Saturday, December 31, 2011

31/12/11 - Happy New Year!

Well here we are, the end of 2011. What a year it's been.

I started this blog in the dying days of 2010, and it's interesting looking back to see how my goals progressed, and my year progressed. Also interesting to note that I ended 2010 revising quantum mechanics and it looks like I'll be doing the same this year! It's fair to say this year didn't go entirely to plan.

As far as cycling goes I was doing well, I succeeded with my goal of improving race results from the previous year and I was feeling good on a bike. Unfortunately just when I was feeling at my fastest - crash! That meant I missed out on finishing the Friday Night Summer Series, as well as Dusk 'til Dawn which I was actually quite looking forward to (although judging by stories I've heard it's probably for the best that I wasn't there!). Also missed out on the chance to ride in France, I'd been planning routes for months based around where we were going on our family holiday but alas - surgery the week before we left meant that wasn't going to happen!

It also saw the end of the first year at uni that actually counts (40% of the degree done right there!), and I averaged over 70% which is the aim so I was very happy with that. This year has also been the year where I decided what to do with my life (that sounds a bit dramatic doesn't it?) - despite doing well with chemistry so far, and enjoying my work experience I decided that chemistry just isn't what I want to do. I'm really excited at the prospect of spending much of 2012 gaining work experience and then applying (and hopefully getting in...) to GEM.

2012 has been a year full of good music and books too. I've discovered some new (to me) artists and bands to listen too, mainly thanks to Absolute Radio. I've also developed a taste for classical music, I never had anything against it but I enjoy it a lot more now! I've discovered some new authors and will no doubt have lots of books to read throughout the year - I hope that 2012 is also the year that I finally finish reading the Lord of the Rings trilogy!

So, looking onto 2012 (tomorrow!), I'm perhaps a tad wary as to making goals - I'm now all too aware of how quickly things can change; but I think it's important to make goals and have something to aim for (although just as important, if not more so, to be able to improvise when things, as they invariably will, don't go according to those plans!). I've already hinted in previous blogs as to some of these goals/resolutions but I shall get them all down now, to make it official!

Cycling, as you know, is important to me. Whatever happens it'll play a bit part in my year, but I think I shall just take it how it comes. I've now proved to myself that I *can* still ride, but I'm going to take it slowly. Continue with the turbo training and arm physio (2 weeks until I see the new physio people) and just do what I can, hopefully I'll get some racing done but your guess is as good as mine as to how well I'll be able to do!

Uni comes to an end in 6 months time so that's rather important too. My revision is going well, I've not done as much as I'd hoped to have done, but still more than I expected I would have if that makes sense! A big chunk of this years marks comes from these exams so it'll be quite useful to get lots of marks in the bag before the final exams in the summer. Given that I'm basically having a gap year afterwards it's the least I can do to work hard now (have a nice long break to look forward too), and knowing that a 1st will stand me in good stead for GEM should hopefully spur me on!

Now for my slightly less big things, that are more like proper new year's resolutions!

I don't smoke, or drink excessively and nor am I overweight (despite all the recent "fat in the face" comments) so I can't use those as resolutions. But there are somethings that I can do...

I'd like to stop picking/biting my nails for one thing. It's a terrible habit, gets worse when I'm nervous or waiting round for something. It does save the hassle of having to cut them every so often, but still, not going to do it anymore!

In an attempt to stay reasonably fit and healthy I'm also going to make more of an effort with my diet. I basically live of pasta and rice when I'm at uni which isn't a huge problem; what is a problem is the amount of biscuits/cake/chocolate I get through - I don't eat enough of it that I'm putting weight on but I'm sure it's not doing me any good so I'm just going to cut down a bit, you'd hope it'd do some good. Going to cut down on fizzy drinks too. Again, I don't have a whole lot but cutting out the excess sugar in my diet must be good...

Money...with the possibility of however many more years of studying in order to become a doctor, with some of that not funded, I need to save up. Hopefully when I finish uni I can sort myself out with a job so that I can double the amount I currently have in savings. That's going to be made slightly more difficult by the fact I want to do a lot this year - you only live once and you can't take your money with you, although as one of the things I want to do is jump out of a plane (with a parachute and someone experience attached!) perhaps I shouldn't mention premature death!

Knowing that most of the readers of this blog are reading it from Twitter I'd just like to thank everyone from the twittersphere that has helped me out this year. You've been a great source of help and advice, you've offered support and made me smile when I've needed it most. It really is appreciated. There's a select few that I'd really like to thank, but I shan't name you - I hope you know who you are! ;-)

So, 2012. The year to really live the dream. And hopefully not the year that the world comes to an end!

Hope the next 366 days brings everyone times of happiness and success amongst the usual doom and gloom of life :-)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

27/12/11 - II

Am I allowed to post twice in a day? It's the holidays, so why not?

Look where I've been!

It's fair to say I was maybe a bit optimistic - I'd forgotten just how much you use your arms when mountain biking!

It didn't last all that long because I quickly realised it was just a bit too soon! But despite the sore arm, and the fact that logging over the summer means many of my favourite trails are no longer there I was still riding around with some sort of manic grin!

It did remind me just how much I love that bike though (poor thing had been a bit neglected since we crashed!), weather permitting it'll get a proper clean tomorrow, as will my road bike, and the car come to think of it... I might but some carbon bars, and a nice stem ahead of a Garmin on my bike bits wish list!

Anyway, you've definitely heard enough from me for today! I need a bath, and to do some work. No more playing Zelda for me today 'cos my NEW controller appears to have broken already so I'll have to take it back tomorrow and see if I can get a new one!


Morning all!

Hope everyone had a lovely Christmas! It was a much mow low key event in our house this year than previous Christmasses - money is a bit tight, and me and my brother are getting older so apparently should be less excited by Christmas!

Despite 21 now rapidly approaching this was the first year (within memory) that I haven't woken up ridiculously early on Christmas morning, although my dad assures me that my mum still woke up at 6am asking if she could go downstairs! I was happy enough lying in bed reading my book waiting for the rest of the house to stir and between us we lasted until about 8.30 before going downstairs to see what Santa had brought us.

I was very happy with what I was given - money, a new clock/radio thing, some DVDs, the new Zelda game for the Wii, some chocolate and some clothes (including an awesome chemistry t-shirt which took some explaining to my parents!). Wasn't really expecting it but no new bike, or any bike bits for that matter but that's OK, not like I've done a lot of riding recently! Although I most certainly wouldn't have said no to the cross frame (or full bike!) that I've been eyeing up for months! I expect I shall spend a little bit of my money on something bike related - I've an itching for a Garmin but I don't really *need* one so expect I'll just buy a bog-standard speedo.

My mum decided that we'd be better off eating our Christmas turkey in the evening, rather than lunch time - a good choice I think! We spent much of the day vegetating in front of the TV watching various christmas films, and DVDs that we'd been bought but took the hounds for a nice long walk before dinner to build up an appetite. Was a really nice walk, the weather was nice and the village was really quiet (I expect everyone was asleep after eating their Christmas dinners!). Was really odd seeing all the shops shut up and the little car park empty in daylight hours. Dinner was great - although we did resist the urge to go crazy with it! Ate enough that the sofa was about as far as we were going to get for the rest of the evening though!

Already spent almost half my money as we went to the boxing day sales yesterday (yes - we're crazy!), not that we stopped long as we all knew what we wanted - I bought myself a new pair of Converse(s?) seen as my 3 or 4 year old pair finally gave up on me last week and the sole split (I didn't mind the general tattiness of them but a shoe needs a sole!). My dad bought me a new Wii remote too, seen as it was he who bought me Zelda (because he knows it'll get left here during term time so he can play with it!), and it's a game which apparently requires motion plus (doesn't say on the box!), which I didn't have...

That meant I spent much of my afternoon playing on the Wii, would have just kept playing it (it really is a good game!), but there's only so much wing flapping and sword swinging my arm can manage - surely that's got to be good exercise though! After the traditional boxing day buffet, although for the first year it was just the 4 of us as we're taking the grandparents out for a meal later in the week, instead of having them over on boxing day, I decided (having not really done enough so far) I should probably get some work done. Finally got to the end of the first half module of notes. So that's 1/8 of my revision notes made it just over 1/4 of the holidays - I think my week to go over past papers etc. is looking a bit optimistic! I'll get back to it shortly though and hopefully can make some good progress today. Yes, I know to make progress I actually need to *start* working - I will soon!

With Christmas now passed it means 2012 is not far away. 2011 has been an interesting year, lots of things have happened - good and bad, I'd like to look on, to 2012, and say it's going to be an amazing year but I'm not going to; all being well there'll be some big moments for me, it will be an important year, hopefully drama free! But for once, I think I'll just take each day as it come's and try and make every day a good one. I mean, It's not as if Big Ben striking 12 will change anything (other than necessitating a new calendar!). None the less I wish everyone a happy new year! (although I expect I shall be blogging again this week).

Right, work...time to try and learn a few things about macrocycles before I inevitably get distracted by Zelda...

Friday, December 23, 2011


First of all, this will probably be my last post before Christmas (I can almost hear your sighs of relief!) - so merry Christmas to everyone! Hope you all have wonderful days and don't eat too much!

Had my slightly more official interview on Wednesday, I turned up ridiculously early (managed to get a parking spot on my first drive round!), so had a bit of a wait. I was sitting by the patient information desk, as that's where I was supposed to phone from to be "collected" and shown where to go. Apparently I looked like I knew what I was doing as someone asked me directions; I'd love to have helped but it was a ward I'd never heard of!

So I waited for half and hour and then it was time! It turned into more of a chat followed by being shown round than an actual interview. We just talked about what I wanted to do and when and what opportunities there'll be for me. Needless to say I'm now very excited about starting my job as a voluntary clinical auditor in April!

Yesterday was also an exciting day, with sunshine promised I decided it was time to get back out on the bike. I managed just about 10 miles in the lovely sunshine, and then spent the rest of the day complaining that my arm was sore (maybe that was still too soon...). Was great to get pedaling again though - so much better being outside, with the breeze blowing and all the ups and downs of the terrain rather than plodding along on the turbo in the garage/cellar!

I don't think I'll be riding much further than that for the foreseeable future, and it looks like hitting the trails is going to be ruled out for a while too. But given I was told that I probably won't be riding again until the spring I'm happy with my progress there.

On a very related note, I'm still a bit grumpy about my arm in general (you should probably skip a paragraph or 2 if you want to miss the rant!). It's not just riding that it's stopping me doing, it's affecting revision too. I revise best by making revision notes, and then going over past papers and tutorial questions. This involves quite a lot of writing. Turns out I still can't write that much before my arm hurts enough that I have to stop. This is getting quite frustrating - my aim was to have my notes all done within the first 3 weeks of the holidays, and then spend the last week going over questions and whatnot. Now I've been quite busy this week so I've not had as much time as I'd like to do work but when I have had time (like this afternoon), I haven't been able to capitalise on it because it gets to the point where I just have to stop. I'm sure I'll manage to get it done, it's just going to take more planning (and probably a few more painkillers!), but it's the principle - I don't like the fact that it's getting in the way.

It all comes down to the surgery I had. Yes that surgery I had where not only did they not fix the problem, they made it worse. I was reasonably well looked after by the NHS throughout, for the most part I was seen very quickly, and eventually by the right person. People juggled their schedules so they could fit me in, and although I had to wait around all day to then be cancelled on the first day my op was scheduled for, and was then delayed on the day that it eventually happened I know that that wasn't really anyone's fault and there wasn't much that could be done about it.

But I do feel that maybe my consultant was a little bit too quick to go into surgery (although I guess most surgeons will always pick the surgical option as the best one), don't get me wrong, my consultant is really nice and I'm glad I've got him but I can't help but think if we'd waited a while for surgery it might have been deemed unnecessary and I then I wouldn't be in this predicament!

I like to think this experience is something I'll take with me into medicine (assuming I get there), and maybe I'll tend to take the more conservative options. Or perhaps, as a doctor I'd end up making similar decisions to my consultant as I will have been trained to do the job in a similar way that he was!

In summary, NHS is great but I still feel broken!

Feel free to share any thoughts/opinions!

I don't suppose I'm going to get much more work done today (which is disappointing because there's so much to do!), the combination of sore arm plus the next lot of notes being about enzymes in the nitrogen cycle isn't doing much for my motivation!

So with that, I shall sign off!

Merry Christmas :-)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Just a quick one today as I *really* need to do some work!

Hand therapy this morning took the expected course. Everything's moving vaguely as it should, my scar is healing nicely and my grip strength is now up to 24 (my right hand is 30 so being left handed it should at least match that when I'm fully fixed!). It has therefore been decided that there's not much more they can do for me, I have to keep up the scar massaging until it stops changing and continue with my exercises independently as there's still a lot of room for improvement strength and dexterity wise. So that's it - they don't want to see me again! I can apparently be referred back to them if there's any remaining problems when I next see my consultant (April).

I still don't feel particularly fixed - my typing is still rather inaccurate, and I'm generally struggling with anything that requires dexterity, not to mention the fact it still gets pretty painful - but hopefully that'll fix with the exercises, and I start new physio next month so that might help too.

No one can explain the lack of feeling and pins and needles in my thumb though. Wasn't there before surgery and doesn't seem to be getting any better. Not that it really stops me doing anything, it's just annoying. If anyone has any suggestions I'd love to hear them! (no really I would!)

This does mean however, that I am on target for getting back on the bike soon - it's just a matter of how much I'm prepared for it to hurt while I'm doing it - bring on the trails!

OK, back to work...still on oxygen transport proteins!

Monday, December 19, 2011


Sunday roast yesterday was rather tasty, as was the home made lemon meringue and jam tarts that followed! My nan has won awards for her jam tarts though so wouldn't expect any less! Had more cake with the other grandparents too, not home made but still delicious! Perhaps it's no surprise I've been putting on weight...

Today was "interview" number 1. It was more of a paper work filling out session rather than an actual interview. Have the "real" interview with the people I'll actually be working for on Wednesday. Should be OK though, I'm only volunteering as a clinical auditor (that sounds a bit professional, doesn't it?) and it doesn't sound like they get may people asking to do it.

Getting into the meeting today was more of a challenge than the meeting itself. I successfully navigated the hospital grounds and got to the right building, and even the right floor but was then faced with a desk with 2 phones, and a wall of photos. There was a sign telling me to contact who I was there to see using the phone. The guy who I'd be in contact with didn't have his name and number on the wall so I chose, at random, one of the HR administrators; I was quarter of an hour early so I had time to find who I needed to. I rang the number for Stacy something-or-other, expecting to have to explain my situation and then be put through to the correct person. A man answered the phone (not Stacy then!), and he said I was through to HR, I explained what I was there for and he told me to take a seat.

After about 5 minutes he came and rescued me from the "reception" turned out he was the guy I'd been e-mailing - that was a very lucky coincidence! It says something about the NHS when choosing a random extension to phone somehow gets you through to the right person! Then had to fill in lots of paperwork to say I'm not going to abuse their internet system, and that I'll respect confidentiality, and that I don't have any business interests to declare etc etc. Says something else about the NHS when you have to go through rigmarole just to VOLUNTEER to do PAPERWORK in the hospital. No, I'm not doing a job to be paid, and no I'm not planning on interacting with any patients so is it really all necessary?

"Oh just one more form while you're here..."

That side of it is all sorted now. Just got the meeting with the audit department on Wednesday, and it looks like I'll have to see the occupational health people. Apparently they don't like you working in a hospital if you're a bit broken. Speaking of being broken - hand therapy tomorrow - it can go one of 2 ways really; 1, they go ahead as planned and tell me I'm fine and then I start with new physio people at uni after the holidays or 2, they realise that I am in fact not fixed yet and maybe try to do something about it. I shall let you know in due course how I get on!

In other news I've been helping my brother get ready for his GCSE science exam. It was a very nice feeling knowing that having taught him how to balance chemical equations he was the only one in his class that managed to get that question right on their mock exam! Hopefully he now knows how to work out the numbers of protons/electrons/neutrons in an atom or ion (was tricky explaining that one at GCSE level...ah yes, all atoms have shells which hold 8 electrons...). Managed to divert the "so what actually is an electron?" question! Maybe he should have watched the Brian Cox program last night!

Several people have asked me why I don't want to go in to teaching as a career. It's simple. I like helping my brother (and the kids I helped when I was doing A-levels) when he asks me things, but I don't want to be teaching a bunch of children that don't want to be there and don't want to learn. Nor do I want to be teaching the same thing lots of times! Maybe I should try tutoring to earn some extra cash!

Right, back to revision I suppose...oxygen transport proteins here I come!

Friday, December 16, 2011


I'm home!

Well, actually I came home yesterday afternoon/evening. I contemplated coming back this morning to avoid driving back in the dark evening rush hour but what with the forecast for dreadful weather this morning I played it safe and got home early!

I definitely didn't see any signs of the "big freeze" this morning. A few snow flakes floated down with the rain, but that was about it! I expect it's all the BBC will talk about for the next few days though!

I had a really nice last day of term (well penultimate day of term, but my last day there!), our GSK lecture was on computational chemistry, and how it ties in to drug discovery. I think most people found it quite dull but I didn't, the computational stuff was my favourite day of work experience, and I quite enjoyed the lecture. We got some free chocolate too which is always a bonus! Our official drug discovery project starts next term - we're splitting in to teams and modifying an existing drug to try and make it better. I think it's something to do with an asthma drug although I could be wrong. Not allowed to tell you what we're doing though - I've had to sign my life away for the next 10 years or so incase we actually stumble across something good!

Had an hour to kill after that lecture, was planning on doing some work, but ended up just sitting in the foyer. Had a chat with a couple of lecturer/academic people who walked past - just the usual arm related discussion followed by well wishes for Christmas. Then it got a bit interesting - someone from Estates, a long with someone who turned out to be a plain clothes police officer came into the foyer (and sat right next to me!) with a chap (he looked a bit suspicious) who had been doing something he shouldn't have been. The police guy was making some phone calls trying to verify his identity, but apparently the system was down... They then went outside to smoke so I never found out what it was he'd been doing!

Next was a solid state workshop. That was a bit of a waste of time, didn't learn anything, except that the lecturer who hasn't earnt a good reputation for being all that helpful up to the point, is even less helpful than we thought - we asked what we assumed was a simple question, it wasn't that she didn't know the answer, she gave us one very quickly - it just transpired to be entirely wrong! I think it's just because they don't do well under pressure (they're new so I'll let them off!).

And finally, to end the term was an organic chemistry tutorial. A remarkably good turnout given that lab reports were due in today. I was the only one that had handed in any work (not that it had been marked!), so we just went over all the questions. As there weren't a lot of questions it was decided that we should write te answers up on the board, rather than just copying down and answering the odd question. This plan was very quickly abandoned when we were all far to scared to actually draw any curly arrows on the board in case we were wrong (although I was excused from board writing seen as normal writing is difficult enough!). We had a quick mid-tutorial rant about how we really do need to stop worrying, and that organic chemistry isn't really that bad - it's just the same things over and over again!

Despite really just wanting to go home, I stayed back for a few minutes afterwards cos I had a couple of questions (I normally don't ask, but then I'll never know!), seen as I'd done various things differently to that *actual* answers. The result of 5 minute chat with tutor was that I left very happy :-)

And then, drove home! No idea how I managed to get everything in the car in quite such a tidy manner, but who cares? :P

I've had a nice first day back at home, looking forward to the month ahead! Having started planning my 2012 goals, I though goals for the Christmas holidays might be slightly more relevant for now!

I'd really like to ride my bike again before I go back to uni, properly I mean. As I said the other day, I've got hand therapy in the week so I'm going to speak to my hand therapist about it. Given that it still gets sore even if I don't really do anything (and a lot sorer if I do do anything) I'm not optimistic, but hey I can dream, right?

Obviously need to get lots of work done too. I think I shall abandon the usual question spotting technique, its worked well in the past, but I think I've been lucky. Although I know that I can plan until the cows come home about how many hours a day I'll spend revising and what notes I'm going to make etc. For me, useful revision only happens if I'm in "the mood" whether I't timetabled to be doing any or not! But I'm feeling quite motivated at the moment, so will just have to see how it goes!

Scrubs. I have series 1-7 on boxset (and fingers crossed I might be getting the newer ones for Christmas), I want to watch them all, in order. I think its one program that I'll never want to watch again once I'm doing medicine so figured I ought to get them all watched now while I've got the chance! Grey's Anatomy too, although I'm already half way through season 7 so that shouldn't take too much time to watch the rest of!

I also want to complete Halo (the first one!), typing is still slow and not all that accurate as my fingers still don't always behave, but I can just about play it again now. I think I'm about 2/3 of the way through so hopefully won't take up too much of my revision time to get to the end! Although undoubtedly when I'm done I'll want to go straight back to the start and do it all again on a more difficult level!

All of this needs to be fitted in between reading. I've got Lord of the Rings on the go (have had since September - oops!), I'm also reading various bits of the aptly named "Gray's Anatomy for Students" in an attempt to learn things, as well as "You can trust me, I'm a junior doctor" - this book is really good (if not a little scary!), so good in fact that I stayed up remarkably late to read it yesterday and will probably do so again tonight!

Once again I've entirely written too much and rambled on for far longer than I intended to! Lots to do because it's just me and my dad in tonight (things seem to fall appart when my mum goes out!). Dogs to be taken care of, washing up to do, (TV to watch!), and I need to do my physio stuff too.

I have a grandparent filled weekend ahead (think we're even being treated to a proper Sunday roast!), so I expect I shall bring more blog-ness at some point next week!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Well haven't I been busy...

The presentation was reasonably successful - mine was (as predicted) a little shorter than expected, and I got a bit muddled at the end when I tried to improvise rather than following my written speech, but I'm pretty happy with it. Our group managed 35 minutes dead on so even if individually we weren't quite right with the timings we nailed it as a group so really pleased with that! The other group that were also doing a presentation were far better than us though, their 5 week project involved doing actual science so I think they had more to talk about!

In other news - statistical thermodynamics coursework handed in, lab report is done and handed in (I wasn't convinced but one of my housemates described it as "incredible"), I've also had a go at a set of workshop questions and a tutorial both of which were given to us at quite short notice! All in all I think I've been quite productive, even managed to make a good start at packing. Just a few things left to sort out tomorrow morning (hoping to head home as soon as I finish at uni tomorrow).

To make my productivity all that more impressive I remind you that I'm still suffering with some sort of plague. Let me tell you it's not been pleasant. I have got through almost 2 boxes of tissues so far and the production of slime is showing no signs of slowing down. It's spread too, my lungs have decided to join in the party - I now sound like I've been smoking 40 a day for the last 20 years! Other than the generally feeling like I might die the downside to being ill is that I haven't been able to go on the turbo trainer for a few days (well I *could* go on, but I'm not sure it's a wise idea...), and I really could have done with some calorie burning action given that Monday night I ate an entire packt of custard creams, and only half an hour ago did I sit and eat an tub of Ben and Jerry's. One day I'm going to become horrifically obese!

With just over 2 weeks to go until the new year I've started thinking about goals for 2012. These are entirely separate from my list of things to do before I'm 25. Importantly I want to come away from uni with a 1st. This is hopefully achievable given I'm currently averaging just over 70%, lots of hard work from me to come! Getting into medical school is also a big goal for me for next year, if I don't not only will I not know what to do with myself it'll have been a big waste of money doing the entrance exams (didn't realise quite how much they costed, especially when I need to do 2 because there's not a standard one!).

So they're the big ones, associated with those is finding some sort of "proper" job, 'cos I need to earn lots and lots of money before starting medicine. I look at my (life) savings and it looks substantial, but I know that in the real world it will get me absolutely no where, but its a start. I just need to stop spending money online...

Bikes obviously form a big part of my goals too. Difficult to plan when I don't really have a timescale for being fixed (it's doubtful, but there might be progress on that front next week as I'm back at the hospital again next week), but bikes have to be there somewhere! There's the obvious big secret riding plan that I have. But also racing. Knowing that my accident was a purely incident it hasn't affected my general view on riding, but I'm not sure how I'll feel in a racing situation. Definitely need to "get back on the horse" though. My rough plan is to focus more on some endurance type racing this year as I need some tough training goals to motivate me on the turbo trainer!

Lots of other little goals too, I suspect I shall go into more details in the next couple of weeks as 2012 approaches...

The rest of my evening, and the non-lecture bits of tomorrow will mostly be filled with packing. I have no idea how it's all going to get in my car. I don't have *that* much stuff to take home, but when you have a bike, a turbo trainer and a hamster it doesn't take that much other stuff to fill up a small 3 door car! Car packing skills not helped by arm that doesn't work properly either!

That's enough rambling for me. Royal Variety Performance is on apparently. I shall watch that I think, not likely I'll move for a while, the B&J's has definitely hit my stomach now!

Sunday, December 11, 2011


Well, it's been a week since the last time I posted - sorry, I've been quite busy!

I woke up this morning feeling like I have contracted some sort of horrible disease, my nose is blocked and dripping some kind of ectoplasm like material, my head is aching, every time I swallow it feels like someones slicing a layer off the inside of my throat, not to mention the fact I can't make my mind up whether I'm going to be roasting hot, or shivering because I'm freezing! OK, maybe I *just* have a cold. Could have done with it just waiting another week...

The end of term is rapidly approaching (about time!) which sadly means so are deadlines! One piece of coursework is done and dusted, that's the statistical thermodynamics one which I may or may not have mentioned before. Tomorrow is lab presentation day, each member of our group has to talk for 5 minutes about our project, and we all have to talk about a slightly different subject. Normally I'd be really prepared by now, but given we didn't even decide how we splitting up the talk until Monday I'm not! I've written my talk (I can't do improvisation) and made the associated slides, it's a bit short and I don't know it nearly as well as I'd like but hopefully it's interesting (I'm doing the introductory background), I'm the first person talking so need to make a good impression! Despite getting quite worked up about it I ended up quite enjoying the presentation I had to do last year, and having had a bit more scope on the subject (and therefore making this one actually quite interesting) I'm optimistic that it'll go OK. Quite possibly 2 of the nicest people in the inorganic department marking us too!

We're meeting up as a group later to have our first run through together and see what everyone has done. Hopefully all will be good!

Once that's out of the way it's back to lab report writing. We have to write 6 pages - yes SIX pages, not wanting to be panicking by the end of the week I've made a good start to mine, 3 and a half pages down. You'd think that'd be a good thing, however I have no idea how on earth I'm going to fill up the rest of the space! But that is not a problem to worry about until tomorrow afternoon!

Apart from being hard at work this week I've also had a trip to the peak district. It rained. Lots. And it was windy. Really windy. Oh, and we walked back in the dark. It was great fun though! Highlight of the day may have been me saying "mud can only be so deep" and then promptly disappearing well past the top of my boot into some mud! There should be some photos appearing at some point, I only took one picture because my camera's not weather safe! Did grab one snap on my phone when it stopped raining though...

I did also get back on the turbo trainer last night. Helped by the "Absolute Radio Classic Rock Party" I managed about 40 minutes of just constant pedalling, not all the fast but I thought a bit of consistency woud be good, followed by the traditional how hard can I sprint and for how long finale! My legs were feeling remarkably good which is always nice. Just a shame that riding a bike for real still seems so far away. I tested again yesterday, still can't put enough weight through my arm for it to be useful. I knew that though, given what happens when I write too much, or attempt to actually cook something. Still, I'm back at hand therapy a week on Tuesday so hopefully they can sort me out (even if that was supposed to be a quick check then send me on my way forever kind of appointment...). My newly developed cold is certainly giving me a maths challenge - combining cold remedies with pain killers, but without having too much of anything is always interesting! I'm apparently not doing a very good job because my arm is not happy (I expect it's all the work I've been doing for a change!), and my cold doesn't appear to have been helped either. Not that it matters. Despite everything (I say everything knowing that my problems are a lot smaller than that of many, many others!), I'm remarkably happy today. Probably because Christmas is coming, and because I feel I'm on the home straight as a chemistry student! (remind me of that at the start of next term!)

Music is helping too, these 2 songs in particular have been making me smile recently :)

I need to eat before we go and practise our presentation so I shall update you all soon! If you need me just follow the trail of slime that's pouring out of my nose...

Sunday, December 4, 2011


Ah, student life - it's so cold in my room that I can't even bring myself to get out of bed to turn on some sort of heating! I do love this weather though - cold and crisp is much better than wet and windy, just hoping we get some snow soon :-D

I'm afraid todays blog is going to be a bit of a brain dump - much of this was whirling around my head in the small hours of the morning so out it all comes!

First of all, its come up a few times in the last week or so, why do I want to go into medicine?
I had to think quite hard to come up with a real answer for this. I'm most definitely not in the slightly cliched "because I want to help people, it's a calling" camp. Medicine has interested me since I was very small - presumably sparked by my Grandad's tales of when he was a porter (which was apparently a very different role then!), and I know it's nothing like the real world but again, ever since I was little I've watched programs like Casualty (a Saturday night tradition with my Grandad) and it always fascinated me (still does, don't remember the last time I missed an episode!).

As I went through school science became my "thing" and I toyed with the idea of various doctoring roles, although once I was reasonably into my teens I didn't want to be a traditional doctor; I think it was a self-confidence thing, I'd never be good enough to do that. So I flirted with the idea of being a pathologist and decided my A-levels based on a desire to do radiography at university, when UCAS came around I did briefly look at medicine, but I wouldn't get good enough grades would I? and even if I did I'd make a rubbish doctor, right?

So, skip forward a few years and here I am, final year of my chemistry degree. Don't get me wrong, I've really enjoyed most of it, and, despite feeling that the Christmas holidays can't come soon enough, I still am. But I don't think it's for me, I spent much of last year trying to convince myself it was. There's nothing stopping me from continuing with chemistry, my tutor certainly seems to think I'm good enough to carry on and do a PhD etc. but if I'm good enough to do that then surely I am also good enough to do almost anything that I want to do? So after some sort of epiphany I decided to chase my dreams, to paraphrase from a Killers song I need to learn how to fly, but I want to go for it. I am under no illusions that medicine is an easy path to take, ands it not a decision to be made lightly, but I don't want to spend my life regretting not doing it while I had the chance (I know there's the option to do it even later on but then I really will be old by the time I qualify!).

That explains how I got here, but I guess doesn't answer the question I asked. Medicine to me, is a career based around a subject that I'm actually interested in, and not just a little interested, enough that I read a lot about it and really want to know more. It goes further than that though - whichever branch of medicine I might end up in I know that each day will provide me with a new challenge, and new problems to solve based around that subject - that's the main attraction for me - the fact than in doing that, I will also get to help people, and hopefully make a difference to the world is more of a happy by-product for me rather than the bread and butter of why i want to do it. I think that's probably a good thing - obviously the ability to care for and interact with people is important but without the fundamental desire to solve the problems an cure them it wouldn't be much use.

There we go, I've answered question 1! I guess the next question is do I think I'll make it?
There's a lot of hurdles to cross between now and becoming a doctor, in fact, there's quite a lot to overcome before I start medical school! First off, I need to graduate, I see this a relatively small hurdle, I've done well up to this point and I know that if I work hard I can do it, hopefully with a 1st. The next hurdle (considerably bigger) is getting on to a GEM course - each of the courses is different and has a slightly different focus so I need to make sure I apply to the right places. Leicester for example, want the slightly more "mature" students - one of their course requirements is that you have a years paid employment in a caring role. All of the courses require some experience, but not usually that much! I've got less than 6 months after graduating to pack in as much experience as I can (whilst working to try and earn some money!) before the application deadline. Even if experience wasn't a requirement I'd be trying to do it anyway as I want to have as much information as I can before applying to make sure I'm 100% positive before applying!

So I've got my degree, and I've got my experience and I've sent off my application - hopefully the next step is interviews (otherwise it's just straight off rejection!), as with many people interviews scare me, but I've got over that a bit and I think I'll be fine. The next bit is now based on lots of assumptions, because assuming I get into medical school the next step is starting out! This bit terrifies me. The starting learning and the course side of things doesn't scare me all that much but the thought of effectively starting out at uni again does. The choosing somewhere to live, and that initial meeting of all my new course mates and making friends who I'll undoubtedly need to get me through the next few years. That's the big one for me, when I started this course I came in all determined that I'd use it as a chance to make a fresh start, be a new me, but I found it really difficult - it took me a long time to settle in and by the time I had people had already formed their groups of friends and I was always to quiet to really make myself known. That said, I've been through it all once now - the last time we really had to do anything like that was starting primary school and things were very different when you were that young, now I've done the whole uni thing it might be a bit easier the second time round - fingers crossed eh?

I've no doubt in myself that however hard studying medicine might be I'll get through the academic side of things. I always do, I work hard and it usually pays off. Hopefully the practical side of medicine will be OK for me, that's one of those things that you just won't know how you'll cope until you're there but again - fingers crossed!

Having just written all that, it justifies the decision to myself and I hope from the outside it looks like I'm doing the right thing! For now, it's back to trying to get some experience, I've got a couple of things lined up so far, but it's not enough. Unfortunately everyone seems to ignore me, but I've got time, hopefully persistence will pay off and I'll get at least 1 more thing sorted out. It's back to work too, I had a much needed work free day yesterday, that gave both my arm and my brain a nice rest! Shall take it easy today too, only have a couple of things that I *need* to get done and I want to feel fresh for the new week to avoid the carnage that was the middle of last week!

If anyone has got this far reading this - I applaud you, I didn't think I'd make it to the end and I'm the one writing it!

For anyone that skipped that big bit of writing in the middle, in summary: I want to be a doctor but the inside of my head is a little bit crazy sometimes!

Friday, December 2, 2011


December is here which means the Christmas holidays are rapidly approaching - yay!

It's been a strange week, what with the going home in the middle! My brother's doing OK, he seems to have a high pain threshold! He's just fed up of crutches already!

I sorted out my doctors appointment, just as well I did. Turns out the doctor I saw last time hadn't actually done anything to refer me to physio (apart from writing on my file that she had!), thanks to a far nicer and more competent seeming doctor I'm now all booked in for physio but have to wait until mid-January to start. And its on the morning of my first exam - oops! I'm hoping things make some attempt at getting better ont heir own before'll be a long month and a half if it doesn't! Although I'm seeing the hand therapist again in a couple of weeks, this is a "non-compulsory" appointment just to make sure I'm OK. Should probably tell her that I'm not! Also have been told there's a sports injury specialist who I might be able to see should new physio people think it appropriate. Just a pity I have to wait to get it sorted - without a shadow of a doubt if I had the money I'd pay to avoid the wait! (if anyone wants to take pity on me... ;-) )

Anyway, that put me in a less than good mood yesterday, which wasn't helped by a really quite dull 2 hour pharmacology lecture (in the warmest room in the chemistry building!), followed by an afternoon of maths (one problem took an entire hour to do, and there was more than 1 thing to do!). Thankfully a good nights sleep, some painkillers and the completion of some coursework meant I was in a much better mood this morning (even if getting out of bed into the cold proved to be a challenge!).

Even a 9am lecture in quantum statistics didn't manage to ruin my mood this morning, in fact I almost enjoyed it! Apparently today was just destined to be a good day - I have no idea how it happened but I managed to drop my cup of coffee (vital in the hour gap between lectures!) because my hand decided it didn't want to hold on any more, but somehow caught it in my other hand without spilling a drop! Ninja! The remaining 2 lectures were pretty good too!

Had a quick chat with our lab project supervisor person before heading home (he is one of the nicest people I know!), slightly happier about labs on Monday now - I can have a go at picking at crystal and doing whatever needs to be done with it but it doesn't matter if I can't do it because of my hand :)

It is now officially the weekend! It may be cold and damp in my room but I'm just glad that the week is over. My plans from now until Sunday night involve sleeping, eating, DVD watching and generally chilling out. Expect I'll have to do some work at some point but I intend to keep the chemistry to a minimum - as much as I love it (well most of it), I think a couple of days of minimal working will do my good!

I shall stop writing now because my hands are freezing!

Monday, November 28, 2011


Well Monday morning is here - its freezing!

My plans for the week have been thrown in the air with the news that my brother broke his ankle playing football yesterday. Some @&#%* who he calls a friend tackled him during a football match. What's wrong with that? he tackled him hard enough, and with studs showing, that it ripped his sock and made him bleed. My brother being who he is tried to carry on playing afterwards as well!

I knew it wasn't going to be good when my mum told me my dad was taking him to the hospital (it has to be bad for my dad to do that!) and after much waiting it was confirmed last night that he'd broken his ankle. Thankfully sounds like just a crack but it looks like 6 weeks in plaster anyway! Not what he needs when he has potential of getting picked up by our local professional team this season...

Anyway - once I've done what I need to do in labs I'm going home. Not sure how long for exactly, but my parents won't be able to get time off work (think that was all used up getting me to the hospital and back lots of times over the summer!) so I think he might need a hand!

Not that I'll be much use in the hand department (we're not doing well in our family are we?). Pain in my arm seems to be getting worse not better, it's not good when you can't sleep despite being maxed out on your painkillers, but we'll see what the doctors say this week (assuming I'm organised enough to ring up to sort out the appointment anyway!)

Off to labs I go...

Sunday, November 27, 2011


Have had 2 more turbo sessions since my last post. Think the cellar is going to be slowly decorated around the bike - need to find some more things to stick on the wall I think!

My Friday night "ride" was once again quite enjoyable - a reasonable mix of spinning along and doing a few sprint interval type things to keep it interesting. Last night's on the other hand was less good. I just wasn't really feeling it, managed about 40 minutes on the bike but much of that was me sitting and not doing anything - I think it was just down to a combination of general tiredness, my arm being sore from lots of writing all day and legs not being fully recovered from the day before!

I was going to have a few days off anyway, turbo training seems a whole lot less appealing after a 9-5 Monday or a 9-6 Tuesday at uni! So will be back to it mid-week. Seeing yet another doctor about my arm this week too, so who knows - maybe they'll be helpful!

My big news of the week is that I'm now officially a final year chemistry student! I had my meeting with my tutor, he didn't really tell me anything I didn't already know but it was good to talk it over. The general gist of the meeting was that I'm academically capable of doing 4th year and getting a good classification at the end of it (always nice to be told that!), but if I don't want to work in chemistry, or more specifically in research there's not necessarily a lot to be gained from having a masters. If I thought I'd enjoy it I'd probably do it anyway, but I'm pretty sure I won't, and at any rate having a year off might fun! Well I say fun, I intend to work through most of it so I can have money!

On the subject of work I've been very busy this weekend catching up on uni work, still way too much to do but I've decided to not do any more writing this weekend which rather limits what I can do! The main work I've been doing is some coursework from our statistical thermodynamics module. It took me ages to get to grips with it and work out what I was actually supposed to be doing, but now I have I'm really getting into it! I'm not convinced that I've done it all right (I've got a few odd results out the end to say the least), but I intend to effectively do the coursework twice so I can see if I get consistent answers. The thermodynamics and science side of it is quite interesting, but I've oddly been enjoying the data analysis even more - finding the high temperature limits has consisted of just running the software for multiple temperatures and analysing the results - I got a bit too excited and made a spreadsheet to run the calculations for me with the numbers that the software spits out, needless to say I did it for *a lot* of temperatures in some sort of attempt to get an accurate results! I feel I may be suited for some sort of part time job in data entry...

Christmas shopping has also began this weekend, with the aid of the internet I've bought presents for nearly everyone that I wanted too, just a couple of difficult to buy for people left. Opted to not go mad this year (student budget an all that!), so I've mainly gone for small novelty items - should make Christmas day in my house fun though! Hoping I might get a few similar things in return, I think this is the first year that there's nothing I really want - so just some little fun things will be fine with me (chocolate is always welcome too!). That said there are a few bike-related things that I want, my parents have said they won't buy me any bike things though so hopefully I'll have enough money to treat myself :P

I appear to have done a full circle and have managed to bring this back round to bikes - that's good because it's what I want to end on too! Having not left the house yesterday I though I should at least go to the shop today (I emerged with pizza, cake and a lego figure!), it may be a bit chilly outside but apart from that the weather is lovely - can't help but dream of whizzing through the trees, crunching leaves and emerging into the sunshine again. It's been so long since I've ridden off road I'm even looking forward to getting muddy on a bike again! (anyone that's ever ridden with me will know that mud is definitely something that I tolerate but generally avoid at all costs!).

My plans for the afternoon are rapidly turning into a bit of a snooze followed by watch the last F1 race of the season. Living the dream eh? ;-)

Hope everyone is having a nice weekend! Get out and ride if you can...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Well, this blog is called "The Universe, Life and Schrodinger's Cat" and (as anyone who's read any of my previous posts will know) a big part of life for me is bikes.

I worked in a bike shop before I started at university, and still do in the holidays and it was starting there that gave me the bug! On road and off, racing and just for fun. It's not just riding either - I'm far from being mechanically competent (although I am always learning things!) but I love looking at bikes too, I'm always looking at new frames, components and whole bikes - usually dreaming but occasionally buying!

Needless to say when, following my crash in a race, my couple of weeks off the bike turned into months I wasn't very happy (again, anyone who reads this blog will know that!). I made the decision that it wasn't worth turbo training for months on end, with no idea when I'd be on the bike (if I needed more surgery it'd be at least Easter before I could ride again), and I didn't want cycling to become a chore.

As it would now appear I've have thankfully dodged the 2nd surgery bullet (even if my consultant suggests it in the spring I think I'd say no now...) getting back on the bike is getting closer. I was advised a couple of weeks ago that 3-6months would be a realistic timescale so as to avoid doing any damage (nerves are fragile things apparently), and just due to the amount of strength that I lost in the 4 months my arm was useless. Obviously I don't want to rush things, and risk causing problems but I'm aiming to definitely be riding again on the shorter side of the estimate!

The last 4 and a half months has most definitely had its ups and downs but I think I'm past the worst of the downs now, although I've hit a bit of a plateau again my arm and hand is hugely better than when I came back to uni and hopefully things will keep getting better and the big decisions that had been looming over me are very close to resolution now!

Getting back on the bike is certainly a big "up" to look forward to and I want to be able to hit the ground running, hopefully my confidence and skills will still be in tact when I'm back on the trails (or on the road) and I don't want it to be my fitness or power to be holding me back, and with some exciting plans for next summer I can't wait to get back going so the training has now begun!

I expect I shall get my self a heart rate monitor or something so that I can make the most out of my training time. Might try out the sufferfest videos too. Today's session (and I expect any future sessions until I sort out something a bit more specific) consisted of 45 minutes alternating between spinning along to muist at a reasonable pace and going all out sprinting until I thought my legs were going to fall off. That's about all I do on the turbo because otherwise it's just a bit dull!

Managed a (very) little bit of the session with both arms on the bars - 1 arm feels really unbalanced and no hands is fine in the most part but because I'm then sitting upright I'm pretty sure power output is reduced - definitely still got some healing and strengthening to go. I'll keep working on it, don't worry - I'll make sure I don't overdo. It hurt enough from the small bit I did today (although not quite as much as my legs so I expect its a good thing!), will just have to play it by ear and see how it goes...

I think a poster of the outdoors needs to go up on the wall to I can pretend I'm flying through the trees, could do with a fan downstairs as well! At present my training plans consist of nothing more than ride when I feel like it and don't do too much too soon, I think this is fine for now - I expect there'll be real plans at some point so I can make an attempt to win some races next year!

Still buzzing from being back in the saddle and getting pedalling. Have to love exercise endorphins!

Bye for now folks!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


I had an awesome weekend at home - lots of good food, dog walking and quality time with my family, and I did almost no work which is always nice for a change!

That's the last time I'll be home until the Christmas holidays...24 days and counting!

Yesterday brought the start of labs proper. It didn't fail to deliver on the promised boredom, 4 hours to set up 24 vials with various saturated solutions in, and then a couple of hours of database hunting. This morning was 45 minutes to set up another 12 vials and yet more databasing. Not that I'm complaining the much - its simple to do, which is just as well as my current skills with a pipette and micro spatula leave much to be desired (thanks for that one nerves...). Did manage to stab myself 3 times with a needle whilst putting holes in vial lids (twice yesterday and once today) - enough blood from my finger today that the demonstrator thought I needed actual first aid (it looked a lot worse than it was!).

Don't know what we're going to do next week, even if we have crystals we can't use the x-ray crystallography machine (yay for maintenance) and we've already for information from 50+ compounds from the database so not much we can do from that side of it either, I guess we'll just start doing our write up and preparing for the presentation a bit ahead of time...

How's the arm? Sore! I think various bits of lab work and lots of writing, combined with various exercises is probably slightly too much to be doing but I shall persevere. It will get get better. I hope. Am doing my best to avoid painkillers where possible too. Still can't manage to put enough weight on it to ride my bike properly (also means climbing is still out of the question!), but I am now officially back in training. Had my first turbo session in a long time at the weekend, nothing too strenuous, a bit of a spin to get the legs going and a sprint at the end for good measure. Turbo trainer is now back with me at uni. Not sure our damp and mouldy cellar will do my lungs any good whilst training but it'll be good to get going again - means I can hit the ground running when I'm back on the bike for real!

Got my tutor meeting scheduled for Thursday, spoke to my parents about it all in a bit more detail over the weekend. I know they'll support me whatever but I think they're happy enough for me to continue with "the plan" because as long as I have a plan its good with the (they don't want me hanging about not dong anything though!). Will let you know how it goes!

My "things to do before I'm 25 list" (made in February) came up today, I've made a pitiful amount of's an update! :P

1. Meet my Mr. Right - can't say as there's be any progress what so ever to report here!

2. Get a piano (or keyboard!) and learn to play properly this time - or here, this may be one for when I have somewhere to put a piano...

3. Stand inside the Arctic Circle - nope, no progress here either, watching Frozen Planet on the BBC has made me want to even more though

4. Visit somewhere on the other side of the equator: - I wish...

5. Climb the highest 10 “mountains” in England, Scotland and Wales again no, but I have now passed my grade 2 training with Ramsoc, which means I can read a map (and am a bit more confident in doing so), so this one should be able to happen soon (especially as rambling can be done without the full use of arms!)

6. Achieve a podium in a cycling race - gutted. How close did I get to that one? Well...I only made it into a fraction of the 1st lap, but I would have got 2nd place! Hopefully motivation to train hard over the winter and get racing again next season!

7. Get a photo I’ve taken published in a magazine / online - not managed this either, have got a DSLR now though, and have taken some photos that I'm happy with, will keep going with this and hopefully one day it will happen!

8. Skydive or bungee jump (or both!) - may have failed to get this one done so far, definitely happening this summer though. I'm putting some money aside for a sky dive. Going to be awesome. Can't wait!

9. Learn to snowboard - This probably needs to wait until my arm stops hurting. Hopefully another one for the summer though!

10. OK, this isn't on the same level as the others but hey, it needs deciding - Organic, Physical or Inorganic? - Never got any closer to deciding, but looks like I don't need to any more...

11. Take a photo every day for a year - Will probably start this in the new year. 1 photo every day in 2012!

All in all been a bit of a fail so far, good thing I've still got 4 and a half years left to do it all! Lots of exciting things to look forward to at least!

Bye for now folks!

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Well, its been a while since I've posted 2 days in a row but today has been one of those days where I feel I have to do an update!

Started off with a trip to the GP, not my GP that I saw mind you (although he was there so no idea why they gave me to someone else!), after much explaining of the situation (it was easier for me to tell her than for her to read the numerous pages that have been added to my medical records over the summer!). She came to the conclusion that I'm too complicated for her to have any idea whats going on, but it would appear that I'm more broken than they thought. I really am fed up of being broken now!

As she didn't really know what to do she's given me some new painkillers and referred me to someone up here who might know what to do, and to give me physio; I think she's a locum so she had no idea how long the wait will be, but hopefully it won't be too long. So although I've effectively taken a step back with my recovery, there is some sort fo progress!

I got very excited by new painkillers too - I put my chemist hat on for a while because they've given me (and by given I mean made me pay for!) ones I hadn't heard of before. Only need to take 1 tablet twice a day and far less worries about adverse effects (like co-codamol and the liver!), shall test them out tonight - hopefully they'll do the job!

I finally got around to speaking to my tutor today too, he's agreed to meet up next week so we can have a proper chat about what I want to do. This was important for me because it means I've taken a big step towards actually making a decision. I shall let you know how it goes next week!

My to-do list is still epically long, but I've been ticking things off this afternoon, hopefully I'll have time to tick a few more off while I'm home for the weekend. Have done all the urgent things though so all is good!

I ended my rather productive day by cooking some real food. Chopping/stirring etc is still proving a challenge to me (as is opening jars!), but I persevered and that may well have been the nicest food I've cooked in quite some time. Followed it up by finishing off a tub of Ben and Jerry's fossil fuel. Perfection!

I expect the next few days to be far less busy (but hopefully no less happy!).

Stay safe everyone!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Well it's the middle of the week and I've been doing far too much thinking so I thought I ought to write a blog!

First week of "labs" has been OK as we haven't actually stepped in the lab yet, just been doing the plan. I've just about written mine, don't want to submit it yet though as the deadline isn't until Friday afternoon and you never know what good idea someone in the group might come up with between now and then...

Starting in the lab first thing Monday morning, testing the solubility of our compounds (how exciting!) Well I don't suppose I'll e doing much other than "supervising" seen as I'm not anticipating my handling of anything which requires any dexterity will go well! Its not so bad because its not just me - down to 12 working hands out of 14 in the group thanks to a karate related broken hand!

Still ticking over with work for uni, have lost motivation for nearly all of it so its slow going (and things are starting to pile up), things are definitely starting to conspire against doing 4 years...

Having got all excited about my arm being on the mend I'm pretty sure I've overdone it in the last few days. It's giving me more grief now than it did even in the couple of weeks straight after surgery so I've gone back to minimal writing in lectures (to save it for all this work we've got!), and am off to the doctors tomorrow morning...

Yes, I've given up my only non-9am start this week to go to the doctors as I was keen to get in as soon possible. Not sure what they can do for me really, but I know if I don't go I'll be worrying about it all the time. I get the feeling some of it may be down to the physio I've been given being maybe a bit too challenging this early on (something that would I assume be picked up on if the hand therapists were seeing me again like my consultant wants them too!). Hopefully they'll come up with something to make it a bit easier for me...surely things should be getting better now? (or at least not getting worse!). I shall let you know how I get on!

In a far more happy place, I'm really looking forward to Friday, as soon as lectures are over I shall be heading home as its my dad's birthday on Saturday. Big family meal planned for Friday night - there'll be my parents, my brother and me as well as both sets of grandparents - having a carvery which is always a good excuse for eating lots!

Both sets of grandparents will undoubtedly attack me with the usual "do you know what you want to do yet?"s, I shall say no, as although I'm now more set on heading in a certain direction I don't want them to get their hopes up! I have now mentioned it to my parents, they were quite surprised - I was surprised by their surprise as I thought they might have seen it coming, but apparently not! I've heard nothing back from the various other people I've tried to organise work experience with, but I think they are quite busy people (as they are head's of department as well as being in charge of training type things), so I expect they have many e-mails so I'll wait a few more days before I give up hope on those ones!

Hopefully I'll pull myself out of my currently odd frame of mind - I seem to be flicking between almost bouncing of the wall with excitement and somewhere far less excitable and just generally a bit glum. Tomorrow is Thursday, which is nearly Friday so that should help. And Thursday is GSK lecture today, that's normally a good one for getting a bit inspired with chemistry. Organic stuff may not be my strong point (although I wish it was!), but there's something exciting about seeing how all the little things that we've been lectured in week after week for the last 2 and a half years actually all come together and really make a difference!

There we go, ended on a positive!

Actually one more thing - to the RSC - a toast sandwich? really?

Bye for now!

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Today is Saturday. The weekend. Yay!

What with it being "reading week" our timetable was a bit depleted last week so managed to get pretty much up to date with lecture notes and stuff in the time that would have usually been spent in lectures. That means today I've finally got round to starting going over notes from the early lectures in the year in an attempt to learn things! Progress is slow to say the least. I'm writing this now because having spent the last 3 hours writing 3 (A5) pages on palladium chemistry my arm has entirely given up!

Having found out I got onto the work shadowing scheme, I am now in the process of sorting out doing some volunteering in the same place, they encourage everyone that get's onto the scheme to volunteer to do a project in their auditing department; having spoken to them about the various available projects it has the potential to be quite interesting (and of course is something to add to my CV!), unfortunately due to the nature of the organisation there is an awful lot of paperwork to get through first! Plenty of time to sort it out though so the organising will be put on the back burner for a while as Monday marks the start of 3rd year labs for me this year!

Much of 4th year is a research project, so labs this year will be the big factor in deciding whether I want to to do 3 or 4 years (no I still haven't decided, although I am getting close to making a decision now!), realistically I need to decide not long after Christmas because if I'm doing 4 years I need somewhere to live next year; this means this project will be the vital one in deciding my fate! The project my group and I will be doing is about the salen ligand, and how the coordination at the metal centre is dictated by both the metal and the ligand. We've got 1 week to plan the experiment, 3 weeks in the lab (with 1 and a half days of actual lab time each week) and then another week to do the write up and presentation. We don't officially start our planning until we have our first group meeting on Monday morning but I've already done a bit of thinking and research so I can go in armed with a few ideas (hopefully everyone else will have done the same).

My plan is to let this run for a couple of weeks, have more of a think and then go and speak to my tutor and see what he thinks. If I'm honest, I've already made my decision but I don't want to do anything about it in case its the "wrong" choice!

Back to today, the weather's been pretty good today (not that I've been outside), so in-between working there's been a lot of day dreaming going on. Yes bike related! As well as contemplating various possibilities for new bike builds (get a bursary from uni next month so some of that may well go on something shiny and new!), I've been planning some big rides, and some not so big ones too.

I'll have to play it by ear and see how it goes (I'm assuming I'll be able to ride sooner than the hospital have predicted but don't want to risk more damage/rush into it before I'm ready), but lots of turbo training over the Christmas holidays should get me back to some sort of fitness. Then it'll be a matter of testing the water and getting back on the bike outside! All being well 2012 will be a year full of cycling miles and races. And then I intend to use some of the Easter and/or summer holidays to do something big. Really big. Not sure exactly what yet (have a few options I'm considering) to have some fun but more importantly work hard and raise some money for charity. If anyone has any interest in joining me, let me know...

It's still early days and only November so more details on my riding plans shall come nearer the time!

Just thinking about all that has put a smile on my face, its far more exciting than the work I should probably be doing...

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Well, lots of good things have happened in the last few days!

Monday you all know about (arm is fixing enough that I'll hopefully be avoiding any more surgery!); yesterday went basically as predicted - after measuring my grip strength (slightly improved but still only half what it should be!), and doing varying amounts of prodding and poking the hand therapist has given me a new exercise plan. She's said she only wants to see me once more (and not until the Christmas holidays), just to make sure I'm doing OK (typical NHS - pretty much everything is working, even if it's not working well so we're not going to help anymore!).

This means I'm now officially not bionic (although I have kept the bionic arm just in case I need it again!). After a day and a half I have to say I'm missing it - everything is that bit more difficult without it; someone asked me earlier what it feels like - its very hard to explain - the closest I could come to describing it was somewhere between it not feeling like my hand, and the feeling you get when your arm goes to sleep! Combining that with the various exercises I'm now having to do in an attempt to get it working as well as possible means I'm a bit sore and grumpy! I'd never have thought holding a 0.5kg weight would have been so difficult!

Counteracting my grumpiness - I've had more good news - heard back this morning - I've got onto the work placement thingy that I applied for, it's only for a week but it should be good. Really looking forward to it, and it starts the day after my 21st!

Still plodding along through uni, as the term has been going on the ratio of interesting to dull lectures has been sliding in the wrong direction. Still enough good ones to keep me going though (going to have to be lots of exciting lectures next week seen as labs are starting and that has the potential to be more than a little bit soul destroying...).

Its more than a little bit cold in the house (I think it'll have to snow before we can turn the heating on), so I expect the rest of my evening will be filled by hot chocolate and cake before I hide under the duvet for the night! Makes me wish I could hibernate...

Monday, November 7, 2011


Today finally came!

I was ridiculously nervous this morning, couldn't eat any breakfast and didn't know what to do with myself - ended up being more than half an hour early at the hospital! That was a mistake as they were running a bit late anyway, so I was sitting in the waiting room for nearly an hour (thankfully the Singletrack magazine on my phone kept me amused!)

I was expecting one of his long appointments, with lots of discussion but I was in and out in under 15 minutes. He determined that my nerve function has improved, and all my tendons are now working, all be it most of them not very well; this means I've avoided the need for more surgery (to be reviewed again in April) as there wouldn't be a huge amount of benefit from it, and its therefore not worth the risks of surgery. Fine by me. I think he was almost as happy as I was seen as much of my trouble started when he operated for the first time!

Crazy to think about - tomorrow marks 4 months to the day since I crashed and hurt my arm. They told me in A&E to expect to be back to normal within a fortnight! But hey, these things happens and I now have an impressive battle scar to show for it...

Off to hand therapy tomorrow (because they can't possibly give me 2 appointments on the same day!), saw a different hand therapist today so I know what they're going to say tomorrow - I'll have to carry on with my program of physio, with a few alterations to be worked out when I'm there, and work out when I should stop being bionic. I'll miss that...its been a part of me for a while now!

So that's me - I'm now in a very good mood and am bouncing off the walls! Should probably get on with some work (not that I've got *that* much to be getting on with), but instead I'm thinking about my bike! Consultant reckons I should be waiting at least 3 months to start riding properly again, probably closer to 6. Hopefully if I put a lot of effort in to the physio and what not I might make it back before that! After all got to get training for next summer!

Thursday, November 3, 2011


I once again seem to have an awful lot of work to do, was hoping to avoid taking it home with me at the weekend but that's definitely not going to happen so I thought this would be an appropriate time to update here!

Nothing of any great excitement has really happened to me since the last time I wrote, and I shan't bore you with the details of my week - what I want to talk about is the Thunder and Lightening public lecture that was held in the chemistry department last night.

It wasn't anything to do with thunder and lightening, but an excuse for a couple of people from the department to set things on fire and make some loud bangs! Many of the demonstrations I'd seen before, on numerous occasions (although they still haven't lost their appeal), and some were new to me!

The lecture began in a nice relaxing manner with the classic luminol/hydrogen peroxide combination, and various other luminescent type reactions. Even this was enough to get the kids in the audience excited. Very quickly things ramped up - the burning of sugar (lovely smell of caramel!), and then burning more sugar, but this time with some Potassium Perchlorate to add some oxygen and spice it up a bit, same chemistry as the "Screaming Jelly Baby" but this was done on a slightly bigger scale!

It wasn't long until they broke out the liquid oxygen and the patented (maybe) "match on a stick", as well as some cotton wool, my friend and I knew exactly what was coming but were still amused by people waiting in the wings with the fire extinguishers!

There were a few more reactions, mainly involving fire, but we'd seen them before - although the giant barking dog still made me jump! There was also the making of "firework type devices" because legally they can't show us how to make fireworks...

Then it was onto the explosives! This had been done in a guest lecture type thing last year, but I wasn't there so all new to me. The effect of surface area on reaction rate was demonstrated by setting fire to some home made gun powder, and then to commercial gun powder (see - educational really!). There was the exploding of a tin can due to the build up of pressure from heat - that was quite a loud bang, although didn't make another dent in the ceiling next to the one from last year!

Next was a delicate set up. Spread out at the front were 3 bricks, each had a small pile of our old favourite potassium perchlorate on. Onto this was put a liberal helping of white phosphorous (disolved in something sulphur-y!), this was left while he did the next experiment, as it can start itself going. It didn't. Was expecting to be let down as they heated up some copper pipe to initiate the reaction. I can safely say I was not let down. Wow. They were the 3 loudest bangs I have ever heard (why did we sit near the front?!), there was an impressive amount of damage to the aluminium plates the mini explosions were one, but more impressive was the fact the final one managed to split a brick entirely in 2!

After that came the guns, he showed us a few different types of gun - and just how powerful it can be firing even "soft" things. This meant more impressive bangs (although perhaps slightly less exciting as you don't get to see any fire!). The finale was firing 2 guns which had blanks in, but also had something (didn't catch what) which flashed and burnt as it was fired so it looked a bit more spectacular than the other guns being fired!

That was it - my friend and I left the building, ears ringing, hearing not entirely intact (my ears were still hurting this morning!), but very big grins on our faces!

It's nice sometimes to be reminded of the fun aspects of chemistry! Was also really nice seeing the looks on the faces of the non-chemists, particularly the children as various things were being exploded. Hopefully they've been inspired to take up science!

Monday, October 31, 2011


Happy Halloween everyone! I'm not an avid celebrator of Halloween, but it can be a fun holiday.

If you want some Halloween based science you should check this out: Some great videos, adding to those that have previously done by the team in previous years.

I had a really great weekend. Didn't get any photos of the Ramsoc walk at Bakewell, I wasn't being lazy - there is a good reason! It was grade 1 training weekend at the club so some of the leaders were busy with that, so there weren't enough leaders to run all the walks this week - so I ended up doing a walk 4 (slightly further than I would have chosen to walk but it turned out to be really good!). Just before we got to our drop off point I was asked if I wanted to help lead the walk, so I had a quick look at the map to start planning the route before we got there - and off we went.

I really enjoyed it, it only rained a bit at the beginning and the sun came out by the end which is always good! Although the walk was longer that what I've been doing this year there wasn't a huge amount of ascent in it so we managed to keep a good pace going throughout and didn't have any major nav issues. The group was really great too so that made an already good walk even better. We got back to Bakewell with over an hour to spare to plenty of time for fish and chips and a visit to the pub! The result of leading the walk is that I am now a grade 2 leader for Ramsoc. Can't wait to lead to some more walks!

Here's my star to show I'm a leader!

Unfortunately have to miss next week's walk to Edale, has to be one of the best places in the Peak District for walking, but thankfully we visit the surrounding area a few times over the year. I won't be there as a week today I'll be at the hospital, so it makes sense to spend the weekend at home. I've got a combination of nerves and excitement now - knowing that by this time next week (assuming the clinic isn't running ridiculously late!) my "fate" will be decided and I'll know what's going to be happening over the next few weeks and months and can plan accordingly!

That does mean that this is my last Monday officially off, as I've got appointments next week and then, assuming all is good, labs start the following week (its been over 6 months since I've last been in a lab!). I'd like to say that I've had a remarkably productive morning - I've already done the washing, cleaned my walking boots, tidied up and cleaned out the hamster. Sounds good, but I have been slightly hampered by the fact I dropped the lid of the hamster tank/cage thing (which made a very loud bang) and managed to break it, so cue an unscheduled visit to the pet shop to buy a new hamster cage! It's slightly bigger than the old one (and did come with free food and bedding), hopefully Ned'll enjoy it as I've just spent over a weeks food budget on it!

My plan for the rest of the day is to keep ticking things off my to-do-list; I need to head into uni at some point to deliver a letter (I refuse to buy a stamp to post a letter to somewhere that close!), and hopefully I'll be able to curl up later and watch a DVD, probably something by Tim Burton seen as it's Halloween!

Have a good day everyone :)

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Just a very quick post today - GSK lecture was really good, they were definitely promoting themselves a bit - but as it was interesting, and they are funding the module i think we can let them off. It would appear the medicinal side is going to be just as interesting as I was expecting, although I think I'm going to have to brush up on my organic synthesis! Really looking forward to next week's lecture!

I feel I have to share the picture of the cake that GSK sent us...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Having had solid lectures/tutorials from 9-1 and been working solidly since then I decided it was time for a break so I thought I'd write a blog. A post of mixed feelings today - all shall be explained!

Firstly, the cold that I was hoping wouldn't get too bad most definitely hit me over the last few days, thankfully I seem to be passed the worst of it but I spent a most of Monday, and as much time as possible yesterday in bed. It's an inconvenience as, hey - who likes having a cold? and it means I have a bit of a backlog of lectures etc. to go over but I'm more worried about it from a general health perspective. In my first year at uni I had a cold which died away but never quite disappeared and, after various other treatments, ended up having to have surgery as one of my sinuses had got so badly infected. Last year similar symptoms were appearing after a cold but being wary I caught it early and some antibiotics cleared it up before anything had the chance to take hold! Hoping this year I can avoid it all together - don't want to be having respiratory type problems with a potential impending arm op...

Continuing on with the general grumpiness I am having a bad arm day. Just getting frustrated to be honest. I'm doing a lot of physio exercises (which are remarkably tiring!) but don't seem to be making any progress now, all it does is give me a sore arm. I'm getting fed up of not being able to write neatly/quickly/for prolonged periods as its massively increasing my work load (having not kept on top of things for a few days due to the cold, as of this afternoon I've found myself with 9 hours of lectures that I need to go over and make notes from!), once this is done there's no time left for any extra reading or anything, not to mention listening to certain lectures again really does make one lose the will to live! And that's before you get on to all the other things that it gets in the way of. I know it could be worse, and I'm thankful that I'm not one of the many people that have to deal with things much more horrible, but it's enough to get you down after a while.

Less than 2 weeks now until I see my consultant again. As I said the other day I'm already pretty nervous about it to be honest, and every time my mind goes a wandering (which is an all too frequent occurrence...), that's where it's drifting too. Having had my doubts, I'm getting more and more keen on having more surgery to try and improve matters. Yes, surgery itself is pretty scary, and it's going to be a long recovery with lots of hard work required (made even worse by the fact its in the middle of my 3rd year at uni)!, but its a price I'm willing to pay to have my hand back (although realistically it's probably never going to be the same :( ). Just hoping that it can be scheduled at a time reasonably convenient for me (i.e. not his current best idea which is early January and right before exams!), and preferably not one of his other ideas which was wait until next summer - that's a long time! Anyway, nothing new has actually happened except in my head so I'll update you in due course as to how I get on...

Onto more positive things, these have kept me happy for the last couple of days! :-)
My deciding on a vague career direction has now progressed such that I'm in the process of applying for some work experience. I'd like to do it sooner rather than later but in the most part I'm waiting 'til the summer to actually do it (the arm strikes again!), but the main program I'm applying for gets quite popular over the summer so have to get in early! My aim is to do lots of small things (i.e. a day or a week somewhere) rather than longer placements as it means I can experience a bigger variety of environments, and from my work experience at Easter (that was only a week too), I found that within a couple of days I had found out almost everything I wanted to know anyway! I shan't go into the specifics of where I'm applying yet (although a few of my friends already know!), I shall reveal in due course if I'm successful but needless to say it'll be awesome if i get in! Although if all goes well it'll put me on a very long and hard career path!

Can't write a blog without mentioning Ramsoc - despite feeling pretty rubbish (and a lot more rubbish afterwards) I had a great walk at Ladybower on Sunday. Got a bit windy on the summits but we stayed dry which is all you can ask for in October! I didn't take my camera but did have new and improved iPhone camera...
We started right at the other end of that reservoir...

And here we are walking along, almost at the half way point on the walk (with 1 quite big hill still left to climb!)

Oh more thing - Drug Discovery module starts tomorrow (does mean sacrificing my day off on a Thursday!), really looking forward to this as it has the potential to be interesting and quite fun - not to mention we've been promised a free lunch including cake after the first lecture!

I best get back to work now then - thanks for reading!

Saturday, October 22, 2011


Seen as the weather's turned cold (although thankfully not too wet yet!) I thought I'd share a nice summery picture to make everyone feel a bit warmer inside...

Almost time to start hitting the books - I need distracting from this cold - feels like I've eaten sandpaper; and from impending hospital trip - just over 2 weeks to go and I'm already nervous, might be an interesting couple of weeks if I feel like this already!

Anyway, that's all I wanted to share today :-)

Friday, October 21, 2011


Well folks it's Friday! It's been a funny sort of week (and thanks to a friend of mine that has to be send in a stereotypical yorkshire accent!). Having only got back to Nottingham midway through Tuesday it's gone very quickly, but at the same time I'm more than a little bit tired...

Rather than my normal Thursday off (although that's all change next week anyway) I had to go into uni to have a DSA needs assessment. All went well so just have to wait for approval from Student Finance (might take a while knowing them...!) but provisionally there should be some extra funding coming in my direction for various things to make my life a bit easier; also looks like I'll be getting some money from them to partially fund the laptop I bought over the summer which is very excellent news!

Another arm related appointment today (getting fed up of going to that building now!), saw my disability advisor to make arrangements for exams, again, all went well. He's a great guy - glad to have someone like that on my side! The result of that meeting is that I now have lots of support in place should I need it come January exams (all dependent on surgery etc.!)

On the down side I'm finally succumbing to "fresher's flu", hopefully I won't get it too bad because I have lots and lots of work to do over the weekend (yay!) and should be going out and about with Ramsoc again :) Hoping that getting a good night's sleep combined with drinking copious amounts of tea (and will no doubt be on the lemsip later...) will help ward the worst of it off. Either way tomorrow will have to be spent working through the mountain of notes I now have to write up as well as 1 tutorial question which has me stumped!

Other than that I can't say much else has been going on. Just wanted to finish on a couple of hand photos. Thought I'd test out the new iPhone camera as well as show off!
First off - almost straight fingers! It takes an awful lot of concentration and I haven't worked out the dexterity yet but it's definitely progress!

Secondly, this was more of a challenge and didn't last long but muchos physio means I have enough strength in my hand to hold an empty mug for long enough take a photo (again, doesn't sound like much but I'm happy!)

Just need to get my thumb going now...

Enjoy your weekend!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


And I'm back in Nottingham again! To set the scene I'm now sitting in my slightly chilly room (which I expect will be very chilly by the morning because we're poor students who can't afford heating...) with a hot water bottle and my super cosy jumper which is like being permanently hugged!

Really enjoyed my weekend at home, not that I did much but its just nice to be back sometimes. Other than my bike ride the only really notable event was the delivery of my new phone - decided to upgrade my almost ancient iPhone 3G with the new shiny far I'm loving it, the voice recognition is definitely my favourite feature as it saves pressing things with my non-working hand! Can't believe how much faster it works than my old one, only negative feature so far is the battery life - using facebook, twitter etc. seems to drain it very fast although I expect that'll improve after a charge cycle or 2...

This morning was my trip to hand therapy - they were very pleased with my progress (I hadn't noticed much to be honest, I guess it's just improved gradually so I didn't realise!), 3 out of my 4 fingers scored 0 degrees (that's the best as it means they go straight, although that doesn't take the strength into account) and my middle finger got a 6, so not too bad. Hopefully my thumb'll catch up as that's still got a 30 degree lag, have 3 weeks before my I see my consultant and we decide about surgery so the possibility has now at least been raised that I might get away without another operation...

Also had my grip tested today - right hand 36 and left (which, being my dominant hand, should be higher) is still down at 10 (although no idea what that's measured in), still down on wrist strength too, all this means that my already intensive physio regime has been intensified! It's going to be hard work but if it's going to help I'm definitely willing to put in the effort!

Just have the matter of uni to contend with in the mean time - so far it seems to be going well this term (I expect that'll change when labs start and I have less time and more work!), although I'm getting very conscious of how easy it'll be to fall behind with everything so have to make sure I keep working hard (even if there aren't enough hours in the day to do everything I feel I need to do plus sleep!. I've got an ever growing to-do list of work amongst other things, not good seeing it at the beginning of the day but very satisfying ticking things off!

On the plus side, I'm honing in on what sort of thing I want to do "when I grow up", does mean I'm going to have to work even harder, and I could do with getting some sort of work experience (although probably need 2 working hands first!). Hopefully having a goal in mind again will help to keep me motivated - definitely need something too on days where we don't finish lectures 'til 6pm!

Until there are more things to report...goodbye!