Archive for September 2008

A little clarification

My hair felt like a disgusting, greasy mess today, despite conditioner-washing yesterday. I knew this was to be expected, but then being stuck in Central London without an umbrella was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I decided that I needed to apply shampoo to my scalp, and quickly, so I thought I’d follow the Curly Girl method to the letter, and start off by clarifying (using a shampoo with no silicones etc to get rid of any build up). I’m assuming anything lingering there was now down the plughole given that everything squeeked.

Conditioned, added products and plopped in the usual way. I’m not sure if I’m going to get used to it, but it feels great not having to use a hair dryer and straighteners.


Add comment September 30, 2008

“Sheee’s an easy lover!”

I’m not sure if I’m going to enjoy Dawn Porter’s Free Lover programme which starts tonight and she will be spending time in a commune in Germany. I don’t normally get much out of programmes where it’s like anthropology all over again, “Oooh look at all the strange stuff these foreign people are doing!” I can’t remember the name of it now (useful) but there was an interesting programme where members of an indigenous population armed with cameras came to the UK to comment on our population, society and culture. Both interesting and touching.

Back to Dawn, and my early morning breakfast of scrambled eggs and garlic mushrooms. B was on the computer so I switched the TV on and she was talking with Lorraine Kelly. My brain doesn’t always engage due to the subject content (‘New ways to decorate your pubic hair’ – joke) and time of the morning, but a couple of things struck me with what Dawn said, and mass eyeball rolling ensued.

I can’t give exact quotes, but the first thing insinuated was that if you are really really truly, madly, deeply, utterly butterly, head over heels in love with your partner – then dun dun duuun, you wouldn’t need anyone else in the relationship – in whatever context. Cue Lorraine nodding so ferociously I thought her head would come loose. It’s not the first time I’ve heard that, and it’s from a very monogamy-centric viewpoint, but can we hear something a little more original please? It’s not something that you can easily convince people otherwise of either, because of course, it’s easy for them to say you’re either in denial, or are deluded. I’m the first to admit that I can’t be my boyfriend’s ‘everything’ to him, and he can’t to me. When it first happened, I thought the world would crumble beneath my feet – but it didn’t, and oddly enough, I felt very relieved, and we started to enjoy each other for who we are, rather than some socially constructed idea in our minds of what we should be. That does not in any way mean that there is less love or that I would be happier upon meeting someone else who could tick more/less boxes. I think the mere idea that someone can be your everything is very misleading, sets people up for disappointment and puts pressure on all individuals involved. Sex and the City would have probably ended in the first season if the characters put their anxieties aside and started enjoying the men for who they were and what they were doing, end of.

The other thing said was that she couldn’t possibly engage with a lifestyle like polyamory, because of the ‘jealousy thing’. A contradiction of sorts, because last time I looked, monogamous couples get jealous too! It seems that all lifestyles seem to attest that by adhering to the principles, they won’t suffer from jealousy, infidelity etc. Of course, this is futile, because monogamy won’t protect you from the green-eyed monster, nor will polyamory guarantee that your partner won’t cheat on you, and so on.

When all that is taken into account, the differences should come down to the fact that’s it’s personal preference and what works for the individuals involved, and that the people themselves are only people and not some three-legged monsters that require a ‘mortal’ to go into their world and dissect them like a worm in biology class or go hunting for deep-rooted pathologies that have caused them to turn away from the status quo.

Of course, “We like fucking other people in our relationship because we just do,” isn’t going to cover an hour long programme schedule.

3 comments September 30, 2008


I am now in possession of a slow cooker, thanks to my mum and her everlasting mantra of, “I was just in Robert Dyas and thought of you.” I am terribly excited by this because it means I can prepare my supper the night before, throw it all into the pot in the morning and come home to a delicious casserole. I have to start my revision programme this week so the timing has been good (and the fact that the weather is getting colder, so snuggling up on the sofa with a bowl of comfort sounds inviting).

Gourmet Nutrition has a couple of slow cooking dishes to try out, one is a lamb chili, the other is a venison stew. I didn’t get the chance to get to the butcher this weekend, but they always seem to have venison in the shop. Now if I can just get over the thought of eating Bambi.

Add comment September 28, 2008

Weighing it up

There’s a bit of whatthefuckkery flying around the fitness blogs at the moment, I’ve picked up that both Swigg and (I love this name) No Pink Dumbbells have commented on it: in a nutshell, a Sleb trainer Tracy Anderson (who trains Madonna, Gwenyth to name a few – Gwenyth was in the feature) made a couple of boo-boos:

* “No woman should ever lift more than 3lbs”

* Working out 6 days a week for 2 hours lifting puny little weights with thousands of repetitions

As mentioned in No Pink Dumbbells, the irony comes that through lifting her toddler repeatedly on one arm – that arm is actually the one that looks better, and not the one subjected to what I can only describe as a  pseudo-workout.

Le sigh. It reminds me off poor Natalie Cassidy who lost 2.5 stone (nothing to sneer at), struggled to maintain the losses she made and is now gaining (much to the delight of some press outlets). But her workout was flawed from the start. By her own admission, her fitness programme involved working out up to 2 hours a day. 2 hours?! Every day?! Besides trying to get my head around devoting so much time to it, surely anyone could have seen that this was a lifestyle that could not have been maintained and was doomed from the start?

I did some research on her personal trainer, Dee Thresher (for research, read: googling) and GMTV described her as a ‘Fitness Guru’, but there doesn’t seem to be much online about what her values are when it comes to things like eating well and working out. Although she was quoted regarding Natalie’s weight gain:

‘I’m really disappointed that Natalie has put the weight back on.

‘We worked really hard to get her to change her routine  and bad habits and became really close friends.

Homing in on bad habits, I don’t know any personal trainer worth their salt who would advocate a 2 hour workout, every day of the week. I certainly wouldn’t say it was a ‘good habit’ to get into. How do they expect a client to stick to that, or even enjoy it? My attitude to exercise is that it isn’t how long you work out for, but how efficiently. Edit: I found Dee’s own website, and judging by her pictures, that was not a body built by 2 hour workouts every day.

As Gubernatrix said in her most recent post, there is a deep rooted problem among women regarding nutrition and perceptions about certain fitness regiemes. Being paid to set up people for failure is the icing on the WTF cake.

EDIT AGAIN: It appears that I have been mistaken and that dee [sic] commented wishing to set me straight as it’s not uncommon for personal trainers to get misquoted in mass media. With the stature my blog carries and huge readership of my uber handful of friends, I could not possibly live with myself if I let such a travesty occur, so here is the change:

The two hour workouts are only (only) for 3 days a week. Never trust a doctor who has dead office plants.

Have a nice day, folks 🙂

5 comments September 28, 2008

Kink of another kind

For as long as I can remember, I have had an odd relationship with my hair. I was in my teens when the ‘Rachel’ haircut came about, and after that I was fully conscious of the fact that I invested a huge amount of time and energy (+ £££) to getting my hair straight and keeping it that way. When ceramic straighteners came along, it felt like a Road to Demascus moment and I was happy for years. It all comes at a price however, and my hair has been prone to the damage from the heat, and it wouldn’t be unusual to have handfuls of hair come out in the shower.

I remember visiting a hairdresser years ago and she asked me if I wanted my hair styled straight, or curly. I was flattered at the fact that she was willing to spend masses of time trying to make my hair curl, but I had places to be. She gave me an odd look and said, “You do realise that your hair is naturally curly?” Well yes, I’m sure that would explain the poofy-frizz I get when a drop of moisture comes my way, but I wasn’t really interested at the time.

Recently I had been thinking about changing my hairstyle as I was getting a bit bored with it, then I read on Skwigg’s blog that she had started using the Curly Girl method and that her hair was a lot happier for it. I’m always wary about things that seem a little too crunchy for my liking, but given the condition my hair was in, and the desire for change I decided to give it a go.

I did a conditioner only wash, slapped on an intense conditioning treatment, added gel and leave-in conditioner, then plopped for 20 minutes (a perfect time to get the apple pie I had made out of the oven and devour it with lashings of cold custard).

I took the t-shirt off my head and was shocked at how curly my hair was. I left it to try for the rest of the day and marvelled at the pretty waves that had formed. It is far from perfect though. Despite the conditioner orgy, parts of it feel very dry, and I think it will take a few weeks to get used to the different regieme. I think it’ll also take my scalp some time in getting used to not being stripped (I used to feel and hear my hair ‘squeek’) so I’m expecting a rebellious grease-fest.

I have my doubts at going ‘poo-free’, I expect I will do some form of cleansing every once in a while, but for now I’m interested to see how things pan out. By the time I do my OSCE (in 10 weeks and 1 day, not that I’m counting) I hope to have waves that look like this

Add comment September 28, 2008

OSCEs for the uninitated

OSCEs stand for Objective Structured Clinical Examinations and they usually start to happen when a med student hits clinical medicine. It involves a series of 5 minute stations and you get to do things like take a history, something practical or cry while an examiner marks you. When it’s the first evar OSCE, it’s daunting and terrifying, especially as you can be ‘pink slipped’ for a number of things i.e. hurting a patient, wearing inappropriate dress etc. Out of everything, I was more anxious about getting all flustered or going into a panic, so my get out clause was just to say calmly to the examiner, “I need to take a minute.” I did this several times.

Rather like a wedding day, you have to assume that somewhere down the line there will be a cock-up. Here were mine:

Station 6, fluid balance (permanently etched into my subconscious). I do the usual, inspect the patient, look for any obvious signs of dehydration or fluid overload. Then came the blood pressure check. I have checked blood pressure more times than I can count. Only on the day of my OSCE, the universe decided this was the time I was to be tested. The cuff wouldn’t inflate. In my nervousness I started to fiddle with the metal adjuster hoping that I hadn’t tightened it enough, then the examiner (who I’d like to add, was completely deadpan and unfriendly, unlike hip examination man) said, “You’ve got it on the wrong way round,” with no attempt to mask the contempt she had in her voice. 2 minutes to go, and I turn the cuff around, thinking internally, “Fuckity fuckity fuck,” then started fiddling with the adjuster again. And with stunning, effortless timing, almost in slow motion, the little metal screw flew off the monitor and landed on the floor, as if it’s entire lifetime ambition had been to live for that moment. I accept that I may have failed that station.

My medical school told us there was *always* an opthalmology station, and that we would have to examine the eyes of a plastic dummy. I walked in and read the instructions: “Please examine this patient’s ear.” Thanks a lot!

Airway management: it takes me about a minute to realise a patient was in cardiac arrest. I say rather too loudly, “Oh… riiiiight!”

Hip examination: the patient looked exactly like one would if they had been doing the same thing at least 50 times previously that day. My examiner was a dream, Eastern European good looks and eyes which seemed to twinkle everytime I answered a question correctly. I’m sure I giggled like a schoolgirl every time this happened.

Ethics and Law: Rather than stipulate what the law was, I just told a patient what they wanted to hear. Oops.

Taking a patient’s basic obs and recording them. Most bizarre station ever in terms of the dynamic of the examiner and patient.

Examiner: Right, that’s the O level stuff over with, now lets do some medicine, it’ll be like cricket!
Me: I don’t really watch cricket *WHY DID I SAY THAT?!*
Patient: I like football
Me: The patient’s respiratory rate is 14 breaths per minute
Patient: Ok, you need to write it down here *points to part on paper*
Examiner: Excellent! Ok, now take the patient’s temperature.
Me: *reading instructions*
Examiner: Now tell me what you are doing
Me: Erm… I’m going to take the patient’s temperature

Examiner: Excellent! One mark!
Patient: *takes thermometer out of my hand and puts it in her mouth*
Examiner: If she was pyrexic what could you do?
Me: I could give her paracetamol, fluids and…
Examiner: … yes? And?
Me: erm
Patient and examiner (looking at me wide eyed): turn around!
Me: *thinking what the hell upon seeing a fan* erm, there’s a fan there?
Examiner: Yes! Well done!

That night I fell asleep before B did. He said I was out like a light as soon as my head hit the pillow. I got 10% over the pass mark which I was pleased about, I’m just about getting to grips with the fact I will be doing this again in just over 10 weeks…

1 comment September 24, 2008

On the couch

I’m a few weeks into my psychiatry placement and it has proved far more revealing than anticipated. I always knew that dealing with mental health issues would always bring back some memories of my own flirtation with depression (one less subject to revise, hurray!) but I feel like I’m on the cusp of stepping over the boundaries of professionalism.

I have always been able to do empathy, while keeping any sympathies to myself. However, on occassions in talking to depressed patients and hearing their own experiences and how closely they mirrored my own, I’ve noticed my eyes start to well up, and I find myself pulling out all the stops to avoid making it known that I might be starting to blub. Luckily I’m a medical student and for the most part I’m invisible so no one notices.

We had a patient come in to discuss his experiences of bipolar affective disorder and he described his depression as ‘the world being grey’. This was very close to my own perception at the time, although I’d say it was more like the world being misty, and that daily life was a compromise between accepting the wade through the mist, and the fight to get out of bed every morning when I felt there was a heavy weight bearing down on my chest.

I generally have no problems with the way my treatment was handled: meds (citalopram + propranolol) and CBT. My first few days of citalopram were interesting. A small wave of nausea passed over me, then 20 minutes of absolute euphoria – a couple of times I turned the radio on loudly and danced. My dreams were hugely vivid and I would sleep like I was experiencing sleep for the first time in my life. After a few weeks, getting out of bed no longer became an issue, I don’t think I even noticed it happening.

I do wish I had started exercising sooner. When I first presented to my GP, the depression was not mild enough to be treated with exercise, but I think I would have benefited greatly further down the line, especially when I was on the line between being well and relapsing (I had one relapse where my meds were increased – 2 weeks after that, I saw a different GP by chance who was very keen on knowing when I was going to stop and she thrust some leaflets in my direction. I take it she hadn’t paid close attention to my notes, I’d be more worried if she had). These days exercise works wonders on my mood, and the day I stop getting pleasure from it, something would be wrong.


Yesterday at the gym I saw a man spray his bench with Dettol wipe it down. I was shocked.

All the new freshers have started to have a look around. I don’t think the girls would take kindly to a sweaty yours truly dragging them to the freeweights room and evangelising on the benefits of resistance training.

Gubernatrix is back! *does dance*


Now that I’m in year 4, the NHS has started to throw large sums of money at me. I don’t have to pay them back either. This could prove rather dangerous, especially as I have taken the attitude that I should be rewarding myself with pleasure at least once a week (masturbation not included). For me, pleasure involves spending money, or gardening. I should probably buy an allotment.

Add comment September 24, 2008


I am attending a jealousy workshop this Sunday. The timing has worked out well considering the dynamic between B and I is changing and we’re entering new waters, and also because the workshop will be taken by Dossie Easton, co-writer of the Ethical Slut, which I am halfway through (I think I’m actually on the section on jealousy). I’m not quite sure what to expect, but it’s part of the Polyday weekend, so I’m sure whatever happens, it’ll be interesting.

I’m enjoying Turbulence Training a lot. During the workout I don’t feel like I’m really pushing myself, but an hour later and it really hits me.

Add comment September 8, 2008


After a long hiatus, I am pleased to be writing again. I start year 4 tomorrow and I’m feeling quite chilled out about things. Now that I’ve had time to reflect on exams past, I might jot down my thoughts and feelings on how they went later.

Gymming-wise, I started Turbulence Training for Fat Loss on Thursday. I was still aching a lot yesterday. Lesson learned – don’t do an ‘intermediate’ style workout after a 2 month break from the gym. The freshers don’t officially start for another 2 weeks, until then I will enjoy the blissful emptyness of the free-weights area.

Add comment September 7, 2008

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