Apr 19 2013

Sign language exam

Tag: JournalKal @ 2:06 pm

I said I had an exam.

Last night I got my marks.


Pass mark is 9.

That’ll do, pig.

Apr 18 2013

And I still can’t shoot lasers from them…

Tag: JournalKal @ 1:39 pm

So I’ve worn glasses since I was about ten, my parents noticing me scrunching my face up in an attempt to focus on, well, almost anything. There is surely nothing more attractive than a pudgy pre-pubescent kid trying to make his face implode and pushing that imploded face RIGHT up to yours so he can see you better.

Back off, kid, you’re creeping me out.

I had a lovely collection of plastic NHS frames and, when I went to high school, graduated up to some highly alluring steel aviators. Step up, ladies, it’s all for sale.

And I broke them, a lot, adding the requisite tape and glue as I went along.

Are you getting a picture yet?

Teenage years brought daily disposable lenses and many thrilling hours of poking myself in the eye in the mirror. Daily disposables certainly allowed me to avoid the rigmarole of cleaning and storing, but they were essentially made of cling film and not really designed to be handed by a ham fisted teenager.

So I stuck to specs, wearing lenses only on occasion, mainly when I want to wear sunglasses.

Earlier this year I was out in the UAE and Sean suggested laser surgery to me. I was less than convinced, as I firmly believe that something will go horribly wrong and I’ll end up looking like this guy.


But he was insistent. He’d had it done, his wife has had it done.

And I’d be all up for “Maybe I should discuss this with a doctor…”, except he IS a bloody doctor. And he’s not even going “Well…these are the risks….you should know about the possible outcomes.”

He’s just saying “You’re a bloody idiot, go and do it.”

So I came back to Scotland with the intention of doing exactly that.

And what’s why tomorrow I’m going to go and have a man shoot lasers into my eyes.

My eyes.


Oh and, AND.

I’m going to pay him money for doing it.

There’s an enormous part of me who thinks that what I’m doing is fucking stupid. My vision with lenses and glasses is just fine and I’m aware that the surgery carries a risk that I may come out the end still needing corrective lenses. Or, even more excitingly, I may end up MORE short sighted than I was before.


But on the other hand, there’s a much higher chance that I’ll have a day or so of discomfort and from there on in I’ll be able to do such luxurious things as waking up in the middle of the night for a pee and not having to blunder about in the darkness.

I’ll be able to swim! (I can swim already, by the way, I’m not expecting the LASIK to turn me into Flipper…)

And I’ll be able to travel away from home without the constant worry of having a spare pair of lenses with me, or losing my glasses

It’s not even as though I can sell them afterwards if I don’t like the results…I don’t think EBay has a section for “Burned body parts.”

Also, I’m not sure how I’d ship them.

There’s an entire story to be told about how I chose which person shoots me in the face.

With lasers.

Mar 20 2013


Tag: JournalKal @ 2:06 pm

A weekend of night shifts hammered me into the ground like a cheap peg, leaving me last night grumpy and brittle.

Digitalkate and I went to the cinema because I couldn’t bear to sit and think and en route I decompressed, pouring out images and thoughts from my new Worst Job Ever.

I told her about listening to a relative screaming.

Over and over.

The problem with your worst job ever, is that as you gain experience and exposure, the things that would rattle a non-medic diminish in one direction down the scale.

In direct proportion, the things that get through the armour, the things that have you snapping at your housemates and tearing up in traffic?

Those things are, by their nature, exponentially horrific. If they’re awful enough to affect front line workers, they are of a scale of awfulness that many people, thankfully, never have to face.

They’re stories that I’d normally write, but in the face of increased public awareness of clinician’s privacy responsibilities, I won’t be writing about any more patients.

For those of you who have asked, this is the same reason my archives are private.

My registration is too precious to risk.

I’m sorry.

Instead I’m sitting at my desk and writing about my morning.

How I got up later than I planned

How I’ve a Sign Language exam tonight that everyone tells me I’ll breeze.

How I’m not so sure.

How I’ve procrastinated from what I need to be doing, but in doing so I think I’ve figured out why our dishwasher is broken.

How I’m going to have to focus on some overdue paperwork this afternoon.

This will be Trauma Queen from now on.

I suspect many of you dear, sweet people won’t mind in the slightest – you’ve told me enough in the past that you’re happy to read whatever I have to say.

That’s a nice thought and one that I’ll hang on to, I’m just not convinced that I’d want to read it…though I guess I don’t have to, right?

Mar 13 2013

“I’m in artillery!”

Tag: PhotosKal @ 10:40 am

Today I have the time to edit photos.

DigitalLouis got big.

Like, properly big.

And what does every five year old need?

Tank goggles, baby.

Mar 07 2013

Middle Eastern coffee

Tag: UncategorizedKal @ 9:20 am



I think I'll just have mine black….

Mar 06 2013

Dubai calling

Tag: UncategorizedKal @ 9:16 am

Ten days in the UAE, because if you have friends who live somewhere hot and you live somewhere not just cold, but cold and slate grey, you'd be bloody daft to knock back the offer of a bed for a week.

It's lovely, a week of waking to “ooooh, it's going to be lovely”; being out in the mid day sun and going “Ooooh, you fucker, that's proper hot…but I think I'll bask in it for another half hour…” and then dining in the evenings on balconies as warm evenings winds blow across the Gulf.

That said, one evening we ate dinner on the shoreside and watched a massive container ship burn (I'd say burn to the ground, but that would be untrue, I guess it burned to the water?).

I watched Chinese opera once over my dinner…it was almost as entertaining as watching a major maritime disaster. Beats telly with scran on your knees.


Halfway through the week my hosts casually mentioned that they had to go into Dubai, as they host a healthcare related radio show once a week. Did I fancy coming along? In fact, fuck it, did I fancy being on air?

I'm a gobby git with a penchant for trying new things, who loves when people listen to me talk, would I like to spout nonsense to an entire nation?

Let's do it.

Into a studio, meet the resident DJ, shake hands and say hi and establish we have mutual friends (because the expat community in the Middle East is fabulously incestuous) and then we're on air.

It should be said that a paramedic is an unlikely person to be on a healthcare phone in, as the healthcare issues I'm most au fait with aren't the sort of thing that one bothers the average “long time listener, first time caller” – “Hi Jim, love the show…I'm currently being disembowelled by a Dobermann and I was wondering…”

But joining in was still lots of fun, even though I was being asked for my opinion on chickenpox, piles, bed wetting and headlice. And as I walked out I thought to myself “that was great…I wonder if I could do more radio back at home…?”

And then I realised that I have quite enough to be getting on with just now and chalked it up to experience.

Feb 09 2013


Tag: JournalKal @ 1:22 am

So, having just returned from a trip to Milton Keynes (because Dubai was getting boring), I've had quite enough of sub-Birmingham England for the week.


I entertained myself on the train by asking friends to come up with new tourism slogans for Wolverhampton and Milton Keynes. My suggestion was “Wolverhampton….because other forms of deliberate self harm leave visible scars.” and “Mlton Keynes….precisely as lovely as you think.”


I'd like to point out that all of this was pure conjecture on the south bound journey, having never visited either city before in my life. Having left Milton Keynes, I can now confirm that it IS exactly as lovely as I'd thought.


I had to change trains in Wolverhampton and afterwards my new slogan would have to be “Wolverhampton…you thought it was gong to be rough, but fuck me….”

Contributions in the comments, please chaps…



Feb 08 2013

Where do we go to?

Tag: UncategorizedKal @ 7:26 pm

Where does this appear?

Jan 13 2013

I’m not a professional lighting designer

Tag: PhotosKal @ 7:02 pm


But “Christo-Danteism” wouldn’t be my choice for a church… Just saying.

Jan 09 2013

Turn Up and Be There.

Tag: UncategorizedKal @ 12:00 pm

During the long weeks that Caden Beggan was in hospital, I spent many days there too.

That first visit was tough, but less awkward than I’d feared. Conversation flowed as we discussed the doctors’ plans, Caden’s progress, the family’s resilience or otherwise.

As I left I hugged people and told them that, if they didn’t mind, I’d like to come back next week?

“Please do…” they replied and I smiled back at them, grateful for the welcoming invite.

As the weeks went on, I visited more frequently; every couple of days towards the end.

There were hours when we all sat together, when some of us broke away, or chased each other out of the door – “Go take a shower, we’ll call you if anything changes, we promise.”

There were times when Caden’s immediate family were gone, deep in discussion with surgeons, horse trading and negotiating over inches of lost and gained tissue, debating whether to cut or to wait.

During those times we sat in the waiting room, or the cafe, drinking crap coffee and too many cakes.

And we chatted. About anything. Our jobs, our families, our day yesterday and plans for the next week. We got to know each other, be we friends, colleagues, siblings from over seas or parents. We fused together into a tight little gang, “the hospital crowd”, as we came to be known.

There were days where there was stuff to be done. Lifts to be given, food to be prepared, children to be ferried from one house to another. We’d squabble over who would complete each task, sometimes because the drive to complete a tangible task was so attractive, sometimes because you could see that the person offering to go home and do laundry was so emotionally knackered they could probably go an extra few hours of sleep instead.

Each time we’d leave we’d let one another know when we hoped to return.

“Please do…” they’d say, though differently now.

Because as time went on that phrase became more of a request than an invite.

“Please come.”

I was baffled, as I was doing nothing while I was there.

Many days were spent just taking up a chair in the hospital dining room.

As a male emergency worker, my entire life is focussed on “making it better” and finding solutions for people. The concept of turning up to a crisis just to be there is not one that sits comfortably with me.

Regardless, I was able to see, if not comprehend, the strength that our attendance gave Caden’s parents. I don’t know why it helped, but having a crowd around held them up and push them forward.

In the days after his death and funeral, I’d stop by the house.

Often just to walk in, drink coffee, hug people and leave.

Doing nothing, but somehow helping.

Caden Beggan taught me the power of Turning Up And Being There.

I pray I remember it always, though I doubt I’ll ever understand it.

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