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Sunday, August 15, 2004

On confidentiality, anonymity and other sacred tenets
Do you know who might be reading you musings?
Does it matter?

Of course it does. This blog is no more.

Goodnight.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Quite cathartic
I feel incompetent. Notting Hill keeps saying things like, 'Don't forget to sign that form before you send it off' and 'You probably ought to ring anaesthetics before doing that venflon as it's more urgent.'
Later I get bleeped to 'come and write up some fluids for Mr Mott' but upon arriving I realise that I haven't done that since my medicine block last year, and even then I was never sure because I skived too much. Anyway this nurse is literally breathing down my neck as I pretend to confidently prescribe 'post-op fluids'.
But it's no good. There isn't even a previous prescription on the chart for me to copy. I swallow my pride.

'What exactly should I write?'
'Just put down 2 litres NaCl over 6 hours each, and sign there'

You see, the nurses know this game better than us but they need our signatures. Which could land me in court if I'm not careful.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Overload
You know when you've got too much to do and not enough time? That feeling of not knowing where to start, but that you'd better start asap or you'll be in trouble. Well that last thing you need at such moments is people thrusting more jobs at you, making sure all the while, that you know how bloody urgent they all are.

11.30am: Ward round ends.
11.35am: Start writing discharge summaries for my ward.
11.38am: Bleep goes off.
11.39am: Answer bleep. It's one ward 16 asking me to get down there pronto to write their discharge summaries. I explain that I'll be there when I'm done on my ward.
11.50am: Continue writing summaries for my ward.
11.52am: Bleep goes off.
11.53am: Answer bleep. It's my consultant. He wants me down in theatres to get the operating list for tommorrow organised. Drop everything and go to theatres.
12.15pm: Head back to my ward. Continue writing summaries (I'm still on the first one unsurprisingly)
12.16pm: Bleep goes off.
12.17pm: Answer bleep. Its the other ward again.When will I be there? It's really urgent. There are discharge summaries to be written, venflons to be put in, drug charts to ammend. I offer the same explanation as before. It sounds less convincing.
12.20pm: As I scour the notes trying, for the third time, to work out whether it was Mr B's left or right testicle that was removed, Sister Jo interrupts with a drug chart. Something about pain relief for Mr M, and then the registrar interrupts us both telling me which x-rays I have to find to bring to the X-ray meeting at 12.30pm. My bleep is going off and I listen to the registrar whilst trying to silence it. Must remember to call 4507 when the registrar shuts up.
12.21pm: Decide that the most urgent job is to find these x-rays before 12.30.
12.24pm: Arrive in the x-ray department and ask the secretary to bring out the ones needed for the meeting.
12.25pm: Bleep goes off.
12.26pm: It's Ward 24. Mr K's blood cultures came back positive. They want me to write up some antibiotics since he's still spiking a temperature. What the F*** do I know about antibiotics? I tell them I'll be up there in a while. I pray that they have a formulary on their ward. I need to look up which antibiotics to prescribe.
12.35pm: I get the x-rays and run to the x-ray meeting. It's been cancelled. No free food. Bugger!
12.40pm: Arrive back at my ward to continue, but remember that ward 16 will be really pissed off if they have to bleep again.
12.45pm: I run all the way to ward 16 and arrive sweating. I make a start on the jobs here. But what about Mr K? He needs antibiotics right?
12.48pm: Run all the way to ward 16. Hide in a corner with the BNF. Read up on antiobiotics.....

To be continued. Or not as it's is probably rather boring. In reality it carries on like this until maybe 6.30pm.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

The first day of the rest of my life.
Today was my first day at work. Ever. Way back, whilst slogging through A-levels, med school interviews, preclinical exams, this seemed like the dream. 'It'll all be worth it at the end,' I would tell myself. And in my mind there'd be a picture of me with a stethoscope dangling from my neck on my first day at work. Diagnosing patients, dishing out treatment with a grin, overworked but in a glamorous sort of way. Well here I am. It's happened. And it's so utterly depressing.

So just to recap, for myself, and this is in no particular order of crapness:
1. My partner (Notting Hill) is a perfectionist.
2. Today she and I sat with the doctors whose jobs we take over tommorrow to get some tips and advice on how not to mess up. None of this was useful.
3. I have to turn up at 8am for a ward round. Every day.
4. Sometimes I'll have to turn up at 8pm and then work until morning.
5. My workplace smells of urine. Sometimes I will too. I'm sorry about this.
6. Never again can I say, 'I can't be arsed today so I'll stay in bed.' I should have said that more often over the last 6 years.
7. I will be catching the bus to work.
8. I don't even have a car because I spent my last borrowings in Xinjiang. I am poor beyond belief until the end of the month.

My only pleasure was sitting on the bus home with my ipod. It took me a while to realise it, but this song is profound.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Sorry about that..
Not posting anything and all but I was in China. Which was great... I should probably write about that at some point. The Karakoram Highway and stuff. All in good time.

Anyway I'm going to give this blog thing another go. However, I start working as a PRHO / intern in about two days time. So if being a junior doctor turns out to be as exciting as my starry eyed colleagues seem to think it will be, I may never get around to posting anything.

Anyway I'll be amongst the very first juniors that this european working time directive affects. In other words if the nhs trust makes me work more than 58 hours a week I can complain and take legal action. Will I? I'd like to think I will, but deep down I'm a chicken. Plus I don't want my career plans stamped upon.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

No one gets out awake
"It would be very odd," said James Fenton in a lecture on poetry a few years ago, "to go to a concert hall and discover that the pianist on offer wasn't any good at all, in the sense that he couldn't actually play the piano. But in poetry this is an experience we've learnt to take in our stride." No wonder there are pleas to hand the whole thing over to the professionals. If poets can't be trusted with their own work, the argument goes, then actors must take over.
Poetry readsings as read by poets

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Recently spotted
...many reviewers, whose highest endorsement for a translation tends to be that it is “seamless.” If I may attempt to translate the damnation barely concealed in their faint praise, I think they really mean that the translator has, with proper humility, made herself or himself “invisible,” a punishing goal that is desirable only if we are held personally responsible for the Tower of Babel and all its dire consequences for our species.

Edith Grossman on translating Living to Tell the Tale by Garcia Marquez.

Friday, June 04, 2004

I've known professorships lost over that..
Still on the topic of Palestine, Mark at Jews-sans-frontieres isn't happy about academic fraudsters getting free Guardian columns.
Tragic Rafah
Aziza Abu Ghali is exhausted by her fury and can barely stand. "My husband is 90 years old and has nowhere to sleep. The Jews are just demolishing our houses. I was shouting at the bulldozer driver: 'Don't you have children?' They kill our sons and put us in the morgue. We are praying to Allah to show them the suffering that they show us.

I don't know what good accounts like this do for me. I know what's happening out there but it just highlights my impotence. Last weeks Channel 4 documentary by the incompetent Saira Shah at least showed all. I even saw the very school I visited when I was there. Oh well, watch and read.



Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Cartoonists have all the fun
Especially Steve Bell
Not as savage as some..
This brings us back to the weird emptiness at the heart of Huntington’s analysis, according to which conversion to a fundamentalist faith is counted a good thing just because many other people already share that faith. Huntington never explains, in “Who Are We?,” why Protestantism, private enterprise, and the English language are more desirable features of social life or more conducive to self-realization than, say, Judaism, kibbutzim, and Hebrew. He only fears, as an American, their transformation into something different. But how American is that?

Who are we, by Samuel Huntington gets a savage go over at the New Yorker
For a breakdown of Huntington, I still prefer Edward Saids essay, 'A Clash of Definitions.' I don't think it's on the web though.
Sontag back on form
A war, an occupation, is inevitably a huge tapestry of actions. What makes some actions representative and others not? The issue is not whether they are done by individuals (ie, not by "everybody"). All acts are done by individuals. The question is not whether the torture was the work of a few individuals but whether it was systematic. Authorised. Condoned. Covered up. It was - all of the above. The issue is not whether a majority or a minority of Americans performs such acts but whether the nature of the policies prosecuted by this administration and the hierarchies deployed to carry them out makes such acts likely.

In G2 yesterday.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Paediatrics
Although I passed this block with relative ease, it doesn't mean that paeds is straightforward or that I'm any good with children.

Station 1: History. A mother whose child has been admitted with acute asthma. Cause: bonfire.
Station 2: Presented history to intense bearded consultant who just stared at me for the whole 8 minutes. When the bell went I just got up and walked out.
Station 3: Examination of a girl with a failed renal transplant. I loved this one. It was the first OSCE station where I got the diagnosis within the first minute. And knowing the diagnosis early on is the only way to look 'slick' The plan, as ever is to look like you're working through the clues right until the end. Beautiful.
Station 4: The exact opposite of 3. I got the diagnosis just as I left the room. Dermatomyositis. Or something.
Station 5: Rest
Station 6: Developmental assessment of an 18 month old girl. Got on the floor, got my trousers dirty, pretended to enjoy it. "Ooh isn't your daughter clever Mrs Johnson!"
Station 7: Growth charts and X-rays.

So that's it. All I have to do now is turn up to a few short attachments which aren't examined. Which does make it hard to turn up.


Faeces dementia scale
No it's never really like that. Not in Birmingham anyway.
Gregory Roberts
That, he says, was the most shocking experience of his entire time on the sub-continent.

He told BBC News Online: "There was something unspeakably grotesque about children killing children in this lush, fecund paradise.

"You would go from one jungle clearing, where there were the most magnificent red and blue blooms - flowers so big you couldn't put your arms around them - to the next, where there would be severed children's heads impaled on sticks."

He plans then to bring the series - dubbed by one Australian hack as "Lord Of The Wrongs" - up to date with the fourth book before returning to write the prequel, telling of his fall from grace and his descent into drug-fuelled crime.


I was going to link to this but blogger let me down, and Hurree has done a better job than I could hope to. BBC news had something too.

Sorry, I'm on about Shantaram, just out in the UK, but not in the US until October.
Co-author for sale
In a society devoted to "reality shows" and rampant commodification, it had to happen some time. Late last month an independent scientist auctioned off his services as a co-author on eBay, with the promise of helping the highest bidder write a scientific paper for publication. The offer even had the added allure of a linkage with the legendary mathematician Paul Erdös.

I know plenty of medics who would willingly pay up. The pressure for publications is far too high in my opinion. Even if you aren't research minded you aren't going to make it in a competitive speciality without a few papers.

Arabs mind...
According to a recent New Yorker article, Raphael Patai's The Arab Mind was used by some neo-cons to justify the meme that Arabs can only be handled through violence and may have served as a pretext for some of the practices at Abu Ghraib.

MoorishGirl is annoyed. The Indy seems to be alone in keeping the Abu Ghraib issue alive at the moment.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Can't do this anymore
What's happened to blogger? This isn't an improvement, it's just rubbish.
Anyway, I passed everything. EVERYTHING. So that's it. I'm free. I should write something more substantial about this, and I will. Soon.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Thinking about Gmail
So yeah its true that what Gmail is doing is not really anymore intrusive then what other internet email companies are doing when they filter spam. Its just that Google, with their legendary lack of subtle social skills, has made an already existing problem far more visible and apparent to the end user. In a way we should be thankful for them for bring issues to forefront. Most internet users have no clue just how much information they are depositing into databases of Google, Amazon, Yahoo and the other big internet players. And somewhere down the line people are going to wake up in shock, with the realization of just how much these corporations know about them and their personal habits. Just because a problem has been ignored doesn't mean its not a problem...

Enter the second line of defense, "trust Google, they are smart". Never mind that the early reports indicate that their spam filters are crap. Google indeed was quite innovative when they revolutionized the world of search engines at the get go. They also where a couple of PhD students plus a handful of employees. Now they are a multibillion dollar business about to go public. Innovation comes a bit differently in environments like that. Google's second big innovation came in the area of ads. Notice a shift in priorities? They've gone from innovative ways to help users, to innovative ways to help advertisers. So when they innovate are they going to innovate in a way to make your email better for you? or for their business?


This rant about Google and Gmail is worth a read if you have a moment, otherwise the extract above gets the main point across. Fudgeit has Gmail. I wonder how she's getting on?

Friday, April 23, 2004

Magic indeed
At the moment what happens is that a couple of guys put down a big polythene sheet. Then the executioner arrives. Then the van arrives with the prisoner and his guard. They lead the prisoner to the center of the sheet and make him kneel. If the relatives of his victim want to pardon him, now is the time for them to shout, and he’s released, pays blood money instead. Otherwise the sword swings, head comes off, lots of blood, people faint, someone pukes. Body and head are taken away. Polythene sheet rolled up. All over.

Get yourself over to The Religious policeman right now!

Thursday, April 22, 2004

'Fucking lazy nigger'
The conversation was thought to have been heard on Middle East channels which continued to broadcast the live feed after the final whistle.

And if it hadn't been broadcast? Clearly the word IS part of Ron Atkinson's 'off-air vocabulary' right?
Great cartoon
The release of Mordechai Vanunu

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Deserved trashing
Why life would be better because some woman who sounds like her throat is full of phlegm is warbling tunelessly at them, is beyond me. I mean, cough, woman, COUGH. Get it out. Stop sounding like someone took a cheese grater to your throat.
ET takes it out on Dido.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Not enough time?
I hope Fudgeit isn't out of action for too long. What does 'for a while' mean?
Crem la tart?
Why won't she smile? Actually I can detect a slight smirk on occasion.. no maybe it's just me.
I've no idea what a 'professional book critic' is in the first place
Due to a widely reported technical blooper, the Canadian division of Amazon.com revealed the identities of several thousand of its anonymous reviewers. For just a few days in February, until the company restored their electronic fig leaves, these stealth critics were effectively unmasked. For the most part, of course, this was no big deal. What difference did it make if "a reader from Saskatchewan" turned out to be named Keith -- and actually lived in Hoboken? Surely such minor mendacities could be forgiven. Maybe Keith was just shy, and longed for the Great White North.

James Marcus has a piece in the Washington Post about Amazon reviewers. He's annoyed that (amongst other things) writers can get friends to rave about their books anonymously. What's the fuss? As if that doesn't happen in conventional book reviews.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Google further evidence of anti-Semitism
Krane said the ranking for Jew Watch is largely based on changing vocabulary patterns. "Jew" has been used less and less in mainstream society since Word War II, replaced by less culturally loaded terms such as "Jewish person." Google searches for "Jewish," "Jewish person" and "Jewish people" are all topped by pro-Jewish sites, including a number of Jewish dating services.

See the first site that turns up if I search Jew? The explanation above more than suffices though. I don't think I've ever referred to any of my Jewish friends as Jews. Which is strange come to think of it.
Musical Key
What's it all about?
Sentence meme...
1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 23.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.

And here it is:
The stars were already fading and I noticed the moon sink feebly into the sky as though into troubled waters.
It's from Franz Kafka, Description of a Struggle.
Link via Kitabkhana, but tracing it back led me all the way here.
Anyway. That felt quite stupid.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

From Bemuda beach...
In every country, including our own, the fanatics are preaching their gospel of hate, basing their doctrine on a wilful perversion of the true religion of Islam. At their fringe are groups of young men prepared to conduct terrorist attacks however and whenever they can. Thousands of victims the world over have now died, but the impact is worse than the death of innocent people.
What on earth is that supposed to mean? He must mean 'greater' not worse. Surely the death of innocents is the worst of it? No?

I only read Blair's letter after hearing about it on 5 Live this morning. I do think it's worth a read, if only to get an idea of the stupidity and arrogance of the people that rule over us. I don't care. I was going to cut it up and comment on all the delusions and non sentences. But what for? Millions of people marched last year to prevent the bloodshed that's happening right now and it made no difference. And he has the audacity to mention Palestine. He needs to visit Rafah.
Oh god..
How I hate this time wasting. I ought to do some work, but everything is against me:
1. The weather. Its cold then warm then humid then cold again. No more leaning against a warm radiator with a cup of instant dissappointment/Kenco reading Crash Course.
2. The internet. I blame broadband. It seems impossible not to check the status of all the downloads that should be progressing nicely. Are they? Maybe they aren't. Best just check.
3. The guitar. Enough said.
4. Franz. My best friend these lonesome days.
5. Iraq. What's happening? I keep checking bbc or Al-Jazeera, or better yet Al-Manar. (damn you illegal dish!) What's happening? Who knows.
6. Jeff Buckley. Why didn't I know of him when he was alive? Just listen.. again.

This morning
It finally dawned on me that my guitar pick must have fallen behind the bookcase against which the guitar had been leaning. The bookcase was far too heavy with books to be moved. I tried to slide a ruler behind the bookcase to wedge out the pick if it was there. No luck. The space was tight and dark. I couldn't even tell of the pick was there for sure. I rumaged thorugh my drawer for a torch. I found an ophthalmoscope and shone it into the space. I could see an old hat, some 35mm film and alot of dust. And then the battery ran out. Damn! Throwing the ophthalmoscope hard against the floor I retreated to the far corner of the room and sat down, frustrated on the bed and held the guitar in my hands. And then I saw that the dial had come right of the poor ophthalmoscope. Just the right size and weight.. better, in fact than a regular plectrum.

The man who once had a £1.5m bounty on his head ...

This coming weekend the writer who initially came to fame as a firebrand of literary genius, who then dominated news headlines as a fugitive from death, who was then feted as the darling of the jet set and who now plays Scrabble of an evening with the singing Minogue sisters, is to get married for the fourth time. It won't perhaps be a wedding on the scale of Catherine and Michael's, or indeed Liza and David's, but it is taking place in New York and has attracted almost as many speculative column inches so far.
etc, etc.

Monday, March 29, 2004

But mainly I was busy ok?
I couldn't be bothered to post last week. Mainly because I was busy getting puked on, but also because it just felt pointless. I mean it is actually pointless isn't it? I might give up and write something useful for a change. Or start making up shit like Eurotrash. I think med students have a tendency to think that what happens on the wards is really worth telling. But it's not true. People like this are what I mean. I know plenty. Perfectly nice people, but completely certain that they are medics, therefore holy. In actual fact 90% of my day is spent trying to keep my eyes open in lectures given by NURSES. Yes NURSES. Who say things like, (extreme brummie accent) "..it's difficult to appreciayte the impact of diabetes on a paytients lyfe..." They should be banned from giving lectures to medics. Oh, and asking nurses whether it's OK to examine a patient. Not only do they ask to see your ID, they take a good long look at it to make sure you're not some paedophile with a stethoscope around his neck. WTF!? I swear I'm going to punch a nurse before I qualify. I can confidently say that at least 75% of them are stupid. Really. Anyway, I digress. The highlight of my day was ordering a tall Americano from here, and the main reason for this was that it smelt quite fresh. Go early is my advice.
Pakistani eh?
I think I've lead a somewhat deprived life, having never watched one of these videos. Are they cringeworthy? Cringing was why we watched The Office right?
Author's lounge on Amazon UK
Could be pretty cool. Does the American version lack this? I can't be bothered to check.
Not bad
But none of them struck me as particularly original.

Saturday, March 20, 2004

Paeds
I've spent the week seeing many of the smallprint conditions i've always ignored, hence I ought to get some dreaded reading done. But it's not all bad. At least the patients are cute.
It's a 25 word limit you understand
EATS SHOOTS AND LEAVES, Lynne Truss
Green grocer's, do not they give you the yip's. I'd like to see them comma cropper. Give them colonic irrigation. I blame the parentheses. Full stop.

METAMORPHOSIS, Franz Kafka
Gregor wakes up, late for work. Even worse, he's a beetle. His family is less than pleased, until finally he drops dead. Free at last!


The bluffer's guide to literature. I don't think they're helpful.
Dasani? Cancer?
The water, which was launched two weeks ago, labelled prominently as 'pure' and referred to by Coke executives as 'as pure as bottled water gets', was found to have illegally high levels of bromate, a chemical which the Food Standards Agency said could lead to an increased risk of cancer.
Oops!

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