Monday, 16 February 2009

Sunday night thoughts from the sofa

View of the snowy pub garden through a detail in the gates
Having a laptop means I can sit on the sofa, comfortable under a duvet, and tap away about life in the fast lane until Jeremy Paxman comes on to talk about Victorian Britain. Unfortunately, without a wireless modem, you have to wait some time for the blog post to appear.

It’s been busy, and it’s going to get more busy before things calm down again. I have ten separate deadlines between now and the end of term on 20 March. Four of these deadlines fall in one week. Not many are for pieces of work that are quick or easy.

But before I feel too sorry for myself, I have to feel sorry for Mr A, who continues to suffer all that the world can throw at him, knowing all too well that he has nobody to blame but himself. He also knows that I have nobody to blame but him. It really is hard on him. I don’t know how long it will take to get the business on a more secure footing, or whether he will throw in the towel and call it a day, and neither does he. He just has to endure each painful day, not knowing how or when it will end.

We have been for a few calming walks around town, through the park to the weir, stopping for a visit to the Temperate House in Jephson Gardens, then along the river and back again through the park. Or up Holly Walk to Clarke’s the vegetable shop and back via Tesco, the fishmonger and the cinema. We even went to see Slumdog Millionaire on Saturday, which was a real treat.

I still like my course rather a lot, and last week’s lectures were pretty good. Learning about disorders of metabolism such as galactosaemia and phenylketonuria and the consequences of missing enzymes in the metabolic pathways has been very interesting. It also makes me very grateful that all my enzymes are working as they should (as far as I know, anyway). We covered diseases of the cardiovascular system, and were given case studies to present to the rest of the class in workshops in a few weeks’ time: I’m in a group presenting a case of iron-deficiency anaemia in an infant.

Computing Techniques was a good choice of optional module, although it’s quite uncomfortable to attend because I’m the only one there older than 20, except the lecturers. I know a lot of things that you get to know simply because of living nearly 45 years and taking an interest in scientific subjects: how binary numbers work, chaos theory, why computers use approximation, what log tables are. I know a few things about HTML because of my hopelessly neglected website and this blog, and I know about referencing software because I took an interest last year. There hasn’t been anything too challenging so far in this module. Which is, quite frankly, a relief.

The most engaging subject this term by far has been the Communication Skills module. This week we started looking at how to conduct an effective face-to-face consultation with a patient or client – we have five weeks of practical sessions where we practise all aspects of the consultation. This first week we just covered the process from where we invite the patient into the consulting room, introduce ourselves, and start the conversation.

Again, being a little older is an advantage, and of course I’ve done this type of thing a great deal before. The difference is that previously I was not assessed or supervised or judged in any way, and more importantly, the language used is slightly different. The hardest thing of all will be trying to avoid responding with “Right,” or “OK,” which we are correctly discouraged from saying.

I'm finding it very difficult indeed to think at the same time as talking, and changing how I do things at the same time as doing them seems almost impossible. But I am reassured by the very fact that we are being taught this material with such skill and care. Getting the communication right between practitioner and patient is so important, and forging a relationship that enables difficult messages to be passed between the two is essential.


aims said...

I've been thinking about you so much lately - can you tell?

I've started doing research on celiac disease (being a celiac myself) and I've thought many times of you studying it. Right now I'm just in the process of reading general books on it - and have come across some different opinions.

I was diagnosed in '92 so you would think I would know quite a lot about it. But during that time I've mostly been trying to find something to eat without gluten. Now though - I've suddenly developed this extreme interest in it after being 'poisoned' nearly every time we ate out in New Orleans. People just don't have a clue as to what you are talking about. I'm trying to find an easy way of saying it all - and succinctly.

Anyway - I'm still here. Sometimes just lurking - but still here Lola.

Lola said...

We've been told the food rules and very little else: the fact that the intestinal villi disappear and they think it might be an autoimmune condition. I'll let you know if I come across any definitive research.

I'm glad you're still around, even if just lurking!