Sunday, July 24, 2011

What's in a name

So I survived that potentially dangerous train ride. I think someone just forgot their suitcase.... oops! I found it slightly amusing when just after the announcement was made stating that "this is currently a high security risk" half the train emptied at the next stop!

At work the other day I overheard (then joined in) a conversation between a couple of patients about their names, why and who they were named after and the actual name that they use or are called. I found it quite fascinating, because sometimes you wonder how people get their nicknames from. Sometimes nicknames are derived from their acual name and can be guessed but othertimes you sort of think, 'huh? where did that come from?!'. For example, I used to be called Batman by a friend, which didn't really make any sense but that was what I'd get called.

The ladies I were speaking with, one of them had the name Constance Elizabeth but she was known as Betty. I was given a lesson while writing my notes for work on the multiple names you can derive from one name. This lady was born in the 1920s and Betty was quite a common name in those days. She was named after her aunty Lily (Elizabeth) and Connie (Constance). Traditionally Elizabeth could also be used interchangeably with Isobel and common nicknames included Lizzie, Bessie, Lisbet, Betsy, Elisa, Eli and Beth.

So. Whats in a name hey? Some people have names that mean something others don't. Well thats not entirely true. All names actually mean something (unless of course it is a made up name) but some people are named for a reason, or the name used is specific. I have friends and family where every family member has a Hebrew name found in the Bible with a specific meaning behind it.

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."  
Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

Adding to my superlambanana collection is the following picture. I'm going to have to find out what their names are. I learnt today as I was procrastinating from my study that there are over 120 superlambananas in merseyside... I could be searching for a while!

View from the top of the cathedral by sunset

The big Anglican Cathedral is a bit of a stand-out tourist point in Liverpool, and it is just around the corner from my flat. I can actually see the tower from my windows and anytime there are bells going for some event (like the Royal Wedding) or church on Sunday you can hear them - providing the windows are open of course!. On thursday nights you can climb the tower and check for the sunset. I went a week or two ago with a friend. It was surprising how much you could and couldn't see because the windows or gaps aren't all that big really. Unfortunately it wasn't a very colourful night but it was cool anyway. There is an opportunity to abseil off the tower in September so if I'm still around here then I'll probably give it a shot!!

My Flat is the brown building right in the middle!

Cathedral by night - a regular site as I walk home.
A couple of weeks ago I caught the train up to Crosby Beach to have a bit of a wander around and checked out the statues on the beach. It was quite funny because when I first got there I thought 'Oh look there's someone in the water' then I realised they were statues. Some are close to shore and others are 50-100 metres out in the water so depending on whether its high or low tide influences how much you can see them. I wouldn't have wanted to have been the guy who planted them though - the water looks pretty scummy and there are these massive brown/red jellyfish everywhere!

The men at Crosby Beach

Crosby men in and out of the water
I love discovering the signs in Liverpool. My latest discoveries are these two - do you care and do you worry about climate change. They are just little things to make you stop and think as you wander around town on your day.

Do you worry about climate change?

Old 'Do you care?' sign

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Reality TV

Sometimes working a hospital you do feel like you are in a TV drama series. You never know just who you might be seeing, it changes every day. Last week I had my record low patient at 26kg (yes 26kg and no they weren't 9 years old, they were 82) and this week I have one of my highest weighing patients, currently at 130kg (but 10 months ago they were 227kg).

I have been known to say that being in a hospital is exactly like the TV series Scrubs. Sometimes things happen and patients (or staff) say things that just crack you up and you just have to hear to believe. Some little beauties I heard today:
Nurse: "Would you be able to give us a urine sample"
Patient: "I make a lovely one"

Patient: (when asked why refusing meds) "I find when I take tablets they go straight to my legs"

Doctor: (performing a mini mental test) Now this might seem like a silly question, but can you tell me what the year is?
Patient: ooooh.. well... that is a tough one....
Doctor: Take a guess
Patient: Well... I suppose what I should do is look at the clock.... or I could ask someone.. oohhhh.....

Patient: "The doctor came and did a test and they've determined that I'm not quite right in the head" (Referring to deterioration of her mental capacity and dementia).

(Junior) Doctor: "We just use alot of big words, and then if we don't know we hand it to the consultants who have learnt even bigger words"

On a more serious note, the entire hospital at the moment has been very stressed and on high alert due to contaminated saline solutions, and prayers that the situation will be sorted out quickly would be much appreciated. That the hype and the media will calm down and everyone can get back on with their roles.

Oh and guess what! Right now, the train that I am on apparently has a high security risk because someone has abandoned a black case with a yellow tag in the doorway of one of the carriages. So fingers crossed I'll make it safely back to Liverpool... I'm sure I will but you never know. There is no such thing as 'safe' in this life,  no matter where you go hey.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Stories all around

Everyone has a story. Some more than others. To me, my story is pretty normal but thats because it is all I know, to other people my story is brave or exciting or extreme or just plain weird. But I was thinking the other day how easy it is to ignore people's stories because they can be uncomfortable to talk about or difficult. I think it is important though that people have a voice.

On Friday last week while I was waiting for the bus back to Liverpool from Manchester I met quite an interesting man from Northern Iraq. He had a very interesting story that he shared with me. I'll try and do it justice here and share it with you.

He grew up in a city somewhere in the North of Iraq, had a privileged childhood and was well educated at University with a Law Degree. However, it wasn't always the easiest or safest of places to live. He spoke about all the different wars that had occurred and gone on in the country during his lifetime and the difficulties it had made, the changes that had been imposed on the people. I don't know a huge amount about the different wars that he spoke of, some because they were before I was born but I can imagine the impact on society that they would have created.

When he was 25 (about 10 years ago I think) with the war making life much more dangerous and complicated his family decided to escape. Actualy he said alot of families left, in one day many many people packed up and let. They decided to go to Turkey and walked the whole way which took them about 20 days on foot. Most of this area is mountains and was not an easy journey by any means. Most of the time they had no food, he said he lost about 10-20kg in weight while they were doing this walk. They were exposed on the mountains in the day time it was very hot and there was no shade for them, so they would be sweating all their fluids out, and then at night it would be extremely cold. They didnt' have any water on them either so had to rely on the rare moments that they found a stream. On one occassion when they reached the top of the mountain they found a water trough for animals, which was full of slime and they were so thirsty that they still drank from the water even though their agent said not to because they would get sick. Thankfully they didn't get sick.

When they arrived in Turkey, they still weren't safe because even though they looked the same as the locals there, they didn't know the language and if caught would be sent back to Iraq. I think when they had first arrived in Turkey after not eating for a couple of weeks, their agent went to the town that they had arrived to and brought food back. Except he brought back a couple of hot pizza's!! Naturally they couldnt eat it, and all they wanted to eat was water and maybe a bit of bread, so those pizza's didn't get eaten. While making their way to Istanbul they managed to get a ride in a car/taxi which was going to take them the final distance, but this unfortunately was changed because ofa bit check point on the main road meaning that they had to once again walk over more mountains

When in Turkey their agent arranged for new passports for them and they flew to the UK where they then went and requested assylum. The guy I was chatting with has been in the UK for 7 years now. He was lucky because the process was quite straightforward for him and there wasn't any major issues with his paperwork. Now he works for an organisation called Refugee Action, helping people who have come out of situations similar and worse to the one that he was in.

I definitely haven't given his story justice here. While he was telling me I was thinking I should be writing this down, this is an amazing story. He should write a book about it. It was a situation so beyond what I can imagine. Seriously. Imagine abandoning everything you know and walking for weeks to a country you don't know, knowing that you can be shot and killed on site at any point of time, not knowing when your next meal is, constantly living in a sense of adrenaline fear and unknown.