Tag Archives: Not The Rat Race

Revised Numbers

Today’s updated figures for today’s 31.9km GP pilgrimage:

Speed Zones, Outbound Journey: 50 – 70 – 60 – 100 – 90 – 60 – 90 – 80 – 40 – 90 – 100 – 60 – 80 – 50
‘Road Work’ Sites: 2
Workers Holding Signs: 4
Workers Working: 1
Kilometers Driven With Fuel Light Lit: 31.9
Rail Crossings Accidentally Crossed While Lights Flashing Red: 1
Boom Gates Destroyed: 0
Average Speed of Local Freight Train: 4kmh
Times My Car Hit By Train: 0
Trouble Thus Avoided: 8 (Please Rotate 90°)
Average Distance Between Speed Limit Changes: 2.28km

If you think I’m kidding, you’re wrong.

1 Comment

Filed under Med School

The Numbers

From Home to General Practice Placement:

Total Distance (each way): 31.9km
Times per Week: 2
Speed Zones, Outbound Journey: 50 – 70 – 60 – 100 – 90 – 100 – 60 – 80 – 50
Speed Zones, Homeward Journey: 50 – 80 – 60 – 100 – 90 – 100 – 60 – 70 – 50
Speed Cameras (Fixed): 3
Traffic Lights: 7
Average Red Lights on Arrival: 6
Roundabouts: 2
Golf Courses: 2
Cow Crossings: 2
Cow Crossing Delays Experienced: 0
Rail Crossings: 1
Rail Crossing Delays Experienced: 2
Rail Crossing Delay Duration: 11mins / 8mins
Bridges Crossed: 3
Properties for Sale: 14
Wineries: 2
Winery Delays Experienced: 0
Factories: 2
Smokestacks (Gas Flame): 1
Hitchhikers: 1
Hitchhiker Sightings: 3 (Same Guy)
Minimum Journey Time: 24mins
Maximum Journey Time: 49mins
Early/On Time/Late Arrival (%, est): 30/40/30
Maximum Ground Speed Attained: Fine Exceeds Boyish Desire To Tell
Times Speed Limit Unconsciously Exceeded by Maximal Amount: 1
Times Rihanna’s S.O.S Unconsciously Played On Loop, Single Journey: 11
Total Distance Driven for GP Placement, Phase 3: 2424.4km

Leave a comment

Filed under Golf, Med School, Travel


The title of today’s post is brought to you by McCat, who joined me at the table on the laptop and somehow managed to type this ;l. into the Google search window AND hit enter. He also opened iTunes, possibly trying to find an appropriate musical message to accompany the emoticon. I’m glad he’s in a good mood.

Yesterday I stopped procrastinating on a core task – writing up a year planner with my timetable. If I had done this when I intended to, at the start of the holidays, I would most likely have done a bit more uni work and a bit less relaxing. Not that the relaxing hasn’t been fantastic.

I’m trying to develop a routine for the next semester, and the second-last week of holidays seemed a good time to kick it off. Up at 5:30, exercise 6:00-7:00, eat, get to work.

Today’s ‘get to work’ part started off with… well… taking the Yellow Dog of Happiness (who has been a bit down in the dumps) for a trot through the bush and a swim in the creek. I was more up for the trot than the swim, and had passed up swimmers for my pre-dirtied bootcamp shorts and socks from earlier, a fresh crop top and shirt, and my running shoes. Eyes peeled for snakes.

He had a lovely dog-only paddle in the first swimming hole, and as we trotted on down the track I pondered an impending visit from my paternal parental unit. I haven’t yet brought them to the creek. I must call them and get them to bring their swimmers. And maybe a fishing rod.

I spotted a faint track from the path to a shady spot on the creek bank and whistled the dog back to check it out. As I stood on the boulder overlooking a nice deep bit of creek, a school of eating-sized fish cruised by, followed by a dog-like splash.

Having taken a nice refreshing slide down the boulder into the creek, he paddled calmly for about three seconds before he realised the creek bed was far, far beneath his furry feet. He turned back to the mostly-vertical rock face. Oh SHIT, his face said. Quite futile even trying to climb out. Nevertheless he tried in vain to haul himself up with his front paws while scrabbling against, well, nothing with his back legs.

Stay calm, Dogface. I surveyed the surroundings as I stripped down to the crop top and my spotted undies. It was a big boulder, but either side was shallow bank covered by mangroves. Easy for a dog to climb out. Fixated on the rock face and hanging on with front paws for dear life, he could not be convinced to let go and swim to safety.

And so it was that I slid down the none-too-smooth boulder and into my new favourite swimming spot. Treading water just clear of the boulder, armpit-depth with my feet in the leafy mud near the edge. I tried to guide the hound around the boulder to the mangroves, but he would have none of it. Your hand is on my rump, clearly that means you can lift me out. He willed himself up the face of the rock, with me as his launch pad.

Admittedly I could now have swum around to the mangrovey bit and waded out of the water. But it was… creepy. And leafy. And there could be snakes. From water level, I could see the dog’s point.

Add rock-climbing to my skills list.

I gathered up the dry bits of my ensemble and we trotted on to his usual swimming hole, complete with jetty. Yellow Dog said no thanks. I said come on, Dogface, I’m still in my soggy cottontails, let’s get back on the horse. We swam. Neither of us drowned or were eaten by sharks. Passers-by failed to materialise until I had my shorts back on.

All up, a good morning’s work. ;l.

1 Comment

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

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

Possibly Neglected to Mention

In no particular order, since June:
Received a one-year rural medicine scholarship.
Did my first Arterial Blood Gas ‘Stab’ – Easy as.
Still suck at plain old cannulation.
Attended an arrest call and kept out of the way.
Told by patient “You look like kd lang… not in a bad way.”
Got my hair cut on the back porch for $10. Trauma-free.
Started Bootcamp and got hooked.
Survived 12 days at home without The Girl and Yellow Dog of Happiness.
Spent a day as interviewer for Med School applicants.
Started interval training for running, again.
Buggered my knees, see above.
Don’t care, not stopping.
Avoided Med Ball.
Ooh, was in Med Revue. Again.
Remain madly in love with Girl.
Flirty guy doctors. Wrong tree.
Random encounters with mothers of two babies I delivered last year.
Delivered one baby.
Attended 21st birthday party (possibly first since own).
Mistaken for Senator Penny Wong. Sense recurring theme.
Stephanie Alexander’s chocolate chip cookie recipe is exceptionally good.
Jointly disposed of 3x large bin bags of oversized clothes.
Mostly just happy.


Filed under Family, Food, Med School

Yum Cha My Life

I have been boring/busy/uninspired lately so have spared the world the detail. Now however I feel like downloading a sampling of tasty treats from my consciousness. You could probably drink a nice cup of jasmine tea while you read it because I fear I may be about to babble.

It is one month precisely until exams. Starting with OSCEs, which stand for something about Clinical and Examination and other than that I’m still at a loss. Suffice to say that a month from now I will be required to do 13 stations of ten minutes each in which my clinical competence will be assessed.

This week I feel I am completely prepared for the “Close the Curtain Around the Bed During Ward Rounds” station and the “Theoretically Sanitise Your Hands With Stinky Pink Antimicrobial Handrub” station. Other than that, I feel my competence needs some finessing.

Failed attempt at inserting IV cannula today, needs more practice. See above.

Currently on the ward we have a patient who is 101 years old. Day one on ward rounds, she grabbed my hand and clutched it throughout the consultation. I felt some kind of connection with history and a good-going tremor. Anyway, we are clearly friends.

Day two on ward rounds, she asked me if I have any Chinese blood in me. Not that I know of, though people do seem to think so on a relatively frequent basis. In practical terms, this translates to people speaking to me in languages I do not yet recognise, getting chili on my Vietnamese chicken rolls as a matter of course, and not being denied such delicacies as beef tendon or chicken feet when at Yum Cha. Non-membership still has its privileges.

Day three, today, my super-centenarian announced straight up that she owed me an apology for asking if I was of Chinese descent. I assured her that no apology was necessary. Apparently I reminded her of a friend (insert potentially-patient-identifying historical facts here) from some time before the television was invented or possibly the gold rush era. I have no clue as to why this should offend me.

Straight after this consultation my entire team suddenly felt a desperate desire to know my ethnic origins. Which are distinctly unremarkable. I look like my grandma, though not quite as wrinkly or diminutive. Possibly certain of my great-grandfolk came from Wales or Cornwall or the Baltic states, but no, generally I don’t deserve the chicken feet.

Speaking of feet, I have been doing some running in a now-thwarted attempt to get fit, get healthier, decrease my pre-exam stress levels and generally have a low-cost low-maintenance sporting and social outlet. Most of that worked, except that I apparently have done something to irritate my sciatic nerve and now it has been suggested I stop running for a few weeks. Back to the swimming pool. Annoyed.

In January 2010 I had Yum Cha twice in two days and I haven’t been able to eat it since. Primarily because this town does not extend to Yum Cha. But still.

Girlfriend is such a stupid word for someone I’ve been living with/in love with for eleven years. Partner is too sterile. Fiancée is illegal. My Most-Preferred Yum Cha Companion will have to do for today. Naturally I am worried that this is somehow an offensive term. She is probably more worried that it is 10:40pm and I am not yet asleep.

Tonight I ducked out to drop the DVD equivalent of chicken soup to a nosocomially-infected friend (Series II, Friends) and on my return, my MPYCC was casually whipping up a sweet ginger syrup to accompany some silken tofu we happened to have in the fridge.

My life is pretty good.

1 Comment

Filed under Family, Food, Med School, Uncategorized

Unintended Consequences

Seven weeks until exams. Naturally it is time for me to bemoan my general lack of follow-through, effective note-taking, organisation skills, etc etc. Doesn’t matter. I have a plan. I just need to enact it.

I’ve just had a week of ‘break’, and I must have needed it, because aside from some minor reading, and some major planning, I haven’t actually done a whole heap of actual work work. I’ve just enjoyed going to bed early, getting up late, and not having to be in the hospital five days a week.

Sadly, the chunk missing from my finger prevented me from traveling anywhere interesting this week, which has had the unfortunate unintended consequence of me both missing a wedding reception and being forced to have my hair cut in Tinytown.

When I say ‘cut’, I guess what I really mean is ‘hacked at’.

Note to all aspiring Hair Artistes: Unless a person attends your Salon-Like Establishment for the sole express purpose of having their head shaved, the presence of a cowlick on their frontal hairline (ie fringe) does not in any way entitle you to use CLIPPERS to remove all evidence of said cowlick.

When I say ‘remove all evidence’, I guess what I really mean is ‘leave unsightly salt-and-pepper stubble’.

Thus blighted by a finger wrapped to resemble a Redhead matchstick and some kind of punk-meets-pumice-stone jailbird mop on my head, tomorrow I shall commence my last rotation of Phase Two: General Medicine.

I’m overcome by a deep desire to wear a beanie, long white gloves and dark glasses. And maybe a jumpsuit for good measure.

Leave a comment

Filed under Med School



I was maybe eight, looking through the green of the mesh of the patio shadecloth. He had asked me what was heavier, a tonne of feathers or a tonne of bricks. I said they weigh the same, but the bricks would fall faster.


He coughed as he opened his eyes, blurred with sleep and choking on a mouthful of feathers. They stuck white to the sweat of his skin like scales, and lit the room as snow floating on slivers of late morning sun.


I think he said bricks, but he might have said cheese. In a race between bricks and cheese, the cheese would fall faster on account of its smooth surface. The physicists will say the relevance of the aerodynamic differential is dependent on the height from which they fall. Gravity is a constant.


She is bricks, solid and immovable, secure in her knowledge. He is cheese, he has churned himself hard. He sweats under pressure. I am feathers, I can fly. The form of things, the shape of things, the shape of things to come.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Not A Cinderella Story

Did I mention I am home now? Hopefully for good, minus the odd week here & there when I have exams and such at the mothership. This weekend I am in fact home alone, with nothing but the company of various mammals, fowl and underwater creatures for company.

This afternoon I took the hound to the beach. He is, after all, a Beachhound. It was a hot day, but being late in the afternoon, a wind had arisen and driven most people away. Nevertheless, there was a clump of people deposited directly at the entrance to the beach, flopped like seals on an icefloe.

I kicked off my trusty Havs and strolled down the beach, dog lead over my shoulder, footwear dangling from my hand. The hound waited all of thirty seconds to poop on the sand, and as I pulled a plastic bag from my pocket in order to pick it up, another bag flew out and billowed (in a small and rapid way) toward the dunes.

Being an avid environmentalist, I sprinted after it, and thanks to a convenient clump of dessicated seaweed, caught up with it in less than 100 metres with only a minor twist to my ankle.

Luckily, the wind was strong enough to mean my journey back to the origin of the poop was a straight line. Although the hound had cleverly camouflaged his excrement to exactly match the sand, its unmistakable cigar-like form remained, enabling me to locate it and employ the miscreant plastic bag.

Not much wanting to add a bag of poop to my stroll, I tracked back to the dune-grass line, and left the bag in a prominent position, carefully noting its location for collection on the return journey.

Back to the walk. Strolling back down to the high-water line, I found a cuttlefish bone the size of a MacBook Pro. I picked it up to marvel at the size of the calamari rings its owner would have produced. As I marvelled, I wondered whether chickens like cuttlefish bones. Now that I am A Scientist of sorts, I decided I should put this to the test.

I returned to the poobag at the dune-grass line, and added the giant cuttlefish bone to the To-Be-Collected pile. I cavorted with the hound somewhat, thus distracting him from a miserable Retriever on a Halti lead, and we continued our stroll. Before too long, he pooped again.

I congratulated myself on having made the effort to chase the second plastic baggy. Knowing myself as I do, I decided I would be unlikely to remember the location of two bag-drops, so the second offering joined us on our walk to the calm end of the beach.

The water was deliciously warm, and on arrival at our destination, the hound and I disrobed and enjoyed some salt water time, much to the amusement of passers-by. Waves excite and repel him. He made all sorts of friends while I got thumped in the back by the chaotic distant cousins of a tsunami. I dried myself on my shirt and we headed back down the beach, poo-baggy and cap in hand.

About half-way down the beach I was enjoying my bare feet, when I realised that I had arrived in my Havs. Bugger. I searched the windswept landscape of my recent memory. The sprint. The Retriever. The second poop. A fishing float. When had I discarded them? No clues.

I was reasonably sure I’d have noticed them in the re-clothing part of the adventure, and decided against retracing our steps to the swimming end of the beach. Peering about the beach as we continued the stroll, I stopped to ask the hound’s new best friends if they had seen some missing silver thongs.

Sadly, they were of no help, though they did manage to crank out some jokes about Cinderella and a metal detector. They had a variety of northern hemisphere accents, and I’m not entirely sure they all knew we were talking about footwear. Shudder.

Bemused at yet another irrefutable example of my intractable vagueness, I resigned myself to the barefoot drive home and headed toward the clump of seal-people and my treasure-pile of poop and flotsam.

Behold! There beside the cuttlefish bone were my trusty Havs, stuck criss-cross fashion and heel-down in the sand.

Maybe it was the seal-people. Maybe it was Halti-woman. Maybe it was me. I have absolutely no idea.


Filed under Uncategorized