Thursday, 6 October 2016

Well...that's Vintage!

The first few days that I spent on board were predominantly spent getting things organised in my surgery. I had fun rummaging in all the cupboards and finding some fabulously antique bits of kit! Remember the circular mirrors that doctors used to wear affixed to leather bands around their foreheads in order to illuminate the...ahem...orifices of their patients? Well, I have one of those. Clearly no-one ever throws anything away around here! That’s going straight into the Helen Jones museum of weird medical items.

I have an X-ray machine, and I still get to develop the films in a dark room (which also doubles as the surgery’s bathroom depending on which light switch I press). I have a dental drill and an autoclave. There are defibrillators and oxygen cylinders and everything that a growing girl needs! But most importantly I have a large stock of anti-slip carpet webbing to stop everything sliding about on the worktops. It works surprisingly well!

I get up at 6.45 and breakfast is at 7.00. I then hold a morning clinic from 8-10am. This is a walk in surgery which anyone from scientists to crew can attend. From 10-12, I do medicals for the ship’s crew.  Lunch is from 12-13.00. After lunch I prepare for teaching which I hold for my first aid team once or twice week and I try to read text-books so that over the next nine months I don’t forget all the medicine that I have so painstakingly crammed into my skull! I also force myself to go to the gym, although that’s really an uphill battle.

The gym on the JCR is a tiny, fetid little room at the bottom of a flight of stairs. It has within its walls a cross trainer, a treadmill, a rower and a bike. It also possesses a bench, a scattering of dumbbells and more heat than is generally found in the Sahara on a particularly warm day. This is not helped by the fact that the ship’s sauna opens into the gym, so whenever people want to use it...the temperature cranks up by another notch or two. I’m feeling pretty hard-core as it happens because one of the engineers has just informed me that as the air conditioning unit was malfunctioning yesterday, the temperature had gone up to a decidedly sweaty 33 degrees. It’s now fixed and sitting at a rather more temperate 26. I was hosing sweat yesterday.

 The trick is to find a time that other people won’t be in there as hitting someone in the ear with a dumbbell often offends. I try to aim for dinner time and then grab a snackerel (as Pooh bear would have it) from the duty mess which is always well stocked for those on shift work.

The food on the JCR is fantastic. I’ve had to set very stern rules for myself that pudding and chips will only happen once a week, and there is to be no booze. I feel that if rules don’t exist, they will be rolling me down the gangway in nine months time. Like Violet Beauregard just before squeezing.

One of the nicest things to happen so far is that I’ve been able to give the chefs a hand in the kitchen. Bless them; they’re very tolerant. We had a barbecue a week ago and I assisted with forming the mince mix into kofta shapes and making vegetable kebab skewers. I worked through my lunch time so the head chef made me lunch then and there. The freshest fish and chips you can have without actually jumping in the water and catching the things yourself. And swimming potatoes can be incredibly difficult to find! Today I helped with making a batch of cookies and bread with a view out the window of blue, blue ocean and the sun shining in a clear sky. Science rocks!