There's a reason I'm not a poet

Life is going quite nicely at the minute. I’ve been on surgery for just over two months now and I’ve been really enjoying my job. Unlike my placement in medicine, it’s essentially what I was expecting my job to be like this year: I’m going on ward rounds, reviewing sick patients, and going around with my clipboard running the show (read: frantically trying to stay afloat). The surgical doctors are all really friendly, with a great atmosphere of camaraderie, and as a general rule the surgical nurses are flipping fantastic.

Compared to other hospitals in surgical wards in NI, I’ve been told that the ratio of FY1s to patients is the lowest in the region. I’m not sure how true that is, but there are days when things are extremely busy and so you end up leaving quite a bit later than you’re meant to. But inevitably that’s a part of the job that I was expecting- and I’d rather get things sorted and finished, doing a good job essentially, rather than managing to leave an hour or two earlier each day. I suppose it’s nice that I’m in a job where motivation to work hard is easy to come by, and it’s a good feeling to be both doing a good job and doing good.

Another advantage of being on surgery is that due to the slightly longer shifts, we get more scheduled days off than in medicine. Add in some booked days of annual leave, and it’s meant I’ve actually been able to get a fair amount of time away from the hospital! So despite enjoying my work, I’ve had the past week off and it’s been glorious. I’ve had a bunch of lazy days where I haven’t done very much, but I’ve also done some Organised Social Gatherings. My housemates and I had a party last Saturday which went well apart from the standard end-of-night-too-much-to-drink drama, I made a cake for the new series of Game of Thrones, and then a few days ago three of us went up to the North Coast.

We went for a fair few treks around the area of Ballycastle, in places I’d not been to before but one of my friends knew. The weather was beautiful with no clouds in the sky, meaning that because we were right beside the sea the views were truly stunning. #suchblue. After a walk through some swampy ground we ended up at one point on the top of giant craggy cliffs, with huge sheer drops down to the ocean, and man the place was just incredible. NI’s coast is labelled as an area of outstanding beauty, and the place really showed me how true that is- on a day with nice weather Northern Ireland really is just as great a place to be as anywhere else in the world. Happy to be here!

Another place we went to was Kinbane Head, a narrow outcrop of limestone where a castle was built in the sixteenth century, although has since been destroyed presumably due to time and the ocean, so it’s just ruins now. This photoshopped photo makes it look pretty class, but without the CGI it was a very impressive location. Again sitting out in the glorious sunshine lying in grass with the blue ocean and seabirds beneath you was one heck of a relaxing moment.

So yeah- lovin lyf 2k15 at the minute.

M

Slight delay in getting round to writing about it, but on Monday I came back from sunny Barcelona! I’m currently wearing my Barcelona Beer Festival t-shirt and it’s keeping me cheery.

Two of my friends decided to run the marathon, and being the kind-hearted, selfless individuals we are, a group of my friends and I decided to go along and support them. We arrived and left at different times but overall I think there were ten of us, so obviously the holiday was great craic. It had been a good few years since I’ve been on holiday with a group of my school friends, so it was a nice opportunity to all hang out together.

Barcelona as a place, it turns out, is class. I had heard about Gaudi’s buildings and his interesting architecture, but I hadn’t realised how the whole city is filled with intricately designed buildings, and so I had a great time dandering about gawking upwards. We had this apartment and oh my god it was so sweet- there was a massive kitchen and huge ceilings and two giant sofas and a huge TV and several bedrooms and an office desk and a BALCONY.

I took photos but I’ve tried and I have no idea how to upload them from my phone so you’ll just have to imagine the pretty scenery. Of which there was a fair amount- we had a great walk around the area where the Olympics were, and along the beach/marina, and where the marathon started/ended with its bajillion fountains and waterfalls. Rest assured it was National Geographic level of quality. One of my friends actually brought along a GoPro with him and catalogued the trip in true hipster fashion.

Spanish everyday culture was a bit different to what we were used to. For one thing pretty much everyone has a wee nap in the afternoon, and when they’re not napping they’re floating about on micro scooters. Between us we also got offered enough drugs to write two Beatles albums. I took no drugs, rode no scooters and siesta’d no siestas- clearly didn’t get into the spirit of things enough.

This wouldn’t be one of my blogs without talking about the fooooooooood. I was expecting to get bled dry with the amount I was planning on eating, however stuff actually didn’t cost very much which just increased the sickening volume of stuff that I bought. One night we went to this tapas place and people were getting like four things between two people. We had fourteen between four, and it was glorious. One of em was foie gras and it still only came to 20 euro. Life is good. I had a nice sample of horchata, paella, seafoody stuff, tapas, cheesecakes upon cheesecakes, Spanish bready things and the glory that was white chocolate-covered Oreos.

We also went to a beer festival and it was great one of them tasted like bacon the end.

M

I think I have athlete’s foot. And it’s just the grimmest thing that’s ever happened to me. How people with things like psoriasis live their lives without turning into a giant flaming ball of tears I’ll never be able to understand.

Note to self: must learn to grow up

M

And on the ninth day..

I’ve just finished an eight day stretch playing the role of the “surgeon of the week”- which basically means going round all the patients that have been admitted under the ’emergency’ team, ie all the people who have come through the doors and haven’t been labelled to be under a specific team like urology, ENT or vascular surgery.

And it was a very busy week. I think the take was busier than it normally is, because the wards were all pretty full and the ward rounds were going on a good hour-and-a-half longer than they normally would. Which meant at times it was pretty stressful, and I was having to work pretty hard the whole time. There were also a few patients that got pretty sick in quite dramatic ways.

That all being said, I actually really enjoyed it. I felt like I was properly doing the job I signed up to do, and I think I was doing a good job at it too. I tried my best to be organised, walking around with my clipboard and lists of patients and rapidly burning through the ink in my pen. At times your efforts are in vain, but that’s life, and that’s the NHS. The sick patients got better, and part of that was down to me being the one working out correctly what was wrong with them- which was a pretty good feeling.

Sadly there were a few days that were just incredibly busy, staying several hours later than I would have liked, being late for social events and missing my Chinese lesson, but again that comes with the territory so I’ve gotta just man up and get on with my life.

Man was I ready for this weekend though. Getting up shortly after six and not getting to sleep until 11 or 12 for over a week really takes it out of you. My plan had been to get stuff done today but I’ve spent most of my time stuffing my face and watching Game of Thrones. AND IT’S BEEN GLORIOUS

I’ll have another post coming up soon I think. Til then: tatty-bye

M

Changeover

So it would seem I’ve been working for 6 months. I finished my last day on general medicine today, and start on general surgery tomorrow! I say start- I’m in for one day then I’m off for night shifts this weekend. But you get the idea.

Looking back over the past six months, I have mixed feelings about how my year has gone. I have enjoyed myself, but a hefty proportion of that has been due to the people I’ve been working with rather than the work itself. I got some really nice feedback from some members of the staff on different wards I’ve been on, and in that sense it’ll be sad not to work with those people again. Out-of-hours provides opportunities for learning, and for doing actual doctoring, but one of the big disadvantages of medicine is that a large proportion of my daytime work has been paperwork and relatively menial tasks, where the only brainpower required is the ability to be organised and efficient. And you’re pretty detached from patient encounters, which is a darn shame. So I feel like compared to my colleagues in England I’ve had much less educational value out of my time in a hospital so far.

Surgery, I’m told, is different. When I started medicine, the idea of not being on the ward rounds was extremely foreign to me, and thankfully on surgery it’s a lot more like the traditional model I was expecting to be doing. So, I’ll be on the ward rounds and actually saying things to patients other than “do you mind if I take a blood sample?”

I’m exaggerating a little of course- I have learned things over the past six months, and through being on-call have had exposure to plenty of common and important health problems that I’ll need to be comfortable with dealing with in the future. But I am looking forward to being more hands-on while on surgery, and actually getting to know the patients on my ward. In short, I’m looking forward to doing the job of a doctor!

Hopefully it won’t all go tits up.

M

Allons-y!

Got back from skiing yesterday. I am le tired and my legs are le sore, but obviously the week was absolutely full of le craic. Just had a look at my old blog and the entry there about the first time I went skiing, and the repeat performance didn’t disappoint! Four uni friends and I went to France (to Val Thorens) for about a week, staying in an apartment and armed with lots of layers and one aim: to not break any bones during the inevitable 208570871 falls.

Success! Although one of my friends did set his glove on fire and later got cellulitis. But still- no fractures!

We were staying in an apartment which was pretty 70s in style, and very much did the job. The location was fantastic as the building was right on the slopes, meaning you could ski right from the back door and be on a lift in about three minutes. Val Thorens itself was a top notch place to go too, as the snow quality was generally great and there were a huge number of different runs which meant that you could nearly always go down a different route than you had previously (until the end, when really heavy snowfall meant big risk of avalanches and therefore a bunch of pistes were closed).

Like the last time I went skiing, we went for lessons again. And this turned out to be a great idea. We had a stereotypical French mountain guy who had done every kind of skiing possible: speed racing, disabled skier world record attempts, uphill climbs, slalom and ski acrobatics. Every day he’d just casually drop in something like “oh and I’m a pilot too”, and his mother had been on the French Olympic team. So as well as being awesome it meant he knew his stuff! It was incredibly useful having one teacher for the three of us (as opposed to 13 the last time), as it meant you were able to get constant personalised feedback on what exactly you were doing wrong and how to improve.

Which meant that I got an awful lot better over the course of the holiday! By the end I was happy with every blue piste, held my own on the reds and event went down a black slope! Hardcoooorrrrrrree.

Two of my friends have their birthdays coming up, so the three of us clubbed together and decided to take them out for a meal. One of them researched a place beforehand which was up in the mountains on a ski slope, serving traditional Alpine French food (essentially carbs and cheese) and a dessert buffet put on by their own pastry chef and you were allowed to take several things. Obviously this all kept me extremely happy. Following the meal we obviously had to get down from the restaurant that was up in the mountains. So we popped on our skis, were handed a torch each and made our way down in the dark! It was such an awesome feeling (albeit obviously a little terrifying) to be skiing down en masse in the dark trying not to set yourself (or someone else) on fire or fall over and become a giant flameball. And we mostly managed it! The only person who had difficulty didn’t drink any alcohol- I’ll let you reach your own conclusions there.

It was obviously very nice to be back hanging out with my uni friends for a more prolonged period of time. I did have an awful lot of fun over in England, and it is a shame that living in NI means it’s that much more difficult to see people, and that much less like it used to be. So I enjoyed the opportunity to go back in time and pretend that chapter of my life hasn’t quite ended- the incessant fart jokes helped.

M

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