They SHALL go to the ball.......! Med School Graduation

He's only gone and done it!!

J is officially, 100%, complettamundo a DOCTOR. We are both over the moon and I am super proud. 6 years of stress and long hours and library visits and ward rounds and blood pressures and and and...

So last weekend we both went to a ball! J's medical school arrange a whole weekend in a luxury country hotel (this one was pretty impressive). You pay a fee and then food, drinks, activities etc are all included. And they were good.

We arrived on the Friday to a bottle of prosecco and goodie bags in the room and then started getting ready for the 1920s themed evening. Cue braces and trilby hats and feathers and headbands!

The evening was really well organised - a BBQ with Pimms and then inside for casino tables with fake money and dancing. Everyone had also gone to lots of effort which was a relief - avoided that AWFUL feeling of having tried way too hard on fancy dress and then looking ridiculous #phew. Anyway we had a LOVELY time and danced the night away (ouchmyfeetandthisisonlythefirstnight).

The next morning everyone got up feeling slightly worse for wear - this weekend proved to be concrete evidence for the effectiveness of Hair Of Dog. The mood lightened considerably though when we saw the BOUNCY CASTLE MEN TURN UP! And this was also no ordinary bouncy castle. We are talking inflatable assault course! After an initial setback - thefirstpersonwentonwearingshoesandpiercedit - we shedded the shoes and socks and got involved. J got far too competitive and raced friends resulting in sorry looking friction burns for days afterwards...

After lunch the official sporting events began. We were split into teams to compete in old school sports day events - egg and spoon, sack race, obstacle course, sprint, wheelbarrow race etc! Competition was fierce and the results were so tight we were faced with a tiebreaker (Blues - M, versus Orange - J). The race officials proposed sprint deciders BUT THE ORANGE TEAM COULDN'T DEAL WITH OUR SPEED #guesswhoswritingthisMnotJ...! They were intimidated so change of final race to an obstacle course had to happen. Which the Orange team won. BOO. We'll take the moral victory on this one though Team Blue...

Impressive attempts at the wheelbarrow race from all involved!

Just as we were starting to feel slightly less full after breakfast and lunch, they served up afternoon tea on the lawn (Hello Downton Abbey!). Scones and cakes and tea and coffee consumed then it was time to get ready for the ball!

We went back down to the lawns for champagne and canapes (I still feel full days later) and it was amazing seeing everyone in their tuxedos/dresses! I opted for a recyclable dress for other occasions rather than a full on princess dress which was a long term good decision but I had Cinderella-dress-envy on the night.

After [lots of] photos we headed inside again to a beautifully decorated room with table and name labels and twinkly nights (and wine on the table and £8000 behind the bar - hello!). We then sat down to a four-course dinner which was yumbo jumbo. At this point, drinks began being drunk and drinking was drunk and merriness was ALL around! There was even a photobooth plus accessories for drunken photomoments too...

Lots of fun and dancing and then crashing out in bed. We were very sad to leave the next day and get back to normal lives without castles and Rapunzel windows and dresses and suits and champagne but it was awesome to be able to do it all the same.


The Garden of Peaden (Dinner with JAM).

For tonight's dinner we turned to Jamie's 15 Minute Meals and cooked up the The Best Fish Baps with Mushy Peas & Tartare Sauce. And these might well be the best too...

They were crispy and yet light and full of flavour, although we would add more chilli to the fish next time to give it a bit more kick. The peas are incredible

To make the fish baps, peas and tartare sauce you'll need the following:

 (Plus frozen peas, a medium potato, chilli/paprika/cayenne pepper/whateveryoulikereally, plain flour and a little olive oil. Oh, and parmesan. And lettuce.)

Season the fish with salt, pepper and the cayenne pepper or other chosen spice and then roll both sides in the plain flour. In the meantime, slice up the potato thinly and get on the boil in a saucepan. Whizz up some natural yoghurt, capers, cornichons and lettuce and season (hello homemade tartare sauce). 

The lettuce is supposed to be little gem [andprobablyshouldbe], our green leaves were pretty strong tasting...

Heat up a couple  of tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan and then lay the fish down. It should bubble and sound yum... When golden and crispy turn over and put some grated parmesan on top of the cooked side. At this point, add a good handful of frozen peas to the potatoes and also the leafy tops of some fresh mint. 

Slice your baps in half and slather on some of your tartare sauce.

Drain the peas, potatoes and mint and then whizz up (if you're like us and like chunky mushy peas then obviously don't go too crazy on the whizzing).. By this point, the fish should be fully cooked and delicious. 

Add your fish to the baps and then layer some cress on top before putting your burger lid on! Mushy peas can be added either in a splodge, or attempt to make into a chef-style smudge if you feel you're up to it. We weren't, as it turns out. Which leads me to my own name for this dish: The Garden of Peaden.


Failed smudge becomes Garden of Peaden

Hope you enjoy this as much as we did, definitely doesn't take 15 minutes (more like 25) but still easy, tasty and not too heavy either. 

Let us know if you've tried more of Jamie's 15 Minute Meals and can recommend any please!


Medical Elective Part 2

I've finished my exams, and with them hopefully medical school! I've now got a week off before I start shadowing at Leeds General Infirmary on the Cardiology ward for three weeks and thought it the perfect time to post the next post about my elective.

...I awoke to both the sound of my alarm quietly bleeping on my cheap Casio watch AND of someone saying Hullo? Hullooo? BUGGER! I'd overslept and it was 8:05am. Faster than I ever thought possible I chucked on my light blue scrubs and newly bought Crocs (it was a good look) and quickly orienting myself found the front door to find a 5ft 7 doctor, roughly 60 years old with short curly grey hair wearing suit trousers, an African style top and sandals complete with white coat and the thickest glasses imaginable (Think Professor Trelawney in Harry Potter). This was Dr Kayumbo the doc I was to shadow for the next 8 weeks. He had a tendency to touch your forearm when he talked to you and stand just that bit closer than normal. Add to this image a high-pitched laugh. I distinctly remember thinking on my first day, he is the nicest man alive.

He had just been at the morning meeting where the on-call night team handover patients to the day team. These took place every morning at 8:00am and were entirely in Swahili, I went to three before I realised no one cared if I was there. When a patient died one of the two student nurses there read a passage of the Bible aloud which despite my atheism  was quite nice to be a part of.

My tour started in the main offices of the hospital; three in total for the hospital secretary, pharmacist and doctor in charge. Next was the pharmacy; a large room which was dark except for a few fluorescent bulbs casting shadows on the old chemical bottles and unused, aged medical equipment sitting on rows and rows of shelves. There was definitely an eerie feeling about this room. Maybe because of the state of disrepair everything was in it felt like the staff were ashamed of the pharmacy and you carried that in with you, it had this feeling of danger, of abandonment.

Anyway next was the operating theatre (to be best covered in another post as I had my second 'emergency' in there) followed by the medical ward, maternity ward and adjoining delivery suite, patient toilets and lab. The standards of the hospital were lower than I had ever imagined. This was to be an interesting 8 weeks.

Patients generally have to walk miles to get to the hospital unless they are critically ill then the hospital ambulance (a Jeep painted white) picks them up. The majority of the patients I saw were children with malaria or diarrhoea & vomiting and most of the family, including elderly grandparents, would walk the long distances daily in the Tanzanian heat to be there and then walk back every evening; except the mothers who could share the hospital bed with their children. On arrival, the families would then have to cook food on their small stoves in the hospital grounds to feed their ill relative. No hospital food here. Basically the cheapest, and therefore only food most people eat in Tanzania is 'ugali' which is cornmeal cooked until it turns into a thick dough-like ball. The poor ate no protein or fat, just this nutritionally deficient cornmeal. These people were tough! Food is eaten without any cutlery in TZ, the best way to eat ugali is to make it into a small disc and press in the middle so that you can collect sauce in the indent. Turns out there's a knack to it..!

In the UK ward rounds are done every day; the consultant visits each patient and the junior doctors give them an update of what happened the previous day, before talking with the patient and seeing how they are doing. This means that an experienced doctor can assess how the patient is doing and intervene as necessary. Things were a little different at Kilimatinde. Ward rounds were only done every other day at best, unless Dr Kayumbo was informed of specific patients that had become critically ill and warranted an extra visit. The problem with this of course is that if someone deteriorated between ward rounds, they would only get seen if the consultant was informed or else could face waiting a minimum of 24 hours for the next round. After about a week I got a serious itch to want to resolve this so started leading ward rounds on the alternate days to Dr Kayumbo, minimising the risk of critically ill patients being left unseen and losing the fight. Even that little change made a difference and filled me with pride. It's the little things..!