All posts by Diana Pereira

Addenbrooke’s Hospital- day 3


I almost cried sometimes! I don’t know why this ward made me more sad than the other ones. Maybe it’s because the look sick- thin and pale.

The doctor who was carting me around for the day was going to spend most day in surgery so she invited me to go look. It wasn’t the messy kind of surgery with incisions and whatnot, it was the bone stuff with lots of needles!

The first one I got to watch gave me a huge shock, it’s definitely something I’ll remember forever. She gave me the basics of what they were going to do “We’re doing a bone marrow biopsy.” but I didn’t exactly think about what that meant and just stood in the corner to watch. After they set everything up they called the patient in, anethetised, and got in there. All I could think at the time was “this isn’t so bad.” and then it happened- they shoved a huge metal rod into that little child and shook it all about!!! My facial expression changed in an instant, from calm anticipation to shocked and a little bit scared. I didn’t faint or anything but I’ll admit that I was feeling a bit…

The anaesthetist just laughed at me and got on with it.

I know that the bone marrow biopsy may hurt (definitely look horrible) but it’s necessary to help the patient get better. At that moment in time, I was questioning whether I would be able to do that but hey, what’s med school for? The doctor had to do some more bone marrow biopsies and lumbar punctures that day and I eventually got used to it  so who’s to say that I wont be able to do it myself sometime in the future.

The other thing I learned was that some babies are easier to anesthetise than others!

Cystic fibrosis clinic

There were patients ranging from toddlers to teenagers, all accompanied by their parents of course. The parents we all very organised and strict when it came to what they needed to do for their sick child; diet, exercise, the whole shebang! It seemed to be harder for parents of teenagers because you can’t just feed them what they’re supposed to eat no-questions-asked or make a game out their physiotherapy exercises!

The clinic was set up very differently o the ones I’d been into on previous days because it wasn’t just one doctor seeing the patient it was the nutritionist, the physiotherapist, the nurse and the consultant. Dude, some many healthcare professionals walked in and out of those rooms that I got a little confused because the parent and child never seemed to come out. My first time sitting in the clinic, I didn’t know that there was more to come so I followed the nurse when she left the room!

Day 3 complete! Work experience over.

In all 3 of the days I only got to witness 1 patient receiving the news of a diagnosis. In this case it was to an inpatient so the parents already knew that there was something very wrong, they even had a couple of guesses themselves.

Did you get to witness it during any of your placements? If not, would you have liked to? Yay or Nay?

May God bless you,

Diana Perira


Addenbrooke’s Hospital- day 2

AM Handover

It was pretty fast today, compared to yesterday.

There was an issue with a patient not agreeing to be discharged even though the doctors believed that the patient was set to be discharged. I asked how do you deal with that situation? Answer: call the Emergency Department to deal with them and get back to work.


Many of the doctors from the handover then went to some training in a special room in one of the wards. The training was about taking care of a fitting child.

Most of them were guessing what to do next and a neurologist consultant took charge of the mock situation and led the team. At the end, the doctor in charge of the training told the neurologist that she did very well and that she was right to take charge of the situation even though she wasn’t the first to arrive at the scene because she was the one who knew what to do. The lesson from that was to do what you got to do to save a patient, even if you don’t want to be a bit rude to your coleagues I’m sure they’d prefer to be shoved out of the way than to lose a life.

Dude, doctors really never stop learning; learning how to save a life! Through research, training and experience.

Paediatric Gastroenterology

You’ve got to make compromises (benefits vs side effects), try not to undermine anyone and all of that whilst keeping the patient’s well being as top priority. As I was in paediatrics, it’s also very important to make all decisions with parent’s consent. Duh!

The hard thing about all of that is… well, all of it! You have to think about everyone and everything.

Paediatric surgery clinic

Some parents are lovely and really easy to attend to, whilst others… not so much. All people are different; parents are people, so they won’t all be the same. BUT just talk to them all politely, in parent language and give the information they ask for if you know it (if you don’t know it, say that!). You may see the same kind of case over and over again but, for goodness’ sake, keep in mid that the parent hasn’t! That’s their child in pain dude. Of course they’re going to be distressed and not knowing what’s up isn’t going to help.

Babies were the main patients that day and babies are just little people. Little people who cry. A lot. Only 1 of them didn’t cry during examination. That one opted for hitting the surgeon’s arm with his mega muscles instead.

That’s not him, but he was totally as cute!

Day 2 complete. Only 1 last day to post!

Isn’t it great that good doctors never stop learning? Yay or Nay?

May God bless you all,

Diana Pereira




Addenbrooke’s Hospital- day 1

It took me a while to score such a sweet placement but I got it! Addenbrooke’s Paediatric department got moi for 3 whole days last month 😛

These are the accounts of the little journal I carried around with me. Enjoy!

AM Handover

Duude! I had at least some  idea of what a handover was like before I got thrown in there but I was still very fascinated by it all. At least one member of each paediatric team was there and at one point there were registrars, consultants, junior doctors and even some medical students form Cambridge University  were there. It wasn’t as crowded as I’m making it sound! There was just a wide array of people to stare at.

There was a little disciplinary issue because someone handed their bleeper to a doctor and left before their shift ended. The doctors we all reminded that if that happens, they shouldn’t take the bleeper. I would feel bad for the patients if I had to refuse to take a bleeper for a doctor that is quite clearly not keen to be there but I also understand that we shouldn’t allow people to get used to behaving like that; worse case scenario, they could leave without telling anyone at all and endanger the patients under their care!

There was a quiz on gastro oesophageal reflux disease to teach everyone  about it and I’m quite proud to say that I got 1 out of I’m-not-saying-how-many correct!

There were two emergencies overnight, to which a couple of doctors got bleeped to and they had to leave the handover for a bit. There were some general complications and other teams were asked to look at the patients. They would then have to discuss why they think that the team should go see that patient, for example, whether that problem was really gastroenterological or not. So that this doesn’t happen:

When I heard that only two people were set to be discharged I wondered if the wards were simply not very busy but that hypothesis was thrown out the window when I went on the ward round.

The final thing that I learned from hand over was that no matter how well you did they first time you saw a patient, be prepared for them to come back (probably with the same problem) and  it may not be you who’s seeing them so make sure your records up to date and correct!

 Paediatric Neurology

When that hand over ends the doctors all go to their respective departments and have another handover there and once again, doctors and nurses got bleeped and had to leave. Busy life, what can you do? BTW, they walk really fast! It’s important to keep your team up to date with what they’re to expect that day.

I went on a ward round with a neurological consultant and her specialist neurological registrar and I just had to ask when they got the time write the notes for each patient. Answer: Go around with a big computer cart and type as you go along. If there isn’t one available wait or try to remember and type it up later.

Before I was shooed off to clinic, I got to witness something that annoyed me very much at the time- a doctor who had volunteered to go check on a returning patient that morning kept saying “Do we really need to do anything?” regarding the health of a patient who quite obviously had something wrong with her. You can see how that’d hit a nerve for anyone, right? When I ponder about it now and I think I mentally overreacted because he probably didn’t mean it in the way I was seeing it, it’s probably just the way he speaks/phrase he’s used to saying. He probably meant that they couldn’t do much more on the neurological side. But it’s a good thing  he didn’t say that to the parent though!

I didn’t say anything or complain because all the other doctors agreed with him and plus, he know far more than me anyway!

Neurology clinic

I didn’t spend much time there but it was made very clear to me that years of experience in the field is pretty darn helpful. Experience dude, experience is key! For example, to distinguish between the types of fit and determine whether it was epileptic or not just by looking.

Day one complete! See you tomorrow for day two.

I wonder, should I have done work experience in a different department? Yay or nay?

May God bless you all,

Diana Pereira





Dementia is a progressive syndrome that affects about 800,000 people in the UK. The risk of developing dementia increases with age. The condition usually occurs in people over the age of 65.
Dementia is often associated with ongoing deterioration of the brain’s abilities.

  • memory loss
  • reduced thinking speed
  • reduced mental agility
  • loss of language
  • loss of understanding
  • lack of judgement and empathy

People with dementia can become apathetic or uninterested in their usual activities and socialising, have problems controlling their emotions and aspects of their personality may change for the worse. The person may even have hallucinations or make false claims or statements.

As dementia affects a person’s mental abilities, they may find planning and organising difficult so maintaining their independence may also become a problem, therefore usually need help from friends or relatives, including help with decision making.

Other symptoms can include:

  • increasing difficulties with tasks and activities that require concentration and planning
  • depression
  • changes in personality and mood
  • periods of mental confusion
  • difficulty finding the right words

Most types of dementia can’t be cured, but if it is detected early there are ways you can slow it down and maintain mental function. Many tests are done to diagnose the disease; some by a GP and others by dementia specialists. Diagnosing is made harder if the symptoms are only mild but dementia is a progressive disease so it will unfortunately become more clear.


The more personal side of it

The first time I was ever made aware that a person had dementia was, not so long ago, when I was volunteering at Rehola, a care home for the elderly. I knew what dementia was and most of the science stuff up there but it’s totally different when you’re with a poor little old lady talking about how much she wants to see her family.

As soon as I walked in, an elderly woman started talking to me and I was happy about it but then got confused- she was saying that she’s glad to see me again but we’d never met. I felt a bit strange and awkward at first so simply I followed the textbook protocol of smiling and nodding along as the conversation drifted but I felt very fake. It was either that or cry so… y’know. I made a not to myself- You’re gonna be a doctor so grow a pair.

The nurse told me to loosen up! Me, loosen up! I’m the loosest person you’ll ever meet… OK not really but I am normally quite chilled. I did as I was told and soon enough I was helping them complete puzzles and I even ended up teaching one lovely old lady how to play Connect 4! She looked really happy and that made me so happy!! I left there feeling as though I had actually been useful!

That’s the kind of thing I want to be able to do as a doctor! No, not just play games, but actually help someone’s mind as well as their body. If playing games with someone can make them feel better, just imagine what the skills of a doctor can do; dude, we could discover the issue before it got worse, less people would have to suffer! Dementia sucks for the person and for the family too and there isn’t much we can do about it after it gets to a certain point but we can do so much before. Maybe we’ll just slow it down but at least that poor elderly person, who has been through this chores of life, can be with their family for longer. That little old lady I mentioned would have been able to see her grandson more often. The other old lady could have laughed more. The angry old man wouldn’t have felt so sad because he when realised that his temper hurts others because there is more that can be done about it. The old lady who was sat on the sofa wouldn’t have been crying because of something that she thinks happened but didn’t. You get my point.

We’re the doctors of the future. We may or may not be too late for the poor elderly people of today but we will not be too late for those of the future. Yes it’ll take a lot of work but that’s where dedicated people like you and I come in.

Do you agree? Yay or Nay.

May God bless you all,

Diana Pereira

Why do you want to be a doctor?

The question we’ll all get asked a lot throughout our entire medical career is “Why do you want to be a doctor?” (Or vet or nurse and what-not.)

I want to be a doctor because I think it’s the most wonderful thing that you can do with your life. Well, other than being the Pope.
To cut a long story short, I was born in Guinea-Bissau, W.Africa. It was… bad, to say the least. Everyone seemed to be sick all of the time and I never understood why! I wanted to help them but I couldn’t. I moved to Portugal and started understand things a tiny but more when finally started going to school. You have no idea how happy I was to go to school! But that’s a tale for another day.
Anyway… I had rarely seen any doctors in Guinea-Bissau, all knew was that it was very hard and expensive to see them but in Portugal they seemed to be everywhere; at school, on the box of colours known as a television and more importantly, they were in hospitals. All I knew was that they were awesome!
Then off we went to England! To be honest I thought we were going to America but thanks to the lack of  the accents I’d heard in movies, I figured that it wasn’t America whilst we were on the plane. I’ve learnt of the science behind medicine here and dude, I love science so much! Medicine is an ever changing thing, new developments are constantly being made. Any good doctor will keep up and I am a certified learn-a-holic so I will fit right in.

During my years in late secondary education, volunteering and simply living, I’ve been able to re-evaluate whether I really do want to be a doctor; am I willing to put in that much work? People have always been telling me that it’s hard to become a doctor, but I didn’t understand why at first.
“How hard can it be? I mean, all you do is walk around with a stethoscope around your neck smiling looking pretty! The only things you need is to be good crazy at maths and have a strong stomach because it could get… gross.” That would have been 7 year old Diana’s answer, but 16 year old Diana says “I know that it’s hard. I know I’ll be staying up until 3 am like tonight, but it’s totally worth it because I will have made someone’s life better. Sometimes on a big scale like literally saving their life in A&E or on a “little” scale by advising them to drink more water in a 10 minute appointment. At the end of my life I will be able to stand before God and say ‘You gave me a talent and look at what I have done with it. I was no Pope but this was still pretty cool right?'”
I put ” around little because I don’t think that there is such a thing as a little thing. The little things tend to end up making the biggest difference.

If this was all you knew about me, would you consider offering me a place at medical school?

Yay or NayIMG1013

Thank you for reading!! Leave a comment if you have any. Don’t keep them all to yourselves! 😀