforts. Now I am back here in my little flat right next to the train line. There is not much novelty any more, so it has lost that sense of suspense.

God, I miss my kitchen.

We are also not a part of a specific team here, like we were on the last rotation, and this makes it harder to get keen and involved. It is as if we are floating between different areas, having a quick look and then moving on.

They are friendly, but it is hard for them to get to know us, and for us to know them. We are just another group of students moving through, to whom they can pass handy bits of information when they think of them, but who will be gone again before they can blink.

I'm not so worried about this any more. In my last rotation, I put a lot of value on my practical marks, and what my supervisors thought of me. Now I am happy passing, as I realise just how subjective practical marks are, and how little they matter in the long run.

It is a long trip back, but I have been sorely tempted to try to do it again this weekend. Unfortunately both money and time are against me. Oh well. This isn't for much longer - I'm more than half-way through.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Not. Happy.

I phoned my better half this morning. He got home from a business trip away to find that the cat sitter had locked one of the cats out of the house, away from all food and water while we were away. We aren't sure how long she was unable to get inside.

We have a cat door in the security screen, and a glass door behind it. The glass door never gets closed by us, particularly in summer during hot days. She closed the glass door, preventing little Maggie from getting back inside, and locking the two boys inside (thankfully with food, water and litter). She didn't see Maggie, and assumed that Maggie was hiding from her.

We are in the middle of a heat wave. It was in the mid-30s (C) while Maggie didn't have access to drinking water.

I'm just so relieved that Maggie is okay, that Mr TGWTBS got home two days early from his trip, and that I get to see her and give her a big cuddle tomorrow. (I'm going home on a brief visit.)

Not. Happy. My poor little girl.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Two new things

I learned two new things about myself today, both of which were positive.

The first is that I can ride backwards in an ambulance without getting car sick. This was quite a surprise.

The second is that there is a level of messy that will make even a consummate slob like myself actually want to get in with a wheelbarrow and a wheelie bin and clean up a room. Yes, I felt the urge to clean.

Some houses are pretty much boxes of wood filled with piles of kindling, waiting to turn into a life-stealing blaze. It was hard to see the way that some people live. You don't need money or a lot of possessions to keep a house clean. You don't even need a lot of mobility. 

What you need is to be well enough, both physically and mentally, to move around and put things away. You need to be able to decide that things need tidying, and be capable of deciding where these things will go.

It is terrible that some people obviously need help that they aren't getting. 

Monday, August 24, 2009


It is "winter" here. Today it is supposed to be 28C, and has been in the high 20s  all weekend and most of last week. 
Thank goodness I'm on rural rotation - I have an air-conditioner in these quarters, whereas I don't have one at home.
Other parts of the state are in the mid-30s.
In winter.
Remind me to move to Tasmania, ASAP. 

Thursday, August 20, 2009


I get to spend this evening in emergency. I can't wait. 

Emergency work was always my favourite part of my previous job. I'm looking forward to spending the evening in the hospital. I figure it will either be quiet (on a Thursday night) or busier than expected, depending on what is happening locally.

I really like working up the patients from scratch, taking the history, doing the examination, thinking about what tests I would want and the management plan, and then presenting this to the doctor, and seeing what the results say, all in a short space of time. It is a lot of thinking, but it is fascinating and a challenge.

We don't get to spend much time in emergency in our course, so I'm enjoying it while I have the chance. :)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

What do you think?

Should fear of litigation factor into specialty choice? What do you think?

It is something that I think about, but I don't think it is something on which I should really base career choice. 

If I were REALLY worried about it, I probably wouldn't be in medicine.

By the way, the GP visit this morning was very interesting. It still isn't me, but I liked the way that this guy practiced medicine.

I spent the afternoon chatting with the local ambos in their station, waiting for a call-out, but none came. Oh well, at least we had a good talk. I love emergencies. :)

Rural GP

This morning I am going in to do a half-day in a GP surgery. I didn't really enjoy my last GP placement - the staff were nice, but I don't like the work style. I'm not really into managing things like vaccinations and assessments for home care. It is necessary, but not me.

I'm not fascinated by managing the lives of well people - I don't have that need to control or input into the lives of others who don't need help in any kind of urgent manner. (It almost put me off psych, but psych is . . . different to this.) It is probably entirely natural that I'm not looking forward to this morning.

On the flip side, I could fall in love with the way that these people work and decide to become a GP. Unlikely, but possible. We'll see.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Medical Quotes 2

"You work in a hospital. Are you a nurse?"

My personal favourite:

"You are studying medicine. Are you going to be a nurse?"

Why don't they just say:

"You have ovaries/breasts/two X chromosomes. You MUST be a nurse!"

Clearly these are questions asked by people who have not met the awesomely kick-arse male nurses who roam the wards. 
Actually, I'm sure they have met them. They just mistook them for doctors. (Or bouncers.)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Medical Quotes 1

In a debriefing:

"She had an unsurvivable injury which, ultimately, was proven."

It was a very neat, yet sideways way of stating the simple fact of  death. 

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Girl and The Very Empty Weekend

Once upon a time there was a girl who had a blue stethoscope, and nearly 3/4 of a medical degree. She had a nice house in the suburbs, a handsome husband and three loyal and talented cats.

Then one day, she was sent far, far away by the Big, Bad School of Medicine. With her on this adventure were three other brave souls who had been plucked from their homes and plopped into the same dusty, smelly land as The Girl. They pottered along until, two weeks in, they suddenly arrived at A Very Empty Weekend.

One of The Girl's companions found herself a Magic Ticket that took her home, saving her from this wasteland and the weekend.

The two boys went off on An Adventure into the town, to see what local jewels they could discover in the dusty night time air (in a bar somewhere), and how much the local Magic Water cost.

The Girl found herself all alone, in an empty flat. She thought that she could fill the day with pottering and cleaning. However, with only herself to clean up after, and living in such a little place, there really wasn't that much to do.

So she went off on a Shopping Adventure, in which she discovered the final series of Battlestar Galactica was out on DVD. This, combined with two bottles of  Corona that had been left by friendly fairies who had been stranded prior to The Girl's visit made for a long afternoon and entertaining evening. Hopefully, wishing away the soapy aftertaste of the Corona did not use up any of her Magic Wishes. 

Thus, half of The Very Empty Weekend was filled with things that could have taken valuable time at home normally. The next challenge was filling the second half of The Very Empty Weekend. 

Should she wander off to The Emergency Department of Mystery? Or should she stay at home and attempt to explore the wonders of the Giant Pile of Books? 
One thing was for sure - there would be no adventures to the local Shopping Hole - it was firmly closed on Sundays. 

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Week 2 of rural

Well, we are nearly at the end of second week of rural, and the end of the first week at the actual placement. However, it is not REALLY the first week - we have spent the entire time in introductory sessions. The whole thing has amounted to a second orientation week.

We are all looking REALLY tired, and one of the staff members joked today that it is because we have all been out partying. This could not be further from the truth - most of the time I go to bed around 8pm and just read novels. (I'm nearly finished The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie - I'm thoroughly enjoying it!)

Sitting through talk after talk, with long breaks in between, is quite taxing, particularly when you can't go home at the end of the day, but are stuck in a strange place away from your regular comforts.

Speaking of regular comforts, the place isn't badly set out, but is missing some fairly important things for me. Since I've been here, I have had to buy a frypan and two baking dishes (one roasting pan and one loaf pan) because there was either no equivalent here, or they were in such shocking condition that they should be thrown away! Oh well. I guess I have the luxury of that choice.

The oven is in immaculate condition anyway, so I doubt many people who have stayed here have actually baked much.

I have decided (with the approval of flatmates) that it would be awesome if we had a weekly roast. Tomorrow I'm baking, and we are going to have it all with wine. Good fun. :)

I also have my fingers crossed that after seven weeks of cooking for himself, Mr TGWTBS will be proficient and that I might get the occasional baked dinner at home. One can dream. :P

My favourite area so far has been the mental health department, because they were so keen and welcoming today, and so happy to give us guidance with what they needed (we have to do a rural health project contributing something), and are going to organise for us to sit in with one of the visiting psychiatrists.

We also had another suturing workshop yesterday afternoon. I am improving in leaps and bounds, which is a massive relief. I may not ever need to suture when I am employed and after I specialise, but I think it is important that I get proficient. It is one skill that I would like to be comfortable with.

It is my husband's birthday tomorrow, and for the first time ever, I can't be there. We'll have to have one hell of a bash the next time I see him. :)

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Like the deserts miss the rain . . .

I was lucky enough to spend the first week of rural with my better half, as he was in town for work. We have been together for more than 10 years. This morning I had to drive away from him with a carload of possessions, and it hurt more than anything that I have had to do in a long, long time.
I know that it is only a temporary situation, and that I'll see him again in three weeks. The leaving was the hardest part.
Now I'm by myself in a room in a unit across from a busy industrial train line, and I feel like I have lost a limb. My partner in crime and all things fun is far, far away, and I miss him terribly. 
I know that this might sound horribly melodramatic, after all, three weeks isn't very long, and neither is the four weeks after that. However, I lived most of my childhood going from place to place, being uprooted every year or two, and never seeing my old friends ever again. Sometimes old scars resurface at the most inopportune times. Having to leave Mr TGWTBS standing at the motel, driving away with a car full of my worldly possessions hurt so damn much, and I had to try twice before I could do it. 
Thankfully nowadays we have mobile phones and the internet (bring on Skype, I say!). 
The first day of hospital work is tomorrow. Fingers crossed that it goes well. I need the distraction.

Friday, August 7, 2009

The end of week 1 of rural

Well, I have made it through the first week of rotation, and had a great time!

It is so nice being in a country city, as it only takes 5 minutes to get from one location to another, parking is easy to find (even around the busy public hospital), the steak is excellent, the streets are ridiculously wide, and everything is a lot more laid-back.

Seriously, the streets here are so wide that it is a little offputting to walk across them. I'm used to the busy streets of the capital city that I live in, where in suburbia if you have cars parked, then you cannot have two-way traffic. It is even worse in some of the new estates, where land is at a premium, and there is no room to park on the side of the road because it would block traffic.

Anyway, we had our orientation week, which was mostly interesting, but also full of things that we already know, because it is the fourth rotation of the year. I know how to give an IM injection. Really. :P

I also managed to have a vasovagal reaction when I was a guineapig for another student's cannulation practice - he was really good and it hardly hurt at all, but I still went all giddy and had to lie down. I was fine with the cannula going in (I even watched) but when he drew back and then flushed with saline, I just went all woozy. I felt like a huge drama queen, and it was all quite amusing, but everybody was really helpful without being "med students taking charge in a first aid situation". Thank God.

Everybody seems to be having a lot of fun this week, and I have had a good time, too. It is nice that Mr TGWTBS has been around and I have been staying with him, as our accomodation would be VERY crowded if I was to have stayed in the university-organised cabins. They have four people staying in a two bedroom cabin which is quite small. I'll get to experience this in our Debriefing week, so I'm not out of the woods yet.
A lot of the students have been going out to eat and see the town together. I'm thinking about going to the rodeo tonight, and we'll be going to the movies tomorrow. It has been nice and social.

I have also organised a mobile broadband modem, which will hopefully be activated as I'm typing (on the library computer at the hospital). I decided that two months was just too long to be without decent access to the outside world if I had the option of it being otherwise. I don't use a lot of data (mainly forums and blogs and the occasional photo upload) so it shouldn't cost me too much.

I'm traveling to my assigned town/small city (if it fits on four pages of the Yellow Pages map, it is a town to me) on Sunday. The people I'm staying with also seem really nice. It is interesting that there are more of us at this rural hospital than there were students on medicine rotation at my last city hospital. I'm curious about how they are going to organise us.
Anyway, this is turning out to be a lot of fun, and I'm glad.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Gone walkabout . . .

Yes, I was a child when Crocodile Dundee came out, and I reserve the right to quote any cheesy strine from the film or phrases that may be fun but culturally incorrect. :P

I'm about to go off the grid for a couple of months, on an other-worldly adventure that may involve drop bears, land sharks, man-eating crocs, but hopefully not that scary Mick guy from Wolf Creek. That is, unless he comes in injured with an interesting tale to tell, in which case it will be me, several burly security personnel, and lots and lots of IM emergency sedation (mostly for him).

If you still would like to read the new blog, feel free to email me through the link in "About me" and I'll give you permission as soon as I can get back to the internet.

Enjoy your August and September!


The mystery! The excitement! The lack of information!

Well, kind of.

Tomorrow I am off and driving for 7 hours in my car with my worldly goods in the boot and will be on the way to . . . . 8 weeks of rural.

The first and last weeks will be spent in a larger and central base, where we will have a week of lectures and practical instructions. They have crammed our week into 4 days rather than the usual 5 for some reason, and have told us in an email on Thursday that we may not get time to go out and buy lunch. Now, on my previous rotation (in a city hospital), if we had a lunchtime education session or a session before lunch, the education coordinator would order in pizzas. If it was a bigger grand rounds, it would be sponsored by a company or the hospital would provide lunch.

In the rural education sessions, where we have to leave home, don't have access to our cooking facilities, and now possibly won't have time to leave to buy lunch, they have offered to sell us lunch. However, we have to order it the day before (or in the case of Monday lunch, you need to have ordered it by midday the Friday beforehand - I have already missed out) and pay "with correct money" or something. So, what is for lunch? Sausage rolls and $8 sandwiches. Awesome. I think I'll be going hungry or seeing if I can still slip away.

They have also told us that we MUST ATTEND every single session in that week, and if we are 10 minutes late to a session then we will be marked as not attending and will HAVE TO REPEAT THE ENTIRE ROTATION. (Emphasis not really mine.) I'm starting to smell a frustrated admin person being put in charge of a bunch of medical students and not being happy about it. Honestly. We are not grade 3 students away on camp for the first time.

No, I don't think that we should automatically be given free food. But to be offered $8 sandwiches as an alternative? Somebody should do a Red Rooster/Subway/Pizza Hut run in a car - cheaper, fresher and more interesting. I think I'll be picking up a bag of salad and some tinned tuna from Coles tomorrow afternoon. It is motel room-friendly (I only have a mini-bar fridge) and I won't have to deal with pre-ordering and paying-with-correct-money-in-advance. :P

Fingers crossed that the rural place where I am spending my middle 6 weeks are more accommodating and relaxed. I may not get to update until I get home again, as my laptop doesn't have an inbuilt modem (Macbook) and we only have dialup access, and I don't want to go any more out of my way - I'm just going to work on what I have at the hospital, and I don't think there will be a place for blog writing. ;)