About Me

Larbert, Scotland, United Kingdom

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Easter ramblings

Tuesday was a bit of an adventure. Glasgow to Alloa via Pollok, Edinburgh, St Andrews and Dunfermline.

The tip to St Andrews was in my role at Asst production thingy for Origin. We have a concert in St Andrews at the end of April, and were up for a reccie of the Church venue, to look at what tech equipment we would need and how we would lay out the stage. The church really is very beautiful, and old-looking. Below are a few nice pictures....Last weekend I had been up to see a friend near Crieff - they live out in the country and have this fantastic view of nice fields and hills out the front door.
They also have a dog who likes posing......
Coming home from Crieff meant a detour as the trains were not running through Stirling due to railway works and the installation of this huge new bridge which will link a new retail park to the town centre.
On Tuesday night I was staying at my sisters new house so I could wait in on Wednesday while she was at work, for the people coming to fit the curtains. Due to her house being on a ridgem, it has great views north to the Ochil hils (which were covered in mist when I was there) and south over the Firth of Forth towards Falkirk. Longannet Power Station can be seen in the foreground.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter........a time of new growth

Easter is traditionally seen as a sign of new life - both religiously, and also with its position in the year, near the start of spring (though to be fair with it being so early this year, and the northerly winds and snow, one could be forgiven for wondering if it was Winter).

Thus it is a time when one is supposed to think of pruning back deadwood and clearly out some of teh rubbish to create room for the new shoots. So today I did a load of filing - bank statements, credit card statements, O2 Bills, Electricity, Student Loans Rubbish, BMA stuff, Bectu stuff, old Somerfield pay slips etc. Now my 'to do' tray on my desk only has Uni stuff in it. that means a fair intensive 10 days of uni notes and such like to do before Uni starts again.

My first challenge therefore is to actually make it into the Library most days this week fairly early in the morning, possibly even before 9. Let's see how I do....

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The knee bone connected to the leg bone......

Ouchy......I played badminton today with the tattooed drinker and butcher boy. I won some and lost some games. However, my right knee had been feeling odd since my driving lesson this morning - dunno why. Anyway I had also hurt my right knee playing badminton 2 weeks ago, and then strained it again when lifting steeldeck last weekend. And today after an hour of badminton my right knee was in agony and I can;t push of it to jump. Then about an hour later after a shower and spraying deep heat all over my sore knee, both shins have started off in pain. My shins are always sore when i have been exercising and I have no idea why. I just hope that with my attempt to lose weight, the pain will decrease and thus it was just due to the weight carried.

Even paracetamol & codeine isn't shifting the pain at the moment.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Today on my way back from my GP placement, I was reading the metro while waiting at the station and came across this cartoon. Anyone who has ever been grilled by a Med Student may know how the patient feels.

The Blog was 1 on Saturday. thank you for your cards......

Do you mind if I examine you?

As mentioned here and here, today was my first day on my easter holiday clinical skills placement. It was bright sunny morning, if chill, and the train was even on time. The walk to the GP's was nice, past a park and sports ground and not at all what I expected that area of the city to be like. Maybe my exposure to UPA's in Edinburgh has coloured my views on what they are like?

The format of the clinical skills bit is that there are 2 students, and we get 30 minutes with each patient. We take it in turns to lead each consultation, and take a brief history, then do an appropriate examination, then the other person does the examination, then we get feedback from the tutor.
I was observing consultations 1 & 3 and leading consultation 2.

The first one was a man who was diagnosed with lung carcinoma 4 years ago, but the tumour has not developed in 4 years and the GP thinks it maybe carcinoma in situ. Either that or this was one of the 5% that deos respond to chemo and radio therapy and survives 4 years. He was breathless at rest, but surprisingly mobile for his age (80) and breathlessness!

The second one was one I was leading. The man had had breathlessness on holiday, then 7 days later woken feeling funny, and was admitted to hospital with an MI. He was also found to have a calcified aortic valve and AF (the 3 main causes of which are heart ischaemia, thyrotoxicosis and valvular problems - see I do listen in plenaries sometimes). Hew as quite difficult to pin down on history and was quite vague. On examination he had a quite striking ejection systolic murmur.

The 3rd patient had MS, and so we did a neurological work up, where I managed to miss quite a few of the reflexes...

Then we had 2 normal patients on whom we did BP while they were in seeing the gP. These were not planned patients, and so teh history was often very short - History of Presenting Complaint, a bit of local enquiry, and social habits, then hand them over to the GP.

The GP tutor is very friendly, so hopefully these sessions will mean that I go into the OSCE more confident than I feel now. Especially as I passed last year with a satisfactory, and this year the OSCE is twice as long as it was last year, and although I only need a formative pass, I would hope to do better than I did in 2007.

Happy Families....

Can I start by saying that my family is fairly normal, they are all fairly nice people, and they all mean well in their own way.


This weekend has been interesting. I saw both remaining grandparents and both my own parents in one weekend, and it is amusing to see the traits of my parents reflected, or is that inherited from, their parent.

My grandad is due to get an operation soon, it was due to be last Friday (see other posts) but was postponed at the hospital. My Mum had gone down to look after him (he's 94) after the operation, because, being retired she's nothing better to do (yeah right). So I got a train down and had Friday with my Dad, which was unusual and involved going for coffee and a long drive, including some of those great father-child advice talks which are 'advice' on the surface but underneath are actually "this is what I would do, and thus I expect you to think the same". But I'm used to that by now.

Mum & Dad's car had been (apparently) making a strange noise for a while, and the fan kept running loudly even after it was parked, an the in car heater wasn't working properly, which I noticed on Friday.

After Dad had played Golf on Saturday, we were supposed to be going down to join Mum & Grandad for the rest of the weekend. However, Dad came home and said that he thought the car was overheating and thus not really safe to take on along drive. I decided that sicne I would quite like to see both Mum & Grandad, and had had a day with Dad already, I would go down by train if I could, and started looking online for the prices.

Dad then phoned Mum to ask her to ask my uncle (who is an engineer) what he thought. He called us back and said to Dad to check the engine/ radiator coolant level and the oil level, and top them up if necessary.

Dad went and got the car manual book, and muttered about the radiator being a sealed system, before finding the correct filler cap in the car and discovering that the coolant header tank was not at the mimimum level, it was so low that there was no fluid in the header / expansion tank at all. The oil was also off the bottom of the dipstick scale.

Aha, I think we had found our problem! After filling the two tanks up (water in the coolant, and oil in the oil), and topping up the windscreen washer bottle, which was also low, we went to the Halfords-type place to buy some more oil, and some antifreeze for the coolant tank. During this the car behaved normally, with no overheating and no loud fan.

Thus, two hours late, we set off to go and see Mum & Grandad. Where Mum & Dad took it in turns to claim that neither felt it was their responsibility to check such details on the car, as the last 5 cars had all been new and changed after 3 years, and this one is now 5, and they were unused to having an older car etc, etc.

Grandad has been feeling a bit tired, and low with all the investigations, and medical issues recently, and has found peeling potatoes for his tea quite difficult, and he's taken to just having a boiled egg toast and bovril on those days. So yesterday, Mum & I went on a hike, to the local big Tescos, which was mobbed (due to the bizarre 6hour trading limit for Supermarkets in England on a Sunday). We bought a selection of nice looking ready meals, and some potatoe croquettes to have with stuff he already has in the freezer, some pre-made jellies, and some Cranberry juice and then hiked back again. Then I had to transcrbe the cooking instructions into thick black text so he can read them, and then put them all in the freezer.

Hopefully this will mean that he gets to eat better and more regularly when he's not feeling well.

Then today (Monday), we came back up from Birmingham to see my Gran (Dad's Mum) in her care home near Hamilton - the car was again behaving itself - and took her out for a drive. Her dementia is getting worse, but she seems to like the home, where life seems to revolve around mealtimes, coffee, tea, and singsongs. Today they were having a St Patricks Day singsong, in a Christian (protestant) ethos Old Folks Home, in the west of Scotland, where most of the staff in the home are Indonesian....it was all a bit odd I felt.

Gran seemed less confused today, and was doing less repeating of questions, and seemed to have a good idea who we all were and who we were related to, which is better than at Christmas.

I'm almost glad to be back home with just Revision to thank about for the next 3 weeks, then the phone went, and my sister wanted to know about sorting out her phone line and broadband, and can I find a way to sort out her TV so she can have it upstairs even though the aerial point is downstairs.

All in all a busy weekend.....

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Due South, on Tuesday

Following on from my last post, I was looking at a map trying to work out teh ebst way to get to my clinical skills GP on Tuesday. The GP is in Pollok, next to a big roundabout.

It looks like I need to get a train, then walk through the Socialist Republic of Tommy Sheridan-ism, until I get to the roundabout where the GPs is. This involves walking past the local (huge) sports complex, always a haunt for Neds, however as yet I haven't been able to find a high school on the map, so either they are bussed out, or no such beast exists. However there are many (large) primary schools on the map. Google earth-ing the area is also quite good fun...

Roughly equidistant, as the train station, from the GPs are Ross Hall (private hospital), Leverndale Hospital (huge psychiatric unit) and Silverburn (huge shopping centre).

In the opposite direction from the train station is Bellahouston Park, where I spent a week in the summer of 2004, working in a tent....

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Holiday, what holiday?

As most of the medical faculty wind down slowly towards the easter holiday, which starts tomorrow or Friday, I am preparing for a short weekend off!

You may remember (see here, and here) that the GP Dept had decided that due to a shortage of GP's taking students this year, they would be not giving placements to those of us repeating 3rd year. thus we do not have to attend GPO Community Practice, nor complete the LCP.

However, we still have to sit the OSCE (albeit formatively), and thus in order to give us some refresher training in the examination etc skills for the OSCE, we get to visit a GP practice for 5 2 hour sessions. Due to GP and student availability, the only time we are all free, is Tuesdays and Thursdays over easter.

So my easter break from Uni will be spent partly in GP land doing clinical skills, partly in the Med School doing the same, mostly in the Library/SL trying to notify all my PBL scenarios thus far, and partly house-sitting for a friend (more later).

Oh and hopefully also meeting up with some friends for food or coffee.

Due to the cancellation of tomorrow's PBL session (facilitator on holiday), my easter begins at 12.30 tomorrow, and ends at 5pm on Monday, when I get back from a weekend away.

Blowing the budget on booze

  • I don't have a gas guzzler (or indeed any car)
  • I don't smoke
  • I don't fly (well not for past 3 years)
  • My income is below taxable levels
  • Increase in winter fuel credit for over 60's (must visit parents more....)

  • Tax on alcohol....but dose dependent......
  • No reinstatement of 10% tax banding
  • Will have to pay the extra 1.8p a litre duty on petrol from August - could make peripheral hospital attachments that bit more expensive.
The BBC reckon I will be £16.32 worse off next year, all of it alcohol related........ so since the slcohol duty changes don't kick in til sunday...........Cheers!

Another random question thing

Stolen from Rachel's blog, but with my answers, obviously.

Four jobs I've had in my life:
1. Customer service assistant
2. Library assistant
3. Youth work assistant
4. Admin Officer, Dept Work & Pensions

Four movies I would watch over and over:
1. Gladiator
2. The Hole
3. Shrek
4. Monsters Inc

Four places I have lived
1. North Shields
2. Student Edinburgh (Pollock)
3. Normal Edinburgh
4. Glasgow

T.V. shows I watch
1. Ramsays Kitchen Nightmares
2. Scrubs
3. Top Gear
4. House

Four places I have been:
1. Australia
2. China
3. Austria
4. Singapore

Four of my favourite foods:
1. Bread
2. Blackcurrant
3. Carrot
4. Apples

Four things I am looking forward to this year:
1. End of exams
2. Last long summer holiday
3. Passing 3rd year
4. My sister's wedding

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

New name

The blog has been renamed after Butcher Boy moaned about how undescriptive it was.

His suggestion of "Dave's adventures; fuckups and successes documented. Usually more of one, guess which!...." has been toined down to the new version.

Having looked at other people's witty blog titles, and very clever photshopped banner title things, I think I need to do some tidying up and smartening of the blog, but I have neither skills or time at the moment, despite sleeping for almost 2/3 of today......

Tea breaks

On Monday, when we arrived at the hospital, the new parking charges were in force and we spent ages going round and round, then parked in the staff car Park....well actuallym, the new shiny signs said 'Staff Permits Only' but teh smaller yellow plastic temporary sign said 'Patient / Visitor parking'. Similar yellow signs all round teh site are covered in moss, so they may not be the most recent.

Upon getting to the Education wing, we discovered that the decorators are in, and have requisitioned the med Students computer / PBL etc room as their own, as it has a code lock on the door. Thus the med students are displaced into a seminar room, which we can't use all the time, has a key lock, and which to be fair doesn't put up much resistance to a firm shoulder charge.

When we get there, the decorators are drinking tea, and have a tressel table with lining paper on it out in the hallway.

When we come back at the start of our break between teaching and PBL, they are still drinking tea, or maybe coffee, and a tub of wallpaper paste has joined the tressel table, but no obviously new bots of lining paper have appeared on the walls.

When we come back for PBL, having spent the intervening break in the canteen, as we can't use the library or computer room (the computers are piled up in the lecture theatre with no net access), the decorators are again drinking tea and moaning about no where cold to keep the milk....and asking us if we know where there might be a fridge they could use. We all resist the urge to suggest the mortuary......

By the end of PBL, in a freezing cold Lecture Theatre - after pressing lots of buttons i eventually found the heating controls and got the PC to turn on, one painter was painting the ceiling, and the others were packing the lining paper and wallpaper paste away as it was nearly 4, or as we might call it, 2.55.......

Meanwhile the teaching had a distinct cardiology bent to it this week, with the first half spent in CCU, talking to a patient who had had a stroke last year and an MI at the weekend, and the looking at many many ECGs and trying to ID an inferior MI of the posterior descending artery (ST elevation in II, III and aVf I think....) and then up in a Cardiology ward, seeing patients with murmurs and listening to them.

My turn to do the examination in front of the group came, and showed how rusty I am, and how nervous I am. According to the SpR, I was too 'questioning' and not definitive about my findings, and was doubling back to things I had forgotten rather than leaving it until the end and saying "I would also....".

It;s been a long day's night

Last night I was feeling very tied, and after the ;laundry finally came out the machine about 11, I went to bed.. Not being in Uni today, I didn't set an alarm, and woke up and saw my clock said 3:38, and thought I;d just roll over and go to sleep again, then I realised that the cranes on the building site opposite appeared to be working, and opened the curtains to find a grey and raining day, and it was light. I then looked at my phone and discovered I had slept 15hours......

Oh dear, It was a nice refreshing sleep, but I have a day's uni work to catch up on now.... and I bet I won't sleep properly tonight.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Order in court.

At one time I considered studying Law. This case has just reminded me why I didn't:
Dress 'no excuse' for sex attack

An MSP is demanding action from the legal profession after a lawyer used the way a teenage sex assault victim was dressed as a defence for a client.

During the trial at Perth Sheriff Court, Mr Smith said the teenager had been "scantily clad", wearing shorts, black boots and a white top.

He also stated: "There was a suggestion the girl had been sexually active before.

"I don't think it is fair to say this was a very vulnerable person."

It seemed to me that if you did criminal law you had to be willing to defend people who were guilty and deserved to be punished by destroying witnesses for the other side. It's a a hard issue because false accusations do happen, and I'm sure mitigating circumstances do apply in some cases, but it seems that defence lawyers are often just throwing mud in the hope that enough sticks to put doubt in the mind of the jury.

Commerical law seemed to be about checking what you were doing against books fo what was allowed and trying to bend the latter as far as you could, or by construing what actually happened to sound different so that your company benefited from a situation

I appreciate it is a rather black picture of the legal profession, but sad to say it seems that even those who fight injustice etc end up having to defend scroates and toe-rags who are just out for what they can get.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

All it takes is one second......one mistake.....

So today was my driving test.....all seemed to be going well. No snow or heavy rain, like yesterday. Nice clear roads, and the lesson beforehand had gone quite well with all manouvres going smoothly with no mistakes.

The test started with the number plate reading test, which was actually much closer than I thought it would be, and I passed (bit worrying if I hadn't!). This was then followed by the 'Show me, tell me' questions, where I got the easiest 2 - show me how you would check that teh brakes were working at the start of a journey, and show me how you would check that all the headlights and taillights were working. We then set off and first off had to do the left corner reverse and parallel parking, both in places I had practiced during lessons, and all of which went quite well.

After that we had to negotiate Anniesland Cross then up into some roads I had only done in the opposite direction, including a fair (or unfair) number of mini-roundabouts. This brought us onto Maryhill road, at a section where the speed limit goes 30-50-40-30, which also gave me a nice chance to overtake a few buses. This brought us to canniesburn Toll, which they have been digging up, so there are cones everywhere and some unusual lane routings round the roundabout.

Napoleon had his Waterloo, I had Canniesburn Toll. I misread where a car coming round the roundabout was going, and just as I went to start off I realised it was coming my way and hit the brakes, but too late, that was my major fault. I then picked up 2 minors for my lane indication and gear changes coming off that roundabout, probably because I was kicking myself at having failed.............

On the way back I had to negotiate some tricky junctions and traffic as well as doing an emergency stop. All of this went well.

Final verdict, 5 minor, 1 major - FAIL.

So I went to try and book a re-test - ASAP, and before my exam studying starts up in earnest. The first date that DSA can give me is 10 April.......unless they get some more cancellations. Thats not great at all.

Random phone calls

Tonight I had a call from one of those charity donation companies...
"Hi I'm calling on behalf of Unicef"
Well I was bored and getting a bit sick of uni work so I decided I was due a 5 minute break and put the kettle on and decided to listen to her.
"I work for a company who are being paid for this call, you should know that up front"
Scarily honest!
"Did you know that over 30 million children worldwide do not have the basic vaccination which we give to children in the UK?"
Um no I didn't, I'd have guessed the number was bigger actually, but that's still a lot of children.
"For only 64p we can give these children vaccinations against the 6 major childhood diseases"
That sounds pretty good. I bet the NHS pays more for its vaccination programme though.
"If you can give just £10 a month, you can help over100 children a month be vaccinated and have a greater chance in life" All very good, but I have no money (certainly not £10 a month, and I'm supporting a few charities which i actually am involved with.
"That's fine, you said you were a student, what do you study?"
This is becoming very chatty.........there must be more to come.. but as I say Iw as bored and she was friendly, so I told her
"That sounds very hard. Well as I;m sure you udnerstand the importance of child health...."
Argh, she's caught me out now
".....you might want us to send you emails about our campaigns and petitions, so you can better know about child health issues worldwide" She's good......so I gave her the email and came off the phone.

The number 30 million is still bouncing round my head though. At 64p each, that means that for £19.2million we could vaccinate them all (logistics permitting). Last week RBS made £10.4billion profit. If they, or other multinationals funded such schemes, it wouldn't actually even affect the 3sf on the balance sheet

Monday, March 3, 2008

Let's get quizical.

Saturday evening was one of my stressful nights of the year - the DIME Quiz.

Our annual fundraising event is a bit tricky because you never know at what level to pitch the questions - too easy and everyone gets them, too hard and no one has fun. The winning team this year got 62% correct, and the top 6 teams were within 10 points, which was a good spread I felt.

There were the usual squabbles about my answers, and were they right, or fair.........probably not, but that answer is the only one you can get a mark for!

The quiz raised a nice pile of money to help fund the activities of the next year, including, no doubt, a contribution to our trips and weekend away.