Day 26 - Murky Blobs (20/10/2017)

So little sleep.

We began with a lecture on the Human Tissue act, focusing on the idea of consent and how it plays into the logistics of cadaver storage and anatomical research. I've never been too concerned by the thought of what happens to my body after I die, other than the preference that as much useful material be taken as possible and the remainder be disposed of efficiently. It would also be quite cool to be a plastinate or classroom skeleton, for use either in the lab or some incredibly macabre amusement park attraction. I've found that people have really quite divided opinions on these topics, which leads to some very interesting conversations.

Anatomy of the liver, spleen and pancreas followed - thankfully I had done the bulk of the pre-reading and it did make a lot of sense. At this point we're starting to build a more complete picture of the abdomen, particularly the relations between the organs themselves. I've found that it's a lot easier to remember the relative positions and surface anatomy markers when there's simply more stuff to play with. My favourite anatomical plane so far is the transpyloric, which passes through the lumbar vertebra L1 and serves as a reference for many features, including the pylorus (bottom opening) of the stomach, the top of the gallbladder and the spleen. You can find it on your own body by taking the halfway point between your jugular notch (the dip between your neck and collarbone) and the pubic symphysis (the area in front of your coccyx).

We also had our introduction to radiography, which involved learning more about the different types of scan available (CT, MRI etc) and some tips and tricks in identifying structures in these scans. A lot of them seem to be murky blobs on top of more murky blobs at the moment, but I'm sure this stuff will become easier with practice. It's gratifying in particular to be able to follow the blood vessels in images and know what they are in advance.

There was also a seminar on the structure of the portal venous system and the clinical problems that can arise, particularly varices in the hindgut and oesophagus which could apparently bleed and drain an entire body's volume of blood in less than 10 minutes if left unchecked. Lots of gratuitous haemorrhoids too.

Delicious Marks & Spencer sushi

Delicious Marks & Spencer sushi

In the afternoon we had a clinical skills session, a runthrough of taking a history with a 'trained patient' - an actor who had learned a particular case. It was our job in pairs to go through the process from start to finish, with the focus being on our demeanor and how we interact with the patient rather than the content per se. Myself and colleague Imtiaz went first, and I think we did a decent job for our first go. We got helpful feedback from our classmates and the session facilitator as well as the simulated patient themselves, and I actually really enjoyed it. I did actually momentarily freeze when I first sat down - I recognised the actor from my interview, during which I felt that I had performed pretty poorly. Better this time at least.

It sounds really naive and kind of stupid, but I think most of us look forward to the Fridays more than any other day because of the anatomy and clinical focus - this is the stuff we're all here to learn, even though it's all obviously structured roleplay.

Got the bus back to uni from the hospital, fell asleep (again) but thankfully woke up just as it rolled into the university stop. Admittedly this was probably because of all the commotion around me rather than any sort of body clock function. That's clearly pretty wrecked right now.

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Wrote an article explaining how Bitcoin (and any other blockchain-based cryptocurrency) works in simple terms - will talk more about this later - and then headed to the GameSoc session to pick up last week's D&D session. We had a bunch more new players join, and Tom to his credit did a remarkable job managing an 8-person game. There was a point where my character managed to be both drowning underwater and on fire at the same time, thanks to strange game logic. Concluding this story next week.