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Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Written finals and the aftermath

It's been a long month since my last proper entry, yes? I wanted to blog while I was studying, but kept on telling myself that that wasn't a good idea, because if I switched on the computer it would stay on for the whole day, so I resorted to only switching it on in the morning and at night before I sleep, to check mail. In between that time, I'll be confined to a silent room, or the hypnotic S.A.S.H. cd that I played repeatedly while I was trying out past year papers (of which there were only 2 available to us. WT beep...).

Come to think of it, I think I spent more time reading trashy romance novels (apparently the no-brainers were more appealing than actual brainy books of baby Kumar & Clark, Impey's O&G, Psychiatry at a Glance). OMG, I can't remember if I actually studied Surgery! The risky thing about this exams was that I didn't even do a timetable, which is what I'd normally do. Don't know why, this time I didn't, so it was haphazard studying, to say the least. Went for pharmacology revision lectures, but apart from that, I was stuck at home. Didn't even go to the gym, and for the first time in 4 years, I actually resorted to oven food. *yes - gasp* Face it, I was lazy lah. =P In fact, I didn't even study Paeds, till the morning of the exam itself! I think the panic started in 1 week before the exam (luckily I read through the whole of Medicine and Surgery some 8 weeks before during my Senior firms and still retained bits of info in that pea-sized brain of mine), and I was diligently doing work (mostly Phase III), without the help of coffee (ok, maybe 1 cup in the morning) or blue spot (aka UK's cheaper version of red bull).

Written Finals

The day for the exams came. It came in the form of a marathon of 3 3-hr papers successively, on consecutive days. By the end of the first day, I was mentally exhausted that I couldn't find the energy to climb up the stairs to my room. Yes, it was that bad. 6 hours of sheer concentration is so very draining. It was literally a struggle to stay awake and trudge through more notes that night and try to cram in whatever my poor brain could take.

We didn't know that the first paper was mainly a Specialties paper, meaning that it was mostly O&G and Paeds questions. And apparently the afternoon paper was Medicine/Surgery, and a combination of pharmacology, etc. We weren't told. I suppose if we had known, it would have been better as we could have tried cramming in those 2 topics in that morning instead of Med/Surg (to think I actually just read the Paeds book that morning for the first time. Yes, OMG...

After Friday's paper, I came home and called a couple of friends in SG, relieved that I've finished half of the exams, and there were just 2 more days to go, and we had the weekend to revise OSCEs. Needless to say, by the end of Sunday, the household felt as if we had no more exams. We were sluggish, didn't want to touch any books. And we suffered for that - burned the midnight oil, revising for OSCEs into the wee hours of Monday morning, where the first OSCE was supposed to take place at 8.45am. I must say, being a Clinical Skills tutor has its advantages. In fact, I taught the 3rd years the week before on various clinical skills, and it served as really good revision. Right now, I can say that I'm proficient in neuro examination (most med students would rather not carry out this in any situation, but the main ones like CVS, Resp of Abdo). I can literally do this with my eyes closed - like the dermatomes/myotomes, nerve roots innervating which segments of the body. The saying really goes true: Practice makes perfect. =)

For the OSCEs this time, I didn't feel prepared for it, yet when I went into the stations, it just flowed naturally (with the exception of 3-4 stations, out of a total of 22 stations. Screwed up those, I'm sure of it.). Come to think of it, I actually enjoyed doing the paper, and doing the OSCEs, although as usual, it was nerve-wrecking. I'm just glad it's over. =)

The Aftermath

After the OSCE on the last day, K and I went to Wimbledon to watch 'Jesus Christ Superstar'. Then when I got home, got dressed for the Finalists Disco at my school. Haven't been to a school disco in ages, and thought that I'd let loose that day, since exams were finished after all. When I first walked in and sat down, Vino approached me and told me that I had to go to the dancefloor to join her. WT.... Usually she doesn't give 2 hoots about approaching me, let alone talking to me (unless it's for something useful like combining some SMSL event with ISS or something like that). It was really surprising, to say the least.

Oh well, anyway, talked to some people, danced with a group of others. Oh yeah, danced with Baek for a couple of songs, and on hindsight, I think it was really quite provocative. By the end of the night, some people were asking if Baek was my bf. Erm... At least Baek was respectful enough to not put his hands on where it wasn't wanted. Try using your imagination. *Wink* Drank a bit too. Think I drank too much too fast, on an empty stomach. Although I didn't puke, I was wobbly by the end of the night. Oh yes, and I had a tiara that night too! =D

Anyway, by the end of the night, S wanted to walk Cindy home, and I saw J in the lockers, so I asked if he could walk me home (he stays a street away, and besides he was walking with Tim his housemate), and he said yes. Apparently when we got to the foyer, both J and I had to push S to actually ask Cindy. But it wasn't successful. By the time I realised that S was behind me, we were already out on the main road. Anyway, S walked me home, and J was, I think pissed enough that he didn't notice that both of us had already separated from their group! Haha... Usually I'll be the one walking S home, but this very one time, he actually walked me home coz I couldn't walk straight. Yeah... Got home in one piece, nevertheless, and we talked for a bit before going to sleep. At 4am.

The next morning, S was so 'kind' enough to wake me up at 10am (?!?!). Not enough sleep, especially just after exams!! Anyway, we headed down to our usual kebab shop with K for brunch. Nhish joined us a little later. But it was good sinful food! Simply delicious! =)


S and N were supposed to go for a camping trip with Darren, but Darren couldn't make it coz he still has firms, so S asked me and N had apparently asked J the night before at the disco. So the 4 of us met at Mac's on Thurs lunchtime to discuss what gear to bring, what food to buy, and then we headed down to Wimbledon to get our gear. I've never been hiking before (I doubt sec sch's YLTC and OBS counts. Besides, that was soooo long ago). I wasn’t intending to get any gear, perhaps just an outdoor coat, but I ended up also getting ladies’ hiking boots (which was a cheap deal). I’ll say otherwise when my credit card bill comes. =/ After that, we got food from Sainsbury, which was freaking heavy to carry back, considering it was mostly tins of canned food.

Spent the whole of Thursday night packing and sorting the food into bags for the various meals, so that we can just take 1 bag without having to take all the tinned cans, and put them back in the car again. Anyway, we set off early on Friday morning, in Stan’s car, with N in the front, and J and I at the back. The car was packed with food and camping equipment and our haversacks. Do u know it took us at least an hour just to get out of London itself?? All in all, the trip up north took us about 6 hours, with 2 wrong turns. Nevertheless, we reached there on time and in one piece. =)

Snowden is apparently the second highest mountain in the UK, and the tallest one in Wales. We were really close to the Wales/Ireland border, about an hours’ drive. Imagine the distance covered that day!

We got to the campsite, and set about finding an area of flat ground which is not muddy. Then got to fixing up the tents. None of us have ever fixed up a tent before, apart from J (went through NS), so it took us quite look to figure it out – an hour to fix up 2 tents. Seeing as we were the only ones there, J thought we were the only fools to actually camp there at the start of autumn (thank goodness 2 girls came after us, and they took ~10 mins to set up their tent. Yikes).

Since it was getting dark, we started cooking dinner, and the guys tried to build up a fire. It lit, but only with the help of petrol, and after that, it died out. Guess the damp firewood didn’t help. So we cooked the food with the help of a tiny stove we brought along. Then we washed up, gathered up into S’s tent and talked for a bit, before heading to our tents for sleep. S and N shared a tent, and thanks to their instigation, J and I took the other. Wonder what J thought of that… was he horrified, or secretly pleased? Hmm… Well, N started snoring soon after his lights went out, while J and I were reading, thanks to his reading lamp. Then the lamp went off, and we talked a bit, or at least I was asking questions and he was answering, then I drifted off to sleep. The tent was quite small, and the side which J was sleeping on apparently had a ‘J’s dent in the ground’ (uncomfortable for sleeping), so he had to sleep very close to me. Think I kind of turned towards him a couple of times during the night, so ended up bumping his butt quite a few times. =/ But think he had a gd night’s rest, hopefully. And thank goodness he doesn’t snore. I would so smother him if he did. =P

Sat morning, a wet morning. I woke to N’s imitation of sheep (meh-h-h). It was quite funny actually. Don’t know if J was woken up, coz he was turned to the other side, and when I turned back, he didn’t want to turn back so that I could change first. Oh well, I did, and escaped the confines of the tent to make breakfast for the guys, and lunch for later in the day.

We headed off by driving to the Youth Hostel, where there was one of the trails leading up Snowden. The lady there, however, advised us that it would be treacherous to hike up coz of the wet weather and muddy terrain. Moreover, we were amateurs, without any proper hiking gear or survival supplies, so she said not to go. Us, being the gung-ho fools that we are, just thought heck it, and give it a try, and if we can’t make it, we could always turn back.

That indeed happened for N, after climbing up for about an hour or so, he turned back as his legs got too tired to climb, and went to the car to wait for us. The 3 of us soldiered on, with it being quite steep, it was a tedious climb, the visibility was short, barely 5m in front and behind coz of thick mist and heavy torrential rain. I had to take a couple of steps each time, catch my breath, then head onwards. It was tough-going, but strangely enough, enjoyable actually. The air was getting thinner halfway up the mountain, and that definitely didn’t help the climbing. Btw, with the visibility being so poor, I used the sheeps bah-ing to tell whether there are cliffs or not (no bah-ing=probable cliff)

Reaching the summit (in 3 hrs), we took photos in the midst of pouring rain and gusty winds. Took the shelter of the restaurant there to have a bit of lunch, and within an hour, we headed back down. S and J just zoomed down continuously, whereas I was behind (which was strange, coz I was leading when we were climbing up). It didn’t help that my jeans was soaking and hindered my movement downwards, with it sticking to my legs. At times, J stayed behind to make sure that I didn’t lag too far behind. In fact, both of them took turns. Guess I was really slow, coz it was so slippery and muddy that I didn’t want to take the risk of actually rolling down the mountain. Fell a couple of times, so now bruises adorn me. =/

Finally we reached the bottom, after 2 hrs. By then, we were all drenched, our jeans and boots were soaking wet and heavy, and ironically, the sun came out! Argh… J still had the energy to scout around the area and he walked back to the campsite (while the rest of us sat in the car and S drove)! Well, that night, we managed to build a beautiful campfire, with the help of dry firewood and lots of charcoal and fuel (yup, we resorted to getting those at the petrol station). The 3 guys handled the firewood, while I managed the food. I’m proud to say that my guys had a gd meal that night. =)

More later, I’m going to sleep now. *Yawn*