london calling

Hello world.

I’m currently sitting on the seventh floor of a medical officer residence with Portable Air Conditioning in London – where I’m placed at the moment for the next three and a half weeks, to learn how the NHS works. That’s what my brief says, anyway, and that’s what the assignment I really should start working on will say, you know, when I get to it.

So far London is a delightful place, full of interesting people and wonderful sights. I’ve been learning a chunk of neurology while I’m here, which is my aim, and have been engaging with a wide variety of people. That, and catching up with old friends.

Friday last I braved National Rail over here and visited Cardiff in Wales – something that’s been a goal of mine for several years now. There I met my internet friend, Jon, with whom I’ve talked about life, random stuff, women and bad humour for the past decade, and who I promised, many years ago, to visit when I finally made it to the UK.

Promise kept. He gave a visiting Australian a lovely tour through the Welsh countryside, gave me a surprisingly comfortable couch to rest upon, and even chauffeured me to and from the train station. He’s also a wonderful guy and has some lovely friends, as well as a great local Japanese restaurant. Add in the wonderful countryside and it was a thoroughly enjoyable visit.

South Wales and New South Wales though? Not that similar. Not really. One wonders where the name was inspired from, and will keep wondering.

Upon returning ‘home’ to London I had another Friend Adventure™, this time with Amin, an old school chum who has recently (last week) moved to London with his wife and new son, to start work at a law firm here. We sat down for a drink, and then explored the centre of the city for a while. Wonderful to catch up and to finally meet his lovely young lady, and his little boy – named, appropriately, after me. I assume.

Today, being Monday, was day 16 of elective, and I celebrated the best way I could; by having a day off to do some paperwork. Yep. I was going to go into the ward, but didn’t, and instead of attending the clinic I wandered about London, had something to eat, explored Fitzrovia, and found out where my mail gets delivered too while I’m here. That’s important, as I have ordered a book off Amazon, as well as an engraved pen, and now a pair of headphones. The book has arrived already, the pen hopefully by tomorrow, the headphones this week. Huzzah!

Tomorrow’s plan at this stage is to attend the Professor’s clinic (my technical boss) and then attend an epilepsy clinic in the afternoon, then on Wednesday I’m planning a hospital day (attending the registrar’s meeting and then rounding), Thursday probably similar, and then clinics on Friday morning, I think.

Next week? I’m probably having a week off. I’m going to Stratford-upon-Avon and staying the evening, as well as seeing some Shakespeare. I’m thinking about visiting the Continent, but Eurostar tickets are for some reason triple their usual price at this juncture, so that might not happen. Maybe I’ll trek up to Edinburgh instead, or do some sightseeing around England. I’ve always wanted to visit Alderly, after reading the Weirdstone of Brisinghamen, and maybe that’ll happen. Maybe I’ll just do some of the London sightseeing I’ve been missing out of so far, like the Tower, a bus tour, that kind of thing.

Probably try to see Wicked too; depending on my elective friends who want to go and see it. If they can’t make it, hell. I’ll still go. It’s my birthday that week after all, so I deserve some time, right?

The two weeks following I’m planning to spend mostly on the ward. I might do a bit of clerking perhaps, I’ll definitely attend rounds, and I plan to spend a day or two following the on-call SpR (A/T registrar) to see how the life a neurology-trainee goes. I’ve also got a PPD essay to write, as well as a disease monograph, and a symptom monograph.

Sigh. Busy busy. Life!


-Benjamin Andiyar

a warm gun

So, the Beatles tell us, happiness is – and so, Across the Universe showed us, is being addicted to opiates while being injected by hot blonde nurses.

Hm? Oh yes. Relevance.

Today is Friday, and as Rebecca Black has recently taught us, we’re all looking forward to the weekend – although I can’t honestly claim there will be much “partying” or realistically much “fun”, no matter how many times said “fun” is repeated – and to be honest, sufficient hours have elapsed since this entry was started (I know, some fifty-odd words ago) for it to no longer be Friday, but I enjoy the joke too much to change it, so let’s just dive in and see what’s happening shall we?

This has been an interesting week for me in several ways. Since my last post, I can honestly say that my mood has remained high, or at least high for me, and that my overall level of emotion this week can be best described as ‘contented’, and even ‘happy’ as an elevation thereof. This is… quite a different situation, from my typical. I sound like a fourteen-year-old wearing eyeshadow no doubt, but I find my natural state of being these days (these years?) tends to be at least 20% below contentment, even when I am content – as if I have titrated my own state to be slightly lower than it should be. This may be a result of the slow grinding down of the soul that life and med school have engendered, it may be due to the burdening cynicism that I tend to filter my surroundings through. Oh yes, I’m a cynic, despite what many people have said to me about my ‘optimism’ and my ‘naivete’, I just find it easier to present the happier, or at least less cynical face to the world. Ask any of my family though, and you’ll definitely hear the ‘glass half full’ argument as applied to my perspective. I don’t know that it’s entirely fair, but I do perhaps come across a little un-optimistic.

Ties in a little with an entry here from a few weeks ago, where I mentioned the “I have to laugh or I’d be crying” perspective, which tends to be my actual outlook on life itself, or at least on the life I tend to lead. I imagine clowns must have the same thing – cry on the inside, as it’s a show. Damn right it’s a show, and my chosen profession, my calling, requires the happy or at least the compassionate face. The second is easier, it’s more default, but as I seem to have ranted in several essays submitted to the GSM under the guise of professional development, there is no clear boundary between compassion and over-involvement, and to me that is the flaw that will, I am certain, lead to burnout.

But not this week, oh no. This week has been different!

I’m sitting at uni on the Saturday now having worked through two surgical CBL cases (I’m only 3 behind over the whole phase now! 3 cases!), have half a container of Vietnamese saté chicken in the fridge to eat in the next hour or so when I feel snackish, and am reflecting on the week gone and (being the eternal optimist I just described myself as) I’m trying to pick holes in it, and… mostly failing. This week, I’ve had my ego boosted immensely by showcasing a piece of short fiction I wrote to several groups of friends and receiving feedback that basically boils down, to me, as “yep, still got it!” (the piece is called “Fallen” if you’re interested, and it’s on FB); I caught up with several friends, being on break, that made me smile; I spent time with the family which was lovely; I… well, to be honest, I had a week of horrible eating patterns but hey, there was delicious food involved; I managed to get my GP to agree that I should have medicare-assistance for my current physio so it’s free until May; I read three novels… overall, a fairly positive week!

There is a slight negative of course in that a young lady seems to be overly enamoured of me in a way that I can’t/won’t return for her, and I’m sad to see it, but that is something that I feel will work out with time. It’s noticeable enough that friends have been commenting, and my response has been “yes, I know, and it makes me feel bad” – I dislike hurting people, in fact I tend to be harder on myself so as to spare others, and this incident is only really proving that point, but I digress. That’s the negative of the week, and as such, well… I can deal with that negative. No choice in the matter!

I suppose there’s another brief negative too in the lack of the company of some people who haven’t been around, either recently or for a long time, but sadly the stars do not always align the way that would be nice, and sometimes the lack makes for a clear head, or at least perspective. I predict, at the moment, that the upswing might just last for a while longer, and isn’t that a happy thought – I’m even planning a poetry collection I think, as I have a few things I want to put together. The last book, letters to Jessica, is a book of love poetry, effectively, and there were I think three specific subject people in the book as well as a few other tangentials. The next collection, well, for some reason I want to write a collection where the title includes the world Conversation, and each poem is actually a real letter or discussion that I wish I could have had/could have with someone(s) special, noone necessarily in particular but a similar theme to ltj. We’ll see.

I do think, though, that Conversations with You makes for a cute sounding title.