Tag Archives: Something I Call Strategy

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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Better Than Before

I have to correct some misconceptions – my own. It turns out that my oddball study methods don’t suck as badly as I thought. In fact, in the written exam, for once I skated right over the top of the cohort bell curve and landed nicely with both feet firmly down the right-hand slope. Basically the inverse position compared to my performance in the first two years.

So my initial post-exam gut-feel was on the money, I did ok, and from now on the whiny little voice in my head that undermines my confidence can just shut the hell up.

Another thing I was right about though: I did fail the OSCE eye station. In OSCEs I am average, so there’s nice room for improvement.

I’ve found three four-leaf clovers in the last few weeks, and coincidentally have been granted a one-year scholarship that I am particularly happy to hold. Consider me officially happy.

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Whip It

Ninety-five hours after the last ‘pens down’ and the annual season of sleeplessness and self-flagellation is almost behind me. Not that I’m still sleepless and whipping myself – I just think it would be premature to declare the season closed before the release of results.

Unlike previous seasons, I’m not actually sweating on results. My performance was not without flaws (OSCE Eye Examination: Please let me forget you) but for the first time in the history of me and medicine, I feel reasonably confident that what I did was enough to pass.

There is a little voice in my head which wonders whether this is a delusion, but it can shut the hell up, I’m having a holiday.

For the sake of my future patients, naturally I would like to do more than just enough to pass. This desire represents the start of the annual season of trying to do things a little better than before. Past experience suggests that no matter how much time I spend now trying to organise myself into having notes that look more like the notes people might want to share with other people, by the second or third week of semester I will have a plastic bag full of loose sheets of scribble and seventeen unsaved word files on my desktop.

See? I told you the season of self-flagellation wasn’t quite over.

On the flipside of all of this: I am getting a much clearer idea of what works for me in terms of learning medicine, and I’m not a total doofus. While there may be only one more set of exams between me and graduation, I still have to qualify as a fellow of some kind of college – which means more exams. I’ve concluded I need to shift my strategy from the current ‘don’t freak out’ to something a little more constructive, like… ‘keep reading and trust what you know’. And maybe try to reduce the number of notepads I write notes on from double to single figures.

Despite the horrible stress of the lead-up, when they finally arrived I have to confess that I actually enjoyed the exams. I don’t know whether this was because of the immediacy of the challenge, the catharsis of releasing all my bottled-up knowledge, the sheer relief of working my way through them and having them behind me or some other mysterious factor. I hope that this time next year the memory of having enjoyed them will be stronger than the fear of failure and I will be able to prepare for exam season with a sense of anticipation and joy rather than dread.

Hahahahahaha. Ha.

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Not Nearly So Nekked

Once is funny. More than once is still funny, but starts to look oddly deliberate. Thus, my main goal for the first day of 2011 was to not make a New Year’s tradition of getting myself locked outside naked.

In preparation for this challenge, I made sure the laundry was stocked with a clean, dry shirt and a number of towels. Words were spoken with my beloved co-habitant regarding appropriate house-departure procedures. I sourced shorts with pockets for my keys. I left the bathroom window open.

Waking, as usual, at a geriatric New Year’s hour – that is, the time usually reserved for actually going to bed after New Year’s Eve – I resisted all urges to make breakfast and deferred doing any laundry until I could be assured that no-one was home to lock me out. Instead I dressed in my key-holder shorts and a t-shirt, and set out on a merry morning adventure to walk the hound.

While perambulating with the Yellow Dog of Happiness, I encountered many elderly people also walking their dogs. All other folk under the age of sixty-five were either at work already, or snoring, or still on their way to bed, drunk as skunks and reeking of fireworks.

Several of the elderly citizens made conversation with me as we enjoyed the last vestiges of sunrise over the river. Had I been less clothed, I doubt I would have had the pleasure of such conversation.

When I got home, I brought the rabbit inside, made a coffee, and wrote the world’s second-most boring blog post.

I managed to go the whole day without getting locked outside in the nuddy.
However, I am so thoroughly bored with myself that I think I am changing my mind a little about the whole tradition thing.

Maybe just every second year…

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If Wishes Were Fishes I’d Have A Rainbow Trout

After loving psychiatry so much, my rotation through the maternity ward reminded me of all the things I will miss out on if I follow the psych pathway instead of rural general practice like I had always planned. So the seed of doubt is planted.

Luckily I have a good few years to figure it all out and see where I best fit. That’s assuming I pass everything… Exams are more than seven months away but I’m already starting to feel some niggles of apprehension. I think this is mainly because of my intractable lack of organisation. Grand intentions and massive failure to follow through.

I feel like I need a system and I don’t have one. Bits of mind maps, bits of flash cards, bits of handwritten notes, bits of typed up ones. I doubt I’m the only med student in the world who struggles with this, but the balance of evidence suggests that the majority have neat folders, stacks of home made flash cards, and reams of tidy notes which are complete and cover a single topic per page.

I basically have a couple of lumps of blutac, some string, and a dog-eared spiral-bound pad of coloured paper covered in multi-coloured random scribble and semi-logical diagrams. Couple this with a misshapen muesli bar, a paper clip attached to a blue rubber band, a petrol receipt and one of those individually-wrapped tropical fruit Mentos you get at conferences, and you have my study compendium.

The electronic equivalent is presented below.

Or, Mac 'Sticky Notes' And How They Work For Me

How about that… Informative and colourful.

( … help me … )


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