The musings of a fourth year English medical student

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Should've Known Better

Recently I've felt that my blog sounds too formal in my writing style; I would rather use this blog as a public journal, than an über polished and sterile collection of anecdotes. So here goes.

Last week was not a good week, purely because I was really ill. Without sounding like I'm over exaggerating, it was probably the most ill I've felt in my life. I took 3 days off uni and even then the 2 days I did go in felt like a real struggle. I spent 90% of the time sleeping. I had a combination of sore throat, cough, blocked nose, migraines and feeling nauseous all the time. Due to feeling ill, I've also not been drinking, which I think was well needed. My body's tolerance seemed to be getting worse and worse instead of strengthening as time goes by. My hangovers have slowly started getting worse, I get drunk quicker and feel sick quicker, too. 

A week later, and I'm not 100% back to normal, but still functioning. Unfortunately I missed a lot of lectures that I now have a test on tomorrow, and I still haven't gone over the slides or gone through my textbooks. I keep telling myself I will stop procrastinating and improve my organisational skills, but it hasn't happened yet. The bombardment of uni emails and changes make it all feel very overwhelming to me. It's very easy to forget that something is due in; no one is going to prod you and remind you about your own deadlines. Being organised is crucial. I would consider myself an organised person and I'm still really struggling to keep on top of it all! 

I'm now desperately procrastinating by writing this blogpost.

In other news, I'm now on a health and fitness kick. When I went to the nurse recently my weight was measured, and I've put on 4 kilos since coming to uni. It makes me feel sad and a bit embarrassed that I'm a wannabe doctor and yet I have taken appalling care of my own body. I am still a 'healthy' BMI, however I know I haven't been exercising enough, drinking far too much, smoking too much and eating mindlessly and unhealthily. And I feel crap for it. I'm certainly not the most unhealthy medical student, I've seen my mates do a lot worse, but that is no justification.

If there's one thing I've now learnt, it's that all the bits and bobs that people warn you about uni are totally true and you shouldn't take them lightly. I don't take many things very seriously, so all the things I was forewarned about I brushed off and quickly forgot about. How naïve of me. Now I feel I definitely need to reiterate what I have already been told to you, if you're about to go to uni:
- You will be sick at uni. Be sensible with your drinking because no one else is guaranteed  to look after you 
- Spend money wisely. Keep track of your expenditure so you don't mindlessly buy things that are expensive or a waste of money 
- You will put on weight at uni, particularly if you're catered like me
- You will get very ill at some point; you will feel like you're dying.

In terms of living at uni, I do love the new lifestyle. I really like the city I live in, even though I have to get a 20-30 minute bus into the centre every day. I have been at uni for 8 weeks and haven't gone home yet. My family are visiting me next weekend which will be nice. I don't intend on going home until the Xmas holidays because I feel it would be too stressful and emotional to make such a flying visit. It would take just under 4 hours on the train which is enough to put me off anyway. I have had some feelings of homsickness from time to time, particularly when I was ill. Now it feels as if home is my old life and being at uni is my new one. Going back home seems surreal, like going back in time. 

The medical course is going well and we have just finished a fortnight of endocrinology, which I find really interesting. Learning the pathways is tedious but I am still really enjoying the course. Today we learnt venepuncture for measuring blood glucose, using a prosthetic arm, which was great fun. Later on we had a communication session where we did a role play with an actress who came in to be the patient in said role play. I absolutely loved it! One of the things that I find best about medicine is getting to use scientific knowledge in a way that is very sociable and practical. Chatting to the patient made it all feel very real and like there was a purpose to all the science lectures we have. I was surprised how many of the students were dead nervous about performing in front of their peers as well as being recorded. I think it just highlights how self-deprecating some medical students can be, as well as the tendency to set ridiculously high standards for oneself. 

I'll post again in a weeks time with more ramblings.
Kate 

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Monday, 3 November 2014

Little Update

Since starting medical school I feel that all my posts have been very positive, and whilst I am certainly loving university life, I think this is not showing a totally accurate representation of my time here. It isn't always great, and recently a couple of bits and bobs have started to grate on me which I wanted to share.

Today was a rather bleak day. I stupidly decided to stay up till 3am despite having a 9am lecture today. Later on I also had to present five Case Based Learning scenarios in a group meeting. The CBL cases were incredibly difficult because the content that was relevant to the question was impossible to find. Many of the questions asked us about topics we had never studied before, our recommended textbooks were useless, as was Google. For many of the questions we could find a shred of info on Google but we had no idea whether to write it down - how could we know it was accurate? In some questions the textbooks would contradict each other as well, which didn't help. Unfortunately the facilitator asked me to answer the one question that I hadn't completed. I really felt victimised and embarrassed by the way he spoke to me in front of 30 of my peers. And once I'd given up trying, he then admitted that nobody really knows fully how mitochondrial DNA is replicated and that it is till being researched. I also felt it was unfair that many of us were criticised for giving brief answers despite the fact that the content had never been taught to us and was nowhere to be sourced. We have an evaluative meeting on Friday about the CBL session, and I will certainly have a lot to say.

In addition, I have an end of topic test on Wednesday, which until now I was worried about. Then tonight, I tried to find the lecture power points on our online resource webpage, but they have all been deleted. After much stress, I've decided not to worry about it, because everyone else will be in the same boat. The test does not count, however it is frustrating that we can't properly revise and prepare ourselves.

One thing that people told me about Freshers was weight gain. I never really thought it would happen to me, but unfortunately it has. The combination of drinking too much, late night takeaways and very unhealthy canteen food has had undesirable effects. I've now got a uni gym membership so hopefully I can undo all my sins. I would highly recommend that you pick up a uni sport or join a gym, because otherwise the motivation to be healthy will be at an all time low. When you're stressed, tired and hungover, little else will make you want to exercise. I'm too scared to weigh myself. Being in a relationship with someone who is gym mad also doesn't make me feel much better when my physique is considerably flabbier. I am not overweight, but I certainly need to be healthier.
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