Blood, and other stuff

The lab, or a lab of some sort

This has been one hectic week, and I couldn’t be happier to see the weekend. Don’t get me wrong, it was fun and I learned a lot, but there was so much packed into each day I was completely exhausted by the end of it. There’s nothing worse than waking up in darkness, getting ready, and heading out of the house into the pouring rain and freezing cold. It was worth it though as the Ulster hospital was great. Haematology, or the study of blood, blooding forming organs and diseases, is an interesting medical specialty. The haematologist’s day is spent not only on the ward seeing patients, but also in the lab looking slides of blood and bone marrow, and analysing blood results. This week was a bit of a trial by fire because my knowledge of haematology and cancers of the blood cells was very limited, and my mind was essentially a blank state. It is suprising how quickly you pick up things under pressure, and when you are constantly being put on the spot. DIC is my buzz phrase of the day – it stands for disseminated intravascular coagulation, and is pretty serious news. DIC isn’t a diagnosis, but rather a complication in response to a number of diseases. In a nutshell, there is pathological activation of the clotting cascade leading to widespread formation of blood clots. Clotting uses up coagulation factors (which we need for normal blood coagulation) and can lead to abnormal bleeding throughout the body. In the worst circumstances DIC can lead to multiple organ failure, and is often seen in seriously ill patients. Try and stay away from DIC if you can, but if not, get yourself some fresh frozen plasma, platelets, and cryoprecipitate and you’ll be right as rain. Though if you’re sick enough to have DIC in the first place you’ll hardly be as right as rain.

My Stagg electroacoustic mandolin

I have also returned to mandolin playing today for the first time in a while. I’ve had it since Christmas, and I believe I learned more in the period immediately following Christmas (the normal time reserved for playing with your gifts and eating obscene amounts of food) than I have the rest of the year. “Losing My Religion” by REM is an awesome mandolin song, and I aim to be able to play it next. Material for the mandolin isn’t nearly as easy to access as guitar stuff,  and a lot of it isn’t my kind of music. I love the sound of the mandolin, but not the country connotations. Too many instruments, too little time. I spent some time staring at my fingers over the last week, trying to deduce why my skin was peeling off, only to realise it was because I had lost all of my calluses from playing the guitar. I’ve been out of it so long and recently all I’ve played is piano, which is hardly callus building.

This has been quite a medical-ish blog post, but hopefully the next one will be back to normality.

One response to “Blood, and other stuff”

  1. “…here’s nothing worse than waking up in darkness, getting ready, and heading out of the house into the pouring rain and freezing cold. ”

    That sounds far too familiar!

    It seems like you’re learning tons, though — the real world is the best classroom, I find. I must confess myself unfamiliar with the mandolin — I’m imagining it sounding like a banjo in my head!

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