My name is Helen Jones and I’m a doctor employed by the British Antarctic Survey. For the next nine months I’ll be working on board the James Clark Ross as she performs scientific research in the Southern Ocean and supplies the British research bases of Antarctica.
I’ve started this blog in the hopes of entertaining and giving people a chance to see some pretty pictures. I might even throw some science in occasionally!
Wednesday, 3 May 2017
SOFA Scoring and Poor Beverage Control
Once again the seas are gloriously lumpy and as I can do
very little else right now, I thought I might grumble about the article that
I’ve been reading. Every so often I’m assailed with guilt and think that I
really should try harder to be the sort of person that constantly reads
scientific papers and genuinely gets excited about the thought of doing a
work-based audit! My enthusiasm lasts roughly five minutes and then I read
words like “operationalization” and I realise that I am not meant to enjoy reading
research. For crimes are committed there. Yea, and verily did Helen rise up and
smite the author of the paper heavily for linguistic errors and for using the
word “conceputalization” with malice aforethought.
Otherwise it was quite an interesting paper. It talked about
sepsis, its recognition and its treatment. It introduced me to something
entirely new; the SOFA score. Apparently SOFA scoring is something that you do
in Intensive Care for your poorly septic bods. Personally I think that it’s
what you do after a hard day at work. SOFA score of 0-1, I can still hit the
gym and make myself dinner. SOFA score of 2-3, I need to rant excessively and
order a takeaway. Score of 4-5, I sit on the SOFA and rock gently whilst
maintaining a vice-like grip on a glass of wine.
So, moving on from the horrors of medical papers, what is
the good ship James Clark Ross doing at present? Well, currently a grand total
of 8 knots as she tries to outrun the rather exciting weather. The science is
done and we’re proceeding North towards Montevideo and a crew change. I’m very much
looking forward to this. I’m keen to be on land again and eating fresh fruit
and vegetables. My hat goes off to the guys in the galley; they keep salad
going for way longer than seems even remotely possible. To the point where I
was starting to wonder if they had a secret unit on a lower deck where they
were growing lettuce hydroponically- nothing else explains how they were
producing lettuce four weeks into the trip when it’s dead in my salad crisper
by the end of one week! Either that or it was a faustian salad with a painting
of a very wilted and slimy Romanian lettuce hidden in the head cook’s closet.
Such musings aside however, it has been quite a long time
since the last salad leaf was eaten, and I am longing to eat something that is
fresh and crunches. I keep thinking about pineapples. My patience has also been
drained by the number of beverages that have landed on me in recent days. I was
drenched in guiness last night after we took a heavy roll and this afternoon I
poured cocoa all over my arm and the wall (bulkhead for the nautical types out
there). This was actually very upsetting because I had been naughty and melted
a teaspoon (okay, more!) of nutella into my cocoa and I was just about to
savour the nutty-chocolatey goodness of it all when I went flying into the
bulkhead and my treat went all over the wall. I would like you all to know that
I showed great fortitude in this difficult time and merely slurped what I could
off my arm rather than swearing.
I suspect this fortitude might have been missing a month
ago. We went through a two-three week patch of terrible weather where I could
not sleep at all. Normally I’m extraordinarily gifted and can easily sleep for
24 hours after a row of night shifts (If you’re new to this, you have to train
to reach this level!) but I was lucky if I could manage four hours in a night.
I tried everything. Blocking all light out with a towel against my door, the
daylight blind down, a towel over anything glowing in my cabin, reading medical
textbooks...the works. And it really takes its toll on you. I reached a point
where my rational mind would respond in one way, whilst my emotions would
respond in a completely different way. Someone could say “good morning” and
whilst rationally I would know it was a nice remark, emotionally I would think
“They hate me! Why else would they have said good morning...like that!” It’s a
strange feeling to know that your emotions are suspect. Finally the weather
smoothed out and I could sleep again and suddenly all the people who had said
“Good morning” in such a nasty and snide way were being lovely again. Just
shows that other people can’t cope with fatigue I suppose!
What a lot of grumbling I’ve just done! On a positive note,
we had humpback whale visitors a few days ago. I never really found them a
particularly appealing whale, with their barnacles and greyish colouring. But
seeing them in motion, as I have on this trip, is to appreciate them properly.
Pictures (regrettably, because that’s what I have for you!) just don’t do them justice.
They’re so gently, mildly curious about why the big red thing on the surface
keeps lowering stuff into the water that goes “ping”. And they congregate
around the ship as she sits on station with no sense of fear, but rather a
bemused sense of tolerance. It becomes apparent too, how utterly at home in
their medium they are. They are so powerful and yet so effortless in the water.
Movement is achieved with a lazy flick of a muscular tail; graceful and joyous.
Watching them, I decided that you can have your showy orcas and your massive
blue whales. I like mine playful and a little bit barnacly!