Simon Says Study

I briefly mentioned ‘Simon Says Study’ on my Instagram stories yesterday, so I guess I should explain what is going on! I’m fully into studying for my next exam as well as writing my next assignment, and for this one I need a little help. Turns out Microbiology is complicated, and thorough, and quite confusing in some places. I’m very lucky to have a Simon in my life, a friend who is pretty much an expert in that field and who I can say ‘I don’t get this’ to and he can explain to me in one way or another whether that be drawing it out or explaining it in ‘Gemma’ terms. See an example of drawing it out in the image below, by Gemma terms I mean so simple anyone could get it! We arranged to have a study session last night, Simon writing an assignment of his own and me trying to get my head around Gram staining and Bacteriophages. I will crack this and I am ever so grateful to Simon for agreeing to help me!

 

Drawing out lipid membranes and proteins on the back of an envelope and suddenly I get it!

Other than that it’s been what I would like to call a bowel-themed week. Alongside writing an assignment about gut bacteria, I also had a day where I did two eviscerations on people with past procedures on their bowel. What is interesting about this is the fact that wherever you have had surgery in the past, especially in areas like that, you will see adhesions where organs would have normally been free moving. For example, the bowel can usually be moved about easily, it is attached by one side by what is called the mesentery. There is also the peritoneum down there that sits over everything and holds it in place, like a layer of fat that extends downwards and covers it all in an apron-like way. Generally, you can lift the peritoneum and then remove the bowel starting with the duodenum and extending downwards cutting through the mesentery. I hope you’re following me so far! In those that have had surgery or procedures, for example appendix or gall bladder removal, the areas of surgery can scar and form adhesions so areas of bowel become attached to places they would have not been before. Not only is this confusing for following the bowel for removal, but it also can make it much longer process for a trainee. I had to have help with one of the cases this week because I got really confused and knew I needed to stop, I was pleased that the other case actually went really well.

I think some of you may well ask why we remove the bowel. The bowel is examined along with all the other organs and can provide some very useful information. In some cases we even open the bowel, where we cut open the entire organ lengthways and open it out so you can see the membranes inside. The pathologist will look to see if there is any inflammation or conditions affecting the bowel, often this is done by observing a colour change in the tissues. Notably, I have seen a few cases where the bowel has been very dark or even black in places and this is where the bowel tissues have died or become necrotic. If the bowel is damaged this way in life the patient would have to have the sections of the damaged bowel removed which is a common procedure. By removing the bowel at post mortem it also means we can see the organs and structures below such as the kidneys, reproductive organs and bladder. As a trainee it often feels like removing the bowel is a big achievement towards the start of the evisceration and once I mostly mastered it I was quite proud of myself. I hope this was an interesting little insight into the bowel!

 

Are We Ready for Dying Matters last week, Rainbow NHS badge and my trusty hipster Grumpy Cat I have had since I started!

In other news, I am now the proud wearer of a Rainbow NHS badge. Our trust has been giving these out to people who pledge to support the open, inclusive and tolerant NHS, for those who don’t think any barriers should be there for people who identify in any LGBT+ way. When I saw these badges I knew I had to get one because I think they really could make a difference and show people that they don’t need to be scared about being who they are just because they are in a healthcare setting. More information can be found at their Twitter page here.

Hope you all are having a much quicker week than me, and if this applies to you don’t forget to vote today and have a lovely Bank Holiday weekend.

MG x

Dying Matters

What a Dying Matters Awareness Week it has been! I can’t believe my part in it is over and I managed to cram in three Death Cafes which only got bigger and better as the week went on. The first event at King George Hospital was small but a cheery discussion, my favourite part was discussing cryogenics with people who were amazed you could just freeze your head. The second was our regular event and was very well attended with a new face which was really exciting! I love our regulars so much but having new people come and discover what we do is the best. The third event at Queen’s Hospital was standing room only with a lot of pauses while people gathered their thoughts but the discussions were very poignant and important. I thought the fact the language around death was discussed was hugely significant especially to those in the health professions.

Death Cafe at work! Hopefully becoming a regular thing… watch this space!

Alongside these I attended a talk at what I think must be my favourite museum now, The Old Operating Theatre nearby the Guy’s Hospital where I used to work. It was a hilarious talk by Professor Ellis about Royal surgery that I enjoyed so much I didn’t want it to end. I resisted buying all the giant microbe toys while I was there but did cheekily treat myself to a perfect piece of jewellery.

I happen to think I had the best seat in the house at The Old Operating Theatre!

Yesterday I had one of the best Mortuary Insight Visits for staff that I have ever conducted. I felt like people were really engaged and learnt a lot from their time with me. I still love doing these and feel like I get a lot out of them too. My confidence of talking in front of people has grown and grown in recent times thanks to these.

For many reasons, this week has been a challenging one mentally for both me and my fiancé. It seems appropriate to mention that this week also happens to be Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK. Physically invisible illness is what I consider to be something we all are massively improving at being aware of but still has a lot of room for improvement. I see the effects at work, I feel them myself and I worry about them in other people.

People and socialising give me the worst anxiety sometimes, my cats are good at helping with that.

Lastly, I spent yesterday afternoon in absolute wonder at what the human body can do. I was given the opportunity to try and remember the names of all the bones of the skull that once upon a time I could reel off in seconds. Ten years ago, I knew them all and had my own cardboard skeleton I bought and made in my room with all the bones labelled. Yesterday I struggled and was asking everyone what that butterfly shaped bone in the middle of the skull was. I remembered as I was leaving work, it’s the sphenoid. It’s all still in there somewhere.

It kind of looks like a butterfly, if you squint.

I’ll leave you with a photo of the cemetery I see on the staff bus that I vow to visit one day. It’s near the hospital and I’m pretty sure I have family there. Have a great weekend everyone.

MG x

Death. Death. Death.

Well after another trip up to Hartlepool, this time to take an exam and hand in my first assignments, I feel thoroughly ready for some Dying Matters week action!

Happy, feeling positive face!

A brief update, I’m fully stuck into my course now and have met some great people. I have collected some information in my role as AAPT Student Representative and feeling totally positive about the future. Microbiology for Dummies will be firmly by my side for the next two months too, so if we meet expect to see it somewhere looking more and more dog-eared as time passes. It was great to be in Hartlepool, even if it was cold and rainy. The marina is good if you get to ever go there, but the wind whips through the masts of the moored boats and sounds like bats rushing through a cave, even through ear plugs at 2am.

My new friend, Microbiology for Dummies

We got to visit the ‘monkey’ again on his little pedestal and throw some more money at him for good luck. The money goes towards the local hospice, and we now have it in our heads to visit him every time at least once as tradition. Expect many a monkey photo in future!

Good to see you again monkey 🐒

So I want to discuss the word death. I’ve noticed in the last week that through publicising Death Cafe people always seem to ask if it can be called something different. Something less ‘death’. Frankly, I don’t consider the use of the word death inappropriate or insensitive no matter how many times people say it is. I would just like to say, we at one point wouldn’t say cancer. Cancer was a big thing that people avoided. They would say ‘the C word’, or any other way of avoiding actually saying cancer. Cancer is a horrible, truly terrible thing that has impacted my family and nearly every family I know. However, death will happen to everyone. Being opposed to the word death makes no sense to me and not using it is incredibly unhealthy.

I am well aware that a lot of my non-death related friends think I can be a bit much, and it has certainly become an obsession of mine which I’m willing to admit. Perhaps, it is that I have gone in a different unhealthy direction but people do not do themselves any favours by avoiding it completely. I’ll happily discuss this with anyone, anytime. Plus, I will always say death, dead or died in a practical sense. I’m obviously more sensitive around the bereaved but I’m aware of when words work best. In discussing it in general, it’s death!

MG x

Not So Wise Anymore

As you’ve probably seen all over my social media, I had all four of my wisdom teeth out yesterday. My first general anaesthetic, which was genuinely terrifying for me, and my first time at a different hospital than normal. I think I had made it out to be truly awful in my head, so when I woke up from the GA all I did was cry for a solid five minutes while everyone around me tried to figure out why. They were just tears of relief, nothing worse than that! In all honesty, the anaesthetist was so good at her job I don’t remember going under. So once I was awake again they kept telling me to try and sleep more but I was insisting on staying awake and not being tricked again. I am totally fine now apart from the pain, which is manageable with some very strong drugs that are making me mega drowsy.

Puffy face on one side, that was where the nasty cyst was

Wisdom teeth are, in my mind, one of those things they should take out in everyone as early as possible. Along with the appendix, tonsils and anything else people end up needing removed and don’t really need. These little evolutionary hang ups generally don’t do much and just cause problems in the few that have them. Whip them out early and avoid all the nasty things that could happen I say!

My first hospital bed and cannula, achievement unlocked!

The reasons we have wisdom teeth are not entirely clear, but those who have tried to figure it out seem to think it has something to do with our early ancestors diets and processing foods we now no longer eat in abundance. While we opt for softer foods, our ancestors had little choice and would often eat rough food like plants and meats that would require a lot more chewing power. To this end, they also mostly had much larger jaws and muscles around the jaw to assist with this. Now we are left with much smaller jaws, no need for the extra chewing power and generally just some teeth that sit and cause problems in a lot of people. I know several people who have had other teeth removed when children because they’re jaw was small too!

A cute cartoon showing exactly what my lower left molar was doing, only it wasn’t apologetic

My wisdom teeth, or third molars, had a whole range of problems. The upper two had erupted completely, but mostly sideways meaning they not only had a cutting surface pointing directly into my cheek but the other cutting point went into the gum below. The two lower had partially erupted, one more than the other. The one that had half erupted was easier to keep clean and had few problems but one had only just peeled through due to being impacted. When a tooth is impacted it is not facing up like all the other teeth but usually pointing towards the side of the teeth next to it. A combination of the impaction and partial eruption meant I had formed a little cyst which kept filling with pus. They were a mess of ignored for a little bit too long sadly!

I got to rock the delightful hospital socks I see all the time on our deceased patients too!

I believe it’s something like 4 out of 5 third molars that have to be extracted if they appear in the mouth. I did ask the surgeon if I could keep them but he told me it was an infection risk, mostly a lie I believe but I know that a lot of teeth break upon removal and they can’t give you the bits of them. One of those times I wish he’d been honest and not told me a lie to make it sound worse than it is!

These two keeping me company as always

Well I’m full into recovery, got lots of medication and feeling a lot better than I thought. The left hand side of my face is super puffy, I have a sore throat from whatever tubes they shoved down there and I can’t open my mouth very wide at all. Each day it will get better and I will be back to normal service soon I’m sure.

MG x

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑