Friday, 27 January 2012

Trust me, I'm half a doctor.


So I know I've been absent for...*checks* 3 months, and before that was absent for about 3 months, but Medicine has a way of making you feel guilty for doing anything that is not Medicine. On numerous occasions these past months, various enjoyable activities have been clouded by revision guilt. Food became just another opportunity to revise the digestive system. Pre-sleep relaxation was suddenly an opportunity to listen to my heart/bowel sounds. Any kind of bright light was grabbed and shone in someone's (willing or non willing) eye in order to observe their pupil response. My family just became Simulated Patients to Practice Examinations on, or Lay People to Practice Explaining Stuff To. My dad, a pharmacist, became a Person Who Can Test Me On Drugs and Side Effects. Even the Emadness fell victim to this, enduring a full teaching session on the basal ganglia, which basically allows us to initiate or inhibit our actions. I will test you on this ¬_¬

You'll forgive me then, if I say that everytime I opened up the Blogger Dashboard, my eyes were literally and painfully dragged away to the bookmark at the top of my screen that said 'Spinal Cord levels', and an evilly smug voice in my head didn't say anything, but I could hear it smirking. Pfft.

Somewhat unsurprisingly, all this thinking does have negative mental effects. Just a few weeks ago, I sacrificed a revision break in order to conduct a full cardiovascular examination on an imaginary patient in my room, right down to addressing the pillow as if it was the patient. Out loud. I was really friendly, too. To a pillow. Sometimes I'm glad I don't study at home, so my family are spared from The Madness.

I'm not saying it's always awful to revise- I'm geeky enough to be interested. You're talking to the kid who read first-aid books in her spare time, I joke you not. On numerous occasions, I have been caught attempting to explain complex medical ideas to the younger (see ages 8+) cousins. My excuse, as I am dragged away, is that they will be able to impress their classmates, dammit. The younger brothers have learnt to tune me out at the dinner table when I launch into explanations of korotkoff sounds (blood pressure), or to just full on drown me out (see the time that I started talking about oesophageal varices, which cause you to vomit massive amounts of blood everywhere. In hindsight, probably not the best timing). Just last week, whilst out shopping solo, I decided that I would go all House and observe people for gait abnormalities. Third person I saw had foot drop, which is where they can't lift their foot to point up whilst walking, so it 'drops', which shows damage to the superficial fibular nerve, which can be caused by a car bumper hitting your lower leg side-on :D WOO. I'm probably wrong now. You can't crush the enthusiasm but sometimes I am woefully misguided.

There are physical effects too- I have put on a shameful amount of Revision Weight- due mainly to the fact that my schedule since October (and also the summer before, when I was revising for that bloody resit) has consisted of:
  • Wake up.
  • Breakfast + watch something which does not require thinking
  • Revise
  • Eat + watch something which does not require thinking
  • Revise with housemates
  • Eat + watch something which does not require thinking/brief, traumatised conversation with housemates.
  • Sleep
  • Repeat
It's not the best formula for physical fitness. Hence, I have turned into a pile of flab and acquired a tire. No amount of sitting up straight whilst examining my profile in the mirror can eliminate it, and I feel it's just disturbing. Further physical effects include turning ghostly pale due to a lack of sunlight (plus, no doubt the long term effects of a complete lack of vitamin D); sunken eyes that just exude 'help me'; and a constant fight, fright or flight response- dilated pupils, racing heart rate, and sweating. Yep. I did not look good.

I realise now that I have not been entirely clear thus far. This is because exams have driven me out of my mind. Basically, I spent the time since the last post revising for my Phase 1 exam, which is the exam that marks the halfway point of this course, and after which there are no more lectures- the next two and a half years are all spent doing 7-week hospital placements. How awesome, right? WRONG. Because the whole idea was just dangled in front of us, so close and yet so far away, because between us and Phase 2 stood this massive exam that people trembled at the mention of, and that when you spoke of it to 4th and 5th years, they got this distant, post-traumatic-stress-disorder look in their eyes, and just clammed up. Of course I'm not exagerrating, shush.

Phase 1 exam is basically a four hour exam paper split over two days, which examines you on anything and everything from the last two and a half years. In order to pass Phase 1, you also have to pass the OSCE- a practical exam consisting of 10 stations, each requiring you to, for example, perform a physical examination, or take a history from/explain a medical condition to a fake patient. It is, to say the least, daunting stuff.

My exam was two weeks ago. I still shudder at the thought of it. I had revised non stop since the summer, and was a Total And Absolute Zombie by the end of it, but somehow, by some massive twist of fate, the papers were completely awful. I came out and had a full on meltdown, convinced I had failed, and have spent the last two weeks being a quiet and destructive shadow of myself, waiting for the inevitable result which would tell me that I had to come back to the Hellhole for further revision.

Except that I found out yesterday I passed!!! SO WOOOOOO! Officially half a doctor! No more lectures! Next stop hospital placements!! :D This is more awesome than you can understand, because I cannot understand how I passed that paper, and have since yesterday checked my Uni email four times, just in case they sent an 'AMENDED PHASE 1 RESULTS' message.

So yeah. God knows how I'll find the hospitals, my next blog entry might be an outpouring of self pity and reminiscence of how easy I had it before, but to be honest, I'm just glad I've got this far. And I'm glad of the change- 2 and a half years of daily lectures has given me enough deep vein thrombosis risk for a lifetime, so thanks very much, Medschool.

In other news!

...Except nothing else has happened, because as you may have deduced, revision has consumed my life.

*tries in vain to think of something significant to talk about*

...Look! I took this cool picture of the small cousin today, when it started snowing!

*Continues to think...*

Erm...Okay. Fail. Lets resort to a list of things I need to do, now that I have holidays for the next few weeks:
  • Read MANY, MANY BOOKS. Including awesome graphic novels. Did I not mention my new graphic novel obsession?! Oh my god, read Maus. It's a man's account to his son of being a Jew during the Holocaust. It won the Pullitzer prize, and having read it, I fully agree that it is amazing.
  • Continue efforts to be a girl, including expanding the amount of colour in my wardrobe
  • Get clothes for the hospital placements, which I did not dare buy before in case of failure. Yay!
  • WATCH MANY FILMS. (Oh my god, people, watch Drive, the Emad was right)
  • DRAW/PAINT THINGS- yes, there may be a theme of regaining creativity here, since the right side of my brain appears to have shrunk and died.
  • Regain a semi-normal face, that does not give the impression that I have Just Escaped from some kind of high security prison camp, or that I am currently addicted to illicit substances.

I will keep you posted on how I get on with all this!

And now I shall go and start catching up with all your blogs!

Over and out, crocodiles :)