29 Sept 2016

my study week #16: my unedited desk, post-exam madness

After my exams, I cleaned my room and my desk looked quite different. Here is a little mini-tour :)

I try and keep it as minimalistic as possible (and I know I can definitely do better if you look at the photo below). Most of the space is in the bottom left area.

In the top left, I have a few bottles of cordial, some water and some snacks. Cordial was a nice sweet treat from time to time during revision and it also came in useful when the weather was excruciatingly hot. I combined a little cordial with water and then added in some salt to the mixture to try and combat my losses through sweat. (Gross, I know).

I also like to have a healthy snack or two and this ranges from dried fruit to rice cakes (which you can see below). The dark chocolate orange rice cakes are a guilty pleasure!

Little trinkets also make their way onto my desk - you can see some of them below. I like to have an inspirational quote in my eye line to keep things positive too :) The red and white striped sweet below has a story behind it which means it'll never be eaten.

Basically, I was clerking a patient on the ward during my Geriatrics placement and she was just the sweetest lady ever. She got quite emotional during the clerking and I felt terrible (as I thought it was my fault but she insisted it wasn't). She was so grateful for some company, she gave me a handful of sweets which I then shared with the team before taking just one for myself to remind myself of her. This lady taught me that, sometimes, all people need is an ear to listen to them from time to time and as a student, we are often the ones with the most time to do this.

Finally, my pen pots. I'm well aware that I have too many pens but that doesn't mean I can't put them in pretty pen pots. The one below is from good old Ikea :)

Ultimately, I like to keep my desk as minimalistic as possible but with a personal touch too. :) Quite a difference from a study session, eh?

27 Sept 2016

something different: my skincare heroes

** This post may be 'too much information' for some people but I wanted to write it as a lot of women are on the pill and experience these initial breakouts.

Back in July, I went back onto the combined oral contraceptive pill (COCP) as I knew I'd be going on holiday and didn't want to be, ahem, 'on' whilst on holiday. The last time I'd been on the pill was in 2014 but I didn't anticipate the initial breakout that occurred this time around. I knew this could happen and I asked specifically for a pill that I knew worked for me and my skin in the past. However, I also know that it can take a month or two for my skin to get used to the hormone levels so braced myself!

Bit of background: my skin has never quite behaved. It is combination/oily and prone to breakouts during that time of the month. Earlier this year, I'd finally found a skincare routine that worked to keep my skin pretty much 95% clear. That is, until I went back onto the COCP.

Here were a few of the products that helped keep things under control. Prevention is, of course, better than cure, but a few cystic spots were inevitable on the COCP for me (at least, initially).

Left to right: Murad Time Release Blemish Cleanser, Alpha H Liquid Gold, Origins Out of Trouble Ten Minute Mask
Murad Time Release Blemish Cleanser - I've been using this for about a year now and you can see that I'm only halfway through the bottle. I use it once in the evening as I find it dries out my skin if I use it twice daily. There is no scent to it and a little goes a long way. Used in combination with a clean muslin cloth in the evening, it has helped my skin clear up considerably.

Alpha H Liquid Gold - I started using this back in July and I saw a difference almost immediately. My skin was clearer and brighter and my pores were smaller and less noticeable! I follow the recommended instructions and only use it on alternate nights and I don't use anything else on my face after applying this.

Origins Out of Trouble Ten Minute Mask - I use this once or twice a week (depending on how much my skin appears to need it) and it helps keep new blemishes at bay. It also dries out existing blemishes. I'm currently looking for another mask to use straight after this one as it is quite drying and it doesn't brighten my skin as much as I would like it to.

These three products don't come cheap so I usually wait for a discount code before stocking up on a bottle or two at a time. However, I've spent so much money on cheaper products over the years (and with no success), that I'm happy to spend a bit more on my skincare as good skin makes for a happy Angela :)

Mizon All in One Snail Repair Cream
Snail cream sounds gross but it's been great at brightening up my skin. I use this straight after cleansing my face and let it sink in before my night cream. Again, this is something I only use in the evenings as I find too many products in the morning can make my face oily by the end of the day. It doesn't smell of anything and didn't cause any initial breakout. It is perfect for my combination skin with it's stringy/gel-like texture.

Panoxyl Aquagel 10% Benzoyl Peroxide
Panoxyl was a lifesaver a few years' ago when I used it daily. It didn't completely solve all my skin issues but it did go a long way in improving its appearance. So when it was discontinued, I was absolutely gutted. When I heard that it was coming back onto the market, I ordered a tube straight away and haven't looked back since. 

I'm unsure about how safe these products are for long-term use but for now, I'm happy to use them as the results have been worth it. Now that I've been back on the pill for a few packs, my skin is finally settling down :)

Did you experience a breakout when starting the pill? If so, what worked for you? :)

25 Sept 2016

my week #232

This week, my highlight was definitely my early birthday (over a month early!) because one of my closest friends is leaving the country next month and my sister is away for three weeks as of yesterday. We went for ramen and then to a table tennis bar in Shoreditch - talk about hipster! It was a brilliant night and I had the best fun :)

How was your week?

22 Sept 2016

book: the girl on the train by paula hawkins

I'm a big fan of psychological thrillers and when I saw this one in Waterstones, I knew I had to give it a shot. The premise is as follows (from Amazon):

"Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She’s even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. ‘Jess and Jason’, she calls them. Their life – as she sees it – is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy. 

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. 

Now everything’s changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she’s only watched from afar. 

 Now they’ll see; she’s much more than just the girl on the train…" 

Credit: Amazon.co.uk
The novel is told from the perspective of three women: Rachel, Megan and Anna. Anna is the woman who Rachel's ex-husband, Tom, has replaced her with and Megan is someone who lives on the same road that Rachel and Tom used to live on. Anna and Tom still live in said house on the aforementioned street. These houses back onto a railway line which Rachel takes into London every day.

From the beginning, I found this novel fascinating. Paula Hawkins does a good job of drip feeding you with information about each of the characters, with each revelation being more shocking than the last. How she managed to make each character likeable and then dislikable and then back to likeable, etc is something I can't get my head around.

As more and more of the events unfold, I found myself trying to second guess each of the narrators and I managed to predict the ending about 80% of the way in (something I'm very pleased about as I don't think it was actually that predictable! Maybe I've been reading too many psychological thrillers over these last few years).

If you're a fan of Gillian Flynn and Emma Donoghue, this book is definitely right up your street. I give it 9/10 because it is the first fictional book in a while where I've managed to finish it within a week (and during exam time as well).

20 Sept 2016

irresponsibly planning a last minute holiday

After a tough penultimate year, I decided to reward myself by going on holiday on my own. I had no idea where to go but I did have a budget which I wanted to stick to.

Because I wasn't sure where I'd be going, I wrote a 'universal' packing list. I knew it would be somewhere in Europe so I had that to work with :)

In terms of choosing where to go, I knew I had to opt for somewhere safe as I'd opted to travel on my own. I wrote a list of places I was considering but ultimately opted for one not on the list... Go figure! (My mind works in mysterious ways.) It had to be somewhere I could book pretty much last minute because I didn't want to tempt fate and book a holiday before results were released. However, me being me, I booked it anyway but for the week after the resit exams. This gave me three weeks to sort out the logistics of my trip. 

Eventually, I settled on Stockholm. It was a spur of the moment thing and Scandinavia has been high on my 'want to visit' list for the last few years. What better time to visit than during summer? Once this was booked, my sister bought me a Top 10 guide for Stockholm and I began planning what to do and where to go during each day of my holiday. I like structure and wanted to make the most of my visit as I'd only booked five days and four nights due to financial constraints. 

After booking my flights and hotel, I organised transport to and from the airport in Stockholm, applied for a Halifax Clarity credit card and sorted out any other urgent paperwork that needed to be done. This included travel insurance, health insurance and currency. 

I'll inevitably talk in more detail about Stockholm soon but for now, this was how I booked my last minute holiday. Possibly the first time in my life where I've not planned things down to the tee :)

18 Sept 2016

my week #231

My penultimate week on this project block and it has been a busy one. I've put in a lot of hours over the last four weeks in the hope of having a lighter final week and I think it has paid off.

On Friday, I saw Sausage Party with a friend and though humorous, it was also a bit of a weird film! Definitely worth a watch (especially if you're a Seth Rogan fan).

How has your week been?

15 Sept 2016

year three's medicine placement reviews all in one place

Now that final year is underway, I thought it would be a good time to do a Medicine-related post with a brief review of each placement I had in the last two years. Please bear in mind that I'm the sort of person who gives 110% in each placement, regardless of whether or not I'm interested in that specialty. If you're about to embark on clinical placements, I would recommend doing the same - it can be tiring but you get so much more out of things this way :) Plus, when you're actually working as a doctor, you may never get the chance to see some or do some of these things ever again.

Respiratory Medicine
This placement was in my second year and it was my first ever clinical placement. I felt like a deer in the headlights for the most part but the steep learning curve was great. The whole clinical team were absolutely lovely and I got a lot out of this placement. Whenever there was nothing to do, I'd go and clerk a patient and then compare my clerking to the patient's notes to see if I had missed anything. This medical firm was great for learning about a wide range of conditions because the patients tended to be on the older side and had many co-morbidities.

General Practice
General practice was not a career I'd ever considered and this still rings true now. However, I still had a good time on this five week placement. During this time, I was placed at a medical practice that had a great set-up. It was a large practice and with appointments only scheduled for ten minutes each, there was a high patient turnover and I saw a lot of different things.

This was one of the placements I was dreading the most (as I have zero interest in neurology!) but I still got a lot out of it. The best thing was doing on-calls with the registrar in Accident & Emergency. During one of these shifts, I even offered up an important differential diagnosis the registrar hadn't thought of himself :) Being able to see brain surgery was amazing too.

Again, another placement I wasn't exactly looking forward to but still got a lot out of! Psychiatry is super interesting and I met a lot of fascinating people on this five-week block. The work-life balance is definitely appealing and wearing an alarm on ward round was exciting (at least for me) but I don't think I can deal with the emotional ups and downs of this specialty. Plus, those ninety-minute clinic appointments would really test my attention span (which currently stands at an estimated ten minutes).

Obstetrics and Gynaecology
Even before medical school, I had a huge interest in O&G and this placement did not disappoint. It helped that I was given two consultants who were absolutely lovely and did a lot of teaching. I loved that there is a decent amount of medicine but also a lot of surgery in this field. The best part was being present for a number of births and I'm not going to lie, it was a totally emotional experience. This placement was full of long twelve hour day shifts, night shifts and often involved a lot of running around in order to clerk a patient straight after clinic, grab a snatch lunch and then go to theatre but it was totally worth it.

Another amazing placement :) The best learning opportunities for me were in Paediatric A&E where I was allowed to clerk in new patients and then present to the registrar. Because no one had seen the patient previously, it meant that I was going in completely blind which helped build my confidence when I'd get the likely diagnosis and management plan right. I also learnt that I'm not actually that bad with children and parents and though it is highly unlikely I'll go into paediatrics, I got great feedback from the doctors on the team. One even suggested I'd make a great paediatric doctor...?!

Surgical Specialties
Plastics - Amazing week. Great opportunities to see some cool surgeries and I scrubbed in loads this week. I spent a morning in trauma triage where I saw patients first and then presented to a doctor. I also helped with admin tasks such as booking patients in for theatre - something I may be doing as a foundation doctor in a year's time anyway so a great learning experience. Full of hand surgeries and skin grafts and not so much of the tummy tuck or face lift surgeries ;)

Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) - Unfortunately, I didn't get to see any cool head and neck surgeries during this week. ENT is quite paeds heavy so I drew on my experience from my paediatrics block. Not the best surgical week I had but still very interesting.

Ophthalmology - This was a really light week where we only got to see cataract surgeries (which you can do on Youtube and is super quick and quite dull). Not my cup of tea but the clinic experience was great.

Trauma - A fairly good week but didn't live up to expectations. It was mainly orthopaedics and no interesting traumas came in when I was scheduled to be in theatre. That's definitely a good thing (as I don't want anyone to be hurt in any way, shape or form!) but not so good for my learning! The team were also very friendly and I could potentially see myself being seduced by the adrenaline of a fast-paced specialty such as this one.

Urology - This week was so good, it's rocketed to the top of my 'want to do' list. Urology is super interesting and with so many organs included in this specialty, I'll never be bored. It didn't hurt that urology is one where the work-life balance is pretty decent! During this week, I was scrubbed into nephrectomies (kidney removals) and if you get me scrubbed into surgeries, I'm pretty much going to automatically love your specialty... I also had a consultant who was cool as a cucumber and I pretty much want to be the female version of him. Also met quite a young, female consultant who is someone else I want to be like in the future.

General Surgery - Ended up seeing a lot of hernia repairs, haemorrhoidectomies and laparoscopic things. However, on-calls and A&E shifts were very interesting and I definitely enjoyed the super short ward rounds :) The clinics I attended were also very good and the consultants in them did a lot of teaching.

Orthopaedics - This week made me realise that my anatomy knowledge isn't as bad as I thought it was! Managed to answer some pretty probing questions about the anatomy of the knee in theatre which impressed the surgeon but at the same time, I realised that I may not be strong enough for this specialty! I'll either need to go to the gym more often from now on or just accept that this isn't the specialty for me (even if I really, really enjoyed it).

Breast - I loved this week. The team were really funny and we had a laugh in clinics and theatres. It was a super packed week but because I was allowed to see patients first in clinic, it helped me learn how to present a patient succinctly. Another surgical specialty I loved - they are fast mounting up!

Overall - My advice would be to get stuck in! The best thing to do is to be scrubbed into surgeries - standing at the back seeing nothing is no fun. Also, surgeons love it when you ask questions (and I have plenty as I want to do surgery!) so don't be afraid of them - they don't bite if you're polite :)

I was placed with an awesome team who got me really involved in all aspects of the placement. I was writing in patient notes during ward round, doing junior doctor jobs (e.g. taking blood, inserting cannulas) and doing new patient summaries. It ended up being an amazing placement where I knew that I would learn something every day (which I did!).

This was only a two-week block but that ended up being plenty. Spent time in clinics, cardiac catheter lab, cardiothoracic theatres with plenty of bedside teaching scheduled in too. Learnt loads, not least the fact that I don't want to be a cardiologist.

Medicine (Gastroenterology)
My last placement before exams was on a Gastroenterology ward. Again, my best time was spent in A&E or on-call. Are you starting to see a trend...? I saw a wide variety of things on this placement and though the ward was fairly quiet with a low rate of patient turnover, I still found enough to do. Medicine placement is the perfect one to practice practical skills such as blood taking, cannula insertion, learning how to prescribe, insertion of urinary catheters, etc.

- - -

So there you have it; all of the placements I've had all reviewed in one mammoth blog post. I'm not sure how interesting or useful this is to those of you at medical school/thinking of medical school. If you have any questions, leave me a comment and I'll try and get back to you as soon as possible :)

13 Sept 2016

ink: j herbin poussiere de lune

Here's another ink that isn't a blue-black ink :) This is the second J. Herbin ink I decided to try - Rouille D'Ancre was the first one - and I think I much prefer this one.

11 Sept 2016

my week #230

This week has been super busy filled with teaching sessions, junior doctor job-related talks and just some life admin and socialising. Next week is a bit more chilled out but I do have an essay to write so I'm sure it'll be filled with a lot of word processing time (sad face).

How has your week been?

8 Sept 2016

revisiting my Anthropologie journal (because it's just so pretty)

As mentioned back in January, my sister bought me this journal for Christmas and I've written in it at least once a week since. My journaling style has changed a lot over the years. I used to write really random thoughts and make note of really random events in my life with the odd ticket glued in. Now, I still have tickets and things reminding me of awesome events stuck in my journal but I'm much more reflective of the events in my life. 

Each entry starts off with something fickle such as the current song playing in the background or whatever outfit I'm wearing (if I'm particularly fond of it) or the current weather. After that, I go onto the events since the previous entry and I write down my version of things that have happened - after all, it's my journal and all about me, right? It's the only place where I can be totally self-centred and self-absorbed so I make the most of this time each week ;)

Next, I write about my feelings from that week. If something made me particularly happy, I'll write about that and why it made me happy and the same goes for events and things that have made me unhappy or angry, etc. My journal then becomes a place where I can really release all of my emotions, positive or negative, without them having an effect on my life or the people around me.

This Anthropologie journal is super thick and with 350 pages, I'm sure it'll be a long time before it gets filled up. The paper quality is excellent (pretty much 99% of the entries are in fountain pen) and it is just the prettiest thing sitting in my bookshelf.

6 Sept 2016

picking my favourite fountain pen...

I found this post a hard one to write because choosing a favourite fountain pen is like choosing your favourite child*. I couldn't decide if I should choose a workhorse of a pen that sees loads and loads of use or if I should choose my favourite even though it may not be used as often as I would like to. In the end, I cheated and chose two:

My Pelikan M400 in Tortoiseshell White and my Platinum 3776 Century Nice.

Both pens are ones that don't see as much use compared to my Lamy Safaris or my Pilot Prera or my Pilot Kakunos but they are always inked up and ready for use on my desk. I use them for writing in my journal (which I do on a weekly basis) and I love them both for different reasons.

Aesthetically, both are very pretty. The Platinum is a demonstrator with a cartridge system whereas the Pelikan is a piston-filler. The Pelikan has an EF nib but still writes a pretty broad line whilst the Platinum has a fine nib and writes a beautifully fine line. Both nibs write beautifully and both also feel like I'm holding a feather even when writing long entries in my journal :)

Ultimately, these two pens were chosen because:
- they look beautiful and I never tire of looking at them.
- they both write smoothly.
- they are always inked.
- the Pelikan was a gift to myself for my own 25th birthday (it had been on my wishlist for quite some time prior to that!).

These are the main reasons but these two pens are also ones that I always find myself reaching for whenever I'm at home taking notes/writing in my journal. They are pens that add a little something special to my writing experience and that's why they are my favourites :)

What's your favourite fountain pen in your collection and why?

*I wouldn't know - I don't have any children - but I'm guessing it's a similar feeling ;)

4 Sept 2016

my week #229

This week was a busy one where things ramped up towards the end of the week. I'm currently on a project block which has actually been busier than expected. Things are even more hectic next week but keeping busy is good for me :)

How has your week been?

1 Sept 2016

another less thingz planner!

Last year, I blogged about Less Thingz and their fold out planner they had and this year, I'm back with another :) The concept is the same: a fold out planner which has daily, monthly and yearly planning sections. To see more on their website, click here.

The included instructions make it seem really easy to fold but I have to admit it is a bit fiddly when you're first trying to work it all out. The quality of the paper is great - I would even go as far as to call it card due to its thickness. This is more of a desk planner than a portable one and I like how it can be hung up, though I'm still yet to try that because of how heavy it is.

The card takes fountain pen very well and the spaces for each day are big enough for noting down the day's events. I like that there is a space each week for goals as I'm a big fan of free space in each weekly spread. This is a good planner if you're looking for something slightly different on your desk and with the quality of the card and rubber, it'll surely last the whole year :)

Note: Although I was provided this planner free of charge, I have tried my best to review it as if I had paid for it.