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Friday, July 31, 2009

Well the big news of the day is that Amelie has successfully completed her first modelling assignment. Her photo shoot for the hospital's germ warfare campaign was due to take place next week, but at the last moment it was moved to this morning. Either they couldn't wait to see her, or they were worried that if they delayed it any longer, she'd have contracted swine flu and been too ill to smile.

I wasn't there to witness the event myself, but Lisa went along to make sure the photographer didn't pressure Amelie into any glamour shots against her will. Fortunately she kept her top on throughout. And managed not to throw up over it. Apparently there was one dodgy moment when Amelie almost fell off the hospital bed, but let's face it, what better time to have a serious accident than when you're posing as a patient in a hospital. She was clearly going for a touch of realism.

On the downside, Lisa declined the opportunity to appear in the photos herself, so the photographer was forced to provide a stunt-Mum to hold Amelie. Apparently she was very pretty, so she sounds like a convincing substitute. I'll be badgering the graphic design department for the photos first thing Monday morning.

As for me, well I've spent the day in the wilds of Sussex at the Hassocks Health Centre. I've not been there before, and I won't be going there again for another twelve months. We're like a travelling funfair - we roll into town for two weeks in July, and then disappear before we get sued for all the accidents. I have to say, I loved Hassocks. It's like a little oasis of charity shops in the middle of the rolling countryside. I spent my lunch break mingling with well-to-do horsey folk and rummaging through second-hand clothes.

I also bought this original oil painting for £9...

No oil painting.
I got it in the Help the Aged shop, so I presume the artist's old. The signature says R Haberstein (or possibly Haderstein), which means nothing to me, but it measures 26" x 22", so even as firewood I got value for money.

In other news, I suffered a relapse of my mystery illness yesterday, and spent the day feeling sick, headachey, and generally rough. I don't know if it's swine flu, a pig of an infection, or just the undercooked bacon in my birthday meal, but I've been hamming it up in an attempt to get sympathy. And as luck would have it, I'm going out this evening for a night on the town with my old pharmacy colleagues. When you're feeling less than a hundred percent, who better to meet down the pub than people with access to drugs.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Well it's my 36th birthday, and I've successfully improved the lives of two dozen heathens. That's Haywards Heathens, obviously. On top of that, I've received some quality gifts, heard some delightful singing, and as we speak, Lisa is in the kitchen cooking me a meal. So it's not all good news.

I have, however, already sampled some of Lisa's home-made fare, in the form of a Cornflake Cake which she and Amelie presented me with on my return from mid-Sussex this afternoon. And very nice it was too. They say you are what you eat, so I'm now officially a flaky tart.

Lisa and my parents pooled their (not inconsiderable) resources to buy me a video camera, which I'll be using in conjunction with the You've Been Framed website to make Amelie pay for her upkeep for the next eighteen years.

Can you tell what it is yet?But even more priceless than that, was Amelie's second attempt at fine art, which she spent literally seconds creating for me while I was at work today.

And here it is. It's clearly a picture of Chloe lying down with her paw out. You couldn't teach talent like that. Even if you wanted to. The girl's a genius.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I did a clinic this morning over at the Preston Road Medical Centre. Frankly, with the blockading binmen and their rubbish protest on one side, and the organisers of this weekend's Pride festival setting up marquees on the other, I did well to get there at all. But I made it in time to meet an 80-year-old Indian lady who told me the story of her life as the daughter of illiterate slaves serving Portuguese masters, and her arrival in this country during the Second World War without a penny or a parent to her name. To be honest, when I'm told to take the eye history of a patient, I'm probably not supposed to go back that far, but it was bloomin' interesting. And let's face it, eye history ought to include everything you've ever seen.

A bird in the eye is worth two in the bush.Screening done, I returned to base this afternoon to do a bit of admin, and whilst adding some new patients to our list, I discovered the fantastic news that there's a GP in Uckfield called Dr Heal. If she can't make you better, no one can. But even more wonderful than that, is that Dr Heal works at the Bird in Eye Surgery. I don't know who's dishing out names in Uckfield, but they're certainly using their imagination. Admittedly, if you got a bird in your eye, you would need surgery, but I still think it's a ridiculous name.

Anyhoo, as anyone with a calendar and a copy of my birth certificate will tell you, tomorrow's my birthday. I'll be 36, so obviously I'm still very much mid-thirties, whereas in a month's time Lisa will be closer to fifty than thirty. It's a miracle we have so much in common. I've decided to spend my birthday taking in the delights of Haywards Heath with 28 of my closest friends. Or to put it another way, I'm doing an all-day clinic at the health centre. Interestingly, three of my appointments phoned up today and cancelled, so the guest list's currently down to 25. They must have heard that no one's getting in without a present.

Monday, July 27, 2009

I met a man this morning called Walker who arrived in a wheelchair. I wouldn't mind, but I saw a woman last week called Wheeler, and she walked in. I think they need to organise some kind of name swap.

Today's other piece of useless information is that I learnt this afternoon that Diabetes UK, the country's leading charity for diabetics, was co-founded by HG Wells. I expect 'The War of the Worlds' was a thinly veiled warning about the amount of sugar in Mars bars.

Anyhoo, if I'd wanted to see a patient over the weekend, I could have just looked in the mirror. I don't know if it was a form of self-induced psychosomatic hypochondria, but shortly after reading the list of side-effects that came with my new tablets, I started feeling noticeably unwell. We'd planned to take a scenic drive out into the Sussex countryside on Saturday afternoon (mainly because I'm doing a clinic in Hassocks this week, and have no idea where it is), but due to a combination of nausea, headache and general apathy (which may be less of a symptom and more of a character trait), we made it no further than Tescos. So I've probably spread swine flu throughout the bacon aisle.

I still wasn't quite right yesterday, but as bad luck would have it, I was well enough to go to work this morning. Although I wish someone had told me the schools have broken up. With no traffic on the roads, I got to Lewes Hospital far earlier than is healthy for someone with my level of enthusiasm.

But despite feeling a little peaky over the weekend, I did manage to witness two exciting developments. On one side of the living room, my Slovakian peppers are sprouting like something out of James and the Giant Peach. And on the other, Amelie managed to stand up on her own for the very first time.

Guess which growth spurt I managed to photograph..?

Peter Piper, eat your heart out.
Amelie was flat on her face by the time I grabbed the camera.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

I went to a Grand Round yesterday. No, really. It might sound like an expensive night out at the pub, but it was actually a meeting of minds at the Sussex Eye Hospital. I spent an hour sitting in the mess room with nine eye surgeons, consultants and registrars discussing a number of interesting patients using a lot of long words. To be honest, none of them came out of my mouth, but I did do a lot of thoughtful nodding to avoid letting on that I didn't know what they were talking about. I was there as the guest of a senior ophthalmologist, so I wondered if it was the intellectual equivalent of a pig party, where the aim is to see who can bring the ugliest date. I have no other idea why I was invited.

But despite making a contribution of slightly less than zero, I have to say I loved it. There's something hugely exhilarating about watching the minds of some of the country's most brilliant eye doctors at work. It was like an episode of QI with a panel made up of four clones of Stephen Fry. I may not have understood 90% of what was being said, but it was awe-inspiring to listen to, and fascinating from start to finish. It was the mental equivalent of watching Usain Bolt run the hundred metres.

So with advanced medical information ringing in my ears, I went straight from work to the nearest chemist to pick up my new prescription. I've now started on the Ofloxacin, so according to the patient information leaflet, here are some of the side-effects I can look forward to...

Oh my god, I might get spots.
I love the way they slip in 'death' between sugar levels and skin problems.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

It's Amelie doing her Mick Jagger impression!

Amelie's Personal Strainer
It's so convincing, she couldn't even gather any moss with a tea strainer.

We bought that tea strainer at Asda last night, after finally coming to the realisation that no matter how much money we spend on high quality hand-crafted toys from the Early Learning Centre, Amelie will always prefer the cheap plastic implements she finds lying around. So that was 37p well spent. The Fisher Price Shape-Sorting Turtle I bought her last week has barely had a look-in today.

But Amelie's personal strainer aside, it's now more than three months since I lay down in a dimly lit room and let a stranger fondle my privates. So I thought it was about time I did it again. And as luck would have it, I had my follow-up appointment with the urologist this morning. It gave me the chance to tell him that none of the drugs he prescribed me in April have made a blind bit of difference. Frankly the moustache I grew in 2007 has done more for prostate disease than those antibiotics.

He seemed unfazed by that news, and invited me next door for another intimate moment in the examination room, after which he confirmed that things aren't quite as they should be, and offered me a lot more drugs. Ciprofloxacin clearly didn't work, so I'm now trying Ofloxacin, which is the same, but scores slightly less at Scrabble. According to Wikipedia, it "can cause serious psychiatric side effects", but life has already given me those, so I've got nothing to worry about. He's also prescribed me Doxycycline, which can be used to treat acne, so I'm hoping my skin will clear up.

In addition to a cocktail of four (count them) drugs, he's going to book me in for an ultrasound scan of my prostate, just to check that I don't have an abscess. I asked him what that involves. He told me. I almost wish he hadn't. But let's face it, the last scan I went to turned out pretty well. And they might even give me some photos.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

If there's one thing I've noticed over the past couple of months, it's that the diabetics of Sussex have remarkably good taste. One of my patients this afternoon was a 79-year-old lady with noticeable insight and perception. As soon as I'd finished taking photos of her eyes, she said to me "Let me put my glasses back on so I can see how beautiful you are". You can't argue with judgement like that.

On the downside, my very next patient was a 68-year-old man who walked in, sat down, and said "I've got a complaint". I asked him what it was, and he said "You're not as pretty as the young lady I saw last year".

I told him to go and see his optician.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

To be perfectly honest, the one place I didn't expect to find myself at eleven thirty this morning was sitting in the hospital fracture clinic with my arm in plaster, while a woman attacked me with a circular saw...

Mostly armless.
Sometimes I don't think they're paying me enough. Oh, and if you're wondering, the bloke in the background's playing internet chess. Personally I was a pawn in somebody else's game.

Anyhoo, before anyone panics that I'm having to type this with one hand between sips of morphine and cries of pain, I should point out that the treatment I'm receiving in the photo above has less to do with some terrible work-related accident, and more to do with the fact that I'm based next door to the medical photography department.

Apparently the Primary Care Trust wants some photos of healthcare professionals at work for the PCT website, so a shoot was booked at the fracture clinic for this morning. Unfortunately there's never a broken bone around when you need one, so whilst beavering away in the office this morning, I was suddenly offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get plastered at my employer's expense.

Within five minutes I was heading towards Casualty with a medical photographer. Which made it the perfect time to bump into my friend and former colleague, 'S', outside the pharmacy department. Last time he saw me I was heading up the hill with a suitcase. This time I told him I was off to A & E to have my arm put in plaster. Frankly it's a miracle he believes anything I say.

So having left 'S' bemused and confused, we hurried on, arrived at A & E, realised the fracture clinic had moved, then headed in the opposite direction and eventually ended up here...

Friar Tuck, eat your heart out.
Frankly that's my best side. And I can check my bald spot without the aid of two mirrors.

Anyhoo, I'm now in possession of twenty-five action photos of the experience, of which approximately twenty-four are probably unusable. I blame the photographer for not telling me that I'd be in them all. If I'd known he was snapping more than just my arm, I wouldn't have spent the time chatting, laughing, staring into space and making stupid expressions.

This photo's not too bad...

Trust me, I'm a carpenter.
... until you see the uncropped version...

Oooh Matron!
It's like we've remade Carry On Doctor.

Anyhoo, I've signed a consent form allowing the NHS to use my image in any way they see fit, so it's only a matter of time before I'm on greetings cards and t-shirts. But the best thing is that I was allowed to take my plaster cast home. I can slip it on at will, and get out of doing the washing up.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Poster ChildWell the good news is that Amelie's over her 24-hour bug. And we didn't even need to crack open the Tamiflu. Let's face it, the way she shoves Lisa's roll-on deodorant into her mouth on a daily basis, it's a miracle she's not sick more often.

But the bad news is that Lisa's now got it. Having spent the morning with patients at Preston Road, I came home at lunchtime to find Lisa in bed, waiting for a callback from NHS Direct. Fortunately I was still here when they phoned, so I got to hear a trained doctor asking her if she had swine flu. That was a moment to cherish.

Anyhoo, I think she's improved during the afternoon. She's currently in the kitchen eating Tiger Rolls with butter and blackcurrant jam, so the self-imposed fasting seems to be over. Personally I think I cured her with the cheering news that Amelie's about to single-handedly save countless lives across Sussex. No, really.

Whilst staring at some pictures of retinas this afternoon, I had a visit from the hospital's senior graphic designer, who asked me if Amelie's free for a photo shoot on August 5th. Apparently they can't think of a more suitable baby to appear on posters up and down the county for the next two years. Or maybe everyone else said no. Either way, she's just two weeks and a couple of photos away from being the new face of infection control. So she'd better not be ill that day.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

I went to the 'Kemp Town Village Family Carnival' yesterday afternoon. Frankly I didn't really have an excuse not to - they were holding it fifty yards from my flat. Which is just as well. I'd be livid if I'd spent money on petrol to get there. I'm not saying it was disappointing, but if you weren't under eight or on the lookout for takeaway food and home-made jewellery, there wasn't a lot to entertain you.

Or maybe I'm just hard to please. After all, there was one of those inflatable ball things which you climb into before throwing yourself down the Devil's Dyke, and I have always wanted to do that...

Having a ball.
Unfortunately this one was parked outside St George's Church and going precisely nowhere. The only white knuckles were on the bloke holding it still.

The theme of this year's event was 'Alice in Wonderland', so I was fully expecting to see David Van Day dressed as Tweedledum and grinning like a Cheshire Cat. Sadly I was disappointed. He might be as mad as a hatter, but even he didn't turn up for the tea party...

24 Hour Party People
To be honest, I'm sensing that wasn't the most popular part of the day. I haven't seen so many empty tables since Allan Love's fish restaurant closed down.

But if you're wondering where everyone was, here's your answer...

Bring on the trumpets!
They all had front row seats at the main stage. If I hadn't read the news, I'd have sworn that was Henry Allingham on the trumpet.

And talking of talent-spotting, I was hoping to meet Simon Cowell this afternoon. It's the annual RSPCA Open Day at Patcham, so we were planning a family outing to stroke puppies and mingle with celebrities. Two years ago we met Cowell and Keig-Shevlin, while last year I skated on thin ice with Robin Cousins. Unfortunately I've received word from up the hill this morning that Amelie's not well. She's apparently stopped laughing and is off her food. Which is not like her at all. So after careful consideration, we've decided to give the RSPCA a miss. Amelie's throwing up enough as it is, without having to meet Simon Cowell.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

I've just bumped into David Van Day in St James's Street. I was coming out of the Age Concern shop, and he was walking up towards Kemptown looking portly in a summery shirt. Frankly he was less Age Concern and more Sausage Concern. I realise I'm in no position to judge, but the man's clearly put on weight since he left the jungle. It must be all those showbiz lunches with Timmy Mallett. If he carries on like that, I'll be seeing him as a patient before the end of the year.

And on that subject, I've just completed my first entirely unsupervised week in the new job. The diabetics of Brighton have been placed into my care without the luxury of a witness when things go wrong. So from now on, any attempts to sue me for poking them in the eye with a tropicamide dropper are likely to be unsuccessful.

To be honest, although I've only officially been running my own clinics since Monday, I've pretty much been working alone for the past three weeks. The various screeners who have accompanied me across Sussex have been great believers in the sink or swim approach, and felt that the best way for me to learn is to let me get on with it while they sit in another room eating biscuits. As a result, I've been well prepared for my first week of independence, and have swum a lot more than I've sunk. Although I could have done with a snorkel on Monday.

In other news, I had a phone call yesterday afternoon from some guy at Full House magazine to let me know that they've finally cobbled together an article about Chloe. Bearing in mind that she sold them her story back in February (and we still haven't seen the cheque), it's taken them a while to compose those three hundred words. But I think it's worth waiting for. I took a break from grading some retinal images so that the chap could read it to me over the phone, and frankly I've never heard anything like it. It's like a shower scene from a Barbara Cartland novel. And they've made it sound like I wrote it myself, which is worrying. Anyway, it'll be in issue 33, which apparently hits the news stands in a couple of weeks. And the recycling bins the day after.

Friday, July 17, 2009

It's Friday, it's five to five, and what better way to kickstart the weekend than by making your friends think you've walked out on your wife and child. Not that Lisa and I are married. I've said I won't set a date until I can find a Vera Wang dress in a charity shop. And Lisa will need something to wear too.

But anyhoo, Lisa's actually spending this weekend at her Mum's. Despite the fact that she'll talk to anyone at a bus stop, and is capable of making lifelong friends in a post office queue, Lisa's worried that her Mum might be lonely. So what better way to help the woman appreciate her circumstances than by forcing her to spend forty-eight hours with Amelie. By Sunday night she'll be praying for solitude.

Lisa and Am left this afternoon, so I got home from work at four-thirty to find the flat empty. Well, empty apart from a suitcase, two bags, and this post-it note...

A suitcase is a bag in Lisa's world.I'd like to claim that's Amelie's handwriting, but it's not.

So having phoned Lisa and told her I'd be straight up, I put the kettle on, made a cup of tea, changed my clothes, and generally took it easy for twenty minutes, before finally grabbing the luggage and leaving. Naturally my carbon footprint was very much on my mind (as was the fact that I might lose my parking space), so I decided to walk. I'd gone about a hundred yards before I realised it was about to pour with rain and I didn't have a jacket. So as I rounded the corner by the hospital and began the steep climb up the hill, my face, like the sky, had a look of thunder.

All of which made it the perfect time to bump into full-time friends and part-time picnickers, S & A. Seeing me trudging away from my flat with a suitcase and a sad face, they naturally assumed I'd had a row with Lisa and walked out. Five minutes later, I'm still not sure I'd convinced them otherwise. It's not easy explaining your actions when you're too out of breath to talk.

Personally I was more mortified by the fact that having got changed in a hurry, I'd grabbed the same top I wore at the picnic last Sunday. They're going to think I only have one outfit. Mind you, it could have been worse. If they'd seen that my suitcase was full of women's clothes, they'd really have been worried.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Lisa's Mum came round yesterday (and I didn't even know she was unconscious), and just as she was about to leave, two of the lightbulbs in the living room blew. I think it was the surge of static electricity generated by her sliding off the sofa. We have very high ceilings here (it's the only thing Amelie can't reach), and to change the bulbs, we need to use a stepladder. So as I walked out of the door to give her Mum a lift home, Lisa said she'd ascend skywards and bring light to the world. I'm paraphrasing her there.

Naturally, as someone concerned for the welfare of my fiancée (and even more concerned that I might be left raising Amelie on my own), I told her to wait until I got back. Bearing in mind that she has a history of falling down cliffs, steps, hills, and basically anything that involves using her legs, I wasn't sure she should use a ladder unsupervised. Naturally she disagreed and said she'd do it anyway. So I checked her life insurance policy and left.

I returned fifteen minutes later to find the living room in silence and semi-darkness. So I looked up at the lightbulbs, then clocked the stepladder in the middle of the room, before finally noticing the body of Lisa on the floor. It was at that point that my heart stopped beating. Never mind going up the steps, I thought she'd climbed the stairway to heaven.

Needless to say, the moment Lisa saw me clutching my chest and turning white, she jumped up and started laughing. Then promptly stopped when she realised I was in cardiac arrest. I've always said that the secret of a successful relationship is the ability to make each other laugh. So I've told her not to do it again.

Monday, July 13, 2009

It's the Famous Five on a picnic!

Amelie's drinking lashings of ginger beer. It's no wonder she kept throwing up on the rug.

Gully GoshBut that aside, what do you call a woman with a seagull on her head?


Well, she's in the shadows and on a summer holiday. Unfortunately she looks more like Roy Orbison to me.

But anyhoo, Lisa and I invited our friends S & A around for Sunday lunch yesterday. We actually extended the invitation a couple of weeks ago, after which I had second thoughts about the baby food stains on the carpet, the clutter of toys in the living room, and the lingering odour of vomit (I really should talk to Lisa about that), and promptly decided to take them out for a picnic. At which point it started raining.

But as luck would have it, the clouds broke for a few hours yesterday, so Lisa spent the morning applying fake tan to her legs, then put on a pair of jeans, and we headed off to Queen's Park with a couple of rugs and a supermarket trolley's worth of food. Having wandered around for a few minutes looking for a shady spot where we weren't likely to be hit by a cricket ball, 'A' trod in some dog poo, and we decided to head for the canine-free zone on the other side of the park.

Eyes Wide ShutWe ended up on a slope under a tree, eating sandwiches and sausage rolls, while Amelie attempted a roll of her own. I don't know if she was deliberately trying to re-enact a nursery rhyme, but whilst crawling up the hill to fetch a pail of water, she lost her balance and went tumbling down the slope. Unfortunately she only completed a couple of rolls before our guests saved her, which was a bit of a shame. I haven't seen anything so funny in ages. I'd have been happy for her to roll all the way to the bottom. At least it would have given me time to get my camera out.

Anyhoo, we had a very nice afternoon catching up on all our news. I'm now fully up to speed with the latest developments in the hospital pharmacy department. Apparently only the other day, my old manager asked 'S' if he'd seen me recently, which was very touching. Unfortunately he didn't want to know how I am or how the job's going, he was just after my views on Big Brother. He's obviously missing the important conversations we had last summer.

But ultimately, when you're out for the day with another couple, there's really only one activity you should be trying. So having polished off the apple crumble and home-made cookies supplied by our guests, we indulged in a bit of swinging...

Unfortunately Amelie was more interested in gnawing her way through the safety bar at the front, leaving black rubber marks all over her face. As Lisa puts it, about one minute into the video, "She looks like she's been up the chimney".

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Someone's written this on the side of a council house in Hereford Street, just around the corner from me...

New Horisons
It says:

When the shadow of the grasshopper falls across the trail of the field mouse on green and slimey grass as a red sun rises above the western horizon silhouetting a gaunt and tautly muscled Indian warrior perched with bow and arrow cocked and aimed straight at you, it's time for another martini.

At least, that's what it's meant to say. I think the author's fountain pen leaked on the right hand side. Personally I assumed it was just a load of incoherent gibberish from someone with mental health problems, but apparently not. A quick consultation with Mr Google reveals that it was inspired by a mural painted on the wall of a bar called Vesuvio in San Francisco. The original looks like this...

Shouldn't that be 'Native American'?
Personally I prefer the Brighton version. We can't spell horizon, and have an aversion to the word green. I think that sums us up nicely.

Anyhoo, I took that photo (the first one) this morning whilst out on a walk with Amelie. We're planning a picnic for this afternoon, so I was out checking the price of umbrellas. As it turned out, we stumbled into some kind of 'situation' in the town centre. We'd just headed into New Road (click here if you can't picture the scene - that's me in the denim jacket), and were immediately overtaken by a police car with sirens wailing. It joined another one which was already parked outside the Theatre Royal, where a copper was attempting to calm down a slightly distraught lady.

I walked on, only to meet another police car coming from the other direction. At which point the cops started closing the road and asking everyone to leave. I thought it was a slightly heavy-handed response to a woman with PMT, but as I evacuated Amelie to the other end of the street, two fire engines came screaming around the corner, almost ran us over, and stopped outside the theatre. I'd have taken photos, but frankly there were more sirens than a second world war air raid, and I was worried about Amelie's eardrums.

So I'm not sure what all the fuss was about. Either someone was threatening to throw themselves from the front row of the upper circle after a bad review, or it was just another actor's career going up in smoke.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Whilst in town this afternoon, I bumped into a porter I used to know when I worked at Brighton General. I'm not saying NHS salaries are low, but I met him in the 99p shop. We were both on our way to Aldi. Anyhoo, having asked how I am and how the new job's going, his next words were "I think you left at the right time". He went on to tell me that within weeks of waving goodbye to the pharmacy stores, they discovered that the place was riddled with asbestos. As we speak, teams of specialists with protective masks are dismantling the building bit by bit while the pharmacy invoicing team try to work under polythene sheets. But still, what better place to find life-threatening asbestos particles than the ceiling above a shelf of cancer drugs? You've got to look on the bright side.

And talking of laughing at life, this was Amelie this evening, watching Lisa jogging on the spot...

She's right - the idea of Lisa exercising is laughable.

Friday, July 10, 2009

I've just been floored by a wild animal attack...

The mouse that roared.
I'd like to say her bark's worse than her bite, but she's got two teeth now.

All the better to bite you with.
On the down side, I have to take a couple of paracetamol every time she kisses me on the nose, but on the plus side, I no longer have to walk to the kitchen for a bottle opener.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Birdman of HurstpierpointI visited Hurstpierpoint Health Centre this afternoon. It's a facility the size of a hospital built in a village the size of a postage stamp. And most of it appeared to be empty. Hurstpierpointians are all loaded, so they probably get a consulting room each.

I didn't stay long today, but we start doing all-day clinics there in August, which is a bit of a worry. It's one thing to have seagulls pooing on your car all day, but in Hurstpierpoint they have an altogether better class of birdlife. Apparently I can expect gangs of marauding peacocks pecking at my paintwork. When they told me that doing the clinic would be another feather in my cap, I didn't realise they meant petrol cap.

But I've been bolstered this afternoon by the news that my next two years of study are essentially unnecessary. On my return from the Sussex countryside, I checked my work e-mails and found one confirming my application for the City & Guilds Certificate in Diabetic Retinopathy Screening. I have two years to complete the online course, before sitting my final exams, but whilst looking at the website this afternoon, I found that you can try a practice exam before you take the real thing. So six weeks into my new job, I decided to give it a try. You're allowed an hour to complete the thing, so I took my time and gave it ten minutes. And...

Medical Practice
I think I can take it easy until 2011.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

I saw a gynaecologist and a physiotherapist at Crawley Hospital today. So all my problems with sexual athleticism are now sorted.

I'm joking of course. My problems with sexual athleticism are far from sorted. In reality the two healthcare professionals I met today were both there to see me, which is a bit of a turnaround. It makes a change to turn up at a hospital and give medical advice to a doctor.

But that wasn't the most satisfying aspect of my day. That moment came at 4:30pm when I packed up my flask, walked out of the consulting room, headed for the exit, and was immediately stopped by the lady on the reception desk. I assumed I'd forgotten to sign out (or been caught stealing pens), but it transpired that she wanted to tell me what an impression I'd made on one patient. I'd seen a young lady this afternoon who, as it happens, had no problems with her eyes, but was worried that her diabetes would one day send her blind. So having already discussed our respective young children and what a handful they are, I spent five minutes explaining retinopathy to her, and flicking through a few photos (of the eyes, not the kids).

She apparently went straight back outside and told the receptionists how lovely I am, and what wonderful feedback she'd had. If I'd known, I'd have told her to phone my boss. By this time tomorrow I could have been crewmember of the month.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

I think there's some kind of conspiracy going on. On Friday night, Big Sis settled down to write a begging letter to Alan Sugar, only for her laptop to die the death of a thousand crashes. Fortunately she's quite enterprising (you have to be if you want to go on The Apprentice), so she found a bloke on the internet, went round his house and gave him her laptop, before leaving without a receipt. He's not answering his phone now.

But glossing over that, the good news is that Big Sis managed to borrow a friend's computer at the weekend, wrote out her application and e-mailed it to me on Sunday. When we got back from St Leonards, I opened it up, crossed most of it out, and rewrote the first half, before turning off my computer and going to bed.

I got up on Monday morning to find a text message from Sis to say that her work laptop has died now too. How I laughed. Right up until the moment I pressed the power button on my PC and it failed to start. I'm not sure what's going on, but I think it's the ghost of Margaret Mountford trying to scupper Big Sis's chances of selling cheap stereos for a living.

I couldn't attempt to fix the problem yesterday as I was working in Crowborough all day. In Brighton I see patients from nursing homes, in Crowborough they're all from stately homes. One of them was three weeks short of her hundredth birthday, so I think the secret of a long life is money and servants. Sadly I only have one of those.

But I got on well with the nobility of Sussex, which proves I should have been born to a higher station, and returned home tired but satisfied, to spend an enjoyable evening banging my computer with a clenched fist. When that failed to work, I asked Lisa to phone PC World this morning and book it in for repair. She duly did so, and was told they have no available slots for the next week. Unless I want to walk out of a clinic on Friday morning.

But on the subject of walking out of clinics, my last four patients this afternoon all cancelled (it looked a bit like rain), so I escaped the diabetes centre early and, throwing caution to the wind, decided to drive straight across town with my PC under my arm (which makes changing gear difficult), and throw myself on the mercy of the PC World TechGuys.

Well all I can say is appointment schmappointment. Their bookings clerk might have claimed they were busy till August, but they could see the look of desperation in my eyes, and agreed to look at it there and then. The chap not only managed to identify the problem (a faulty memory chip), but agreed to replace it with a new one and said he'd charge me for a simple memory upgrade, rather than a full repair. It saved me forty quid on the price I'd have been charged if I'd had an appointment. Sometimes it pays to break the rules. I should put that on Sis's application.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Amelie may not have a big brother, but there's definitely someone watching her...

Who is the fairest of them all..?
I bought that rearview mirror in Tescos last night, so that I no longer have to drive along the A27 at 60mph with my back to the road every time she does her fake cough. Now I can check that she's not dying simply by glancing upwards. On the downside, despite costing £3.91 from the Tesco baby section, it has all the quality of a two-for-one deal at the pound shop, and in addition to distorting Amelie like a funhouse mirror (or maybe she always looks like that), the thing has to be fitted so close to my head that I might as well be wearing it. I've given myself eye strain trying to focus two inches from my face. But apart from that, it's lovely. Although I'll probably still crash the car by looking at it.

Anyhoo, the three of us have had a lovely weekend in St Leonards. It's surprising how relaxing it can be lying in bed all day while your parents look after your child. Amelie's turned into the Duncan Norvelle of the baby world in the last few days, and thinks that being chased is the funniest thing ever. Admittedly, 'ever' for her is nine months, so she's probably right. Most of the weekend has been spent taking it in turns to induce hysterical laughter simply by taking a step in her direction.

I did find time to do my good deed for the day year though. My parents wanted some coffee cups to replace a set which has gradually broken over the years, so I said I'd spend the next few months searching the charity shops of Sussex for them, in case someone with polar opposite tastes had decided to part with any. Ten minutes later I headed off into St Leonards and promptly found a set of six identical cups in mint condition for 50p each. To be honest, I wasn't surprised. They're not the sort of thing most people would want to have in the house, so I thought there was every chance I'd find them. I'm just shocked they had the nerve to charge so much.

And on the subject of ridiculous valuations, I went into a second-hand shop yesterday afternoon where a man (some would call him a burglar, but I'm not that judgemental) was trying to flog a couple of ornamental eggs which he claimed were original Fabergé. Having spent a good ten minutes insisting they were definitely Russian, definitely old, and probably priceless, the shop owner eventually offered him a fiver. He accepted immediately. So I'm not the only one who paid over the odds for a bit of tat.

It's about time I started taking care of my parents though. Their health seems to be failing fast. Only last week, my Dad coughed so hard that he gave himself a belly button hernia. No, really. Every time he gets a tickle in his throat, he has to hold his navel, otherwise his internal organs will come bursting out like a scene from Alien. Admittedly it's all very entertaining, and has given us a lot to laugh about, but if he carries on like this, he's going to struggle to get up the ladder to inspect the woodworm in the loft, and won't be able to cough out the toxic fumes next time Rentokil come round.

But fortunately, help is at hand. I've been in my new job for five weeks now, so I'm fully trained to deal with pensioners rambling on about their health problems. I told him to see his GP, and then bundled him out the door.

Friday, July 03, 2009

As it turns out, there wasn't a half-price insulin sale at Boots yesterday. Our office has been inundated with telephone calls today from Crawley residents who didn't get their appointment letters for yesterday's clinic until first thing this morning. We sent them all out a month ago, so I think Royal Mail must have been using the sack as a beanbag in the sorting office staff room. I'd write them a letter of complaint, but it probably wouldn't get there.

As for today, I had a very interesting chat this morning with a patient who had the upside-down glasses of a snooker player. It turns out she's a professional artist, and had the glasses specially made for her thirty years ago so that she could look up from the canvas and see her subject without lifting her head. She now restores priceless old paintings for a living. I might see what she can do with some of Lisa's drawings. They could do with a bit of work.

Anyhoo, the weekend's here, so Lisa, Amelie and I are off to St Leonards for a bit of rest and relaxation. Other people have live-in nannies; we just move in with the babysitters.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Fired UpI might spend my working days with diabetics, but it turns out they're not the only ones with Sugar in their blood. I received word from Big Sis this afternoon that she's made it through the first stage of Sir Alan's selection process, and landed herself an interview for The Apprentice next week. By late September, Nick Hewer could be rolling his eyes at my sister.

Unfortunately, back here in the real world, she has work-related meetings scheduled for that day, and might not be able to make it. So on the downside, she risks being fired if she attends, but on the plus side, it'll be good practice for week one of the TV show.

As for my own apprenticeship, I've spent the day in the heat of Crawley Hospital, wondering where all the patients are. Of the fourteen diabetics we had booked in for this morning, only five turned up. And it wasn't much better this afternoon. Either people don't like to attend medical appointments when the weather's nice, or there was a one-day sale on insulin down at the local chemist.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Asteroid Hyalosis. No, really.I had a patient the other day with Asteroid Hyalosis, an ocular condition which enables you to see Halley's Comet more than once every 75 years. At least, that's what I told him. To be honest, the man might have had stars in his eyes, but he had a far from heavenly body, so I asked him not to hold it against me.

Anyhoo, as shocking as it may sound to anyone who hasn't actually seen me work, I didn't really know what I was talking about. I might be a rising star in the world of retinal screening, but Asteroid Hyalosis was an alien concept to me. So I looked it up on Wikipedia this morning, where I had a close encounter with the following fact:

"[Asteroid Hyalosis] is known to occur in humans, dogs and chinchillas".

Humans, fine. Dogs, fair enough. But chinchillas?? Next they'll be telling me hamsters get glaucoma.

That wasn't the only eye-opening bit of information I received today though. One of my tasks is to check that each patient's GP hasn't changed since their last visit. So whilst chatting to a nice lady at Lewes Hospital this afternoon, I said "Are you still with Dr Barker?". To which she replied "No, he's dead". I followed that up with a startled "Really?", and she said "Yes, he was hit by a train".

I was tempted to refer her for psychiatric treatment on the spot, but as it turns out, she's right. I'm glad I asked now. It might not have looked good if we'd sent the results letter to a dead man.

In other work-related news, I had a patient yesterday who was old enough to be my father, and who arrived wearing a shirt identical to one I used to wear at the pharmacy stores. Bearing in mind that it's taken Lisa two years to stop reminding me that I have the dress sense of a Weymouth pensioner, the chances of her letting this one lie are slim. Which is more than I can say for the patient.