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!