Surgery Block – Week 1

Monday

I was pretty excited for this block. As someone who has considered surgery forever, but still shaky on the idea, I wanted to use this block as an opportunity to see if it was right for me.

We started with a day of workshops. However, within 10 minutes the guy running the workshops has stated – This is going to be a full on day – Cue my brain immediately disengaging.

However, one thing did get me through… Wagga Mummas. We decided as a car to go and treat ourselves as a pat on the pack for getting through Medicine block, we were halfway to Christmas – nothing could stop us now.

Tuesday

Early start but we didn’t mind. Apparently the hand over at 8am is the best way to know what is going on for the day so we dragged ourselves in. The surgical team were lovely and invited us to go on the rounds with them but in the end Kaludio and I decided it was best to leave. There were upwards of 10 doctors on this round and 4 other medical students. We would try again another day.

However, we were scheduled to go down to our new ward which happened to be the latest addition to GEH. The Sir Tom Moore Ward !!

It was an elective operation ward mainly sorting hips and knees. We were gutted however as the doctor who had been recommended to me as being great for teaching said he couldn’t have us in theatre as he had been moved to the smallest theatre known to man and there wasn’t enough room.

It was fine though, got to do some bloods and cannulas and decided to go and see if we could get in surgery after lunch.

We managed to get into day clinic which was just urology that afternoon. I somehow managed to select XL scrubs meaning I spend the afternoon yanking the scrub top down my back to remain decent :

Budget Smurf Right Here

I wanted to enjoy it. I really did. I don’t know if it was because I was tired (I didn’t exactly make my “week off” a break) but the surgeon spoke to my male colleague more than me and by the time we were three hours in I was done.

I even tested to see if it was just because my CP was more in the line of sight but even when he was sat to the immediate right and myself to the front. It still happened.

I went home feeling like rubbish. I can’t help being born the sex I was, but I am enthusiastic and genuinely considering surgery as a career. I am more than a baby making machine and it is sad in todays NHS that these stereotypes still exist. oh well.

Wednesday

Outpatients department. Stress in the morning as there was not a single car parking space to be found, but eventually we got one the other side of the hospital.

We were a bit sceptical about today, we hadn’t heard good things about OPD however, we were really suprised. Klaudio and I got into a cardiac clinic. Cardiac is not my strong point but it was so useful to be able to go over basics again and the common conditions. The consultant was lovely, and I was finding I was vastly preferring this way of placement over hanging around on the wards looking sheepish. It was basically 1:1 teaching. Plus although STM ward was great, there was no doctor at the grade we needed to get sign offs. Why we have to be signed off my a ST3+ to do a blood I still don’t know.

Thursday

Wasn’t in until 2:30 today for suturing. I was SO LOOKING FORWARD TO THIS. It was even better than the workshop was run by two female doctors and despite being the only female medical student in the session, it was weirdly empowering.

I really enjoyed learning this skill properly. Holding the tweezers like a pencil will take some getting used to but I really enjoy suturing. It’s almost peaceful ! However, it was also ridiculously painful as for the SECOND time that week I had managed to burn my hand, this time being with steam from roasting veggies so resting the clamps on my fingers was excruciating.

Not perfect, but I am getting there !

Friday

Today was my breaking point. I was sensing something was going on with me all this week. I was snappy, moody and shattered. That isn’t like me.

We had gone to the early meeting again but this time the trust had brought in the new PPE of having a visor as well as a mask. This was a disaster for me. I struggle to hear any way thanks to the damage to my ears from the infections. This was made worse with masks and now there was an additional layer of plastic in front of everyone mouths. I could not hear a thing. I was becoming sensitive to all the noises around me and if I didn’t get out of hospital soon, I would not be fit enough to drive.

That weekend I was signed off by my GP for chronic stress. I needed to up my medication changes, and it was not safe for me to drive whilst I ws getting used to the new dosage. It was my own fault to be honest. I had signed myself up to too much during our week off, and now I was paying the price. However, I didn’t want to be off the full two weeks. I only missed ODP once and the two ward times which I was not too fussed about because I was starting to get annoyed with the whole turn up and hope for something to do approach to things.

It was good to stop though. I didn’t let myself touch my work and I spent the days cleaning the flat and watching rubbish TV. After two days I felt the old me coming back and I knew I was going to be ok to go in from the next week. Sometimes, you just have to stop before you break.

Medicine Block – Week 9

Final week next week. It’s been a haul, but we are also presently surprised how quick it has gone. My diary is absolutely chocca this week. Not just with presentation list but the new first years start this week too. I do feel sorry for them, Covid has taken away their first year from them and they are doing everything from home bar one day a week for anatomy and clinical skills. However, at least first year is just 95% lectures so they haven’t lost out on too much.

This week we also have the non-international students arriving to campus meaning that my block will be full of freshers once again ……. gulp.

Monday

Went to the hospital today to try and get some experience on the wards. It’s difficult though when the consultants and doctors are running around trying to get things done and you can’t even log on to the IT systems to be helpful.

At 11am I scooted off to an empty lecture theatre and was honoured enough to be asked to speak to the first years on their first day! My talk was apparently titled “Succeeding in Medicine” which I was slightly confused about as I had scraped a past and had at least three breakdowns in the run up to exams but we persist 😀

It was important to me that I made sure the Freshers didn’t make the same mistakes as I did. Academic tips are cool but useless if you are too burnt out enough to use them. I was really touched to be given this opportunity. I feel like I am a mess of a human most of the time so by having that offer, it picked me back up off the ground !

Thursday/ Friday

These blogs are so hard to write day by day, so I think I’ll just start having to skip days when nothing happens. On Thursday I actually got to meet some of the first years, they were allowed one day in to meet their CBL groups and I guess, see the building that’s meant to be their home.

It was bizzare. I remember my first day like yesterday, and now I was in my third year of education here giving advice from the other side. I think I may have pushed student seminars just that little too hard though.

On the Friday I managed to score something I have been wanting for a year now – a sacred WMS water bottle !

We got a map of walks when we joined so to see the first years with bottles did make a few eyes go green.

One of my lecturers commented on my tweet saying he had plans to steal one for me anyway and instantly earning the empty spot of favourite lecturer since Jamie left last year.

We decided to take the final week of the block off. We had completed everything we needed to do, and we desperately needed a week away. We did go in for our final GP session and treated ourselves to cake from the bakery near it – only to have three bites and have the biggest sugar crash about an hour later:

We also had our FIT testing for our masks for surgery block as we will be using these in theatres. Unfortunately it was 7:30am all the way in Nuneaton – dragging myself out of bed was hard, but we got rewarded in watching each other look ridiculous for 10 minutes each.

Medicine Week 8

Slightly stressful start to the week. Over the weekend my tablet decided to delete all the notes I had made since the beginning of August. I was devastated and just had a good cry on the Sunday night before coming up with a plan of attack. I had to get nearly 4 weeks worth of work done in one. Luckily a huge bulk of time is taken up with just finding the material so at least I didn’t have to do that again.

Monday

Drove everyone into hospital today and went and hid myself in the library. I like the gelliot library. Small and useful. I did feel odd sitting in my scrubs, but they were comfy and that is all I needed. Actually managed to get a fair amount completed. I was hand writing my notes as I didn’t trust technology, so my hand was cramping but at least I could be sure nothing was going to be deleted.

Scale of 1-10. How panicked did I look?

I also had my monthly meeting with the GOSH ambassadors. We were talking about the projects we would like to do, and I suggested hoodies which I really really want. It was odd having a meeting hunched up in the corner of a room near a plug socket. However, we muddled through, and we eventually left, so I could get back and enjoy my last full week of very few freshers on campus. We already had some early arrivers, so they could quarantine in time for freshers week to start – not that they could do anything though !

Tuesday

It was my turn for the fabled ODP morning, despite the fact we normally went to OPD anyway. It is a source on agg as we normally just get turned away from this as the receptionists don’t know where our appointments are. However, being a driver, I put my foot down. I wasn’t wasting petrol. I marched to the education office and kinda set it out. It’s not fair on us to be wasting petrol, especially when our hospital is the furthers from WMS. I eventually got put into my clinic, turns out it had been running every week, but it was the receptionists who had the wrong information. It was a productive morning, but I was happy for the clinic to end as it was freezing in the room (as windows have to be open for COVID-19 ventilation) and I was still agging out about my huge to do list.

Wednesday

Off to GP land again, this week we had to get our audits done. They are essentially checks to make sure the surgery is performing to NICE guidelines, and it’s something we have to do with Warwick that basically was a pain in the behind to get done. I hate doing things I don’t quite know how to do but thankfully one of the GP’s from the partner surgery came to our rescue. There’s a RCGP website that basically takes you through every step and even does some of the maths for you! Work Smart – Not hard 😉

Thankfully I got most of the data I needed so I can easily write this up at home. The GP was busy getting appointments done so we were released early – que jumping in the car to go home and get – you guessed it – more work done.

Thursday

First shift of my new job today! I can’t tell you how happy I am to finally have an income ! I am not allowed to say too much about my job, but I am happy to be helping on the Covid-19 front. Even if it is in a small way. I really do love this job as if we are quiet, I can get on with work and there is technically no set work hours so I can do as much or as little as I liked.

Managed to turn up early and have time to drink my free Prett coffee in the sun.

I worked for the morning and then went back to the flat to try and get the list finished. I promised myself papa johns if I finish the list at the end of the week and I can almost taste the Pizza! I also had some marking to do for JASME which is an organization I have recently joined the committee of and I am loving every second. One of my twitter friends is also on the panel who I had no clue about until I had secured the role! Feels weird to be marking the essays of a national competition.

Friday

My favourite day of the month – BURSARY DAY! I also had a self-made deadline of getting a poster finished for a competition I had entered (guess who didn’t get their poster done). I like having these scheduled days off, they are so needed to allow us to catch up on everything as this is really starting to feel like a self-taught degree.

I also am enjoying getting to go swimming more as I am trying to loose weight and make my clothes fit more comfortable and it’s doing wonders for my sleep!

Saturday

Rapid typing to get this poster done. I hated this project but I wanted to get it sorted and out there so I had something to show for it. I also clearly can not condense infomation as this was my poster after about 4 hours of fiddling around:

Oh well – maybe next time 😀

504 days later

It’s been 504 days since I started Phase Two of my medical degree. 504 days. On day 506 , I will finally finish the phase.

Tonight is the night before the biggest exam of our lives, it is worth 60% of my EPM, and I am sitting it at home.

It feels weird to finally be here. Since I began my second year all the way back in September 2019, I never thought that I would have to go through three lockdowns and a global pandemic to finally reach this exam. 

I should’ve only have had 30 weeks of clinical education. Instead, I’ve had more than I bargained for through working in A&E over the first lockdown period. This taught me more than any lecture or passmed question ever could.

I know talking to other members of my year we are all very demotivated and are very keen to progress on with our medical degrees. I should have been in my first rotation of my final phase of medical school. Instead, I’ve spent the past month and a bit revising for an exam I should’ve taken back in September 2020. Having to give up a Christmas in what was already a tough year to get through, was the final straw in my patience, and I was keen just to get my head down and get through this period no matter what it took.

We’ve all worked so hard to get to where we are today, but even still it doesn’t feel like we’ve done enough. Nerves are running high and I know no one in this year group wants to stay as a second year any longer then we have to.

I’m not sure how I feel about tomorrow. I’ve had periods this week when I’m almost cocky in thinking that I’ve done enough and periods where I have frozen still out of complete terror that I won’t ever pass this exam.

Considering it’s the last week before the biggest exam it’s my medical career you think I would be super focused, but I found that I have been revising for the sake of revising this week.

I don’t know what tomorrow will bring and I don’t think anyone will be able to tell me either. Thanks to the pandemic and the current lockdown in the UK we have had our exam moved online. This is a first and as far as I know we are the first cohort in Warwick to ever take a WMS exam away from the medical school. It feels weird that my end of second year won’t be a big celebration but the simple act of me closing my laptop and driving to get a Nando’s.

There are obviously a lot of fears about taking such an important exam online. We’ve all seen this week to the absolute horrors of the UKFPO situational judgement test and the chaos that resulted out of the online proctoring system used. So if we weren’t nervous before about using an online system ourselves, then we would be now.

It feels strange that some stranger behind a screen that I can’t even see is going to be staring at me doing an exam in my home. Granted, isnt the most fabulous of homes but for me it’s a place that I go to escape. The medical school have offered the opportunity for people who haven’t got the correct equipment or environment to go up and take the exam inside the building however, I don’t qualify for this. So, I’ll be taking the biggest exam of my medical career so far in a student residential block with undergraduates. Gulp.

I’m excited to get this over and done with. I just want to move on and start being more useful on the wards. I’m sick of driving all the way to placements and doing a couple of bloods and thinking that’s a good day. Essentially, I want to start being a doctor now rather than a slightly incompetent medical student.

I’m nervous about tomorrow and I’m sure that my nerves will just increase as the night goes on. I’ve put so much work into this exam. I have lever arch files full of notes that I’ve made, I’ve done all the questions that I can possibly get my hands on and drilled in some ethics and soc/pop.

I still can’t help feeling that I haven’t done enough and if I fail this exam, although it will all be my fault, I will still feel cheated as we’ve done so much work to get to where we are today.

The pandemic has taken a lot away from my medical degree that I was initially looking forward to. My SSC2 got changed from a survey looking at social media use in undergraduate medics, to a systematic review on medical podcasts which made me want to fall asleep. I also won’t get a proper elective as my finals have been moved. We will have a four-week period after our finals in which we could theoretically have an elective however, if we fail we have to resit within that four week period so there’s not a huge point in actually planning. My final phase modules have all been reduced by a week and potentially could be reduced even further if anything else happens. However, we still have my grandad, and he is FULLY vaccinated, we are all healthy so there is plenty to feel grateful for.

I think by getting this exam done, myself and some people in my year group will be able to move on from 2020 and the horror and destruction it brought on everyone’s lives. We maybe in a lockdown but we have a light at the end of the tunnel with this vaccine, and I am optimistic about the future of my degree. As soon as I shut my laptop on Tuesday it will feel like New Year’s Day for me and I can finally relax and find out what all the fuss is about Bridgeton.

So all I can say is , wish us luck. 2018 cohort, we’ve got to where we are, let’s smash next week.