About Me

Larbert, Scotland, United Kingdom

Friday, March 30, 2007

Hospitals from a different viewpoint

Like most medical students, I see hospitals as places for tutorials, clinical teaching OSCE's and maybe the odd lecture or two. But over the past few months I have come to see them in a different way - firstly as a visitor to see my Grandpa who had a stroke and was in a DGH about 40 miles away. At first when he was well, going to see him was easy and fun and I noticed various little things that reminded me of my teaching placements. However, they also made me wonder about such things as:
  • Why are there no Doctors around at family visiting times?
  • Why are visiting times so restrictive when often patients have little to do all day?
  • Why do fairly modern hospitals not have a phone at each bed and a selection of more than 3 radio stations to listen to?
The food at this particular DGH was good and freshly cooked on site, unlike its nearest major teaching hospital which until recently had food cooked 300 miles away trucked up and reheated on the wards each day.

Then today, I went with Little Miss P from work to see G who is a diabetic member of staff and is in one of the local teaching hospitals having had a hypo as a result of a bad cold last week. He was admitted on Saturday. The weird thing is that had this week been a Clinical teaching week, and not a vacation, I would have been on his ward and could well have been off to see him to get a history and examine him. I'm not sure what the rules are on this - can I just say "I know him", or would I have to consent him and him refuse? Anyway I hope he's better soon.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Back to work

I have now had 12 or 13 days off for my one week holiday, so it's time to go back to work at 5pm tonight. I don't really want to go and it is worrying me that halfway through my holiday from Uni I haven't actually made much of a dent in the pile of work I have to do. The pile got smaller, but only because I did some filing. The next 7 weeks could be a battle to learn it all for the exams. Hopefully work will remember my plea to only have to work my new lower hours in my contract (10 instead of 15 a week) up to my exams.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Student Loans

Applying for a loan is fun. You get a nice thick book of instructions and 'notes' which aim to clarify the form. They then insist that you add you ID number to about 19 pages and also add bits that demand to know about your name address etc which they collected last year as well and which are surely somehow linked to your ID number on their computer system.

Thankfully this year I am considered independent, and thus they will not use my parents income to calculate my Loan - despite the fact that mum & Dad haven't given me any money in those years. Thus i only have to fill in the form, not send it to them as well. I have to say if I am in Uni or on placement in each term of Year4. Well apart from the fact that we don't have 3 terms, and we are in both Uni and on placement each term. Hopefully this means they will send me a form to claim some travel expenses which will be nice.

I'm sure they rely ion the fact that most students need their student loan in order to force us to fill in the turgid form and write N/A in all the boxes about childcare grants, dependent adults and children.

Arghh only the signatures to do now.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Tesco & Banks

Why are some companies so difficult to deal with?
Tesco.com is great service - they bring far more than I could carry home from work or the tesco store and they do it for a fairly small charge. All good so far - save time, same cost. However in January they missed the delivery slot twice - once because they came on the wrong day - go figure... But because they bill your card before they leave the shop, they charged me 3 times for the same shopping. I phoned and asked for two of them to be refunded. They said "Yeh sure".

Come February's statement from the bank, no refund. So I call again and sit in a queue for a bit then the guy says "Yes of course we will do it now".

So March's statement comes - no refund.........I phoned again and they said we'll get back to you
by Friday - but no call came. So on the next Tuesday I phoned and the call centre said "we'll put you through to the store". The store asked for the details and said they would investigate - they call me back the next day saying they have done the refund.

At last, so why did it take 2 months and 10 phone calls????

Then the bank issue.

I wrote a cheque for £250, but the bank took £750. Phoning customer services resulted in an "Are you sure?" response. So they will get back to me apparently! Arghhh!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Funding news......

No not the BBC charter... but while in Maplins today (see here) I received a phone call from the BMA Medical Education Trust wanting to check a few of my details in my application to the trust for some funding for year four of the course. They didn't phone in either of the last two years, so maybe I am in with more of a chance this time around. I should hear back in June/July.
I don;'t know it now being old enough to be called a mature student will help?

The creative genius (butcher boy) called me to help him with a plan

The task
It sounded simple enough. Butcher boy from work said he wanted to turn an upright piano his flat had acquired (legally) into a device for controlling PC media plyaers, so b y pressing a Piano key, you could play/pause, stop, skip and shuffle the tracks on the playlist.


They had a PC which was networked and could thus be controlled from elsewhere, and they had a piano.

The how, and why and when.
You need:-
  1. A Maplin's joypad for gaming
  2. A screwdriver to take the controller apart
  3. Soldering Iron
  4. Wires
  5. Sticky tape
  6. Blue tac
  7. 5p coin
Why the 5p, I hear you cry?
  • You use the blutac to attach one wire to a 5p and stick this to the underside of one of the keys ( following the dis-assembley of the piano).
  • Another wire is connected to the tray in which the keys sit. The two are arranged such that when you press the key, the 5p comes into contact with the bare end of the wire in the tray, thus making the contact.
  • The wires then connect to a controller which has had the buttons removed. Detailed study of the Printed Circuit Board (PCB) allow you to work which two points need to be connected in order to complete the circuit. You then solder the wires from the piano onto these points.
  • This is repeated for 4 piano keys.
Then you go for pizza.

  • Then you download a plugin for the media player of your choice (winamp) which allows control of the media player using a joypad.
  • Assigning the piano key presses to a function took a little effort, involving checking the positioning of the two contacts such that they were not touching at rest, but did touch when the key was pressed.
  • Finally you load some random tracks and assign the keys.
Middle C - Play
The next one to the right - Stop
The next one to the right - Skip forward
The next one to the right - Toggle shuffle on/off
  • Then you check the display on the small 2 line LCD display that Butcher boy and the Supermarket vetrans have got and lo when you press play it changes and from the speakers you hear Feeder. Stop, and skip also work..............
The final step is to move the power switch from the PC case and extend it so it it is under the Piano keyboard so you can turn the PC on/off when the piano is back to normal.

I do not accept responsibility if you too end up with burned fingers following this experiment.
However should you decide to copy the idea, then you must contact the patent office who have the details of the PC-JukeBox-Piano-atron.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Holidays and sleep.

This week I am off work (yipee), and off Uni (yipee). However all has not gone as planned. However it is nice not to have to get up early in the morning, however I still did, in fact I woke earlier and went to bed earlier than I manage during term time. Why is it that when I want to sleep late, and have the time to I can't and when I do have to get up, my head is full of jelly at 7am and I can't wake up.

Family stuff
My holiday will be a bit interesting, since due to the death of my grandfather, next Monday will be a family funeral. This will be a sad day, but also good as I get to see my cousins and we can all remember the good times we had with my Grandpa and have a good time (I hope!) It is amazing what I have found out over the past few days about him - some which I knew and some which I didn't:
  • First Male Nurse in his hospital (this is apparently noted on a plaque in the Dining Room)
  • Various and assorted stories of his Naval service - he had a collection of his and his father's medals kept in a sock drawer which he hadn't mentioned to anyone
  • The great esteem in which he was held by his 'charges' when working as a 'house parent' at a Boarding School in India, and how those 'children' used to call in to see him and my Gran when they were in the UK - often 10 or 12 visits per year.
  • The charity he had when going abroad at the age of almost 65 to work as a missionary nurse in a hospital on the Zimbabwe / Zambia border to cover because they had a gap of 6months between staff.
  • The care for my Gran as she developed dementia, and he himself struggled with his own failing health.
I don't want to paint him as a great hero, but it is true what people say that often we don;t know our relatives well until they are gone.

Clothes Nightmare

On a more positive note I have to go shopping for a 'suitable coat' for the funeral as my mum put it - apparently my worn out 4 year old waterproof is not suitable. However I fear I will have my standard problem with clothes........my legs are too short for my shape........therefore trousers either need shortening, or I need stretching. Thankfully I have until next Monday, so I will start the shopping tomorrow - thank goodness for M&S. I also need some new jeans and T-shirts........how long til next pay day?

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Rant time

Why oh why oh why is this country so crazy....

We took DIME to the Time Capsule today. We did swimming in the morning and then ice skating in the afternoon. This was all good fun with no mishaps, and I was even told that my skating has improved since our last visit there 4 years ago. In between swimming (swallowing half the pool and being dunked/splashed for an hour) and skating (wobbling round and crashing into the side boards) we had lunch.


I can't remember how much we paid for lunch, it was small bottle of juice a burger and chips. The two main rants I have about this were that the burgers were lukewarm (held on hot plate) dried, tasteless and had no salad in the bun at all. The chips were ok. They gave us diet juice as part of their healthy option. So basically the meal was at best mediocre, and several kids left theirs. At the side of the burger was a coffee area, using Costa's name, cups and beans. This coffee was just like you would get at a Costa anywhere in the world.

So North Lanarks council have no issues with providing decent quality fresh muffins croisants and good coffee, but the rest of their food output is fried from frozen, with no salad and served up dried and frankly disgusting. So the kids spent their money on sweets and crisps. It is crazy.

Worse came when we decided that we might want some pictures of the event. Not the swimming, but the ice skating. There were large signs saying we needed to ask at reception. I sent our TL to go and ask. He came back with a nice big form in which I had to list my details - name, address, telephone number; my organisation, my position in the organisation, my reason for taking the photo(s), what use would be made of the photo(s) and would I benefit commercially. You might think from this that I would then be allowed free reign to take pictures round the ice rink.

Oh no!!!!I then returned the form to the centre manager, who after 5 minutes said we could go down early and take a group picture but must have the camera away before the public came through. We complied and then got our skates on and went onto the ice. Its craziness. Even the social worker present agreed that it was madness.

Holidays are here!

Today was the end of term - a short PBL scenario up at my hospital this term. It was worth the trek in the wind and rain as someone brought sweets. This meant we started with the traditional debate about which Cadbury minature hero is the nicest, although we had a side discussion on why people dress up as babies for sex? You may ask why on earth are 3rd year students discussing this - simple it was on the front of More magazine, which was stacked ontop of the BMJ in the seminar room. We could blame the Thursday PBL group, but I think its more likely to have been one of the consultants. We don't get teaching in that unit, so I cannot cast aspertions on their character yet!

The minature heroes meant we needed to decide who got the remainder at the end, then our unelected, but commonly agreed, leader decided to box them up for his flatmates. As we left, into driving rain, we met the other PBL group who we offered the chocolates too - so we stood, ten of us in the rain and wind, eating chocolate. It seemed like a good start to the holidays.

Walking back via the greenhouse (Med School) to collect my coursework feedback (grade B), I had that strange euphoric feeling of holidays and long hot days and carefree school times, while paddling in puddles on the side of the road and trying to stop water running down my neck.

Tonight was a work birthday so it was drinks and cake. I don't have to go back there for another 9 days, but already it is casting a shadow over my holidays with internal security enquires, staff being sacked (including the Roguish Hat) and general mess and nastiness with rumour and counter-rumour. Its not fun and you have to think that if the managers thought about it, they could handle it so much better. Anyway I'm sure my spies there (sorry friends) Little Miss P and butcher boy will protect my reputation and stop the place falling down until I return from holiday.

Tomorrow is an exciting DIME trip swimming and ice skating, followed by a 3-4 hours train ride down to see Mum and Dad for a few days - not been home for this long in nearly 3 years - so I might not be back here til Wednesday.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

need sleep

Comms skills was okay, but would have been nicer on more than one hour's sleep. I had the anxiety and panic attacks station and failed to explore whether her stimuli for the attacks was real or not, but all in all the session went ok, even if the med school mistakes meant we only had half an group and had to be joined up with another group. There was also a tutor in training, so we had 3 tutors viewpoints on each scenario which was good, as the 2 visitors were GPs and my normal comms skills tutor is a pathologist so they added real world colour!

I went to the opticians and they told me I have tilted discs, apparently this isn't serious, but is a congenital thing that means that the my fields of vision are slightly off centre. It won;t affect my eyesight. In fact the good news is that my eyes are a bit better than they were. I also have allergic conjunctivitis and was advised to get eyedrops from Boots, and also to avoid wearing my contacts after swimming in them or in extremes of high temperature - hmmm I think that will be getting broken on Saturday.

Argghh the printer is out of ink. And I have no spare cartridges...One day I shall be organised, one day.


Well prompted by other people's blogs, I thought i might start one of my own. I guess at least at the start most of you will know who I am - so this might scare you a little.

Anyway tonight was my last shift at 'Work' for 12 days, which is nice. But it wasn't a fun shift with tears, internal security in the store, staff being sacked and stuff like that. And worst of all we have no cardboard bases for pizzas, nor any hot water - I mean I ask you, how can I be expected to wash up in cold water, especially as the chicken trays didn't look they had been done in weeks.

Sometimes I wonder about my combination of work, Uni and life. One of them has to suffer and at the moment I feel that both uni and life are suffering. Still the holidays are a chance to catch up and learn all my clinical skills, the half done PBL's, and make revision notes on all of year 3, so I can learn it all before the exam. Therein lies my plan. If it happens I will be amazed.

Anyway I need to get ready for the latest Comms session tomorrow - it is on mental health issues and dealing with difficult patients, and since I;m not feeling too hot this week, it could be fun. Today's lectures were ok, since the first one was only 80 minutes not the full 120, so we went across to the hospital for coffee, and woke ourselves up before the final lecture of the day.

Anyway, further wanderings later.