Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Consultations, dreams and hospital food

Remy the cat
It's going well up here in GNT, although people still keep asking if I'm enjoying myself. Would they expect me to be enjoying myself during an exam? I'm constantly under supervision, being tested and assessed and asked to do difficult and sometimes challenging things that I've never done before while someone watches like a hawk, making notes about my performance, and then tells me what they think of me. Of course I'm not enjoying myself, but it's a means to an end. Get through this and the final exams, and perhaps I can get a job which I will enjoy, and a salary which I will enjoy even more. Until then, I'm just doing my best to get along.

One thing I do enjoy is my badminton on Monday nights. Another thing is the lack of responsibility because of living in someone else's house. And a couple of times, for a brief moment, I have felt pleased with something I have achieved. I have been seeing patients as well as watching other dietitians: three obese patients wanting to lose weight, two patients on mental health wards because of the effects of alcohol, and a patient who has made significant changes to improve her diet after a stroke. I am less apprehensive and more confident every time I manage to get through a consultation without juddering to a tongue-tied halt.

It's still very wearing, though, doing something different every half day. That makes 10 sessions a week for two and a bit weeks, and the only thing repeated so far has been Reflection with the Dietetic Manager on Friday afternoons, where we mull over what has happened over the past week. Everything else has been with a different dietitian and/or a different clinic and/or a different ward or hospital, every half day, for two and a bit weeks. I find it excessively tiring not knowing what on earth is going to happen next, and yet being continuously assessed. I need a bit of consistency before I can relax, so I've been pretty tense for those two and bit weeks. I can't stop thinking about how utterly unbearable it would be had I not found this house to live in.

I had a dream the other night, very vivid, partly because I was mid-dream when my alarm went off and woke me up. I was at a party, which I was in some way responsible for hosting, but it was underwater and everyone was in scuba gear. I mentioned it in passing to colleagues this afternoon, who started to muse about what it might represent, and we decided that it is how I am coping with the placement - I am in an unfamiliar and dangerous environment, perhaps feeling out of my depth, protecting myself with a metaphorical wetsuit.

Enough self-analysis, if not self-pity. Everything is fine, my face has not been chewed off by dogs, and I have even been invited to another badminton club, which unfortunately meets on Tuesdays. I might try and get there next week, but tonight I have been doing homework, including watching this television programme about hospital food. I thought it lacked balance, but sympathised - my B placement hospital used cook-chill methods and 'regenerated' (i.e. heated up) the food on the ward, and it did come out looking pretty awful. The difference was that in the programme the meals were assembled and chilled off-site and then shipped in, while on B placement the meals were cooked from scratch in the hospital kitchen and chilled on-site. Other than the single day in the catering department, I haven't yet had any exposure to the patients' food here.

Onwards and upwards then, with two more new environments and activities to tackle tomorrow. It could be worse, though. It could be a whole lot worse.

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