31 December 2006

Review of 2006 - January to March


January saw the start of my observing with the ambulance service at my local ambulance station. My application for Paramedic sciences was in, and I had an interview at Sheffield Hallam in February and one in Hertfordshire in March. I needed to get my experience levels sorted ready to face the interview panel. I'd originally been rejected from both universities, but through some *ahem* persuasive telephone conversations I'd managed to get an interview after I'd been rejected. Just for the benefit of the doubt, so to speak.

In my masters degree I'd taken all my major exams before Christmas, so I'd had a restful festive period (knowing that I'd passed everything to date) and returned to my masters with renewed hope. Problem was, I wasn't certain that medical school was for me...

The more work experience I did, the more I wanted to join the ambulance service. I still hadn't had a firm offer through from medical school, but the fact that I had paramedic interviews had blinkered me slightly.

By the end of the month I'd passed another 2 master modules and done some more observing on the weekends. I was putting in approximately 75 hours a week of work, studying and observing, yet it was one of the most enjoyable times of my life. I still associate songs with that time of the year and smile.

I also did chest compressions for the first time on a real person, and rather alarmingly the entire process worked successfully. I'd been on a fast car (RRU) with a solo paramedic who'd been called to a cardiac arrest. The problem was the 15 minute delay on the ambulance arriving behind us. I'm never one to shy away from a challenge, and once the adrenaline started flowing it was just the same as training on a dummy - except with more resistance. The gentleman in question had collapsed in a crowded market place, and the amazing general public, thinking that he was a tramp, had been stepping over him for who knows how long. They'd then thoughtfully placed a cushion under his head and covered him up with a blanket, while one announced that she worked in a nursing home. Really renews your faith in nursing homes doesn't it. Even I could tell a lack of circulation by his grey pallour.

Anyway, all's well that ends well...the gentleman was still alive the last time I heard, and it saw the month out on a high.
However, I also did the baby...

February saw more observing and long hours at university, as well as the selection of my dissertation title for my final project. I opted out of laboratory work in favour of a library based research project, and it's a decision I stand by to this day.

All month I'd been preparing for my Sheffield Hallam paramedic interview, frantically shopping and trying to prepare the perfect outfit. I was also dieting like a crazy woman for my Hertfordshire interview as they request that applicants are in weight and height proportion.

Thanks to my personal Trinny and Susannah (2 colleagues in my old halls of residence) for helping me pick out the perfect killer heels, trousers and red shirt combination.

It was a long journey to Sheffield from where I was based, and as the Snake Pass approached there was a thin dusting of snow along the road. I was desperately nervous, and convinced I'd failed at the individual interview stage.

The group interview was quite amusing, and I was glad that I'd been observing. Take note anyone who has a Sheffield Hallam interview - if they haven't changed the format, you will be asked to work in small teams and decide upon the use of an ambulance related piece of equipment. Take note, if there's a person at your interview who's worked for the ambulance service in Patient Transport - work with them! I was kind of thankful that I'd paid attention on the ambulance when the paramedics and technicians had been showing me all of the equipment, and had humoured my questions.

Sadly the interview itself turned into an ethical argument about the use of the LUCAS machine - something I don't know a great deal about, but managed to turn into a debate. They also told me that they had issues with Biological Sciences graduates and their ability to convert to a practical role. He also raised issue with my ability to do delicate work, until I pointed out that I painted, sewed and made jewellery.

March saw me receiving an unconditional offer for the Sheffield Hallam course and having one of the most painful hangovers the following day having gone drinking with Trinny and Susannah at a formal university event the same day...

Yet more observing and a lot of preparation for my Hertfordshire University interview for a training place with London Ambulance Service. My first time to London alone, my first time on the tube, and my first time seeing all of the big red buses. I know, I'm such a tourist. I met up with my best friend and had lunch at McDonald's near King's Cross station, before heading up to Hatfield and getting horrendously lost on the way to my Bed and Breakfast.
The interview again descended into debate, but one of a less dignified manner than my Sheffield Hallam interview. I came away convinced that I had lost my place there, simply because I had argued my corner. It's odd that at Sheffield I was interviewed by a paramedic in normal clothing (shirt and tie), and was completely fine, yet a paramedic in his uniform (with a hell of a lot of metal on his epaulettes) makes me fall apart.

Nevertheless, the interview was over and I was headed back through London and back up North for a chilled out evening in my flat.
March also saw an interview at UCLan which was vastly less successful. I'd taken up jogging around this time of year and was convinced I was fit enough to pass the paramedic fitness test. Unfortunately I'd been on a RRV with a slightly ill paramedic with a chest infection. Needless to say, with germs flying around a fortnight before my interview I was guaranteed to get ill as well. Sure as day and night I ended up with a disgusting chest infection that irritated by asthma to hell. I was still doing the fitness test, but my heart rate went too high and they stopped me. I did the only thing a girl could do; I cried my eyes out. They suggested I reapplied the next year and went to the gym more, but at the time I was running twice a week, using the gym 3 times a week and doing martial arts. I also had received a surprise unconditional offer from Hertfordshire. I think Tom was scared that I would join LAS. I am obviously weight and height in proportion then!

In March I also met up with another blogger; the first I had met as 'Merys'. It was the culmination of a long time chatting on Skype and MSN, and I still owe Lennie dinner at some point. It was a kind of weird experience to climb into the car of a complete stranger, and not be able to close the Skype window when you get bored or irritated of each other's company. I think I also made him show me his warrant card too! I don't think I disgraced myself, but only Lennie can answer that....

My Masters was still progressing along nicely, although the lecturers strike was in the works and threatened my degree somewhat. I think I may have panicked slightly....

I also received my firm offer from my medical school, causing a hell of a lot of worry about career choices. I think I chewed the ear off of every paramedic/technician/nurse/doctor I could find at the time. Thanks to Kal, Tom, John and Magwitch (who sent me a wonderful and detailed email about why I shouldn't join the ambulance service) for listening to my rants.
Part 2 whenever I can write it...

Making a difference

I know it's not brain surgery, or saving lives, but I love making a difference.
Nothing major - looking after a birthday party personally to avoid difficulties. It was bound for disaster due to a clash in our schedules, but I averted disaste skillfully and made for a really enjoyable experience...

They even shook my hand when they left (this is a group of 14 year old boys mind....) and wished me a happy new year.

I left work with a smile on my face!

28 December 2006

And another one....

This one, see for yourself:

http://laurasblog.wordpress.com/

26 December 2006

New Blogs

Having been looking around I've found some new blogs. Try these to alleviate your christmas boredom:

http://theunexpectediainmacbain.blogspot.com/
http://www.ambucabs.blog.co.uk/
http://nicenurse.wordpress.com/

and yes, these were shamelessly stolen from Carmelo, although I did read some of them before!

25 December 2006

Merys Christmas for real!

Isn't it funny how plans change? If you read the post below you'll see what my plans had been for last night.

What actually happened was a 999 call, an ambulance, the local A&E department and a seriously broken humerus (funny bone) on a fragile grandma (the one who isn't recovering from cancer!). I was walking her to our house as she just lives around the corner, when she tripped over our front step and landed on her left arm. Bless her, she's 83 years old and rather fragile in body (but strong in spirit). So I spent the next 4 hours in A&E having correctly diagnosed the broken bone by feeling the crepitus in the elbow joint. Turns out I was right (as there was nothing to see in the arm itself).

Never one to miss an opportunity (and while actually wearing my med school hooded top) I asked if I could see the X-Rays (and was taught all about the importance of the break and nerve involvement etc). Sadly that's 3 first aid/injury related events that I've been around in 2 days, so for the benefit of everyone on Christmas day, I'm hiding upstairs in my room typing this on one of my new christmas presents!

Any rumours that I may be deliberately injuring people to gain clinical experience are purely speculation (but stay clear for your own good!).

Anyway, with a quiet family Christmas day today, I'm going to wish you all a joyful and peaceful festive period (whatever you may be celebrating at this time of year) and keep yourselves safe!

24 December 2006

We're Going to Need Considerably Bigger Buns.....


Well, Christmas Eve is here and family visits have been done. It was nice to meet up with my cousins and catch up with them after a few absent years.

My female cousin is marginally younger than myself and has just become a newly qualified primary school music teacher, while my male cousin is a second year geography student in Wales. My male cousin is also heading towards being a teacher too...and interestingly all 3 (out of 3) of us have headed into higher education and to work with the public.

Interestingly, on the other side of my family I'm the only one in education at the moment, and the only one who did A Levels. I almost feel frowned upon for not making babies somewhere with a bloke who has no prospects or money. That sounds harsh I know, but its such a contrast from one side of the family to the other.

Christmas is a peculiar time for us - my grandfather died near christmas just before I started this blog, and it brings memories of family and friends lost. But death is something I expect to get used to somewhere down the line....

I'm now off work until Boxing Day, and I'm only doing a short shift then. My last shift was somewhat interesting - with my first aid skills being called upon (why does everyone presume that because I'm a medical student I know what I'm doing if someone injures themselves? I mean I am a 'qualified first aider', but you shouldn't presume!). I ended up staying an extra 2 hours after the end of my shift last night due to 'staff illness' and 2 staff injured themselves, one after the other. I decided that was a good indicator for me to go home before anything serious happened.
Now my parents are baking together downstairs (and I'm leaving them to it) and my plan for the rest of the day involves sleeping through rubbish films and gorging on chocolates and mince pies. There's no grandma this year as she's wanting to be on her own rather than with anyone. So I guess it's just me, the dog and my parents. At least the dog has amusement value in the morning when he opens his toys and pulls his cracker.
More importantly, I shall be watching Calendar Girls tonight on TV, which (although I've seen before) I'm really looking forward to! Good Yorkshire film!
I think I'm just all christmas-ed out this year, having had parties at uni, work and now home, I think I'm already bored. I want to remember what christmas is really all about, rather than just receiving and giving gifts.
If not before, I'll be blogging before the new year, so I must make some resolutions!
Merry Christmas love Merys!!

23 December 2006

Ho Ho Ho


Sorry about the lack of posting for the last week, but since getting back from university on Friday night I haven't had a day off work yet. Bizarely, I've never been homesick before (and that hasn't changed), although I guess I appreciate home more now.
Problem is, I hate the place I'm at university. It's impersonal and depressing, and in about as much contrast as you could possibly be to where I studied (ahem!) before.
I really haven't settled in well, but I guess you'd probably guessed that by now. A family Christmas even looks like a pleasant concept compared to staying 'Dahn Sarf'. The obligatory family argument doesn't even put me off (provided I spend enough time at work!).
Realistically I don't want to go back to university after Christmas, but I will. If I do end up quitting medical school then I'm adamant it won't be after a measly 12 weeks. I intend to stick this degree out, and as I once said to my family (and anyone who would listen) - I would have studied medicine anywhere in the world (I believe I suggested Outer Mongolia) as long as I ended up studying medicine and qualified as a doctor.
My eyes have opened a little since then. I'm not sure being a doctor is the amazing concept I was convinced of when I was 14 years old and convinced that TV programmes showed the truth about medicine. I mean, if Casualty and ER are to be believed then being a doctor is bad for your health anyway!
Work is looming again tomorrow and I have a uniform to iron, so I best dash.

18 December 2006

Adaptation.

Sometimes I think it would just be easier to stay here and work. Sure, I'd have to find a place of my own, but I can do this job. It's not rocket science but it's always a challenge. I'm not looking for an easy way out, but a less terrifying one would be nice every now and then.

Sometimes I want to quit, but other times I really enjoy it. I didn't realise how much I'd learnt until asked a medically related question, and the information spurted from my mouth without my realising, both to mine and the other person's surprise.

I'm always alarmed at how easy I find it to switch back into 'no-brain' mode. That sounds bizarre since I said this job was challenging doesn't it? It is challenging in a logistical kind of way; organising staff, equipment, schedules, food, drinks and teamworking requires great mental prowess (sometimes), but yet people do it all the time here and make it look easier than I do.

As I see it so far, medical school (and medicine in general) is about juggling. I think I need to learn to catch a little better.

...but maybe that's just life in general.

14 December 2006

Networking pt 2

As I mentioned previously in Networking pt 1, medicine breeds competition and sneakiness with each other.

Well, anything you can do, so can Merys.

By asking the right people the right questions and (dare I say) brown nosing slightly, I managed to get a day's shadowing on the GP out of hours service on a Saturday. It involved me being up at 6.30 in the morning to be there at 8.00, and forfeiting my lie in, but the experience counts! As well as being able to sit with doctors all day and see patients, listen to telephone triage etc, I also got to go on home visits with both a doctor and an ECP.

Going out with the ECP was enlightening, as my advice was constantly being asked. I did keep having to remind that I was only a first year.

The one thing that amused me the most was being expected to do things. I guess I was being naive when I went out, thinking I would just be sitting and watching. Sadly not.

The problem with learning skills is that eventually you're expected to do it for real on a real patient. On the good side I did prove to myself and the doctor/ECP that I could actually take a manual blood pressure (admittedly after a few false starts!)

13 December 2006

Networking pt 1

*Disclaimer: I'm not saying that this a widespread trend, but I have seen it happening here*

I've been noticing recently that the people on this course are very competitive. It was to be expected I suppose - fighting into medical school breeds for competitive people in general. There seems to almost be a culture of out-doing each other and sneaking around to get access to different opportunities against one another.

I know of first year medical students who are members of sporting teams who use their affiliation with others to gain shadowing time in surgery (and let's remember we've only been medical students for around 2 months now!). It surprises me, but it obviously means I'm going to have to up the ante.

I'm not afraid of networking, and (if I say so myself) I'm actually quite good at it. Which leads me onto my recent experience.........

But I guess you'll have to wait for that.

11 December 2006

Away from keyboard

I've decided to take a couple of days away at my old university this week. Only on reading week anyway.

More when I'm back

09 December 2006

Merys Christmas

What does every self-respecting pissed off girl do? She goes shopping. Alone. At Christmas.

Big Mistake!

I'm starting to feel a little bah-bloody-humbug at the moment, and will not be sending very many cards out this year as they are an attempt by the card companies to kill rainforests and rob me of my money.

As it happens I had to buy some individual cards anyway. (Why do people have birthday's at this time of year? Have they no decency???) £10+ in a card shop....why? And why in the name of Christmas did I buy a card from the dog to my parents?? They're going to think I've cracked up. Hell, I even think I've cracked up!

07 December 2006

Laughter

To combat feeling generally pissed off, I went to my martial arts class after uni today and did some floor fighting. It's the first time I've done any ground fighting and I was concerned I'd feel panicked and stressed when fighting a bloke.

Turns out I giggle a lot.

Mind you, it's rather hard not to when a bloke has his crotch about 3 inches from your face and you can't seem to fight your way out of it.

Sometime's it's so difficult being the only female in the class....

06 December 2006

To answer a few questions raised....

"I'm sure you missed stuff in your first year of your first degree, and whilst to you it's all old hat, lots of these people are drinking heavily and experiencing independence for the first time." Matthew

...Actually I didn't. If I had a group session the following day I either wouldn't be out drinking the night before, or drinking very lightly/soft drinks only, and having an earlyish night. But then again why should I bother to care anymore, the rest of my year thinks it's acceptable. Our PBL and team work structure here relies on the TEAM as a whole. If you don't turn up or turn up drunk or hungover you're no use to anyone.

"If you don't fuck up and miss PBL or other group work (I missed about 5 PBLs last year, and 1 this year through hangovers - admittedly this year all my pbls have been in the afternoon) then you're a better man than most of us." Matthew

Woman actually, but I know what you mean. And no, the only PBLs I've missed this year were due to a sick family member in Yorkshire that I had to go and see. Slightly more serious than a self-inflicted hangover and I still felt guilty about missing it.

"I for one would put the burden of the first step on grads, in Freshers week, when they're are 18 year olds who've done nothing like this before, you have a reference point, you will clearly be less nervous, and hence if you are willing to come out and talk to them then, you'll probably find you don't get so segregated later." Matthew

I did go out in fresher's week. I went out a lot. But I appreciate that I only went out because I'm 23 years old and knew no-one. I don't have family here and I don't have friends here. Personally, my friends here range from 18 to 45 and I don't really see a difference between them, but many people do. My personal favourites at the moment are the 'wannabe grads'. The beautiful clique of 2 or 3 grads and a 'tagger on' who likes everyone to think that they're a grad because they took a couple of years out and the grad in question is cool. Very worrying.

"there are some people on my course too whom I look at and think, "And you want to be a doctor someday??"" Calavera

We have an alarming amount of those people on my course. People who turn up to important sessions with actors (where we were told to dress as on placement) in jeans and t-shirts, boobs a-stray and thong flashing. People who regularly skip mandatory stuff because they're too up themselves to attend, and are; 'so, like, Oh My God - I'm at university now. Isn't that just the place to have a good time?'

"the work was a bit of a chore but ultimately rewarding because it's what I wanted to do." Hospital Phoenix

I'm seriously beginning to doubt if it is what I want to do. Hence why I'm not getting any satisfaction from it. I didn't expect an easy ride here, but I feel we're being pushed too hard too fast, and if I'm struggling now, what's it going to be like in 2, 3, 4 years time? Sink or swim I suppose.

"Take a break over Christmas and you'll feel a lot better." Gerry

I'd love to my dear, but I simply can't afford to. I have exams to revise for, OSCE's to sort and a job to hold down. I can't afford to not work and I can't afford to be picky about shifts so I have to take anything and everything on offer.
I also have a grandmother to keep an eye on and regularly visit now she's recuperating at home at last.

---------------------------------

Matthew, this wasn't a rant at you I promise, but your long comment brought a lot of issues forward to be raised. Thank you for that !

05 December 2006

Small steps

Frankly, I'm hoping that my current feelings of complete and utter disdain for this course are simply due to a lack of sleep and too much work.

At the moment, I don't want to come back after Christmas. I know of course that I will. I know that I won't give in (at least I hope that I won't) and I'll keep on plodding along until I fail or something drastic happens.

I'm tired. Very very tired. And I'm getting fed up of the arrogance of some of the people on my course. People who look down their nose at graduates and who take for granted what they have. Graduates can be stuck-up idiots too, but those of us who really had to fight for our places try not to take them for granted. Just because you're 18 years old, at university for the first time and have a huge overdraft - does not mean it's right or fair to skip group work and plenaries for the sake of your hangover (repeatedly).

I'm sick of the cliques, the bitching and the backbiting. I'm fed up of the 'mightier than thou' attitude many medics adopt towards biomedical science students (I was there, and it used to piss me off). And mostly, I'm fed up of petty med school bureaucracy. I'm fed up of bitchy emails to the entire year about the action of the few. I'm fed up of filling in 95 forms just to get time off for a doctor's appointment (and then having to explain why - because I'm a medic and we should be prepared to discuss things!) and I'm fed up of this place in general.

I'm past the point of crying. I'm past the point of giving a shit I thing. I just hope it's an end of term thing, or else I'm screwed. I want to quit.

03 December 2006

Apathy

I guess I'm going to have to stay here now I've paid some of my fees and bought a med school hooded top. Sadly I have the most appalling case of apathy at the moment.

I have an absolutely enormous amount of work to do, but I'm procrastinating and sitting at the computer instead. I simply cannot face the amount of work I have to do!

This is not the best attitude to have with a very busy week ahead and an OSCE* looming...




*OSCE = objective structured clinical examination = clinical skills exam, usually testing how you speak to patients and do basic skills.

02 December 2006

Go look!

I found a new blog (well new to me anyway) called Musings of a disheartened doctor.

Please go and read...

Sad but true....

YOU KNOW YOU'VE BEEN IN UNIVERSITY TOO LONG WHEN...

You actually like doing laundry at home where the washing
machines work.

Two miles is not too far to walk for a party.

You'd rather clean than study especially if an essay is due.

"Oh shit how did it get so late!" comes out of your mouth at
least once a night.

Parents' cooking becomes something you desire, not avoid.

You schedule your classes around sleep habits and soap operas
especially neighbours and Hollyoaks.

You know the pizza boy by name and don't even need to read the
menu.

You go to sleep when it's light and get up when it's dark.

You live for getting mail.

Looking out the window is a form of entertainment.

Prank phone calls become funny again.

You start thinking and sounding like your friends and your
accent becomes a hybrid of West Country, Surrey and general
Northern.

Highlighters are the coolest things on earth.

Rearranging your room is your favourite pastime.

Rubbish cheap £1 shops are so cool.

The weekend lasts from Thursday to Monday.

---------

I think my friends have too much time on their hands to keep emailing me these!

29 November 2006

Mind you...

nothing beats a good bit of Phil Collins.....must go find that song...

I want one

Has this advert been screened in the UK? Because it should have been (I haven't seen it....).
All donations of coca cola drinking polar bears/baby penguins gratefully accepted as a christmas present

28 November 2006

Hmm

The first partial face transplant patient is now able to smile - according to the BBC

However, I do find the line:

"Mrs Dinoire has told him she could smile and looked like herself again. "


...slightly ironic....

25 November 2006

Concern

This is an interesting article on the BBC website. Published yesterday it's calling for more consultants in hospitals. Makes sense I suppose - but the article also highlights the problem with the European Working Time Directive. I reckon that if I went into lectures on Monday morning, and asked my year of medics what they knew about this, none of them would know. Or at least very few.
And don't misunderstand me, I'm not adverse to working less hours, but not at the expense of education. I've given up 4 extra years already just to get where I am now, and I want to be the best doctor I can be,* but how are doctors in 5 years going to compare with 'old school' doctors who had to slog it out and work over 100 hours a week?
I got into this medical school knowing that I was embarking on possibly the most challenging thing in my life, yet I feel I'm going to be inferior at the end of it!
Combine this with DIY medicine (we set our own goals and teach ourselves dontyouknow!) and you have the problem that worries me most about the NHS and my own career development. Maybe I should have done a traditional course rather than an integrated one...
My lecturers tell me there's no difference at the end of the course in the world of work.
Looks like I will have to wait and see.




*Sounds terribly niave and cliched doesn't it!

23 November 2006

Panic Stations!

Jenny is trying to turn me into a lady. She might not be a very good cook, but she is amazingly ladylike. She is never to been seen with a rucksack - always a handbag. And she always has a string of pearls elegantly draped around her neck. It's scary, it really is. And now, she's trying to make me into a lady.
If you hand't already worked it out, I'm a bit of a tom boy. I like adrenaline sports, motor racing, rock climbing and paintballing. While I'm very open minded, you probably would never get me to sit and watch showjumping at a country show while politely applauding.
Take my movie taste for example, I like gory films like Saw 3 and Scream, and gangster films like Layer Cake. Jenny has just lent me the Princess Diaries. But, I'll give it a go.
Music tastes - Jenny likes Westlife and Britney. I like Greenday, Muse and Scissor Sisters. Don;t even get me started on when we introduced her to Tenacious D. I've seen less scared looking rabbits in my car headlights!
Sadly, there's just a little too much ex-goth left lurking in my bloodstream, does anyone have a cure?

22 November 2006

NHS ID

I don't know what the weather was like for the rest of the South today, but it threw it down all day here today.
Sadly, I had to go and get my NHS ID card and be photographed for it.....
It's not pretty.

21 November 2006

He's Back!!!!!!!!!!

The wanderer has returned! The Special Constable's blog has returned (using a different host so please update your URLs) and blogging has recommenced as of today!

On behalf of the general blogosphere I want to welcome Lennie Briscoe back to the real world!

20 November 2006

Lack of geographical awareness

Tom to Merys (text message): Thurrock is in Essex, so is Dagenham. You are in Essex you wassock!

Can I help it that my geography is a bit shit - I thought Thurrock was a part of Dagenham, and had said so to Tom.

I know, I'm a bit thick sometimes....

Keep Off!!


At the beginning of the year I was really looking forward to sharing a kitchen again. I had delusions of sharing the cooking and chatting and eating together.

Sadly not quite so true. Jenny, Liam and myself often eat together, but that's about it.

Some housemates come and go with the wind, leaving only the faint smell of food to remind us that they're still alive.

Sadly though, my patience, my permanent marker and my food supplies are wearing thin. I thought I'd outgrown the stage of having to write my name in large letters on all of my food, but depressingly it's a necessity again.

I'm getting particularly cheesed off with break and milk being 'borrowed' by housemates as whenever I want any there's none left! And before anyone suggests it, fridges are prohibited in rooms and it's too warm to keep food there otherwise. I'm kind of tied, as it's kitchen or starve.

I guess I'll just have to crack out the laxatives!

19 November 2006

Hans


This is Hans. I know he says he's called Tim, but I decided to rename him.
He helped me to drive this weekend.
Oddly his female counterpart wound me up beyond all belief and had me yelling back at the screen. I really don't know how the ambulance service cope with them all the time. I know they're very useful and I would have been up the proverbial creek without Hans, but the voice would get on my nerves for all-day everyday use.

I also did a 'first' yesterday - the M25. I've heard many bad things about the M25, but have yet to experience them! Traffic was light, moving and not hogging lanes, so I could nip through at 70 and get on my way without annoying everyone.

And no, I didn't crash someone else's car, although I may have burnt the clutch slightly....

18 November 2006

Road Trip

Today I am driving a very long distance, and that includes the M25. It will be the first time I have motorway driven outside of the M62 in Yorkshire and I'm both excited and very nervous. I've been added fully comprehensively onto someone else's insurance, but I'm still teriffied of damaging their car.

But...

I get to drive again, which is something I never really realised how much I enjoy (and miss) until now!

17 November 2006

*sigh*

It's the end of another long week and I'm exhausted. I know people who work will say that university is just a 'doss', but having worked 60+ hour weeks university is just as exhausting in my opinion.

When holding down a job, if you're lucky you can leave it behind at the end of the day and close the door on work.* Students don't get that luxury sadly - especially not medical students. We have constant pressure to be reading further material, practise clinical skills and history taking, and the ever important communication skills.

Along with this I have a job (which I need to be able to eat). We really need longer days or shorter teaching weeks.

Sometimes I genuinely wish I hadn't started another degree, as my conscience won't let me quit. I'm exhausted physically and mentally, and would desperately like a weekend off - but I have too much work to do to keep up with everyone else.

I'm finding PBL-style learning is very much based on self-teaching, which is fine if you can do it. Not sure I can.


* I am aware that this is not true of all jobs.

16 November 2006

Mind my Mammaries

Boys, please consider kindly that when in a martial arts class and against an opposition of the female variety, kicking in the stomach means the stomach. My breasts will not be in that location for another 20 years, so if you're hitting them then you're kicking too high!

Ouch

15 November 2006

The results of a good night


This is the result of a good night out. And I am a ho for not taking it off last night before I fell asleep. It's a miracle I took the contacts out.

Not drunk, just a lazy cow

12 November 2006

Spooked

So somewhere in my logic I'd decided to wait until every one of my flat mates was on a geography field trip until I went to see Saw 3 with some medic friends, coming back to an empty flat.

Dead sensible

10 November 2006

Sad but true

I was emailed this and I (sadly) agree with each and every point:

TOP 10 REASONS THAT UNIVERSITY IS LIKE PRIMARY SCHOOL
10. You cry for your mother.
9. You cross the street without looking for cars.
8. Snack time is a necessity.
7. You bundle up for the outdoors without caring what you look like (because everyone else looks as stupid as you do).
6. You stay at home and play games with your friends.
5. You wear your backpack on both shoulders.
4. You wear big mittens.
3. Playing in the snow is a legitimate activity.
2. You take naps.
1. You look forward to cheese toasties.

Another one bites the dust

It's been another long day here in the land of medical school and i'm exhausted.
I do however feel I have to comment on the recent report saying which medical school allegedly has the hardest working students. Now I appreciate that this study looks pretty straight forward - comparing hours of study between different subjects etc. I can't say it comes as much of a surprise to me that medical students do more work and have more contact time than media students.

What does surprise the hell out of me is that some students somewhere are managing to work an average of 45 hours a week (I don't know if this is extra to lectures etc, or including them - but it's still a hell of a lot!). Apparently students at the University of East Anglia studying medicine are managing to do an average of 45 hours a week study.

Quite glad that's not expected of me, I don't think I'd manage that many hours a week, in between paid employment, sport, trying to sleep and falling off a bike. And it worries me that potential medical students could see this artical and view it as a mandatory requirement etc. I know it would have alarmed me before I started medical school...

Anyhow, best of luck to all the medical students at the UEA, and keep hitting those books while the rest of us feel inferior!

For the full story please read the BBC links within the above mentioned URL, as it sites the statistics used to formulate the article.

07 November 2006

I appreciate the validity....but....

I do realise why I have to learn communication skills, but really, pulling teeth would be less painful.

You see, while I'm a gobby cow for the most part, I can talk to patients. I really can, I have done and it doesn't actually worry me.

Make me analyse the way I speak to a patient and role play it in front of a crowd and I will fall apart. I stammer, lisp and go into full screensaver mode. It's depressing and makes me feel a right twat with people in my group.

If I could just talk to a patient rather than analysing all the various TLAs* I need to remember, I'd do so much better!


*TLA = three letter acronym - vastly dominant in the medical profession sadly!

05 November 2006

Hmmm.....

I don't know why, but iTunes keeps playing Dr Jones by Aqua (it's set on random shuffle...) as well as Don't Worry Be Happy.

Odd how psychic they are isn't it?

03 November 2006

Science Experiment

Sometimes I feel like my kitchen is becoming a science experiment. You see all my housemates are younger than me and this is their first degree. They've not really experienced university and a shared kitchen before, and the aftermath is frankly disgusting.

Our cleaner came today, and I've just cleaned up again, doing all the dishes and removing mould and scum from the sink.
This is my sink in the kitchen. I would like to point out that my pasta isn't that shape, and that I don't eat noodles either. Ming is about the only word I could think of to describe it.....

Touched

Tonight one of my peers rang me. I know this may not seem like an astounding revelation, but note my use of the word 'peer' and not 'friend'.

She called me because she was concerned about me after PBL close this week. Apparently I looked like I was having a shit week. And she's right. For my own reasons I've been like a bear with a sore head/back this week, and been in a really foul mood to anything that crossed my path or looked at me the wrong way.

Her concerns were touching and made me realise that if I'm feeling this negative towards everything at the moment, other people are picking up on it too, which isn't really what I want. While I'm normally pretty fine with wallowing in my own little hole, I don't really want to bring my group down with me.

I think I've put my finger on one of the main problems this week; I don't feel comfortable with my PBL group. This wouldn't be a problem if we didn't have to spend quite so much time with each other. My entire group of friends essentially revolves around PBL and it unnerves me slightly that I'm exposing myself so completely to what are essentially a bunch of strangers. We do PBL, Communication skills, clinical skills, and eventually placements together. There's just something within the group set-up that I feel 'not quite right' with, and can't quite place what it is.....

Anyhow, enough of the whining, I have ironing to do and TV to watch.

02 November 2006

It's a hard life

My plan for tonight involves drinking this:









While painting these:






Watching Grey's Anatomy season 1 (On DVD), and simultaneously reading this:

01 November 2006

I'll get you my pretty, and your little dog too..... (or Watch that drunk pt 2)

It was all just a little bit reminiscent of The Wizard of Oz.... I wouldn't have been entirely surprised to hear nasty music playing and some flying monkeys following me around.

For there was I, cycling into university dressed as a witch with full velvet cloak and pointy hat, oh, and a lot of body paint. For obvious reasons I will not be posting the photographs. Needless to say they're amusing!
And apparently, being drunk and dressed as a witch makes me a better cyclist because I didn't fall off or cycle into anything.

This is where the post becomes 'watch that drunk part 2, as there I was, slightly intoxicated and cycling home, still all witchy, when I spotted a couple of delightfully drunk students quoting everything in a Shakespeare style rather loudly. I cycled past them oblivious but laughing to myself when I heard:
"What is this a-cycling before my eyes? It is a witch upon a bicycle, a-wailing
in the wind"
I don't recall any wailing, but my cloak was blowing rather dramatically... Made me smile.

29 October 2006

My baby


my baby
Originally uploaded by merysjones.

As mentioned before, I got an iPod for my birthday (from my parents, not my housemates!). Here it is in all its glory. Just need to work out how to put movies on it now for the long train journeys home!

28 October 2006

Watch that drunk!

So there I am, cycling along the road when I spot a drunk weaving around on the pavement. Obviously I don't want to cycle into him, but I do need to get on the footpath myself in order to get around the corner (I know it's illegal to cycle on the footpath before you tell me). So I decide to try and hop the bike onto the curb, thinking it's a drop curb. It isn't. I get the angle wrong and find myself in a heap on the pavement avec bike and bag.

Needless to say that the person who comes to help me is that selfsame drunk I'd been trying to avoid.
Bless him.
One of these days I will wear my helmet!

Merys out (with a sore knee)

Bon Anniversaire

Ok so the birthday was less traumatic than it could have been.

My wonderful new housemates Jenny and Steve (and other 'adopted' housemates) threw me a party. There were banners, streamers, fancy tableclothes, balloons and music. All good. Add to this one very tired Merys and you had the potential for floods of tears... yet I managed to remain composure.

We had an enormous Chinese takeaway and tidied the flat after everyone had left (quite a mammoth job in the end) but all was good.

I got a wonderful selection of gifts including Amazon vouchers, many bottles of wine, lots of chocolate, Ben and Jerry's, various shopping vouchers, a large bouquet of flowers, money and a new sparkly 30Gb iPod Video!!

I swear, without such great housemates I would go stir crazy. I didn't think I would enjoy living with 18 year olds again, and I think they were very dubious when I moved in, but we've learnt to accept each other at face value.

It also helps that they've seen me hideously drunk and attempting to blow up a very phallic pink balloon.

26 October 2006

and of course.....

It doesn't help all of this when it is in fact your birthday.
23 today, go me.

Why? Why? Why? (am I here...)

I will apologise in advance....it's unlikely that this post will make a great deal of sense given that the time it's published is in fact accurate.

Picture the scene. It's 05.10 and you haven't slept properly since trying to get sleep at 02.20. The reason - every part of your body hurts. Not excrutiatingly so, just a feeling of extreme bruising and a kind of post-exercise pain. With particular reference to parts that are touching a surface (i.e. anything that touches the bed) and with extreme pain down the spine. Imagine waking up (having been sleeping flat on your back) and having pins and needles in all four limbs without any pressure on them. Imagine trying to sleep through this, and having already taken the most painkillers you can.

Imagine that this is the 4th night in a row that this has happened, and during that time only 1 night was uninterrupted due to taking Amitriptyline (a drug which you hate so severely but felt forced to take by your GP because he said you were being stubborn). Imagine falling asleep in a lecture the morning after taking the amitriptyline and waking to be ridiculed by your peers, and feeling guilty for missing the majority of an important lecture.

Imagine that you haven't taken amitriptyline earlier tonight because tomorrow is an important day of lectures and are currently incredibly worried about falling asleep irrespective. But imagine also that you are still in pain, shaking and cannot get comfortable enough to even try again to sleep. Imagine that you have even tried the floor, and are about to settle for sleeping upright because the pain in your back is less.

Imagine you expressed your concerns to your GP (although admittedly crying your eyes out through exhaustion) and being told to return in no less than 2 weeks because he doesn't have your notes and doesn't see how he can help you, and leaving with a prescription for a drug that you neither want, nor liked taking in the past.


How do you feel??

More importantly, how do you think I feel.

Rant over

23 October 2006

I don't like Mondays

But apparently that's ok because they don't like me either (Isn't that right Mat?)

The day started badly after 2 and a bit hours sleep - which never really helps I suppose.
My back has been hurting me so badly since my parents came down to visit (?stress) that I even tried to sleep on the floor last night with my little brown blanket and pillows. This was actually working quite well until my toes gave in to pins and needles and my neck started cramping.

Sadly I can't sleep on either my back or my right hand side at the moment, and it hurts to breathe again. I suppose the student GP surgery here needs to benefit of my regular custom for painkillers!

Following this calamity and my reduced sleep my bike chain fell off in spectacular fashion causing me to a) get covered in oil attempting to put it back on, b) hurt my foot by dropping the upturned bike on my toes and c) miss a lecture.

I went for breakfast at the union instead - day not entirely lost.

22 October 2006

I am such a girl sometimes

Which is a relief I suppose, given the obvious presence of breasts.... Anyway, I digress.

Earlier tonight I was sat looking at my new RAM stick and new harddrive and wondering how the hell I was going to persuade someone to fit them for me....when I got bored of waiting and wondering.

A couple of phone calls later, the assistance of a boy to take the side of my computer off (i've pulled my shoulder and couldn't give the brute force required) and I had removed one of the existing 256MB sticks and replaced it with a 512MB stick.

I now feel immensely proud. My housemates do not understand why!

Stolen

I've pinched this from Kal but I hope he won't mind!

Watch this now

Student Lunch


Student Lunch
Originally uploaded by merysjones.

There is absolutely no wonder my Chinese housemate laughs at his 'English flatmates' is there.

Frankly my patience is wearing thin....and that's just based on my current diet.

21 October 2006

Oh deary me

It's half past eight on a Saturday morning. I had a heavy night last night and I am currently vacuuming my flat.

Why? I hear you ask....

Because if I don't the universe could well implode.

My parents are coming 'dahn sarf' to visit and they're very 'perfect'......

Could be a fun weekend - they're staying over. (Wish me luck)

17 October 2006

I'm fed up of being a moody bitch


Although I do *heart* the doctor I saw today.

You see, I thought I had just come to uni with fresher's flu, but having had a gammy cough that produced funny gunk, I gave in and went to the doctors a fortnight ago. Antibiotics and a lecture later and I was on my way.

Sadly, no better. Back today to see the asthma nurse who shuttled me on to the doctor.
Advice of the doctor? Good quality chocolate helps a cough.

I don't care for the evidence base behind her decision - works for me.

Doctor's orders it is then!

15 October 2006

Potatoes

God love my housemates (cos no-one else would!).....

When instructing Jenny (one of my housemates) on how to make roast potatoes... we took for granted that she would peel them before par-boiling them.

Needless to say most instructions are now vastly more detailed.

13 October 2006

Cycling

I had to say it didn't I? The bit about the cycling that is.
This time not so spectacular, and without injury - just a large audience of students.

Oh, and I fell into my housemate on her bike too.

Although I did discover last night that I can cycle while drunk. Possibly not the best thing I could have done, considering how rough I feel right at this moment in time.....

10 October 2006

The Black Dog

I think I have a case of Magwitch's Black Dog. Now I am thoroughly fed up and cheesed off to the nines.

It all just seems to have gotten on top of me and I desperately want to move back to my old university. I hate the course, haven't been exceptionally sociable and don't like the city I'm living in...... although I haven't fallen off my bike for a while.

I don't feel happy here. I actually miss [old university] more than home - to which my parents aren't very happy. The attitude of my parents is actually along the lines of 'shut up and deal with it or quit'. Nice.

The looming birthday isn't particularly helping either. Being an 'old fart' at medical school doesn't help. In fact, I'm a year older than most of the grads too (damn that masters degree!).

If it wasn't for my amazing housemates I'd be long gone by now. I guess there's a lot to be said for not living with medics.

08 October 2006

Bedroom Stripes


Bedroom Stripes
Originally uploaded by merysjones.

Rather bizarrely this was on my bedroom wall when I woke up this morning.
It's the first thing to make me smile in a few days, but more on that later.

04 October 2006

PBL

Is driving me mad.

I know that's a terrible thing to say, but I'm hoping it will get better.
It all seems so terribly vague to teach yourself medicine, and kind of a waste of £3000 a year (top up fees remember)!

01 October 2006

Reflections

I was reluctant to come here. After the first weekend of fresher’s activities I didn’t want to go to the first introductory lecture. It was all too complicated – too different from where I had been and everything that had gone before.

But I went. And all was OK – no big scary beast was coming to eat me up, although at some point in the week I fell off my bike (again).

Starting a new university is an unusual experience – but I feel it was more difficult as a graduate. When I was a fresh faced 18 year old moving to university to study a course I didn’t really want to, the thought of meeting people and making friends never even bothered me, let alone studying. It would just be something I would ‘do’, as I believed students did. The integration period was easier because of Jo – a friend from college. In reality this was my downfall, as we drifted apart since she was studying medicine and I wasn’t.

This time around and I’m not sure if the absence of a friend from home is a good thing or not. I feel I’ve found it difficult to make friends here because of my slightly outlandish and loud Northern personality. Maybe I’ve become spoilt by a forgiving group of friends at my old university who I don’t have to impress. Maybe I’m just trying too hard to impress….

The diversity of people here alarms me slightly, yet interests me at the same time. I was expecting to feel ‘old’ in comparison to the rest of my peers, yet oddly I don’t anymore. I feel a little more sensible than the 18 and 19 year old school leavers, but not boring. I also promised myself I wouldn’t cloister myself away with the other graduates – which I’ve pretty much managed to succeed at. I have friends 4 years younger than me and I don’t think I mind.

Speaking of people on the course, there are some people who I can already see myself clashing with on a personality level. Maybe I’m more used to basic lecture etiquette and behaviour, but making enough noise so that other people can’t hear isn’t just rude, it’s ignorant. There is a huge potential here to become ostracised by the vast amount of cliques and clans. A week in and there are some very strong allegiances being made by different groups of people – yet I feel I don’t really fit into any of them.

In all, the experience so far has been enlightening and allowed me to re-evaluate my UCAS decision. I don't feel any regrets so far, just a whole lot of confusion.

29 September 2006

I just had an argument.

Now this argument would have been fine and all, and I may even have won had I not picked such a difficult opponent.

To be fair, I don't think myself and my two wheeled friend are ever going to come off well against a brick wall.

I am a twat*



*A twat with a bruised ego and gravel rash.

27 September 2006

Bloody cyclists

I swear to all things holy that some cyclists are suicidal.
Don't get me wrong - I cycle into lectures every day but the sheer antics of other cyclists overtaking me at high speed makes me wobble intensely.

But, I've only fallen off 3 times already and hit one fence. I'm sure that's pretty good going!

25 September 2006

Learning Objectives

Learning objectives seems to be a very modern way of saying 'create your own medical education'.

While I didn't enter university completely deaf, dumb or blind, I hadn't quite grasped the magnitude of the type of medical education that is taught today.

The majority of medical schools now (including the one I am attending) teach an 'integrated' curriculum for the training of doctors. The idea of a couple of years of pure science followed by clinical years (as The Hippocratic Oaf is studying) seems to be fading amongst most medical schools. Whether for good or bad I cannot comment, but the decision to follow an integrated syllabus was made due to my prior degree in science. I did not see the point in doing another 2/3 years of pure science.

What alarms me the most is the huge emphasis placed on learning through colleagues. Now don't get me wrong here - I expected to do group work, but I didn't quite grasp that PBL (or Problem Based Learning) would be taught to me by my peers...

Quite how this will pan out, I aren't exactly sure. But one thing's for certain, we'll be hating each other by Christmas....

24 September 2006

and how could I forget.....

Carmelo Alongi, the new paramedic (student) on the block. Follow him through university at his blog here

Things you didn't know (and probably didn't want to know) about Merys - Part 1

  1. I really enjoy taking photographs (see Flickr stream) but aren't actually that good.
  2. I really enjoy cooking, but aren't actually that good.
  3. I have been driving for 4 years and have only reversed into my mother's car once...

Hello Goodbye

It is with great sadness that I have removed the link for The Special Constable's Blog, as well as The Oopsy Daisy who seems to have vanished off the face of the earth, taking The Door Supervisor's blog with them for company!

But I would like to add to the sidebar (drum roll please!):

Renal's blog - Renal was one of the first people to comment on this blog, and who introduced me to Admissions Forum (which is currently down for maintenance)

The Paramedic's Diary - another LAS blog which I thoroughly enjoy reading. You guys get all the fun!

22 September 2006

Lost in Translation

While I was being a helpful soul last night, I found myself showing a group of international students to find their accommodation.

Now as anyone who knows me will vouch for, I am rarely lost for words. I had to supress wild laughter last night when a gentleman from the middle east told me I reminded him of Hugh Grant.

Northern, female Hugh Grant maybe.....

20 September 2006

Peasholme Park


Peasholme Park
Originally uploaded by merysjones.

This is Scarborough. Deceiving isn't it?
Less than 2 weeks ago I was living at home with my parents and travelling around Yorkshire to get a few days rest from work. Scarborough was my choice as it reminds me of my childhood.
Peasholme Park has a beautiful boating lake and boats for hire, and I can remember canoeing around the lake at what seemed like incredibly high speed and overtaking the pedal boats.

My father wasn't exceptionally happy when I said I wanted to relive my childhood, and dragged him into a Canadian canoe. Exhausted, but happy we had overtaken lots of small children in pedaloes, showing that there's a lot to be said for having strong shoulders!

My reason for this post? I appear to have entered a new phase in my life.

It's being drilled into me that I am a 'health care professional' now, and that never again will I look at people in the same way. Now there's a thoroughly scary thought!

The course still appears to be good, but I can't help but wonder if I made the wrong decision. Every time I see an ambulance pass, I feel an odd pang inside. It's like having this little voice saying 'look what you could have been doing!'

But, one thing is for certain - I won't quit. Nothing annoyed me more as an undergrad than a medical student who'd quit. Selfish potentially - I could be taking a place from someone else. But in the same thread, I think my problem is I want to do both, which obviously isn't possible.

I shall have to keep reappraising!

19 September 2006

A. 'Hi I'm Merys, and you are...?'

Q. What have I been saying all week?

18 September 2006

Run for the hills

Well, the dreaded day came. The start of medical school – or rather the hellish drive to the more southern regions of the country to drag my sorry arse out of a perfectly comfortable one and into a halls of residence attempt at a mattress.

My stomach had been feeling queasy for a few days but I’d managed to maintain keeping the contents in it – until the morning of moving. In a cruel act to spite me, and looking for any valid excuse I managed to retch the (empty) contents of my stomach after swallowing mouthwash. Never in my entire life have I swallowed mouthwash – but it’s as if my body was looking for an excuse. At least I got it over and done with.

The journey took longer than expected, as well as the unpacking. Accommodation is simple and clean, well designed and, thankfully, en-suite.

A brief shopping trip avec parents led to a final bill of £120.74 worth of food, condiments, crockery, bed linen and shower things.

The plan for the first night was a bar night. Ok I thought, I can cope with this. Outfit carefully planned, hair groomed to perfection, contact lenses rather than glasses, cute shoes and a sexy handbag and I was off. Hang on a minute, who am I kidding. I crawled out of the shower, discovered I’d left my hairbrush at home and had a 10 minute strop until I found another one in a different box. Sadly I dragged my carcass off to the bar looking a bit of a mess – but never mind, I’m sure everyone was too pissed to notice by the time I got there…. maybe.

The theory in the bar was to get to know everyone, and eventually the great social lubricant that is alcohol worked its magic and everyone started talking to each other. I found another graduate living in the same halls as me, we shall refer to her as F, and she also has a degree in Biomedical Sciences, although from a different university to my original. We were having great amusement at one of the boys, fresh from boarding school who went on to get completely legless, stand far too close to everyone else for their liking, and collect phone numbers like postage stamps. Bless, I remember it well.

I also managed to meet my parents (or mentors for the confused out there). A really nice couple of medical students, who interestingly enough, had never met each other. It was slightly alarming to have medics wandering around and looking at faces carefully, comparing them to photographs, and having my ‘mother’ walk up to me and scream ‘Oh my god, you’re Merys Jones!*’ Ever so slightly disconcerting!



* Of course, if she had actually called me this I wouldn’t be writing this post now, and would instead be running for the hills while wearing dark glasses and a hat.

17 September 2006

University for the uninitiated

If you want to look your best in fresher's week, remember that personal grooming is an essential.......guess who forgot a hairbrush?

Proper posts will resume when I can stop grinning like a loon.

13 September 2006

So long, farewell etc.............

As my summer season at Yorkshire Leisure comes to a close, it certainly ended in a memorable fashion.

Friday nights are always a big deal for the entertainments and recreation staff, and managing kids and teenage parties and the staff and karaoke etc is like spinning plates. If nothing else, the takings have proven worthwhile – over £1200 from my 5pm start of shift. Sadly, I think I’d sweated blood on that night – not getting chance for a toilet break, never mind my allotted food break…

I don’t think memorable quite cuts it for describing my night. I was called every name under the sun when I had to eject some ‘customers’, one of whom was a well known school bully in my time at secondary school, and who certainly joined the queue of punching me too…. Unfortunately, I didn’t realise this until I ejected her and her friends, and she reminded me that I was a ‘F*&!@*g snotty bitch when I was at school too!’. Ta very much for that love, I shall pop it on my CV for future job applications!

More amusingly was their attempt to bully one of my French members of staff. He’s such a fabulous guy, but wouldn’t serve someone without any ID (which is his prerogative) and I supported his decision to do so. Cue the xenophobic tendencies. I would have told them so, but I don’t think they’d quite know what xenophobia is, and I couldn’t be bothered to explain. I did point out that I didn’t care if the guy in question wanted to get his ‘dick out’ to prove his age, as he still wouldn’t be getting served.

It’s a good job I’ve got elephant hide sometimes, lots of insults were bouncing of my armour tonight! Although I will take as a complement one of the staff telling me they were only arguing with me because I look intelligent. I did point out that looks can be very deceiving!

Still, the night ended on a high with a customer asking for my phone number and then ‘tailgating’ me around the bar and lounge. All I could hear were cackles from the staff behind the bar, who had obviously been egging him on all night. Still, revenge is a dish best served cold. He doesn’t have my phone number, but a certain Frenchman will be getting a set of interesting texts soon enough………

12 September 2006

9/11

When the planes hit the two towers I was sat in college somewhere. By the time I heard about it I was sat in an A2 Physics lesson, and we were granted special exemption to visit the computer suite and find out what had happened.

Rather surreally (and probably due to my dubious internet skills at the time) I couldn't find anything.

Rumour and speculation were doing the rounds and we returned to Physics none the wiser, but having wasted 30 minutes of teaching.

I don't recall if I took the college bus home of drove my car, but I remember hearing the news on the radio on the way home, placing an end to all the rumours.

When watching the Sky News footage at home I remember thinking how 'Hollywood' it all looked, and being in complete disbelief for a couple of hours.
My thoughts are with all involved
xx

09 September 2006

Worth the weight

Following my prior rant about weight and the clothes industry, I am proud to announce that I am now a size 12/14 and have lost a stone in weight (approx 6.3 KG I believe). This may still sound like I’m on the large size, but I’m quite toned and hide it well. Being a sensible 5ft7in also helps to hide the extra pounds.

Sadly, I may have gained just a little too much confidence and have taken to wiggling my arse at people a little too much. *sigh* It’s a hard life.

Never mind, fresher’s week soon, I can drink it all back on again!

05 September 2006

Recently when I was at work, doing the whole leisure centre thing, I had to pop off to the little blogger’s room to (ahem) powder my nose.

Upon entering a cubicle to do as nature intended, I noticed a small boy had obviously been in the ladies because the seat was up. Not thinking too much of it, I popped the seat down, turned around, sat down and made my bladder happy.

Finishing with relief, I turned around to flush, and discovered to my horror that all was not quite right. Sadly, the seat was covered in something brown, ominous and smelly. And I had just sat in it….

…..delightful.

01 September 2006

Chav bashing - a national sport

Have I ever mentioned just how much I hate chavs? I’m becoming terribly snobby about it all, generally fed up of being tailgated by a pimped up Saxo full of baseball cap wearing obnoxious males with blue tinted headlights and enough bass to cause an exhaust pipe to fall off.

While trying on a LBD* in Topshop this week I actually heard the teenage child in the cubicle next door work the words ‘am I bovvered?’ into a serious conversation. The sound of my coughing with laughter could be heard throughout the store and they must have spotted me due to my bright red face, choked by laughter and my streaming eyes.

To be brutally honest, it bemuses me. As someone who doesn’t completely follow fashion (I tend to do my own thing…) I probably can’t comment on chav fashion, but as we have a ‘no hoodies’ rule in work, you’d think they’d have got the picture now. I’ve even started getting giggling messages through my headset informing me that my favourite abusive customers are in again. The regular staff all hate them too, but just prefer watching teeny me kick ass!

31 August 2006

why (pt 1)

Why is it that my computer never ever plays Tenacious D until my parents (who hate all swearing - especially the F word) are standing talking to me in the bathroom, next door to mine. This has happened twice with the song F*&K her gently, and I have never moved as fast.

30 August 2006

Just plodding along

I know it's bad, but I'm counting down the days until I finish work and start university again. Don't get me wrong, I'm still giving it 100%, but I'm looking forward to a change of scenery.

I finish work in 2 weeks and have a week off before heading to university, and I'm passing bricks as well as being excited. I guess I'm just nervous about being a graduate on an undergraduate course. But I'll cross that bridge when I come to it...

28 August 2006

an impending sense of maturity

I can finally recognise my maturity with a sense of impending doom – and I aren’t referring to the rapidly appearing grey hairs.

It’s odd, but when I live in the city, I appreciate all that it has to offer, yet I still miss little things about the countryside too…

I miss my dog and his freckles – the way he licks my glasses when I lay on the floor (he never used to lick my eyes before I had glasses – I just guess he thinks he’s amusing).

I miss being able to go and pick my own fruit and vegetables. At home I have access to herbs, vegetables and fruit from the orchard. There’s nothing quite like feeling hungry while messing around in the garden and helping yourself to an apple, a couple of plums and some fresh brambles. In a similar thread, I love having access to nice cooking equipment. Nothing beats heavy cast iron pans and griddles to cook fresh food in. At university I hate having to do supermarket shopping for meat, vegetables and eggs. At home our butcher comes to us, and I hate having polystyrene wrapped meat. I have no problems with preparing my own meat from the animal (I’m by no means a prissy girl), I just think it would upset people in a communal kitchen at university if they walked in and found 2 brace of pheasants hanging from the ceiling for a week.

I miss the smell of the countryside and the sound of birdsong, I miss driving in the rain late at night while being actually able to have full beam headlights on and reach 60 mph. I can’t see I’d ever have legally managed that at university….


Mostly, I guess I just appreciate what I have while I’m here – even if my accent has got stronger lately.
I’m still looking forward to university though!

26 August 2006

£330.97

How much I've spent on medical books so far.

24 August 2006

Overboard

In the last 3 days I have spent £116 on text books for uni (and I may have bought this too).

I've also just bought 20 new pairs of knickers in varying colours and styles, a beautiful pair of clogs and 2 framed prints for my wall. Not to mention all the crockery I bought yesterday.........

I think I maybe getting a little bit excited by all of this now.

But I am looking forward to my new Muse album from Amazon (dial-up too damn slow to buy from iTunes!)

21 August 2006

I might have started collecting a few bits and pieces..........

Just a thought.......

Is it wrong to have airbrushed / photo-shopped all my med school passport photographs?

17 August 2006

Lessons learnt while driving (pt 1)

  1. I do actually have 5 gears, not 4, and definitely not just 3.
  2. That overtaking a lorry while he hasn't checked his mirrors and is overtaking a tractor is wise on neither of our parts.
  3. Car washes snap wing mirrors off....
  4. ....and it's usually wise to shut the sunroof before the thing starts.
  5. Lights are sensible (not to mention legal) when driving at night

In other news, congratulations to all the A Level students today. Remember, if you didn't get what you wanted, I got CCC and I (eventually) got into medical school. If you want it bad enough, work through a degree and get it that way. Any questions, email me!

12 August 2006

A change for the better

**I've decided to introduce some guest posters/bloggers to the site to try and see things through a different perspective. So, without further ado, allow me to introduce Mat, who I first met through Admissions Forum, with his views on 'Why Medicine?'**

"Hello, I'm Mat. I'm 19 and posting on a blog about a 120 (it's coming up close to that isn't it Merys?) year old’s attempt to get into Medicine. What can I possibly add to the discussion?

Well, hopefully a little bit. I considered writing about Student life, but Merys would be hugely more experienced to talk about that. I'm going to talk about something I end up talking a lot about.

Why Medicine?

Some of us decide at 7, some at 17 and others at 27. But ultimately everyone at a Medicine course has decided, not only "I'm willing to study Medicine for 5 years" but also, I'm willing to be a doctor for most of my life. I'm going to work for the organisation that’s probably criticised most in the UK press, The NHS. I'm willing to join a profession famous for archaicism, and bullying, and inflexible working hours.

Well, why?

Some programs show Medicine as being about Caring done by superhumans. Others, such as ER make it seem dramatic beyond any level of realism. But why did a real person - for example me - choose to do medicine. I'm not a hugely caring person; in fact, some of my friends would describe me as closer to callous than caring. I'm a good communicator, but more in the arguing than the consoling sense. And I'm a great scientist, but more in theory than in practise. I probably sound like I’ll be an awful doctor, but I don’t think I will be – why?

A doctor doesn’t have to care about all of their patients; in fact it would be impossible to do so. A news flash to applicants who want to care about everyone – some of your patients will be rapists and murderers, others will just be wankers. Hence there will be some who frankly you don’t care about, that doesn’t mean you get out of treating them. So the old line in the personal statement about “Caring about people” is simply a meaningless clichĂ©.

A doctor communicates in a different way than most applicants ever have. You communicate with your peers, which is frankly easy. But you also have to communicate daily with people at their most vulnerable, the ill, the dying, and the relatives of those who are either ill, dying or dead. I hardly thinking having done public speaking in year 10 qualifies you for this.

What about being good at practical science? Well I am good at practical science, but I don’t think being able to make methylate benzene qualifies you to cauterise a wound.

So why should you go into Medicine?

Well not for money!

I’d say because you want to make a difference but also because you like the field. If your not actually interested in Medicine, don’t go into it .You have to be interested in disease and the human body or you’ll never make it far in medicine. After all, that’s what it is about.

I’m sure people will disagree with me, hell most people do most of the time. I hope I’ve been interesting. If anyone want to contact me, feel free at matthewjb@gmail.com

Mat."

09 August 2006

It's just a jump to the left.........

The joys of fishnets, basques and feather boas. Not to mention glittery hotpants and maid's outfits for the women.

Yes boys and girls, I've just been to see the Rocky Horror Show. I even have the imprints of fishnets on my toes and the soles of my feet. I haven't worn so much black eyeliner and dark lipstick since my goth days, and damn it feels good.

To be honest I was a Virgin to the show, although I have seen the film. While talking to a smartly dressed gentleman in the row in front, he seemed surprised that considering I had the audience participation script I hadn't seen it before. Leaning forward to better hear him, I gathered it wasn't his first viewing, judging by the fishnets, suspenders and glittery stilettos he was wearing. Oddly, he was old enough to be my father.

But it was good, I danced in the aisles and I would see it again. (any offers?)

05 August 2006

Chewing the fat

While I won’t claim to be a heffer – I’ve always been very self conscious about my weight at times. I guess it might be a female thing and the society we live in.

I remember reading an article in Now magazine a few weeks ago exposing the fashion industry, by someone on the inside. The author claimed that designer labels didn’t go past a size 12 or 14 (US 8 to 10 I believe) because the item cost more to manufacture, and that designer labels didn’t look right on fatter women. I was really irritated to read this myself. I wouldn’t call myself fat, but I’m a size 14 and curvy – why is that a problem?! The average sized woman in the UK is a 16, as was Marilyn Monroe – one of the greatest female icons of all time.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with models like Kate Moss, but I admire models like Sophie Dahl much more. Saying that skinny models sets up false ideals is a bit of a joke really – the only person who can dictate body image is yourself.

I used to be very very overweight – and I will admit that when I was fat I used to say I was happy. I know now that that was a lie. I’ve gained weight since doing my masters, and I’m unhappy at the moment – I dread to think how I’d feel back at over 13 stone again!

The reason for this rather random post? I’ve been back dieting (WeightWatchers style) since I returned home, and have lost an impressive 8lbs in the last 2 weeks. I am feeling rather smug with myself at the moment, and am aiming to lose another stone before starting university in September. I doubt it will change my clothes size, but that doesn’t really matter does it? I would rather wear the size clothes I wear and look good in them that squeeze myself into a 10 or 12 and have muffin tops or extra boobs. (Women will know what I mean there, men may be confused!)

03 August 2006

Forethought


careers
Originally uploaded by merysjones.

I found this when I was tidying and clearing my bedroom at home. As part of careers week at secondary school, we were asked to write this. I must have been influenced by this - suggesting that I was going to do a science/maths degree before I became a doctor and that at 21 I would still be at university. How odd, but I didn't stop laughing for ages.

In other news, home and work means dieting - and I've lost 5lbs in the last week! Go me!

31 July 2006

I'm just a sentimental soul!

I’m now officially back at home, so blogging will be significantly lighter than normal until September. I hate using dial-up, but I’ve rectified the situation significantly by replacing my parents’ archaic PC with my own recently updated one. I’ll admit, being all independent and headstrong, I decided to set the machine up myself. It couldn’t be that difficult – I mean, I set it up when I bought it, so doing it at home couldn’t be much harder….could it?

Well, if your name’s Merys then at some point you’ll have to call in the cavalry (i.e. the nearest computer engineer who isn’t at work) to talk you through it over the phone. I mean, how was I meant to know that when you’ve installed a new graphics card (or had a friend do it for you!) that you have to plug the monitor into that one?! I went through two monitors before admitting defeat. Then I couldn’t get the sound to work. Possibly because I’d plugged the speakers into the blue (line-in) socket – another telephone call rectified that one.

So, I’ve spent all morning and part of the afternoon scanning photographs and adding all my CDs to iTunes (which still isn’t working properly!) before I try and get rid of them all at carboot!

It’s been a sentimental morning – scanning my photographs from the first year at uni (as I previously mentioned, I didn’t have a digital camera until my third year) reminded me that I was officially leaving, and tugged at a few heartstrings as I saw friends that I’d long forgotten about. I don’t think I can bring myself to scan any more in now, but I feel I should for posterity.

On a sidenote, if anyone has any ideas how to get iTunes to recognise my iPod, then could they please drop me an email or a comment. I’ve re-installed and repaired iTunes, reinstalled all my USB drivers etc, and generally tried everything I can think of. The iPod is showing up in windows under My Computer, but not in iTunes, which means I can’t update my music. Help!

27 July 2006

A proper working girl

08.30 - Doorbell goes. Postman has eBay package that won't fit in the letterbox. Thankfully, the postman has enough sense to stick the package through a crack in the door and save my dignity!

08.32 - go back to bed

08.42 - Turn TV on, can't sleep

09.45 - Start to go for shower, when phone rings and it's work. General manager want to know if I can come in for 2.30 instead of 4 because he's feeling ill. No problem. Head back towards shower

10.30 - Post-shower - feed dog, feed cat, feed self. Start family ironing to help mother, watching DVDs in the process (Legally Blonde and 2 Weeks Notice)

13.00 - Finish ironing and start to do microwave Weighwatchers meal of Moroccan Chicken with Cous Cous.

13.35 - Start to straighten hair

14.05 - Finish straightening hair and start makeup and contact lenses. Get dressed!

14.31 - dive into work place and blame sodding traffic

14.35 - quick handover with departing general manager, and swap keys with him for locking up.

14.37 - deal with first whining customers wanting a refund. Skillfully persuade them that they don't want a refund, and give free drinks from the bar instead! Strike 1 to Merys!

Everything going smoothly until....

16.20 - Kick out first set of Chav Children for stealing, swearing and bad behaviour. Laugh in their faces as they threaten me. Male staff laugh at me laughing at them.

17.00 - Brown stuff hits the fan as restaurant runs out of chips. Make a mercy dash to Tesco.

18.30 - Clean play area, clean up after small energetic children's birthday party (play on swings when no-one is watching!)

18.45 - deal with second set of whining customers with less success, more free drinks.

somewhere between 19.00 and 22.00 time blurs. I know I ate and cashed up some tills, but that's it.

22.00 - throw last customers out and lock up. Rinse and repeat again tomorrow!

26 July 2006

I think the secret's out

So, I've returned to my summer job at the leisure centre, as manager of entertainments and leisure (bar, restaurant and childrens entertainment). Yesterday I had the joy of getting covered in chocolate cake while trying to keep candles lit and enthuse 'Happy Birthday to you' upon 12 little monsters.

My day consisted of fixing a blocked toilet, breaking and then fixing the office computer, taking bookings for childrens parties, locating the parents of lost children, balloon modelling and face painting. I've also balanced tills (with limited levels of success), and been asked to feel a lump on a member of staff. Apparently the secret's out - one of the staff thinks I know what I'm doing, and despite my protestations she wanted me to look at a lump on her shoulder. I sent her in the direction of qualified medical help!

Other than working and sleeping, I've done very little else. I've been beaten into dieting again, and am aiming to lose a stone before starting medical school.

Tomorrow night I have the joy of chav-watch at work, and the school holidays seem to make the leisure centre one of the most popular places to drink illegally acquired alcohol. It also makes more work for me, and humour for the staff watching me boot them out of the building, and then subsequently the car-park!

I love my job

24 July 2006

Homeward bound

Sadly, I am kissing goodbye to my university accommodation and an area I have grown to love. I'm currently sat in my teenage bedroom at home, trying to beat the computer with a shoe and wishing I had something faster than 56K dial-up.

Tonight I watched the first episode of the new series of Trauma on BBC1, and having done a large amount of observing with the ambulance service, I find it fascinating to watch how different ambulance trusts work. My dad commented that he couldn't understand how the hell I wanted to work with patients, but I guess he's just an antisocial middle aged man!

22 July 2006

Oh the times, they are a-changing

Since I'm packing up my room and saying my final good-byes to friends and colleagues, I've entered a period of reflection on my last 4 years as a student.

I shook hands with my (ex) bar manager, and cried while leaving the building, I've found presents never used or opened properly from ex-boyfriends, and photographs of friends long forgotten. It's a good and bad time equally.

I've realised just how much junk I've accumulated in the last 4 years, and how much technology has changed while I've been here. For example, I've just found a random assortment of floppy disks; I haven't used a floppy disk in the last 2 years at least, and haven't used a CDRW since gaining a memory stick for my birthday last year!

When I started university, no-one had a colour screen on their mobile phone, let alone a camera. None of my friends had a digital camera and we used to race to get films developed after a night on the tiles. I still used to listen to and buy audio CD albums. I haven't bought a CD since my 21st birthday, when I discovered the joy of the iTunes music store. Needless to say, my CD player is standing dormant in a corner of the room, unsure of whether to take home or not....

It's sad to be packing up, but satisfying at the same time. I know my parents aren't going to be pleased when they see just how many boxes we have to take home, but I can't throw most of the stuff out, so I just just have to be an ostrich and bury my head in the sand until the shouting subsides!

21 July 2006

Train Journeys


I recently had to do the long train journey home again, in sweltering heat in a carriage that seemed to be lacking in air conditioning. It's rare to be on a major train service that has the windows open!

As seen in the photograph, I need my collection of trashy magazines and good reading to keep me sane on the train and to avoid the distraction of the sweaty bloke sat behind me kicking my seat!

As we can see, I have a good book, 3 trashy gossip magazines, my LancĂ´me make-up compact, a handbag to store everything, and a Manfred Mann playing iPod (Blinded by the Light if you were curious!)

I don't know how I managed the journey, the second leg wasn't as bad, but it was all hotter than hell

Does this meet approval

I changed it again. Was hurting my eyes. I think I like this one.........

So I changed it..........

OK so I changed the design of the blog, and I'm not entirely sure I like it myself. I think it may make my eyes hurt after a while.

Any thoughts? Should I change it back, or are there any other nice layouts anyone can suggest?

20 July 2006

For posterity

"It's time to change the profile. I'm now a graduate, just started a Masters degree to try, yet again, to get into medical school in the UK. It may soon be time to quit... "

" ...Well, maybe I am a drain on society. I dunno. You tell me. I'm currently studying for a Masters degree in the field of health and disease, working as a bar maid and struggling to deal with lots of first year students. All I want to do is become a doctor...The quest is endless....... "

As pointed out by Emster, my profile should probably now change. For posterity, I've kept them above as a reminder of how hard it's been to get where I am now.

Oddly, I still can't relax. I haven't had the offer confirmed yet because the man I need to speak to is on annual leave, and no-one at the medical school seems to want to commit to anything. Instead, I'm still stressing that they might reverse their offer, or something crazy will happen.

18 July 2006

The healing power of football

And I'm not talking about the World Cup.

Recently I was working with a large group of teengagers for a conference. The question - how do you keep 30 Lower Sixth students entertained? Answer - a football. It always impresses me how well a large group of people can co-ordinate themselves around a football. Within 2 minutes we had jumper/coat goals and 2 teams!

Merys' only words of warning - please don't smash a window!

15 July 2006

12 July 2006

Shitty

My eyes were prickling with hayfever and dust before the tears came. Lacking dignity, removing my glasses and crying on the bus. Making a spectacle of myself as usual - typical Merys.

I'd been phoning my family all day to see how She'd got on at the hospital with my Aunt, but no news had filtered down the family telegraph system.

The news came through as I was sat on the bus heading home. It was a tumour - unknown to be malignant or benign, and taking 2 weeks to gain any further information. She's fought cancer before, and was due to get the 'all-clear' this year, 8 years after previous treatment. This time it's different. Different location. Worryingly, the suggestion I've heard is for a full body scan to rule out other tumours.

The telephone calls sombre all afternoon, comforting my mother while expected to be the fountain of all medical knowledge - but I've not been given more than scant information myself. Feeling terribly useless, and just wanting to be at home.

My mother said She'd arrived home if I wanted to call Her. Selfishly, I couldn't - too afraid to cry down the phone and upset Her. She's a tough old bird.....

Last year I ran the Race for Life for Her - in support of her defeating the disease. Now it's come back and reminded us we're all mortal again. Please let it be benign.

She's My Grandmother, and I love her dearly. Please protect over Her.

11 July 2006

Lessons I have learnt the hard way

# I should always wash my hands before putting my contact lenses in - especially if the last thing I did (and had forgotten about) was slice shallots.

# Concealer stick hurts a lot if you get it into your eyes (same one as the contact lens problem - sadly)

# Dark sunglasses are usually suitable attire when the above 2 points have happened - even if they aren't prescription. No-one wants to see your 28 Days Later impression.

# Vicks vapourub also hurts when inadvertantly applied to the eyes (minus contact lenses thankfully)

The conclusions drawn - I need to wash my hands better and stop poking myself in the eye.

10 July 2006

Trying new things

My father has a wonderful expression. He says that you should:

"Try anything once - except incest and Morris dancing"

It's a general rule of thumb apparently! Anyway, imagine my parents' humour when I phoned them up and said (while trying to keep a straight voice and not laugh):

"I'm going Belly dancing!"

I had to interrupt the laughter to explain that yes, I was serious, and yes, I was going alone. I was determined to go and give it a try - I grew up with different styles of dance and still have a whole shelf of dance medals from childhood and teenage years.

Anyway, it was good fun, my stomach muscles have never been worked quite as well for a while, and in the words of dirty dancing:

"God didn't give you Maracas, if he didn't want you to shhhhhhhhhaaaaaaaaaaaakkkkkkkkkkkeeeeeeeee them!!"

And my oh my, did I shake them!