Monthly Archives: November 2011

Homework I’m Not Doing

I actually have a whole load of urgent homework that I’m currently not doing. But I’m not writing about that.

If a patient asks me something and I don’t know the answer, I admit it. If it’s appropriate, I’ll look up the answer while they’re with me, or while they’re waiting for Part Two of their consultation – the part with the real doctor. If I don’t get the chance, and it’s important, I’ll just ask the doc when I’m handing over.

If it’s more of a point of interest and knowing the answer only matters to me, or if the patient is happy to wait for obscure info, I’ll look it up later. On that list: Effects of chromium supplementation, fructose intolerance, sugar content of soy milk.

Not going on that homework list, not getting looked up while he’s in the waiting room, and most certainly not during our consult: (and I’m paraphrasing here for the sake of already having enough dodgy words inviting creepy google-stalkers) is today’s special offering. “My junk has shrunk… Is that a normal part of getting old?”

I don’t know.

Apparently he’s discussed his concerns with the doctor before, and my ignorance was reassuring. “So if you don’t know, maybe he didn’t know either, because he didn’t seem to want to look into it…”

Maybe I should have taken baseline measurements so we could track the alleged shrinkage over time. Something about the fact his eyes had trouble elevating above my chest level gave me the feeling such a scientific approach would be rendered inaccurate by an excessive degree of operator dependance.

Some things, I’d just rather not know.

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Filed under Med School

Back in the Pool

I finally succumbed to the insistence of my knees (and my girl) and have given up on my current attempt to master the art of running. Having missed the first three weeks of seasonal swimming in the local pool, I dedicated 24 hours to rumination on the cost/benefit ratios of the casual visit vs 20 visit vs season pass.

I guess I enjoy maths more than I pretend to.

I spent some time wondering how four months of boot camp would affect my pool re-entry. My togs are too big. That was an encouraging start.

Too much maths meant I got to the pool just as school finished. Not quite so encouraging, but there were still two rugrat-free lanes.

My tiny brain: What if I’ve forgotten how to swim?

I am mildly fascinated by the self-doubt I can generate around a straightforward physical activity.

Naturally I had not forgotten how to swim, but my consistently lousy lap-counting skills suggest that my short-term memory could use an exercise regime all of its own.

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Apparently Crazy Cat Lady

Our two cats are brothers, different colours but with virtually identical markings. They have lived indoors (and within the limits of the backyard, under supervision) for their fourteen years of life. This has given us all plenty of time to bond as a tribe.

McCat is most closely bonded to me, especially since his brother has become irritable with hyperthyroidism. We have a few things in common. We both like birds. We both like my armchair and its lambskin throw. We both like raw salmon and roast lamb (not together). For a while there, unbeknownst to me, we shared a bedside glass of water.

One of us is a little OCD.

At bedtime, McCat enforces the following routine:

1. Human is to brush teeth.
2. Human is to fill cat’s bedside water glass with fresh water.
3. Human is to top up biscuit bowl.
4. Human is to pat Brother Cat.
5. Human is to seek out Superior Cat lounging place; this step to be conducted under cover of darkness, simulating safari conditions.
6. Human is to advise Superior Cat of imminent bed entry.
7. Human is to stop faffing and get into bed.
8. Superior Cat shall drink water; four swipes of paw on beside table to accompany drink, indicating primal origins.
9. Superior Cat shall sit staring at Human until such time as Human switches off light.
10. Superior Cat shall patrol perimeter, ensuring all doors and windows secure.
11. Human is to assume supine position; left arm to be bent like tea-pot handle.
12. Superior Cat shall grace Human with presence between left arm and left flank; Human is to remain motionless until 4am.

The penalty for deviation from any of the above routine may range from gentle rebuke to forced sleep deprivation, with such penalties administered vocally, by strategic bladder-trampling, or by judicious use of paws to ensure Human eyes are open and airways clear.

Every so often I escape desert the McCat for education-related purposes, such as placements away, or conferences. The Girl does her best to meet his exacting standards of bedtime care, however as she has the Yellow Dog of Happiness to care for, as well as Brother Cat, McCat tends to develop abandonment issues and his vocal and paw-to-face admonishments eventually become unbearable. Or so I am told.

And so it is that I find myself on the phone to the cat. I am fluent in McEse, and though it pains me that my communications are delivered via speaker phone for all to enjoy, it does seem to settle him down.

I can only guess at what “Brrt, brrt, micmicmic meow” means, but I think it’s something like “Hello, honeycat, I’ll be home soon.”

Mock me and I’ll scratch your eyes out.


Filed under Family, Travel

I Nearly Served You Bugs

Two facts which may be inter-related: I have a cast-iron stomach. I have a tendency to experience my world through taste.

Evidence supporting Fact #1: Not counting years beyond my conscious recall (say, prior to primary school), I have suffered less than ten episodes of vomiting nausea. This figure includes those episodes unfortunately induced by excessive alcohol consumption (hello, Gloucester Rd tube). A gastro bug for me involves lots of time sitting in a small room wishing in vain that I could empty my stomach upwards rather than downwards.

Evidence supporting Fact #2: I see weird stuff, I want to taste it. Think beached jellyfish, orange wood fungus, strange white clusters of bubbles on eucalypt leaves, random berries on random shrubs, seaweeds, witchetty grubs. My experience of nature is incomplete if I can only see, hear, smell and touch it.

That wise monkey with his hands over his mouth? He’s not speaking no evil, he’s snarfing a possible bush-food.

So when I realised, while cooking a late dinner, that the pasta had been joined in the boiling water by a small collection of minuscule baby cockroaches, I wasn’t going to tell you.

Scoop them out, most certainly. This took a few minutes, and my arm was nicely steamed. But I was reasonably confident I had them all out. No mysterious speckling in the capellini.

I thought about all the fine meals you have cooked me, and wondered if you had ever faced a similar dilemma. Slightly delirious with hunger, boiling up the last of the long pasta… Surely the essence of baby cockroach would be an imperceptible, proteinaceous addition to the bolognese?

I sighed. Your distinct lack of enthusiasm for sampling the flotsam and jetsam of our nature walks did not bode well for your appreciation of the essence of baby cockroach. And if I kept it from you, well, that would be a dark secret, a festering sore on the gastronomic soul of our relationship.

Furthermore, if I was willing to eat (and share) baby cockroach, where would it end? If rice-grain sized cockroaches are ok, why not oat flake sized? Or those little German ones? Why not bite the head off a nice, clean, mouse-sized native Australian bush cockroach? Surely they’d taste like gumleaves?

A creepy, crawly, slippery slope.

I fessed up. I ate a cracker, and set another pot to boil. Penne bolognese would suffice.

That was the night I almost served you bugs.

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Filed under Food