Friday, December 19, 2008


Feeling unmotivated? Lacking inspiration? Watch this:


Monday, December 15, 2008

Project 365

Back in October, I finished Project 365 - I took a photo a day, for a year.

(I’ve uploaded all the photos to one location, but I don’t want to share the link on a public site, because the photos contain a lot of information about me, where I live, my clinical school, etc. If you’re my Facebook friend, you’ll see the link on my wall. If not (and if you know my name), send me a friend request! Or send me an email.)

1/365: St John's Anglican Church, Ashfield (on a sunny Sunday afternoon)

It was fun but also quite difficult at times. When I was stuck at home studying or working, it was hard to find new things to photograph. I forced myself to go for walks around the neighbourhood, which probably improved my concentration while studying. I was lucky to move house at the end of last year - my new housemate has a gorgeous dog (named Roy), who became my back-up photo subject.

162/365: Our scary guard dog

265/365: "I brought you my squeaky toy; I'm giving you my best pouty face - so why won't you play with me?"

303/365: Cute doggie paws

362/365: Roy on my lounge, where he's definitely not supposed to be

The hospital and surrounds provided plenty of photo opportunities - I even took some in the operating theatres. The university also came in handy too. And it seemed that I took a lot of photos of food and flowers...

189/365: Gorgeous (and delicious) mini cupcake from The Cupcake Room at Leichhardt

203/365: Gorgeous lilies from Orange Grove Organic Market

Some days I took several photos and chose the best one. Other days I took only one photo and hoped that it turned out OK. Many of the photos were planned - I’d seen something photo-worthy on a day where I’d already photographed something else, so I returned to that location on another day. Others were taken on the spur of the moment. Here’s a selection of my favourite photos:

111/365: Street art on a wall in Camperdown

166/365: Detail from my favourite mural in Camperdown
(You can probably work out what the text means - if not, see definition 1 here)

212/365: I watched this very cool insect climb all the way up the screen door

214/365: Windy Wednesday at Cronulla

231/365: Seagull at Sydney Fish Markets

279/365: Winter sunset from my lounge room, on a very rainy day

288/365: Werri Beach, near Gerringong

344/365: I told Mum I didn't want a birthday cake, because I'd had one at my party the night before. So instead I got a Tim Tam with a sparkler - perfect!

I even created my own (lame) LOL:

215/365: Emo USB cable...hates to plug and play

I only missed one day out of the entire 365. I was so cross with myself, considering (a) it occurred on day 349 - so close to the end; and (b) it was a day that had provided plenty of photo opportunities - I’d travelled from Sydney, through the Blue Mountains, to Mudgee. I took an additional photo the next morning to make up for it. (My excuse is that I’d received an SMS at lunchtime telling me that the Barrier results were out, which distracted me - although I didn't even get a chance to check my results until the next day!)

I nearly forgot a few other times - the most obvious example of this is the photo I took of Letterman on my TV at 11:55pm during the first week of the project:

5/365: Letterman - the perfect way to end a long day

I had a bit of camera trouble during the project. While on holiday in South Australia with my Mum at the beginning of this year, my camera died. Mum was only joining me for the weekend (I was staying for a couple of weeks on my John Flynn placement), so she gave me her camera. However, she hadn’t brought her battery along, so that camera died after one week of my placement. The remaining photos were taken with my camera phone. When I returned to Sydney, I was planning to send my camera off to be fixed, but unfortunately I knocked it onto the floor, smashing it, before I had a chance. So I had to buy a new camera - without the funds for a digital SLR, I bought another compact digital. Eventually, in September, I bought a digital SLR for myself (a birthday present from me to me) - I bought a used one from eBay to start with, and will upgrade in a couple of years.

102/365: My broken camera – the lens wouldn't close, and then I dropped it and really broke it

289/365: My new (used) digital SLR!

I went on a photography course in October to learn how to use my digital SLR properly. When I booked the course, I didn’t realise it was on the weekend that I was due to complete Project 365! Photos 364 and 365 were taken with my digital SLR. Perhaps I’ll do the project again someday, using my new wizz-bang camera.

365/365: Digital SLR + tripod + self-timer + two-day photography course produces this shot, a lovely way to end Project 365.

I must say a big thank you to Miss-G-, whose blog I got the idea from a while back. And I’m very pleased to hear that some of my friends have been inspired to start the project - I can’t wait to see all of your photos!

Friday, December 5, 2008


Take it away, Larry and Balki!

(My sisters and I used to do this dance!)

Perhaps some Ren & Stimpy would be appropriate...

So, in case you haven't worked it out, I passed the re-sit! Joy!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Sunday, November 30, 2008

In case you're wondering...

The exams are over. I'm not sure how I feel about them. They were hard, yes, but not as bad as the original exams.

I thought day 1 was hard but reasonable. I found that I knew (or thought I knew) the answers to more questions than before, and wasn't left to guess between 2 options as much as last time. I was feeling quite good that night, but the more I thought about it, the more unsure I was.

I'd spoken to a few other re-sitters after day 1, and they were freaking out. It made me feel a little bit better, but then I started to doubt myself.

So I was a bit nervous going into day 2. That exam was a bit better than the day 1 exam, so overall I should be feeling positive about it, but I'm certainly not celebrating yet.

My post-exam policy is not to discuss specific questions, or go home and look up answers. It's too stressful, and will only upset me. However I made an exception after day 1 - I checked the dermatomes because I was sure I'd stuffed up a gimme question. I was right. I'm so frustrated that I displayed classic KT exam behaviour - my first instinct was to choose the correct answer, and then I proceeded to talk myself out of it, and I chose another answer, which was wrong. Aaaaagh!

Oh - and after we were assured, nay promised, that there would be no repeat questions on the exam, what do you think we found? At least 5 questions were repeated from our Barrier. Not that many, but it's still incredibly unfair. For example, I was chatting with one of the guys from another clinical school afterwards, and he said, "That methotrexate question was repeated from the Barrier. I got it wrong before, but I knew the right answer this time."

We've decided to wait for the results, and submit an appeal if things go pear-shaped. Actually either way we have to say something - it's extremely dodgy to get a promise from the head of the Assessment Unit, and have that promise brazenly broken. Do I think it made a difference? Probably not. But is it right? No way.

Some of the questions were laughable, literally. There were a few questions where I chuckled to myself and thought, "When did we ever learn that?" And then I did "eeny, meeny, miny, moe".

None of us felt like celebrating after the exams finished. It was a bit depressing. But now I'm getting used to the fact that I'm on holidays. Yay! We get the results on Friday.

And I've got a good distraction - my sister had a baby yesterday! A gorgeous little boy - the first baby in our family. Here's a picture (about 5 hours old):

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Getting close...

Apologies for the lack of updates - though really, there hasn't been a lot to say. Pretty much all I've been doing is studying. And I'm so BORED! The exams are on Thursday morning and Friday morning.

The study group continued until the week before last. It was good, but I think six people was too many - it should've been two groups of three people. As I mentioned in my last post, I found the sessions where we worked through past papers to be the most rewarding.

For the past couple of weeks, we've been doing our own thing. I haven't been going into the hospital as much - I've just been studying at home.

I think the best thing about this (forced) extra study time is that I now understand some concepts that I'd previously skimmed over due to lack of time, or interest, or both. I feel like I'm much more capable of working things out from first principles, instead of rote learning things without fully understanding them.

My colleagues and I had another lovely encounter with the Faculty recently. Here's the story (in probably a bit too much boring detail)...

When I first found out that I'd failed, I emailed the Assessment Unit and asked to view my paper. I was told that this could be done, but my clinical school had to request the paper from the Assessment Unit, and a rep from the clinical school would go through the paper with me as part of my remediation. So I asked the clinical school to arrange this. They refused, saying that the Assessment Unit person was incorrect and that no-one was allowed to see their paper. This was frustrating, but I didn't feel strongly enough about it to fight (figured I had bigger things to worry about), and left it at that.

A few weeks later, we found out that students from another clinical school had viewed their papers. We asked our clinical school again, and again they refused. So I emailed the Assessment Unit, and asked whether we could view our papers without going through the clinical school. Again I was refused - and also annoyed, because the Assessment Unit person CC'd the sub-dean from my clinical school when she replied to my email. "Great," I thought. "Now I'm pegged as a troublemaker."

Then we heard that students from two other clinical schools had also viewed their papers. One of my colleagues contacted our sub-dean, who contacted his counterpart at another clinical school, who confirmed that students there had viewed their papers. So our sub-dean finally gave in and set up a meeting for us with the head of the Assessment Unit (who also happens to be a doctor at our clinical school).

The meeting was at 8am, and it was a colossal waste of time. Of course, we didn't get to view our papers. The head of the Assessment Unit explained all the reasons for this - new pool of questions, don't want the questions to be leaked to other students, the other clinical schools broke the rules, etc. Our main concern was that we would be disadvantaged if any questions from the previous exam were repeated on our re-sit. He assured us that there would be no repeat questions - in fact, he assured us of this so vehemently that I thought he'd say, "Cross my heart and hope to die"!

Apart from that, he told us how we should be studying for the exam - that we should be seeing patients on the wards and setting up a study group. Valid points, yes, but not 2 weeks before the bloody exam! The only piece of new information we got from the meeting was that the re-sit would be easier than the Barrier. He said that the ridiculously hard questions (my words) that were in the Barrier were only there for curiosity's sake - to separate the best of the best. In our re-sit, those questions are pointless.

So I've got 3 days left to study, and I've still got a lot to cover. I'm feeling slightly nervous, but remain confident that I can do it. I can't wait until 11am on Friday!

Thanks again to everyone who commented on my other posts - your support is wonderful!

Monday, October 27, 2008

(Re)mediate, try not to hate

(Apologies to INXS for the title of this post.)

It's been a couple of weeks since I started remediation for the exams. You may recall that I didn't know what remediation would entail.

On Monday two weeks ago, I met with the sub-dean of my clinical school, and was joined by two other students who'd failed. One of them was a big surprise; the other not so much. Amazingly, we're all from the same PBL group! (Our poor PBL tutor is devastated and is re-examining her teaching/tutoring style, despite our reassurances that it's not her fault.)

The first thing we were told at the meeting was, "You need to do some ICAs". (ICAs are rotations on the wards, i.e. what we've been doing all this year.) We all got a bit upset, because the remediation policy on the website says you have to do ICAs if you fail the long case, but it doesn't say that for the written exam. Unfortunately the policy is quite broad though, and is open to interpretation. We were told that the best way to learn is by talking to patients, and while I agree with that to some extent, I knew that I needed to simply knuckle down and STUDY - especially basic sciences. I didn't mind coming into the hospital every day, as long as I could spend my time studying, not presenting bloody long cases.

It was an argument we were never going to win, and we were allocated to supervisors on a couple of wards. I was allocated (along with another student) to the Haematology ward, with my supervisor being a professor who I really like. On meeting with him, he said, "Well it sounds like you need to be studying, not spending time on the ward," and I wanted to hug him. Hee! He introduced us to the Pre-Internship (PRINT) student on his ward - a guy who's at the end of fourth year, i.e. one year ahead of us. This student, who was a bit bored, sat down with us to talk about where we went wrong. We each identified our top 5 problem areas, then drew up a timetable to cover those areas first, then everything else, during the 6.5-week period leading up to the exams.

And then we immediately got started on renal. Next was neuro, then endocrine, then surgery (which we're currently working through). We meet each morning for an hour or so, with each person presenting a topic, and then some group discussion. We've been joined in these sessions by two other students from my clinical school, and two from another clinical school (they live near the hospital and had heard about our study group).

We work through things fairly quickly, and while I don't think I'm learning anything new, I'm getting a better understanding of things. And it's good to talk through stuff instead of just sitting there reading and trying not to fall asleep.

In the afternoon we usually meet for another hour or so to work through questions from past papers. I find these sessions particularly useful, because the PRINT student challenges us to explain our reasons for choosing each answer, and also our reasons for not choosing the other possible answers. It makes us really focus on the way questions are worded, and challenges us to think logically. I've already noticed a big improvement in the way I'm thinking about each question.

We meet with our supervisor at the end of each week, essentially for a bit of a pep talk. So far it's working well. We still have a lot to cover before the exams though.

Currently I'm only studying while I'm at the hospital each day, for several reasons - I don't want to burn out, I have a lot of work on (nights and weekends), and Good Food Month has taken over my social calendar, not to mention two weddings coming up (including one in Perth). I've decided not to stress about trying to fit in too much study now, because I will step it up over the coming weeks. One of the other students is trying to fit too much in, and I can already see signs of burnout.

So the good news is I'm motivated to study, and I'm confident that I can make it through the exams. It's been great meeting with other people who are in the same position, and supporting each other through this nightmare.

Of course, every day I see my other friends at the hospital doing O&G - the placement I should be doing. That sucks, but my friends are great - they've been wonderfully supportive.

As have my readers! Thank you so much to everyone who commented on my previous post - you have no idea how much better I felt after reading all your comments!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Try, try again

If you haven't read my previous post, do that first.

In late September we had our Barrier exams, marking the end of third year. They consisted of three 80-question multiple choice papers, held over two days.

Third year focuses on the clinical application of what we learnt during first and second year - diagnosis, differential diagnosis, management, side effects of treatment, etc. It was expected that the third year exams would reflect this clinical focus.

I studied very hard for these exams (despite having the long case in the back of my mind). I had a strict study schedule, which I stuck to. I did a lot of past papers and other exams, and was pleased with how I went.

So I was feeling quite good about these exams - certainly much better than I felt last year!

The first paper on day 1 was a doozy. Instead of the clinical focus, there were obscure anatomy, physiology, histology, and pathology questions. It felt like we were being tested on the minutaie of first and second year, instead of the practical stuff we'd focused on in third year. It was a massive shock. Still, I took my time with the first paper, and tried my best.

I had lunch with some friends (including Yay), and we said that it was impossible to know how we'd gone in the exam, because there was too much guessing of answers. Like everyone else, we were quite frustrated.

The other two papers were more of the same: long clinical scenarios that take ages to read through, followed by obscure questions about Na+ channels and cell types, for example.

My final analysis:
  • I knew about 20% of the answers

  • I guessed about 20% of the answers

  • For the other 60%, I could narrow down the five possible answers to two possible answers, but then I had to guess between the two.
That was far too much guessing for my liking, but I figured that because everyone else found the exam to be awful, I had a chance of getting through it.

Unfortunately that wasn't the case. The results came through at the end of last week - I failed. AGAIN.

I was in Mudgee for the long weekend, doing wine tasting with (non-med) friends. A fellow med student sent me a text on Friday, saying that the results were out. My earliest chance to get online was Saturday evening, after a day of wine tasting. I checked my email in a room by myself. I covered my eyes as the page loaded, then peered through my fingers to see "Not Satisfactory". I was numb. I didn't get upset; I just sighed, shut down my computer, and sat there for a while. Eventually my friends came looking for me, and that's when I got upset - telling them that I'd failed again.

Luckily we were heading out to dinner and I didn't have time to dwell on it. In fact the rest of the weekend was wonderful, and I refused to let the news ruin it. (Alcohol definitely helped!)

I called my Mum when I returned to Sydney. She was in tears - very upset. I've slowly told other friends and family, because it will be impossible to hide this from anyone.

That's because the implications of failing the third year Barrier are significant:
  • I'm not allowed to start fourth year with my colleagues next Monday

  • I have to re-sit the exams in the last week of November

  • Assuming I pass the re-sit (big assumption?), I can start fourth year in December/January with my elective term - this means I don't miss out on Vietnam

  • After the elective term, I rejoin my colleagues for rotations 2, 3, and 4

  • While my colleagues are doing their pre-internship term (PrINT) at the end of 2009, I have to do rotation 1 (which I'm missing this year)

  • When my colleagues commence their internship in January 2010, I have to complete my PrINT term

  • I have to join the June 2010 intake of interns.
So what it boils down to is that I'm going to be six months behind most of my colleagues. And that's assuming I pass the re-sit.

I'm so frustrated, because I truly think that I could have done no study and ended up with the same result. What a waste of time doing all that study!

And if I fail the re-sit? That means repeating third year. To be honest, I don't think I have it in me. I'm not one of those people who always wanted to be a doctor, who would do anything to get into medicine. I love it and I want to be a doctor, but the prospect of repeating a year at age 34 does not interest me in the slightest. So this re-sit in November is very, very important.

I find myself wondering whether I'm cut out for this career. Maybe I don't want it enough - maybe that's why I'm struggling (even though I didn't think I was struggling this year!). And it's not going to get any easier! My non-med friends are always full of praise, saying that I'm such an inspiration, changing my career and pursuing my dream. That's really lovely, but I feel like a bit of a fraud. I feel as though I'm letting my family and friends down - all these people who have supported me in my return to student life.

I've had great support from my family and friends, and also from my third year PBL tutor, who is amazing. She's offered to help me with any revision I need to do. I'm meeting with the head honchos of my clinical school on Monday, and I'm already on the back foot, anticipating what they'll say to me. They're nice people and they mean well, but I suspect tears will be shed during that meeting.

So, for the next seven weeks I'll be studying yet again. I have the time to focus on specific areas, such as physiology and anatomy. I'm working on a study plan this weekend.

I'm so jealous of my colleagues who are starting fourth year on Monday, but I'm trying not to think about it. From now until the end of November, it's all about me. And let's hope I don't need to make a difficult decision about my future...

If at first you don't succeed...

In a recent post, I said, "Third year was great because we were full-time in the hospital, getting practical experience". Unfortunately, it turns out that third year wasn't so great for me...

(I'll stretch this tale across two posts in the interests of readability.)

Remember the long case? I said, "My long case exam...went well, I think." I knew there was room for improvement, but I thought I'd done more than enough to pass. Especially after talking with other people after their long cases and hearing their horror stories.

Unfortunately the examiners didn't agree with me. I was shocked and devastated to receive an email in late August telling me I'd failed the long case.

The re-sit was scheduled for late September, two days after our written exams (more on those in my next post). So instead of focusing solely on study during that month, I also had to practise more bloody long cases! I didn't want to tell anyone I'd failed, because I was so humiliated, but I had to tell some of my colleagues so that they could find patients for me on their rotations. Very frustrating.

I presented a few long cases to doctors from my clinical school, who all praised me and couldn't find fault. However, this time I was determined to take the history quicker than last time, and ensure I left enough time to ask the patient any last-minute questions after the examination.

On the day of the re-sit, I was told to arrive at the hospital (not my clinical school) at 1pm. Being the middle of the day, there was no parking, so I had to park far away in a 2-hour zone. I assumed that I'd start the exam at about 1:30pm, and be back to the car by about 3:30pm. Instead, I was made to wait OVER 2 HOURS before starting my exam! I had nothing to read, nothing to do. I just sat there getting more and more stressed out. My car was parked too far away for me to move it, so I had the prospect of a parking ticket on my mind too.

One of the staff members felt bad, so when she came to tell me that I'd be starting the exam in about 5 minutes, she also mentioned that the patient had an aphasia, and that the examiners would take this into account. It was nice of her to warn me, but of course this increased my stress level exponentially!

The patient was a lovely man in his 80s, who'd recently undergone heart surgery to replace two valves. His expressive aphasia (and also some incoordination) were a result of strokes suffered during the surgery. That meant that the aphasia was new, and the patient wasn't used to it. My plans for a quicker history went out the window, because I had to ask him to repeat a lot of things.

Also, the patient couldn't tell me about ANY of his medications. I was praying that the examiners also didn't get this information from him. AND I felt like a monster because I made the patient cry when asking about his social situation. He was going to have to go into a home because he couldn't look after himself anymore. I felt so bad for him.

The examination was rushed but OK, and I used my 20 minutes of writing time effectively, I think.

The presentation was as good as last time - which, considering I failed last time, isn't saying much! The examiners were nice enough. The time went very quickly.

When I came out of the examination at about 4:45pm, I was completely drained. I left the hospital and called my Mum, and sobbed down the phone for a good 5 minutes. It was after 5pm when I reached the car, and amazingly there was no parking ticket! It then took me ages to drive home in peak hour.

This story has a happy ending though! I passed the re-sit. Woohoo!!

More on how third year made me its bitch in the next post...

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Michael Stipe is a god

I’ve adored R.E.M. for nearly 20 years. I can remember the exact moment my love affair started. It was the summer of 1989 – I was 14 years old. I returned to the car after going to the beach at Cronulla to find a flyer under the windscreen wiper, advertising a concert at the Hordern Pavilion – R.E.M. supported by Hoodoo Gurus and The Go-Betweens. I remember thinking, “They have that funny song ‘Stand’, and that other one they play on Triple M, ‘The One I Love’”. The next week, I bought their 6th album, ‘Green’, and never looked back.

I didn’t go to that concert, and boy do I regret it. R.E.M. concerts in Australia are few and far between. I’ve seen them perform twice at the horrible Sydney Entertainment Centre (in 1995 and 2005), plus I saw them perform a short promotional gig at the Entertainment Quarter (for Channel V) in 2001.

It’s not fashionable to be a fan of R.E.M. these days – in Australia at least. In fact, I’ve found it quite lonely. My youngest sister got into them along with me, but she’s dropped away in the past 7 years or so. Another friend liked them, but she was never as much of a fan as me – she came to the concert with my sister and me in 1995, but I got the impression she wouldn’t have cared if she’d missed it, whereas I was prepared to camp out to buy tickets! In recent years another friend emerged as a fan, and he went to the concert with me in 2005, but unfortunately he moved overseas this year.

R.E.M. have always been very good to their fans. I never joined the fan club (though often thought about doing it), but I know that they produce special recordings each year for fan club members, not to mention priority access to concert tickets. And they've always been very supportive of the fan site,

R.E.M. have established an excellent website of their own, with regular updates from the band while they're on tour, or recording, or just having time off. Long-time manager Bertis Downs produces postcards on the site, giving a great insight into the band.

On their current tour, R.E.M. took their web presence one step further. On the R.E.M. Tour 2008 site, fans can view and add content from shows on the tour - Flickr photos, YouTube videos, blogs, and Tweets. Instead of stopping people from recording their shows, R.E.M. are encouraging it! The site is an amazing resource. For example, here I can experience the concert that my friend attended in Budapest in August (aaagh I was so jealous).

The tour has taken in North America and Europe, and will finish in South America soon. Unfortunately R.E.M. haven't made any announcements about an Asia-Pacific leg, which is disappointing. Although if they were to continue the tour in Australia, it'd probably be while I'm overseas anyway. Also, I really want to see them at a different venue, because I hatehatehate the soulless Sydney Entertainment Centre.

And now to the title of this post. I love all members of R.E.M. - former drummer Bill Berry, guitarist Peter Buck, bass player Mike Mills, and of course singer Michael Stipe. They're all fascinating characters and very generous with fans. But recently, on the site Pop Songs 07-08 (where fan Matthew Perpetua has blogged about every song in the R.E.M. collection), Michael Stipe exceeded all fans' expectations. Michael offered to answer questions from Matthew and other fans about the songs and his lyrics!

From Michael:

“Remember that I’m not the best at recalling studio memories, etcetera, and so the more interesting questions for me will be about intention and exact lyrics or my interpretation of what I meant, what I think I meant, whatever. Remember also that some songs have no real lyrics [chorus of orange crush comes to mind] and so I cannot answer those.”

Over a couple of weeks, Michael answered several questions from fans, giving us an amazing insight into the songwriting process. In many cases, it showed that fans overthink his lyrics, which is not surprising. I didn't submit a question, but was excited to see that he answered questions from other fans about my two favourite songs, ‘You Are The Everything’ and ‘Find The River’.

So, armed with this new information, I'm listening to all my R.E.M. albums again - a perfect holiday activity!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Quick study break

Well that's it for third year - except for exams of course. I can't believe how quickly these 8+ months have gone! Third year was great because we were full-time in the hospital, getting practical experience. Some rotations were excellent; others were meh. I found that there was a lot of wasted time, standing around waiting for something to happen. (Especially in ED - God I was bored. Other students got to do lots of procedures in ED, but because I started one week after the new interns, they wanted to do all the procedures, which was fair enough.) I was speaking to a fourth year yesterday, and she said the waiting around is even worse in fourth year. Aaagh! When I'm waiting around I always think of what else I could be doing - sleeping, studying, working, relaxing...

As I mentioned previously, my last rotation was supposed to be at a rural location - Shoalhaven Hospital, where Liz went at the start of the year. A week before the rotation began, my clinical school notified me that the rotation had been cancelled. Further investigation revealed that Sydney Uni shouldn't have been sending students there at all this year (a directive came through last year about this), because Wollongong Uni students were starting their clinical placements this year. I guess the Shoalhaven teaching staff finally got sick of it and unfortunately I (and a couple of other students) missed out. I was very cranky.

So that meant I had to choose another rotation at short notice. There wasn't much left - I ended up choosing Immunology and Infectious Diseases. I'm glad I chose it because it's not one of my strong areas, and the consultants were all fantastic teachers. Being the last rotation, I wasn't quite as diligent as I have been during the rest of the year. In the second week I was very sick and missed a whole week of uni, and then I attended the bare minimum in the third and fourth weeks. For that reason I won't give you the highlights and lowlights of the rotation.

There are pros and cons re. the cancellation of my rural placement. Pros include not having to drive back for my sister's wedding and my netball grand final, being around for all the teaching that the clinical school crammed into the last month, being around for the final sessions with my PBL group and Patient-Doctor group (this worked out well because I ended up being in charge of collecting money and purchasing gifts for our tutors), being around for our formative surgery assessment (it was on Monday, and I passed - hopefully a good indication for the upcoming Barrier), being avaialable to work, and being in Sydney for various social activities.

Cons include missing out on seeing my many relatives in and around Nowra (it's my Mum's home town), missing the chance to experience a good mix of general medicine on my placement, missing the opportunity to get out of Sydney for a while, and missing the chance to get some decent Barrier study done, without the distractions of home.

I think it turned out OK in the end.

My sister's wedding was fantastic. She looked like a 1930s movie star! On the day of her wedding it poured rain and was freezing cold. However just as the ceremony was about to start (about half an hour before sunset), the sun came out and it was beautiful! (But still bloody cold.) There were no family dramas on the night. However there have been family dramas since, which I won't detail here. The result of these dramas is that I've barred my Dad, which is sad but unfortunately necessary for me right now. Last weekend I boycotted Father's Day for the first time ever.

Last but not least, netball! I started getting sick a couple of days before my sister's wedding, and by the end of the wedding night I was coughing like crazy and had lost my voice. My netball grand final was the next day, and I was not well at all - and I play Centre. We lost by 2 points, which was an excellent effort considering a couple of us were sick. Bummer getting that close though.

Right, that's enough procrastination for today. Time to get back to the study. Exams in 10 days!

Monday, August 25, 2008


I don't think it would surprise you to learn that I'm a voracious reader. I love to read, love exploring bookshops, and love buying books.

Does anyone remember Book Week from primary school? Each year at my school, we had Book Week competitions - from colouring in when we were little, to writing competitions as we got older. I won several of the competitions, but I distinctly remember winning in year 4 (age 9). The prize was a book (of course), and the school librarian specifically chose a book for me that was recommended for older readers: Playing Beatie Bow by Ruth Park. I loved it, and continued reading at a higher level. I first read The Lord of the Rings at age 11 (and have re-read it several times since then). And of course I was all over the MS Readathon.

I'm a speed reader too, which comes in handy. And if I find a spelling or (more likely) grammar error in a book, I find it very hard to enjoy the book. It really spoils it for me. I suppose it's not the author's fault - I should blame their editor.

These days, it's harder and harder to find the time to read for pleasure. My bus commute is very short, and I simply don't have time to sit down with a book over the weekend. Mostly I try to read a chapter when I go to bed, but even that's difficult to fit in around work and study. I can't wait for the holidays!

So as you can imagine, the meme Liz posted was right up my alley.


The Big Read says that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they've printed.

  1. Look at the list and bold those you have read.
  2. Italicise those you intend to read.
  3. Underline the books you love.
  4. Put a line through the books you read but didn't like.
  5. Publish the list to your blog.

  1. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
  2. The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
  3. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
  4. The Harry Potter Series - JK Rowling
  5. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
  6. The Bible

  7. (I've read the bits I had to as part of my Catholic upbringing.)
  8. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte

  9. (I know, sacrilege right? I hated this book.)
  10. Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
  11. His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
  12. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
  13. Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
  14. Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
  15. Catch-22 - Joseph Heller

  16. (Finally got around to reading it earlier this year)
  17. Complete Works of Shakespeare
  18. Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
  19. The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
  20. Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
  21. Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
  22. The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger

  23. (I adore this - it's not very old. Such an unusual concept, so wonderfully realised.)
  24. Middlemarch - George Eliot
  25. Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell

  26. (I think I need to re-read this - I didn't fully appreciate it the first time.)
  27. The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald

  28. (Thankfully not ruined by studying it at high school.)
  29. Bleak House - Charles Dickens
  30. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy

  31. (I think I started reading this once, but it was too overwhelming.)
  32. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
  33. Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
  34. Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  35. Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
  36. Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
  37. The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
  38. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
  39. David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
  40. Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis

  41. (It's been a while - these are on my 're-read' list.)
  42. Emma - Jane Austen
  43. Persuasion - Jane Austen

  44. (This is actually my favourite Austen book [well, it's about equal with Pride and Prejudice] - mainly due to Captain Wentworth's letter. Oh how I swooned!)
  45. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
  46. The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
  47. Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
  48. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
  49. Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne

  50. (I own a beautiful hardcover version of this that I hope to read to my kids one day.)
  51. Animal Farm - George Orwell
  52. The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
  53. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  54. A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
  55. The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
  56. Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery

  57. (How I wish I could meet a doctor like Gilbert Blythe...)
  58. Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
  59. The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
  60. Lord of the Flies - William Golding
  61. Atonement - Ian McEwan

  62. (Loved the movie.)
  63. Life of Pi - Yann Martel
  64. Dune - Frank Herbert
  65. Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
  66. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
  67. A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth

  68. (This is my favourite book of all time. I've read it a few times now, which is no mean feat at 1474 pages. I love books about India, and I love love stories, so this book is perfect for me.)
  69. The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  70. A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
  71. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
  72. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
  73. Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  74. Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
  75. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
  76. The Secret History - Donna Tartt
  77. The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
  78. Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
  79. On The Road - Jack Kerouac
  80. Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
  81. Bridget Jones' Diary - Helen Fielding
  82. Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
  83. Moby Dick - Herman Melville

  84. (There's a large portion of my life that I'll never get back.)
  85. Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
  86. Dracula - Bram Stoker
  87. The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett

  88. (One of the most adored books from my childhood.)
  89. Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson

  90. (I much prefer Down Under.)
  91. Ulysses - James Joyce

  92. (Only because I thought I should read it. I didn't hate it, but I can't say I enjoyed it.)
  93. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
  94. Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
  95. Germinal - Emile Zola
  96. Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
  97. Possession - AS Byatt
  98. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
  99. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
  100. The Color Purple - Alice Walker
  101. The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
  102. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
  103. A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
  104. Charlotte's Web - EB White

  105. (Another adored book from my childhood. Oh how I cried!)
  106. The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom

  107. (I bought it second-hand last week.)
  108. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  109. The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton

  110. (My sisters and me were very much into these books.)
  111. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
  112. The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
  113. The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
  114. Watership Down - Richard Adams
  115. A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
  116. A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
  117. The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
  118. Hamlet - William Shakespeare
  119. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl

  120. (I love anything by Roald Dahl.)
  121. Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

  122. (I also bought this second-hand last week.)


57 out of 100 - that's not bad!

It's a funny list - clearly British with that Bill Bryson book on there. And of course there's a dearth of Australian books. I'd like to include these:
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde

  • (Just finished this last night - brilliant.)
  • Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha - Roddy Doyle
  • The Woman Who Walked Into Doors - Roddy Doyle
  • The Shipping News - E. Annie Proulx
  • Cloudstreet - Tim Winton
  • The Riders - Tim Winton
  • My Sister's Keeper - Jodi Picoult
  • The Harp in the South - Ruth Park
  • A Spot of Bother - Mark Haddon
  • Seven Little Australians - Ethel Turner
  • The Magic Pudding - Norman Lindsay
  • The Alchemist - Paolo Coelho

  • (I haven't read this yet - it's also sitting on my bedside table. But from what I've heard, it deserves to be on a 'best books' list.)
  • The Tomorrow series - John Marsden
  • The God of Small Things - Arundhati Roy

To put an Aussie spin on it, check out My Favourite Book, which was a survey (and TV show) done by the ABC (last year I think).

An errant apostrophe

A very clever person was published on Apostrophism today...

(I submitted a close-up photo too, but you can read the blog author's reason for omitting it.)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The brain!

I enjoyed my Neurology and Neurosurgery rotation. Most of the people I dealt with on the wards and in theatres were lovely, and they enjoyed teaching.

Here are the highlights and lowlights:

  • Best moment: Brain surgery. 'Nuff said.

  • Weirdest moment: The patient who lied.
    This patient in his 30s came in with acute cerebellar ataxia. He told us that he'd had brain surgery as a child, but didn't remember what for. CT and MRI showed the craniotomy scar and some calcification where the surgery was done, and also showed severe cerebellar atrophy. The registrar examined the patient and asked him to get out of bed so we could check his gait. As he did this, a red and white capsule rolled out of his bed. He told us it was a vitamin pill that his friend gave him. It sounded very odd, but wasn't pursued at that time.
    About half an hour later, the patient asked to see the doctor again because he'd lied about the tablet and felt guilty. He told us that it was Dilantin (phenytoin), an anticonvulsant, and that he doesn't take it very often. However his phenytoin level was VERY high, and the docs concluded that it was causing his cerebellar signs. He improved off the Dilantin, but will have permanent damage to his cerebellum.
    (He also lied about the brain surgery - it was done about 10 years ago to remove a cavernoma, and he was taking the Dilantin to prevent seizures caused by the scarring.)
    I still don't understand why he lied - I guess he was scared. Read this interesting post by Edwin Leap about patients who lie and deceive.

  • Worst moment: The patient who died.
    This university professor was in his 70s, but still lecturing occasionally. Then one day he suddenly lost his speech and collapsed. He had all manner of neurological investigations, but imaging and other investigations were inconclusive. It didn't look like a stroke, or epilepsy, or a hypo, or syncope.
    However a suspicious lesion on the chest X-ray was explored further (with a CT), showing advanced small-cell lung cancer. There were no metastases, but it was decided that his neurological signs were explained by a paraneoplastic syndrome.
    The prognosis was poor. He was on the ward for the first 3 weeks I was there. In week 1 he was able to talk and follow commands. In week 2 he deteriorated, and by week 3 he was moribund. He passed away in the middle of week 3. It was very sad.
My next placement was supposed to be at a rural location, but it was cancelled. It's kind of a long story, so I'll save it for another post. I'm doing Immunology and Infectious Diseases instead, which so far is very interesting.

Oh, and my long case exam (described at the end of this post) went well, I think. We get the results next week. My patient had lot of things wrong with him, and I spent too long taking his history, but my presentation was good and I think I answered (most) questions intelligently. My two examiners were very nice - not at all scary.

Now I'm having a week off from study and focusing on:
  • My sister's wedding this Friday - will be fantastic, as long as family dramas are avoided (is it possible for me to get a divorce from my father?)
  • My netball grand final on Saturday - I hope my hangover is not too bad (luckily the game's in the afternoon)!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Follow the day, and reach for the sun

I've liked The Polyphonic Spree* for ages - beautiful, fun, uplifting music, full of energy. But for some reason I've never gotten around to buying any of their albums.

Last weekend I saw their latest clip on Rage:

I thought, "Right, that's it - I must own this music!" So I got their 3 albums during the week, and have had them on high rotation ever since.

Seriously, how could anyone resist this song?

You probably recognise it from TV, movies, and ads - specifically, it was in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Murderball (ooh I love this doco), and an episode of Scrubs (with the band appearing too):

Anyway, I really should get to the point of this post. Yesterday, while listening to their music and procrastinating online, I thought it'd be good to find out when they're touring Australia. Based on their clips, this is a band that can be best appreciated live. So I explored their website, and to my dismay I found that they're currently in Australia, and they played the Metro in Sydney on the Tuesday night just gone! Aaaaaagh!! I'm SPEWING.

Can't believe how bad my timing is. I'm usually very much in the know about which bands are touring, etc. I get various email updates from places like The Vanguard. Now I'll have to get on the mailing lists for the Metro and the Enmore Theatre to ensure I don't miss any other brilliant bands.

In the meantime, I'll keep listening to The Polyphonic Spree, whose songs have the power to turn my frown upside down! (Heh.)

*The Polyphonic Spree is a 23-member "choral symphonic rock" group. They started out wearing white robes, then coloured robes, and have recently changed their look to black army outfits.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Brain surgery

Earlier this week I had to chance to scrub in and assist* on brain surgery. Very, very cool.

This article describes the way it's done at the hospital where I'm based. I assisted the neurosurgeon featured in the article - he's a great teacher and very nice.

This MRI-guided surgery is interesting, but it takes a long time. It took over an hour for the patient to be prepped and anaesthetised. Then the initial scans and planning took over an hour. After all that waiting, it was a relief to finally scrub and get started. I ended up leaving after 5.5 hours, when the operation halted for more scanning. The scan showed a lot of tumour still to be removed, so the operation would have continued for several more hours.

More on neuro at the end of the rotation. I need to get back to preparing for the long case, which is in 2 weeks. Eeek!

* There's not much a medical student can offer when it comes to assisting on brain surgery! I was in charge of irrigation during drilling, and suction. I was pleased to discover that watching the surgeon drill through the surprisingly thick skull didn't bother me at all.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Too many broken hearts

I typed "heart" into the Search field in my iTunes and lo! What a collection of wonderful/scary/strange songs appeared. It was hard to select just one to use for the title of this post, but in the end, how could I go past Jason Donovan?

(Why do I have a Jason Donovan song in my collection? It's part of a compilation of other [better] music, though I must confess I do love this song...)

Well that was a lightbeat start to a post that's anything but lightbeat.

Last week I finished my 6th rotation for the year - Cardiology. As you can see in my last post, I was excited about this rotation and generally a happy little camper about everything. One month later - not so much.

Cardiology is a very busy department - at my hospital, there are 3 teams of registrar/resident combinations, with 5 or 6 consultants attached to each team. The team I was on had anything from 15-25 patients to see each day, which meant that ward rounds took a very long time. On my first day, the registrar basically told me not to expect much teaching from him, because he simply has no time.

That was OK - I expected it. It was clear that this rotation would require me to be proactive if I wanted to get anything out of it. So it's a shame that this rotation coincided with my development of Killer Fatigue (a phenomenon often seen on The Amazing Race).

It's been a long year, with only 1 week off during 8 months. And I reached a point in the second week of my Cardiology rotation where I just couldn't get out of bed. I ended up taking 2 days off in week 2, and I slept, got some uni work done, and tried to summon up some motivation.

In week 3, I had to deliver 3 separate presentations at uni. They all went very well, but I was absent from the ward a lot, finishing them off.

All of this added up to not much time for me in the Cardiology department. I tended to be there for ward rounds in the morning, have lunch, then either do a long case or go home (the latter more than the former).

Of course it didn't really matter in the end - the registrar signed my form at the end of the rotation and wrote in the comments, "Good attendance". What a joke.

So I didn't really love this rotation, but it's not Cardiology's fault - I blame the Faculty for their poor planning. For the third years next year it looks like there's a week of holidays after the first 16 weeks, and then a week off after each subsequent 8-week block, which is much more sensible (but still not ideal).

Anyhoo, let's do this again, just for consistency...

  • Best moment: A patient had a planned cardioversion for atrial fibrillation. This means I saw the patient receive an electric shock to her heart. It was the first time I've seen this in real life. Being a planned procedure, the patient was anaesthetised, and shouldn't have felt much/any pain. It was interesting to see how the patient's body responded to receiving the shock - she jumped, and raised her arm so that it looked like she was warding off an attacker.
  • Weirdest moment: I did a long case on a male patient, and he gave me a "true blue" recipe for scones! Apparently the secret is flat lemonade...
  • Worst moment: A male patient had just been flown in from the country after having a heart attack. It was late afternoon, so he was being rushed into the cath lab for angiography +/- stent. It was busy - doctors and nurses everywhere, people talking over people - chaos. While this was happening, the registrar from the cath lab had a brief chat to the patient to explain the procedure and get consent. One of the questions the registrar asked was "Do you smoke?" - a standard (and very important) question, which the patient answered in the affirmative. So the registrar thought this was the perfect time to lecture the patient (very loudly, having to yell over the noise everyone else was making) about the fact that if he wasn't a smoker, he wouldn't have had a heart attack and wouldn't be in the hospital today. Ooooh it made my blood boil! Did she seriously think that was going to have an impact at that moment? It just made her sound like a pompous holier-than-thou asshole. (I felt sorry for this patient during the procedure too - his IV tube got caught on the X-ray machine and ripped the cannula out of his arm - not a pleasant experience.)
So it was really bad timing for Killer Fatigue to hit this month. I've got the long case coming up in less than a month, and I need to be doing (and presenting) several long cases each week.

And it's hit me in the non-uni parts of my life too. For example, I'm very unmotivated to exercise - and far too motivated to eat bad food - so I've put on some weight. Not unusual for winter of course, but I need to do something about it.

Oh - and just to keep you completely updated on my life: the guy I was dating (who I met online) seems to have disappeared without explanation. If he's the type of guy who thinks "incommunicado" is appropriate, then I'm well shot of him. But definitely not a happy camper.

Despite all of the above, I'm feeling a lot better this week, and hopefully I'll be more motivated for my next rotation - Neurology and Neurosurgery, which started today. A good rotation to be on in the lead-up to the long case. This week: finish my ethics essay (hopefully today), do lots of long cases, go to the gym at least 4 times, go for a run, cook good food, and stop eating bad food.

And I think my love life (such as it is) needs to be placed on hold until third year finishes in September.

9.5 weeks till the end of third year!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Everything comes down to...

I think JD and Turk sang it best:

I just finished my 4-week placement in Gastroenterology. Loved it!

Apart from finding it very interesting, it was a great placement because of the doctors on the service. The registrars were so willing to teach - it was really refreshing. Even more refreshing was that the consultants were the same (we just didn't see them as often as the registrars). Each week we (myself and the other 2 students on the placement) were required to present at least one long case to one of the consultants, which was extremely valuable.

And yes, there was a lot of poo. I even saw melaena for the first time. But the weird thing is, I didn't smell it! In fact, although I saw a shitload of poo (hahaha), I don't recall smelling it once. Perhaps I trained my nose somehow? I dunno.

  • Best moment: Every morning, the registrar gave us each a new patient to clerk. We had to take a history and do an examination, and then do a short case presentation to the registrar. It was good to get practice doing short cases, because you have to pick the key information to present, leaving out the extraneous stuff that would come up in a long case. It's similar to how we'll need to present cases when we're working as interns. The other good experience was the outpatient clinic, where we saw new patients who'd been referred to the Gastro team. Again, we took a history and did an examination (and wrote in the patient's notes), and then presented to the registrar or consultant on duty.
  • Weirdest moment: A patient came into the outpatient clinic after some rectal bleeding. I'd finished the history and was about to start the examination, when she said, "I took a photo of it - do you want to see?" How could I say no? She then whipped out a camera phone to show me several photos of a blood-filled toilet bowl.
  • Worst moment: The patient with a blocked biliary tree due to pancreatic cancer, with only weeks to live. However, he didn't know this because his family didn't want to tell him, and he didn't speak English. Big ethical dilemma! The registrar didn't approve, but had respected the family's wishes so far. One of the family members had been doing the translating - the registrar told them that if he felt his words were being mistranslated at all, he'd arrange for an independent translator. Also, he told them that if the patient asked specifically about whether he had cancer, then he would tell him. A very tough situation indeed...
I started my 6th placement today - Cardiology. It's a lot busier than Gastro, but so far very good. I'm going to get a lot of practice taking blood, reading ECGs, and doing long cases.

And how nice is this: the Gastro registrar found out that I was doing Cardiology next, and offered to give me a tutorial on the Cardio examination. Those sorts of offers don't come along very often, so of course I took full advantage of his kindness.

14 weeks till the end of third year!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Detecting a theme...

Following on from my previous post is this article from Stuff White People Like.

I've never corrected the typos on a restaurant or café menu. Though I've definitely thought about it...

Monday, June 16, 2008

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Pleasantly surprised

I was pleasantly surprised twice today.

Pleasant surprise 1
On Sunday night I forgot to watch Flight of the Conchords, which really annoyed me, so I whinged about it in my Facebook status yesterday. This morning I rocked up to the hospital and ran into one of my uni buddies in the common room. He said, "I've got something for you" and gave me a DVD that he'd burnt - Season 1 of Flight of the Conchords! How nice is that? Then I discovered that he's been getting into How I Met Your Mother and has nearly finished watching Season 1, so I'm going to burn Season 2 for him. I must share the brilliance of the Slap Bet and Robin Sparkles with everyone I know...

Pleasant surprise 2
I arrived at PBL this morning and said hi to my tutor. She's an ED doctor, and very nice. She said "It's nice to see you KT; you're always smiling!" I was amazed to hear that. I've never thought of myself as a very smiley person - if I had to choose I think I'd fall on the side of frowny, not smiley. So it was lovely to hear that someone else thinks I come across as happy. I don't think she would've said the same thing if she'd met me last year...


Life is otherwise going well. I'm insanely busy with work and study - as usual it's too much of the former, not enough of the latter. I'm loving gastroenterology, and will do a full wrap-up when it finishes at the end of next week. I'm dating the guy I met online, who I was "really really looking forward to" meeting in this post - early days, but all is going well so far! Boot camp is fun, and my netball team is on top of the table. And the big news is: my sister is pregnant - first baby in my family! I'm gonna be an aunty!! Woo hoo!!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Pick the actor

I went to see Iron Man at the movies this week.

It was much better than I expected it to be - mainly due to the fantastic lead performance from Robert Downey Jr. He's awesome!

Usually I know quite a lot about movies before I see them - who's in the cast, the director, etc. Although there was a lot of hype for Iron Man, I somehow missed it - all I knew was that it was based on a Marvel comic book, and it starred Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark and Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts. I didn't even know that Jon Favreau directed it, and I love him!

Anyway, during the movie I got very distracted because I was trying to work out who played Obadiah Stane (Iron Monger), and who voiced Jarvis (Tony Stark's computer).

Here's a photo of Obadiah Stane:

This is a very famous actor, and he was very good in Iron Man, but I just couldn't pick it. Can you? Scroll down a bit...
I was embarrassed to discover that it's The Dude!

Yes, that's right - Jeff Bridges. Very very famous. It was the bald pate that got me.

And now to the voice of Jarvis. Unfortunately I can't find a decent clip of it, but basically Jarvis the computer has a lovely English accent - very droll. I convinced myself that it was Jude Law at first, but by the end of the movie I was sure it was someone else who I really like - but I couldn't work it out.

I couldn't be bothered waiting for the credits to show me the answer (and apparently he's uncredited anyway), so I checked on IMDB when I got home...

And found that Jarvis was voiced by Paul Bettany:

He talked about the voice role in a recent interview. I adored him in Master and Commander, and even quite liked him in the silly rom-com Wimbledon. He was freaky as Silas in The Da Vinci Code.

As Dr Stephen Maturin in Master and Commander

As Peter Colt in Wimbledon

As Silas in The Da Vinci Code

Aaah, I love solving mysteries like this. It's very satisfying. I really should be studying though...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Open wide, come inside

Silly John

I was excited today to learn that John Hamblin, aka "Silly John" from Play School, has just released a biography, "Open wide, come inside" (written by Peter Richman).

Play School was such a massive part of my childhood. I adored it. I loved Silly John and Noni Hazlehurst the most, closely followed by "Good John" (John Waters) and Benita Collings, and then all the others - Don Spencer, Alister Smart, Jan Kingsbury, etc.

Benita and Good John

My favourite episodes involved Silly John and Noni - they were always hilarious, and even as a child I knew that Silly John was being a little bit rude... Years later, I've watched old episodes and have seen how he appealed equally to children and adults.

Silly John and Noni

My favourite Play School memory is Noni reading "The Elephant and the Bad Baby". My sisters and I loved that book, and the way Noni read it with funny voices was genious. I wish I could find a clip of it.

Rumpeta, rumpeta, rumpeta...

I've seen more recent episodes of the show, and it continues to be wonderful, even though it's been modernised of course. With hosts like Rhys Muldoon and Justine Clarke, it'll never be dull.

Justine and Rhys

Hopefully I can introduce my kids to the joy of Play School some day, and read them "The Elephant and the Bad Baby", complete with funny voices...

Friday, May 16, 2008

I've never felt whiter

Yay sent me a link to Stuff White People Like, another wonderful blog:

#99 Grammar

It's a perfect description of me. That's not necessarily a good thing. But in my defence, it's my job to be like this...

This paragraph is particularly accurate:

"Another important thing to know is that when white people read magazines and books they are always looking for grammar and spelling mistakes. In fact, one of the greatest joys a white person can experience is to catch a grammar mistake in a major publication. Finding one allows a white person to believe that they are better than the writer and the publication since they would have caught the mistake. The more respected the publication, the greater the thrill. If a white person were to catch a mistake in The New Yorker, it would be a sufficient reason for a large party."

Endearing, no?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Halfway there

I've just finished my 4th rotation for the year - geriatrics. We get one week off (so generous!) and then it's back for the other 4 one-month rotations (gastroenterology, cardiology, thoracic oncology, Shoalhaven), then exams, then a slightly longer holiday, and then 4th year starts in October. It's a very busy year.

Geriatrics at a suburban hospital was soooooo cruisy. I arrived at 9am most days, and the registrar and intern told me to make the most of my cruisy term, and leave after lunch! I did that a few times, but otherwise I stuck around a little longer to do long cases and help with admissions and discharge summaries. I learnt a lot about all the paperwork an intern has to do. Can't say I learnt that much medical stuff - the main aim with geriatrics is to get patients mobilised and home or to a hostel/nursing home. I did learn what SIADH is though. One patient died while I was there. It was sad - the family asked how long he had left, and the consultant said, "It could be tomorrow, it could be next week". It was "tomorrow". And the death occurred in a 4-bed room, so the other 3 patients were quite traumatised.

It's been an interesting and busy month for me, apart from geriatrics.

We're on holidays from 8 December 2008 to 23 March 2009, and during that time we have to do 8 weeks of "elective", which basically means something medical, somewhere in the world. People tend to go overseas, although financially that wasn't really viable for me. So I applied for a scholarship to do my elective in Vietnam, and I won it! It's a brilliant scholarship through the Học Mãi Foundation. It covers airfares, accommodation, and living expenses. 6 of us are going for 8 weeks, and one for 4 weeks. I'm really excited - I loved Vietnam when I was there last year, and can't wait to go back. I'm going to do 4 weeks in Hanoi and 4 weeks in Danang. We also have to do some fundraising as part of receiving the scholarship, which should be fun. (Hope my friends and family have deep pockets...)

Let's see, what else has happened this past month? I farewelled a very close friend, who left Australia for good to travel the world and ultimately return to the USA. It was an emotional and lovely farewell. Hopefully I'll get a chance to visit him in the States someday.

I've also made a foray into the world of Internet dating! More on this in a separate post sometime, but so far I've chatted to several nice blokes, have been on one date (was OK), and am going on another first date this weekend, which I'm really really looking forward to. It's fun meeting new people!

And I started boot camp last week! I did it last year and loved it. So far it's been great this year too. I have a cold at the moment, so I'm struggling with breathing - it'll be interesting to see how I go on a 7km run at tonight's session...

So now we have one week off, during which I plan to study. A lot. A hell of a lot. And I need to keep studying consistently, because I must avoid a repeat of last year's Barrier-failure nightmare. *shudder*

Sunday, May 4, 2008

ANZAC biscuits

ANZAC biscuits are my favourite biscuits to make (and eat). I make them all year round, but recently I made a couple of batches specifically for ANZAC Day. They're quick and easy to make, don't require many ingredients, and are very tasty! I made a batch for a family lunch on ANZAC Day, and another batch for my PBL group.

This recipe came from my late Nanna. There are many variations, especially regarding the type of sugar used (some recipes use brown sugar, and some use caster sugar - though I like the crunch you get from plain white sugar), the amount of golden syrup, and the baking time (and temperature). Feel free to experiment - I've never baked anything other than this tried-and-true recipe. I'm a creature of habit.


  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 125g butter, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon golden syrup
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
Makes approximately 24 biscuits

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
  2. Sift flour into large bowl, then add coconut, sugar, and rolled oats. Mix well.
  3. Add butter, water, and golden syrup to a saucepan and melt it. Remove from heat.
  4. Add bicarb soda to the melted mixture and stir to combine.
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir well to combine.
  6. Place small balls of the mixture onto a baking tray. (If you like, you can press lightly on the top of each ball so that the biscuits spread out when baking - but this can also cause them to crack.)
  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown. Shorter cooking time = chewy biscuits; longer cooking time = rock hard biscuits. Cool on a wire rack.
  8. Enjoy!