Archive for November, 2009

Scientifically challenged

November 28, 2009

**for some reason this post didn’t publish on Monday**

Even with my lucky break on CF questions, I’m meeting with the year co-ordinator this morning to discuss my upcoming supp. Passed everything else but just can’t jump through the basic science hoop.

Have had blissful holidays for two weeks + now the thought of my flashcards makes my bones tired.


So at my meeting: Year coordinator said “Look. There’s not much to be worried about because you’re a whisker away from passing”. When I enquired as to exactly how much a “whisker” entailed in terms of marks, he replied “when you do this supp you just have to sneeze in the right direction”. Then trying to be positive, he said that I should relax because the supp will be just three hours out of my life. Um. Sure. But the studying + staring at the ceiling in the middle of the night will be for a week, no?

Perchant for metaphors aside, he was decidedly unhelpful. For example, apparently “salty sweat” is not a clinical sign for cystic fibrosis. Despite it being in our lecture slides.

And in Robbins.

Apparently, I should have written “excessive chloride present in sweat”. Even though the ENaC channel are also affected (by a different gene) and result in excessive Na+ as well. When you put Na+ and Cl- together, as far as I’m concerned, you get SALT. Am I wrong? Delusional? Wasn’t the question asking for clinical signs? What mother is going to say “I think my child has excessive chloride in their sweat”?

Marks like that were what I ‘failed’ over. He even said “Look, we can tell that you understand the concepts, + technically you’re correct but you’re not saying it the right way”. I wish I’d had someone confident with me who could get angry + argue until they gave me the whiskers worth of marks. Because all I did was smile + say “Oh. okay. woops.”

The whole language thing gets me down.

Supp is on Tuesday morning.

OSCEs + Anatomy + tequila

November 5, 2009

Yesterday was interesting. We had 6 OSCE stations: 3 were focused history taking (one presenting complaint of dyspnoea, one medical/surg/pyscho history + one gynecological pain), 1 was a respiratory exam (just the chest + back), so far so good. Then BAM! random infection control + give first aid to a pulseless dummy electrician, please.

If it wasn’t for me hearing the defibrillator voice through the door while I was waiting, or the student ahead of me mouthing “DR ABC, two breaths, 30 compressions” when he saw my look of terror, I would have totally failed first aid.

The infection control station was hilarious. Firstly because I vaguely remember doing infection control on our first day back of semester 2 + being really tired, yawning + thinking one of the demonstrators had a bit too much bling jewellery + duckbilled masks were cool. That was the extent of my memory of infection control. Secondly when we walked in to a room there was an arm on a trolley covered in blood that we had to pretend was a person, + chat to for 5 minutes while we put on all the protective equipment we would if we were preparing to inspect the wound. There was also a trolley with all the protective equipment on it. Which would have been really awesome.

If I’d seen it.

Idiot-features that I am, I just washed my hands, struggled for 2 minutes getting my gloves on because my hands were still wet then kind of poked the arm + said classic gems like “oooh. That looks…er…deep. um. does it hurt? um. lets take a look at that a bit closer, hey? hmmn. um. soooo…”

I even thought, as I was inspecting the big drawn-on-texta-wound, “Wow, that probably would be squirting me in the eye. I have imaginary blood in my eye. Right now.” It was only as I was leaving I saw the big freaking trolley of PPE behind me. Aprons, goggles, masks etc.

Anatomy was fine. A couple of random things but mostly stuff (I thought) I knew. Made up a few nerve names for good measure. There may be an External Urethral Sphincter Nerve. You never know.

You also never know when your bogan-binge-drinking-alter ego is going to emerge. Mine is called Debbie + she can drink straight tequila without wincing. Even the trusted vegemite on toast didn’t stop the toilet hugging session this morning.

It was worth it.


November 4, 2009

I had a really weird bonding* moment with my orthodontist the other day. He asked me how exams were going (whilst he casually yanked my teeth) + I mentioned that I might not do as well as expected as I was using one textbook to sit on rather than read (which sounded like “arrr usshhin uuuun tessshbooo ooo ‘it arrrn ather an eaaaad”). He laughed + said he used to sit on one of his textbooks too, twenty years ago. It was a pathology text. Robbins.

I was, like, “oh my god. me too.”

He was, like, “oh my god.”

Then we pondered about how many students of dentistry + medicine around the world are sitting on Robbins (that is, he pondered, while I interjected with “aarrrrhh” every now + then).

*teeeeeeerrible braces pun.

The Gambler

November 3, 2009

It’s quite fitting that today’s exam fell on Melbourne Cup day. I was moaning to my mum about how in other courses I’ve studied you were given clear parameters of what to study. Learn this topic. It will be examined. The end. But with medicine it feels like they say “Learn these 42 topics. We will examine you on 3 of them. Plus a few more we found lying around that you hadn’t considered. Muhahaha.”

So you have to pick your bets wisely. Or even better hedge them so you learn a little bit about a lot of topics. It feels like the difference between doing okay + completely bombing out is just lucking out in what you choose to concentrate on or just quickly read over.  The other day my friend casually mentioned she wasn’t going to study the cystic fibrosis case too much because it probably wouldn’t be worth that many marks. I agreed. It’s only one case. How many marks can they allocate to it? hmmn? If it was a horse, that case would have pretty high odds. 1:20 or something.

But I studied it anyway + totally glossed over studying the arrhythmia case +  ECGs because I just don’t get them. It was a big gamble. I was sure I was going to lose marks over it.

First line of the exam paper reads: Jane is a seven year old with cystic fibrosis. Name 12 clinical features of cystic fibrosis that could develop over this patient’s lifetime.

The following TWO pages were question on CF. A substantial chunk of marks.

I was just lucky I bet on that horse. People who didn’t were unlucky. Not dumb or unprepared or worthy of failing. Unlucky. It’s near impossible to learn everything. You can have a broad overview of stuff at best. They could probably detail the pathogenesis of asthma, atherosclerosis + urinary tract infections but it didn’t matter.

Because two bloody pages were on CF.


Admin Strikes Again

November 3, 2009

8:30am Arrive at campus for ‘exam briefing’

8:30-8:45am am hang around outside wondering what the eff we need to be briefed about

8:45-9:00am Get ‘briefed’ on exam & leave more confused

9:10am get seated in exam room ready for exam to start at 9:30. Start chatting to people nearby.

9:30am notice lack of exam papers on desk + confused looking exam monitor people. Keep chatting.

9:45am announcement that exam papers are “coming” soon. They’re “just being printed.”


you know,

that couldn’t have been done at an earlier point in time.

10:00am Announcement made that exam paper are definitely “coming” in twenty minutes. Cue: laughter, mass exodus from room, people buying food, cigarettes being lit, generalised bitching about why on earth we though this time would be different.

10:25am start exam.

At least it broke the nerves?


Glory be.

November 1, 2009

I firmly believe people should have the free choice to practice whatever faith they want to follow. Be part of whatever church, community group or faith movement that they like, free from persecution or ridicule.

But could you not do it quietly? Or choose a venue that’s a bit more soundproof that the local community hall in the middle of a residential area? So that all of us living in a ten km radius are not experiencing the glory of your musical exultation EVERY SUNDAY MORNING.

I could handle it if it was, say, an 8 – 9 thing. That would be fine. Like an extended musical alarm clock.

But no. These people are dedicated. 9 until 12, people.

9 UNTIL 12.

Just saying.

I’m a bit more sympathetic to persecutors now.