Day 3 - Pillows, Plates and Paralysis

Day 3. Woke up feeling absolutely shattered, and as I write this current entry it's 1.35am the next day - looking forward to tomorrow night when I'll finally be able to have a full night's sleep.

Today began with our first lecture in the Values, Law and Ethics module, taught by Professor Bill Fulford, an incredibly well-spoken previous consultant psychiatrist. He introduced the idea of value in clinical contexts to us, and how the combination of evidence-based medicine alongside values-based medicine can lead to better outcomes.

To illustrate this, he gave us a choice between two treatments for ourselves - one would give us a fixed period of time to live, after which we would die. The other would have a 50% chance of curing our ailment, and a 50% chance of instantly killing us. He asked us to consider how long the period granted by Treatment A would need to be in order forus to take it - much more difficult and complex than it appears at first. Note to self - read up on Tom Dobbs and Zoe Barber, two trainee surgeons referenced in the talk.

Following that, we gathered in our CBL groups to discuss an ethical dilemma involving the withdrawal of ventilation from a paralysed patient, considering several priniciples including bodily autonomy, best outcomes and the sanctity of life. We were establishing how each principle might apply from the point of view of the patient as well as any other individuals involved - got into a philosophical discssion as to whether withholding information or treatment was the same as actively killing someone.



We were also given information on how our assessments worked today - formative theoretical and clinical exams at the end of every 6-week block, followed by a summative assessment in the summer examination period. It was also revealed that we could potentially graduate with honours by doing exceedingly well across all four years. I very much liked the fact that the pass/fail marks are set in advance of the tests, and there was no negative marking or adjusting marks to fit a pre-determined distribution. This means that everyone stands to benefit from working together, and there shouldn't be any competition between us. At least in theory, of course.

Lectures ended at 12.30 today, so we went to check out the postgraduate mini societies fair. I found the squash and badminton groups, which I plan to join, as well as stalls for TEDx at Warwick (I do love a good lecture) and St John's Ambulance, whom I did first aid training with some time ago now.

More importantly, we passed a Domino's pizza giveaway stall, the finest and most sacred of freshers' fair institutions. We were given free slices, alongside bags (pictured above) containing many vouchers providing discounts - does anyone actually pay full price for Domino's pizza ever? I certainly haven't, and don't plan on starting now. We passed another group of their staff outside, who seemed all to happy to dump handfuls of these bags on us with wry smiles. I guess that's our food sorted for the next couple of weeks.

Speaking of which, my crockery set arrived at the house today, courtesy of Amazon, which means I can cook properly again - hurrah. Additionally, I noticed by the door a Hermes delivery note, indicating that the pillows I had ordered had for some reason been left in the outbuilding behind our house yesterday, which we are not allowed to enter. Still, I now have tools for both eating and sleeping, which is definite progress.

"You won't have time for sleeping, soldier. Not with all the bed-making you'll be doing"  -Zapp Brannigan

"You won't have time for sleeping, soldier. Not with all the bed-making you'll be doing"
-Zapp Brannigan

At this point I had the choice to either nap or eat. I think the choice I made is fairly obvious, and I woke up quite refreshed just in time to head to the MedSoc societies fair at the medical school. We'd all purchased our MedSoc memberships (the central 'hub' society which you must join to partake in the medical-specific societies) and went our own ways.

I made the cardinal sin (as all freshers' do) of signing up to far too many groups, but I think this is an important part of settling in at university. Alongside the medic-specific badminton and squash groups, I signed up for the Surgical Society, NeuroSoc, Street Doctors, Friends of MSF, Oncology & Palliative Care and more besides. Societies were such a huge part of my Newcastle experience that I can't wait to get stuck in here and embrace the opportunities that they offer, and meet like-minded people.

When we got back, having discussed our different interests and the groups we had joined, I opted to manufacture a simple curry for myself and a medical housemate. Due to lack of the proper utensils (and any real cooking prowess whatsoever) the chicken was on the burnt side of crispy, and the sauce rather over-reduced. Still, my housemate ate very graciously and we discussed our medical interests further and the time coming ahead of us.

Now 2.08am and time to become absorbed by the pile of pillows now adorning my bed.