Tag Archives: Swimming Not Drowning

It’s About Medicine

Final year of med school has just hit me. There is a subtle shift – knowledge and facts coalescing, light dawning. I still feel like I know nothing, but every so often I feel like I know what I’m doing and why I’m doing it.

Another subtle shift is underway on the hospital floor. Next year I could be a colleague. People ask where I’m applying, offer advice, discuss cases of interest like my thoughts could matter.

I decided about ten days back that I needed to stop avoiding the things that freak me out – practical procedures. And Whammo! No sooner had I decided this than a flurry of practical procedures came my way. Under supervision, I drained 2.4L of fluid from an elderly lady’s chest (“I can breathe again!”), and did not generate a pneumothorax. I sutured (extremely badly). I backslabbed a man’s fractured wrist and completely failed to get a cannula into a vein for a man who desperately needed one. Two in fact.

Today I assessed a patient in ED, summarised my findings, proposed a diagnosis, recommended therapy, and discharged them home with scripts and instructions.

I second-guess myself.

“What if it was amyloidosis?”
“What if I sutured his skin all wrong?”
“What if he’d got fluids earlier?”
“What if I introduced an infection?”

What if I never made a mistake and never learned anything?

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;l.

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.

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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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