Sorry!

So, it’s been a while since I last blogged…sorry…obviously, AS’s are looming, and my first exam is quite soon, which is rather scary! 🙁 Also, I’ve been doing a fair few concerts recently…but I know these excuses aren’t that valid…so you can expect a post fairly soon hopefully-within the next 1-2 weeks! If I don’t blog for some reason, assume that I have got overloaded with revision, and am slightly too busy to blog, but hopefully that won’t happen, and you will be hearing from me shortly…aren’t you lucky?! 😛

Thanks, and sorry again…

Eleanor 🙂

GP Work Experience.

So, on the Tuesday and Thursday of the first week of the Easter Holidays, I spent some time in a GP surgery, in order to gain more understanding about what a GP’s work consists of. The surgery was a small surgery, with only a few members of staff, which was very different from the work experience I have done in hospitals.

Firstly, there was a lot of paperwork to do! This was not much different from the hospitals, however, in the hospital, patient notes were taken down by hand, whilst at the surgery they were done on the computer. Almost everything a patient said was recorded, just in case it came in useful!

Also, as I have said, the surgery was quite small, so the doctor knew almost everyone who came in, and was able to talk to me about the previous problems the patient had had, and any other interesting pieces of information. This also created a really good rapport between the doctor and the patient, as often they had known each other for quite a long time, so there was an easy atmosphere in the room during the appointment. Another big difference between this and the hospital was the length of appointments-at one hospital I spent a few days at in the summer, the consultations were often 15-20 minutes in length, and at the hospital I was in most recently, sometimes we were talking to a patient for nearly half an hour! Here it was very different-most appointments were around the 10 minute mark, which really surprised me, as I had automatically assumed that all consultations took a long time to carry out, however, I suppose it is different for every doctor!

So, the first morning I spent watching several appointments, and, quite frankly, I was amazed at the sheer range of patients. No two patients were similar, and it was very interesting to see the doctor adapt to suit the needs of each individual, especially with the children. There were a few toddlers and babies who visited the surgery, and often they were unwilling to let the doctor examine them, however, with kind words and stickers, this issue was often resolved. Obviously the older patients didn’t have this problem! People had booked appointments for all sorts of reasons-some as a follow-up to a recent appointment-I witnessed this when I saw one patient on the Tuesday, and again on the Thursday. There was also a wide variety of cases, which made the time go very quickly, as no two cases were alike. This showed me how extensive the knowledge of a GP must be, which, although I had been aware of before, I had no idea of the scale. Some appointments were carried out over the telephone, which I found a very odd way of communicating, as with my previous work experiences, all patient contact had been face to face. However, this did seem quite an effective way of carrying out appointments, especially for those with mobility problems, busy work schedules, or other such issues, so I can see why they are now used.

On the afternoon I got to go out on two home visits, which I found quite exciting. Firstly we visited an old people’s home, where some paperwork needed to be filled in. The paperwork in question was a Do Not Resuscitate form, and the doctor had to make absolutely sure that the patient was aware of the consequences of signing this form, and that all aspects were understood. We then went to a patient’s home for a check-up. This patient required a lot of care from their partner, and the doctor was checking that all was well, which it was. We then made our way back to the surgery, where there was a lot more paperwork to fill in, followed by a few more appointments, until, about 7, we finished the day.

(Wednesday was spent revising and spending time with the wonderful Charlotte Ask, who is also hoping to study medicine, and if you’re not already reading her blog, you should be).

So, Thursday. The morning was, again, spent doing appointments (and paperwork), which was still as interesting as it was on the Tuesday (except for the paperwork…but I guess it’s more interesting if you’re the one filling it in, and as it’s an inevitable part of becoming a doctor, I guess I’ll just have to get used to it!), as you never know what is going to walk through the door next! Again, there was a wide variety of cases, which also made the morning fly by. After lunch though, we set off to a funeral directors, where a body needed to be checked. Basically, when someone dies and wishes to be cremated, their GP first checks that they are dead, and writes down the suspected cause of death (this is the same for all deaths…I think), but then another doctor has to come in and check that they are dead, and, looking at medical history and other things, write down the suspected cause of death. This is because, when being cremated, obviously, once it’s done, it’s done, so if there are any further queries into the cause of death, it’s quite hard to carry out a post-mortem on some ashes…

So, we were there to do the secondary check. This would be my first time seeing a dead body (well, human at least…guinea pigs don’t count, right?), so I was quite nervous, and I didn’t really know what to expect. We went into the mortuary, which is quite cold, understandably, as the bodies need to be kept chilled, and took the sheet off the body that we were checking. Rigor Mortis had already taken place, so the body was very stiff. We only saw the head and torso of the body, but it was safe to say that it was dead, as the eyes remained open, and the pupils had sunken in. (Also, there was no pulse/breathing/other vital signs…). After checking that the body was definitely dead, we went back up to fill in (more) paperwork. I didn’t really see why I was so nervous beforehand, as it seemed quite mundane at the time (yeah..that’s quite weird, isn’t it…). However, I feel that it is very useful to be able to see a dead body before applying to medical school, as you never know whether you might feel a bit funny about cadavers, so I feel it’s a really good experience to get over with, and I really appreciated the GP for taking me to see it.

Overall, I really enjoyed the two days of work experience, and I feel that they gave me a real insight into what the role of a GP encompasses, and what ‘the real’ life of a GP is like. Although I found this useful, I’m not sure yet that I would like to become a GP, as I still would quite like to (one day) become a surgeon! However, since I found this work experience so enjoyable, I am hoping to return in the summer for a few more days, which will hopefully be as good as these two days!

Anyway, thanks for reading…I hope you enjoyed reading about my work experience as much as I enjoyed doing it!

Bye for now,

Eleanor 🙂

Endoscopes…

So, in Physics, we have been learning about optics, and last lesson we began to look at optical fibres…optical fibres are used for quite a variety of things, but the one I found most interesting was their use in medicine, as they are used in endoscopes. As you may (but probably won’t) know, during my week of work experience at the hospital, I got to spend the morning in endoscopy, so I thought I’d write a bit about how endoscopes work. If you want to read more about my week of work experience, click here.

Just to warn you, this post is going to be quite physicsy, so if that’s not what you find interesting, you might not want to read this 😉

So, basically, we got onto the topic of Total Internal Reflection, which occurs when the incident substance has a larger refractive index than the other substance involved, and also when the critical angle is less than the angle of incidence. At the critical angle, the angle of refraction is 90′, as the light ray goes along the boundary, like the boundary is a plane mirror.

Endoscopes use optical fibres, and are used to see inside the body. In optical fibres, a light ray is passed down the fibre. Every time the light ray hits the boundary, it is “totally internally reflected”, even if the fibre is bent. Whenever the light ray meets the boundary, the angle of incidence is larger than the critical angle, which is what causes it to be totally internally reflected along the wire.

So, in a medical endoscope, there are two bundles of fibre. The endoscope is then put into the body through an orifice of some type, usually the mouth, nose or colon. Then, light is sent through one of the fibre bundles. There is a lens on the end of the other fibre which is used to form an image of the inside of the body on the end of the fibre bundle. The light forming this image travels along the fibres to the other end of the fibres, where the image can be seen. The fibre bundles must be in a coherent position (the fibres at each end are in the same relative position).

That’s all I really have to say..I know this is quite boring…and quite short…but I hope you found it interesting 🙂 I found it interesting, as it’s always useful to link the stuff I am learning about in lessons to medicine, so I hope it’s just as useful to all of you 😀

Thanks for reading,

Eleanor 🙂

 

Statins and Their Uses.

I had some more free time today, so I decided to check out MNT to see if there was anything new that had been posted…unsurprisingly, there were plenty of new articles, and I scrolled through the titles for a while, until I saw one that caught my eye, entitled “Synthetic Biology Breakthrough Leads to Cheaper Statin Production”. (If you would like to read this article, click here).                                                                                               So, I had a quick read, and my first thought was, what exactly are statins? We’ve all heard of them, and know that they are used to lower blood cholesterol, but how exactly do they do this? Well, it turns out that they do this by blocking the action of a certain chemical in the liver that actually makes the cholesterol. Cholesterol is essential for basic human functions, but in excess can be fatal, as it increases the risk of heart disease and strokes. There are many types of statin, and they can be taken for a variety of reasons, such as heart disease, atherosclerosis, diabetes, a family history of heart disease, high cholesterol levels, and other, atheroma-related illnesses.                                                                  Very simply, statins work by inhibiting the enzyme which controls the production of cholesterol in the liver, so therefore slowing down the production.

Anyway, back to the actual article I read…so, unsurprisingly, statins cost quite a bit to produce (a two-step process, involving both fermentation and biotransformation). However, the University of Manchester have found a new, cheaper way of producing statins, using fermentation, which will allow for the drugs to be produced on a much larger, industrial scale. The specific drug being produced is pravastatin, and it is being made from a Penicillium chrysogenum (a fungus that can produce antibiotics). I can’t really put it into simple words, as I think I would end up confusing myself, so the website described it as ‘Reprogramming the antibiotics-producing fungus Penicillium chrysogenum, with discovery and engineering of a cytochrome P450 enzyme involved in the hydroxylation of the precursor compactin, enabled high level fermentation of the correct form of pravastatin to facilitate efficient industrial-scale statin drug production. Key steps leading to the successful outcome included the identification and deletion of a fungal gene responsible for degradation of compactin, in addition to evolution of the P450 to enable it to catalyse the desired stereoselective hydroxylation step required for high level pravastatin production.’

That’s pretty much all I was going to write about today, and you probably won’t have found it very interesting, but I enjoyed writing it, as I got to learn a lot about statins, which, previously, I hadn’t known much about. I also found it interesting, as researchers are constantly coming up with new ways to produce the medication we need on a cheaper, easier, higher yield, cost-efficient scale…anyway, thank you for reading!                    Eleanor 😀

 

The Dress

So, unless you haven’t been on the internet this week, you’ll know about The Dress. If you don’t, google it right now, and see what colour you think it is. Personally, the first time I saw it, I thought it was blue and black…now I see it as white and gold…and I’m sure I’m not the only person who’s interested in finding out why we all see it as different colours. I also thought I’d find it interesting as I’m rather fascinated by eyes (I know it’s weird, but I like them 😉 ). So…here goes…

(I got most of my information from here and other bits from stuff on Facebook and Buzzfeed).

So, we all know that light goes into our eyes through the lens (basic biology), and that different colours are due to different wavelengths in the electromagnetic spectrum (basic physics). The light is then beamed onto the retina, where pigments “fire up” neural connections to the bit of the brain that can turn these neural connections into images (which is what allows us to ‘see’ what we’re seeing), which is called the visual cortex. The first bit of light that reflects into the retina is made of the wavelengths that are lighting up whatever you are looking at. The brain automatically works out what colour light is reflecting off the object that you are looking at, and then takes away this colour from the object colour, allowing you to see the “real colour” of the object. Apparently, normally individuals have slight differences in the colour perception, but this dress has caused perhaps the biggest individual difference of this time.

A lot of people on the internet appear to think that this whole colour difference has something to do with the amount of rods and cones in the eye (rods are used to see black and white, and cones are used to see colour), however, it is actually because of what I have written about above, which is called luminance. The definition of luminance is “the intensity of light emitted from a surface per unit area in a given direction” (thanks Google!). In simpler terms, Buzzfeed described it as “a combination of how much light is shining on an object and how much it reflects off of the object’s surface”. So, when it comes to the case of this controversial dress, some peoples brains are deciding that there is less reflection on a well lit blue and black dress…however, those who see it as white and gold are viewing it as if it is in shadow, but is more reflected.

So, this is a fairly short post (and less than an hour after my last post…I’m feeling very motivated this evening), and I hope you’ve enjoyed finding out why we see The Dress as different colours, as I’ve really enjoyed finding out about the science behind it, and I hope you’ve found it useful/interesting.

Thanks for reading, and see you next time!

Eleanor 😀

Coffee and MS.

I was on Medical News Today the other day, when I saw quite an interesting article, entitled “Coffee Intake Linked to Reduced Risk of MS”. Now, my mother is always saying this in order to justify her coffee drinking, so I decided to have a read, and see whether there was actually some truth behind my mothers words…

MS stands for Multiple Sclerosis, which is a disease which affects the CNS (Central Nervous System), which is the brain, spine, and also the optic nerves. It is thought to occur when the myelin of nerve fibres is damaged, so the symptoms of MS are usually based around nerve problems (bad balance/coordination, blurred vision, fatigue, tremors and numbness).

The data used was from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, where two “separate population-based case-control studies” were carried out, which investigated the possible link between coffee intake and MS.

The first study that was looked at was Swedish, with over 1600 people with MS, and over 2800 healthy people, and the second study was from the US, with over 1100 people with MS, and over 1100 healthy “controls”.

Both the studies recorded the coffee intake in the people with MS from 1 year before the symptoms of MS began appearing, and also 5 years before. The Swedish case also recorded the coffee consumption from 10 years before the onset of the symptoms. The coffee intake of the people with MS was compared with the coffee consumption of the healthy people.

The American study showed that “participants who did not drink coffee in the year prior to symptom onset were approximately 1.5 times more likely to develop MS, compared with those who consumed at least four cups of coffee a day”. The Swedish study showed a similar result, but those who didn’t drink coffee a year before symptoms were 1.5 times more likely to develop MS than those who drank at least 6 cups of coffee a day.

The researchers say that it is the caffeine in coffee that has the effect, as it has “neuroprotective properties”, so seems to stop pro-inflammatory cytokines, which are cytokines which make diseases worse, which would explain why those who drink coffee don’t appear to exhibit symptoms of MS.

So, that’s pretty interesting…how a natural ingredient, like the caffeine in coffee, can actually prevent some diseases in humans…if you look at my last post, you’ll see how I was writing how graphene has the potential to stop cancer, which is kind of along the same lines. I really enjoy learning about how things in the natural world can relate back to medicine, which is probably going to be what most of my blogs are going to be about…so that’s all for now…two posts in two days-aren’t you lucky?! 😛

Thanks for reading, and see you next time!

Eleanor 😀

Can Graphene Cure Cancer?

Scientists have discovered that the nanomaterial graphene can target and neutralize cancer stem cells and is not toxic to healthy cells, suggesting it may have potential to treat a range of cancers with fewer side-effects than many current treatments.” was the title I read today whilst in a study lesson. I had an extra study period today, due to the fact our Biology teacher was on a trip to Cambridge University, so I got all of my overdue work done then, leaving me with 55 minutes in which to write my blog…I managed to waste the first half an hour being distracted by choral music and mini eggs in my next door room..but I’m here now 😉Graphene!

So, this title immediately caught my eye…I’m not quite sure why, but it seemed an interesting topic to write about, so here goes…if you want to read the article I found, click here . I read that, although we mainly use chemotherapy and radiotherapy to treat cancer, these don’t necessarily prevent the cancer from returning. This is because these treatments mainly wipe out the actual cancer cells, but don’t kill the cancer stem cells, which are cells which can turn into cancer cells, forming tumors. The cancer stem cells left, after radiotherapy or chemotherapy, can cause the cancer to spread to other parts of the body (which is called metastasis). Metastasis causes about 90% of the deaths by cancer, so obviously preventing metastasis is a very important part of modern medicine. It is also thought that these cancer stem cells cause drug resistance, which explains why quite often the treatment of cancer is not always effective.

However, new research has shown that graphene, one atom thick carbon flakes, might be the key to killing cancer stem cells. Manchester University studies show that graphene oxide can selectively target cancer stem cells in some cancers, which I thought was pretty cool-how does graphene oxide do that?! Apparently, the graphene oxide stops the cancer stem cells from making tumor-spheres (a small mass of cells), and forces them to differentiate (turn) into noncancer stem cells…like, stem cells which are being researched to stop Parkinson’s and cure paralysis and all sorts of other really cool stuff…I don’t know why, but I just found that really amazing…however, graphene will not be used on patients quite yet, as there is lots more work needed.

Graphene is also being used for many other applications in the medical world, and I find it so interesting how one material can be so influential in a certain field…and especially something like graphene, which you hear about the whole time in chemistry, and I find it very useful to be able to mentally connect materials with uses…seems a bit odd, I know 😛 but I guess that’s just me…well, that’s all for now…I don’t know when I’ll next be able to blog, so until next time…thanks for reading!

Eleanor 🙂

A Wonderful Week of Work Experience…

So, during half term, I spent 5 days at a hospital doing work experience…you may or may not be interested in what I saw, but if you are, here is a summary (quite a long one) of our amazing week!

DAY ONE

I spent the day in the Cardiology Unit, and also the Cardiology Day Unit. I started off in the general Cardiology Unit (after a very stressful morning, consisting of me losing the necessary paperwork, causing me to run late, causing me to have to go straight to the bus stop instead of meeting my friend, Charlotte, who actually knew where the bus station was, causing me to go to the wrong bus station, causing us to miss the bus so we had to drive behind it and get on at the next stop…yeah, that was fun…). So, back to business, I spent the morning in the general Cardiology Unit. I started off by watching an ECG, which was really interesting, as I learnt how to connect the nodey-things to the patient. I then followed the patient into a consultation with a nurse, where we discussed the patient’s symptoms, other medical issues, and other things that could have contributed to the chest pain. I really liked this, as I got to see the patient-nurse (or doctor) relationship, and the obvious trust the patient had, and the caring side of the consultant.

I then got to visit the angiography side of Cardiology, which I would’ve done in the afternoon, but unfortunately there were no angiograms taking place, so I went with Charlotte to see this. We got to see the insertion of a stent, which I found amazing! For those of you who don’t know, a stent is a structure that is used to widen blocked arteries, in order to prevent myocardial infarction. The stent is inserted through the femoral artery in the groin, using a catheter. Before the stent is put up, a balloon is blown up inside the blocked artery in order to widen it. The balloon is then removed, and another balloon is inserted, and blown up, but this one has the stent around it. This balloon is then removed, but the stent is left behind. Yet another balloon (many, many balloons…as Charlotte’s brother remarked when we told him “It’s like a party in there!”) is put up, and blown up, just to ensure that the artery is back to normal. The catheter is removed, the patient sewn up, and everything is as it was, however, the patient now has an unblocked artery 😀

Then we had lunch…pretty average affair…although Charlotte was given a knife and fork to eat her soup with…not much happened.

However, after lunch was when the real fun began! Charlotte went to the general Cardiology Unit, where I had spent my morning, and I went to the Cardiology Day Unit, where I wasn’t really sure what to expect…imagine my surprise when I was asked if I wanted to see a pacemaker being fitted! Did I say yes? Of course! So off I went to get changed into the “blues”…unfortunately I didn’t get a photo…I also got to wear the hat and mask, although I wasn’t anywhere near the patient, I was just observing. It was a two hour long ordeal for the patient, although it didn’t feel so long for me-the time flew by!

After the room being prepped, the patient was brought in, and sedative and local anaesthetic applied. A small incision was made on the upper left hand side of the chest. I would describe the whole procedure, but I feel some of you might get bored, so if you want to, here is a link that pretty much describes it: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pacemakerimplantation/pages/whathappenspage2.aspx

One of the exciting things about this pacemaker was that, instead of the usual 2 wires, three wires were used. This is known as a biventricular pacemaker, and is used to resynchronise the heart in the case of cardiac failure. When heart failure occurs, the left and right ventricle often start to beat out of synch, and as they are not pumping together, there is often not enough blood being pumped around the body, so the heart is also not getting enough oxygen, so the heart ‘fails’.

The procedure took about 2 hours, however, it certainly did not feel as long! It was an absolutely amazing experience, and I enjoyed it so much, especially as it was all really well explained to me by a fantastic member of staff at the hospital!

 

DAY TWO

After getting up at the ridiculously early time of 6 in the morning, Charlotte and I spent the morning in the Neonatal Unit of the hospital. We spent time in both the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and also in the Special Care Baby Unit. We observed the feedings, weighings, ward rounds, and general checks of the babies. All the babies we saw were very premature babies, with issues such as possible diabetics, babies who had inhaled meconium, and babies with breathing issues, due to their prematurity.

The babies were fed through a tube through the nose, where a formula of Actimil and EBM (Expressed Breast Milk) is drained into the stomach through the use of gravity.

All-in-all, I found the morning very interesting, however, I don’t think that I could specialise in Neonatal, as there is so much pressure on the department, as not only do you have a very sick baby, you also have the parents to deal with as well. The department seemed quite busy, as there was always a baby to check on or feed, and it was really useful to observe how the department coped with the more stressful cases.

After lunch, we went down to the General Outpatients Department, where it seemed they weren’t expecting our arrival! We ended up sitting behind the Reception Desk for about 30 minutes, which wasn’t as boring as you might think! We found out that, although we’d only been at the hospital for a day and a half, we’d seen more of the hospital than the receptionist there, and she’d been working there for quite a while…we also got to see a helicopter land!!! The receptionist’s job is a vital part in the hospital, and they get very little recognition for what they do, so I feel that they need more appreciation from the community, as they have to deal with some rather belligerent individuals, and also have to be very organised! Charlotte and I then got split up 🙁 and I went to go and look at some patch tests…this may not sound very interesting, but I actually found it quite engaging, as I had spent a morning in the dermatology clinic in another hospital, and I had seen the results of quite a few patch tests, so seeing them being set up was very useful, and really helped to deepen my knowledge of patch tests and how they work. Quite simply, a lot of common allergens are individually mixed with some vaseline, and put into syringes. A small sample of the mixture is then put into a (labelled) tray. The tray is then put onto the skin, and left on for a bit (as needed in order to test the allergies). If the patient is allergic to any of the substances, the skin underneath reacts, and the dermatologist can look at what allergen was touching that bit of skin, and therefore determine what they patient could be allergic to.

After setting up several patch tests, I went to sit in on a consultation in the GOP unit. The patient had been struggling with stomach pain after having an operation to fix a hiatus hernia (a hernia where the stomach, and possibly other internal organs, have risen up above the diaphragm due to this hernia). The patient had recently had another, unrelated, injury, where they had wrenched their side, causing the hernia to disrupt, and causing pain to the patient. The patient was adamant that the pain was due to the hernia, and when told otherwise was not pleased. It was interesting to see how the consultant dealt with this-very calmly-and explained to the patient what they thought was going on.

Although today was not quite as interesting as yesterday, I still found it invaluable, and enjoyed it.

DAY THREE

After another early morning, Charlotte and I arrived at the hospital, and headed for the Radiology department. We spent the first 30 minutes observing X-rays, which included an X-ray of a spine, a knee, a pelvis and a chest X-ray. It was surprising how quickly the X-rays were carried out, however, about half the time spent on each X-ray was used to position the joint correctly, as if the positioning is not quite right, it can lead to an inconclusive, useless X-ray. Also, all pelvic X-rays that are carried out are when the patient is standing, as if there is no weight being borne on it, it may not show up the problem as effectively. The spine X-ray was really interesting, as the patient had had an operation which meant screws had been put into the spine to keep it in shape, however the X-ray showed that two of these screws had broken/become unscrewed. This was then recorded, so that this could then be taken care of at a later date.

Charlotte and I then split up, and I went to the Ultrasound Department. I found this the most interesting of all the departments I visited, although I only saw two ultrasounds. One of these was a general stomach ultrasound, as the patient had had several issues. This was inconclusive, as it did not show anything new in the patient. I then saw an ultrasound of a thyroid gland, which had been very swollen, so had had over 10 millilitres of fluid drained from it. This showed that there were several lymph nodes in the right thyroid gland, so the patient was then to be referred to the Oncology Department. The last ultrasound was really entertaining, as the patient was quite elderly, and when told to “put their right arm down, and put their left arm up”, began to sing the Hokey-Cokey, which the doctor carrying out the ultrasound gladly joined in with. They then began to discuss One Direction, which was very interesting to listen to.

I then went to the MRI department, where I saw the end of a liver MRI scan, which Charlotte had seen the beginning of. I didn’t find this quite as interesting, as there was a lot of sitting around involved, however, I did learn more about how MRI scans worked. I then watched them set up for the MRI for a patient with breast cancer.

After the hour spent in MRI, I went to the Computer Tomography Department, however I was only there for 15 minutes or so, as there was a lot of confusion about who was meant to be where, so if you want to know more about CT scans, you should probably look at Charlotte’s blog, as she spent an hour (I think) observing CT scans.

After lunch, we ventured to the MAU (Medical Admissions/Assessments Unit). We got to meet some junior doctors, who not only took us around to see some cases, but also gave us some ‘invaluable tips for med school’. Firstly, we saw an elderly patient who was having lung issues. They had lost quite a lot of weight, and were experiencing breathlessness. They were also on medication for blood/bone cancer, and had also had a hip transplant. Due to the obvious breathing issues, the junior doctor decided to refer the case to the Respiratory Unit, and the consultant (who checks all the cases that the junior doctors assess) agreed to this.

We then saw a case involving a morbidly obese patient, who had a rather nasty rash. The doctor tried to take some bloods, but due to the obesity it was quite hard to find a vein, so it took them quite a long time to actually get the blood. The rash had no apparent cause, and was not itchy or painful, so the junior doctor was unsure what to do, so left the case to the consultant to decide what to do.

And now for the tips for Med School-some of these are serious, some not so, but I found all of them useful:

  • It’s not as hard as everyone tells you. The thing that’s difficult about med school is that there is a lot to learn, but there are other courses which are just as intellectually demanding.

  • Don’t be scared to apply as a post-graduate, or to take a year out.

  • There will be days when you just sit in your room and cry. (Well that’s encouraging…)

  • Get LOTS of stationary.

  • Do caring stuff.

  • “Follow your dreams…”

  • A-levels aren’t that important (if you apply as a post-graduate)

  • And practise the UKCAT test online lots!

DAY FOUR

We started off the day by going to Endoscopy, which is perhaps not the best way to start your day…well, especially not Charlotte’s day, as she almost fainted…I was originally in colonoscopy, but due to Charlotte’s fear of Gastroscopys, we ended up swapping, so if you want to read about colonoscopys, as she saw some quite interesting cases, go over to Charlotte’s blog and have a read!

I saw six cases throughout the morning, involving problems such as acid reflux, oesophagus checkups, indigestion, trouble swallowing and general stomach pains. Most cases appeared to be fairly vague, however, some linear stomach ulcers were discovered in one patient, but aside from that, it seemed quite odd.

In endoscopy, a scope is put down the oesophagus through the mouth, and the patient has to swallow in order to get the camera down there, which was often quite uncomfortable for them, and quite a few patients found it rather traumatic, and were crying and gagging, which was not very pleasant. In some cases, biopsy’s were taken, by taking a tiny pinch of the cells lining the oesophagus. This looked as though it would be quite painful for the patient, however none of them seemed to feel any discomfort. For about half the cases, the patient was given a sedative in order to calm them. It also meant that they couldn’t remember most of what happened, which was probably a good thing, as a gastroscopy is not the most pleasant thing to have!

Now for the exciting bit…the afternoon! It had said on the programme that we were meant to be going to theatre for the afternoon! So we went to the anaesthetist department, as instructed, and we waited for about 30 minutes…nobody had appeared. So I went into a bigger office bit and explained who we were, why we were there, and could we please go into theatre? It turned out that, once a year, on a Thursday, all the (non emergency) anaesthetists have a meeting in the afternoon…and just our luck, it happened to be today…so, after 10 minutes of talking to friendly people about what we should do, we found ourselves heading towards the emergency department, which was really exciting!

After getting ourselves into ‘blues’ again, we went into the actual theatre, where there was an elderly patient on the table, who had a cancer of the large bowel. They had been brought in due to a suspected perforation, which was going to be investigated by the surgeons. After cutting open the lower stomach and exposing the large bowel, it became clear that there was no perforation, however, since they had exposed the large bowel, they might as well remove the cancer whilst they were there. They did this by using a surgical stapler to cut about a foot of the large bowel out, to ensure that they had removed both the cancer and any surrounding lymph nodes or cancerous tissue. They then used the surgical stapler to staple the ‘loose ends’ of the bowel together, which I found really interesting, as it was truly amazing how they just joined two bits together. They then sutured everything up, and that was that. Another really interesting thing was that, even though they had removed 30cm of large bowel, the patient was unlikely to have any major effects, which I found truly astonishing. We were shown the removed cancer, and how it had blocked the passage of the large bowel, and it was interesting to see the black mass of cancer in comparison to the softer, pink tissue of the large bowel.

We then left to go home, but this was definitely my favourite part of the week, as we were stood right next to the surgeons as they carried out the procedure. We were given only three instructions:

  • Don’t touch anything green (as this is sterile and otherwise we would contaminate it)

  • If you’re going to faint, sit down.

  • If you do faint, faint backwards (as we have better/more important things to do than look after you).

DAY FIVE

Today was pretty average…we spent the morning in the wards, which I actually found really fun. We each went with a junior doctor, and followed them around, which was quite interesting. I realised that being a doctor isn’t just about patient contact, there is also a LOT of paperwork involved! I’m not joking, about 50% of the time was spent filling out various forms! I also got to see quite a funny case which involved trying to take blood from an anaemic patient…with a fear of needles. They were adamant that the doctor could ‘only touch them once’ with the needle, and then proceeded to make that very difficult for the doctor by flinching every time they came near! Eventually we got some blood samples, but it took quite a while, and this was useful, as it showed that sometimes you do have to deal with difficult patients, and if you get one, you just have to deal with it! Charlotte and I then joined together, and went with a friendly gastroenterologist who was just about to set off on his ward rounds. This was interesting, as we got to see a large variety of cases, and how the doctor had to change to treat the specific needs of each individual. There’s not really much more I can say about this due to patient confidentiality, but if you ever get the chance to go on the wards during work experience, take it, as its extremely valuable, as it gives you a realistic insight into what doctors do.

We then went back to MAU for the afternoon, which was good, as this time, instead of watching the doctors talk to the patients, we actually got ‘let loose’, and were allowed to go and talk to several patients on our own! We met quite a few ‘characters’, such as a pair of neighbours, who were, to put it simply, cat-obsessed! Although we started off discussing the patients medical condition, we quickly digressed into general conversation, and I found it really lovely to just be able to chat to the patients as real people, as often you forget that they have a background, and aren’t just cases that need to be solved.

That was the end of our week of work experience, and I enjoyed every bit of it! I encourage any aspiring medics out there to definitely try and get some work experience, as it is so valuable, and not only is it useful, I found it really fun!

Sorry for the VERY long post…

Until next time…

Eleanor 😀

(P.S. To see Charlotte’s interpretation of the week, click here to see her blog!)

Well Hello…

So it’s been almost two months since Medlink now, and I’m only just getting round to doing this…I’m not usually this bad at procrastinating, promise 😉 so…welcome to my blog 🙂 I’ve never done anything like this before, so be prepared for some crazy ramblings 😛 (don’t say I didn’t warn you…)

So, I’m called Eleanor, I’m 17 and I want to study medicine (hence me going to Medlink). I am studying for AS’s in Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Music. However, I find Chemistry quite difficult…so I’ve been “exploring my options” of how to study medicine. Until recently, I thought I hated Biology…however, after a surprisingly successful Biology mock I realised that I didn’t actually hate it as much as I thought…also at Medlink, I really enjoyed the lectures on “Pathology” and “Microbiology and Bioterrorism”, not only because I found the lecturers engaging, but also because I found that I was actually really interested in these two aspects of medicine.

Since Chemistry and I do not get on, I have been consdering applying to study medicine at 2 medical schools (Cardiff and Leceister, as both of these have great music, music being a massive part of my life), and then reapplying to both of these, plus another university, to study either Biomedical Science, Microbiology, Biology, or possibly even a combined Biology-Physics course…I quite like Physics…If, after finishing one of the alternate courses, I still really want to study medicine, then I will try and transfer…but I guess I’ll just wait and see what happens for the time being…hopefully I will sort out Chemistry!

Anyway, I think you’ve probably had enough of my obscure ramblings, so I’ll stop here…I’m going to try and blog at least once a month (if not more-you lucky people :-P) so see you in a few…and if you’ve made it this far down without giving up, getting bored, or just starting to hate me, I respect and thank you 😉 have a wonderful day, and dftba!