Only a few days into the new year and December feels like it was long ago. Being a student at Christmas time is strange, as nothing happens at the right time. Christmas dinners multiply without warning and days or weeks before they should happen, scared you will leave for home without three kilos of roast potatoes weighing you down. Decorations are put up and come down prematurely, unless your mind wanders in the panic to pack everything and you come back to find lost-looking tinsel and baubles welcoming you home.
This early into January my mind drifts into focus on the future. What will I do with this year? But this time of year also brings the events of the last twelve months into focus; it’s apt that January itself is named for Janus, the two headed god that could look both backward and forward through time. Many of us do the same.
December in Aber was a little frantic, as though everything knew I would be leaving before the month was up but wanted to cram in all the activities anyway. Despite a painful and niggling knee I took part in the Aber 10km race and set a personal best I will have a hard time beating. Things also kept moving quickly academically, as my oncology project and my SSC got off the ground. The oncology project is not something specific to CARER, but something every third year at Cardiff does alongside normal teaching. It is a months-long project where students are paired one-to-one with patients soon after they are diagnosed with cancer, where we begin to understand one of the defining conditions of modern healthcare as well as grow into the professional role of doctors with the help of our patients. The SSC, or Student Selected Component, is where we are given time to work on our own, in areas beyond the curriculum that we find interesting. It is satisfying to see these projects running smoothly and I feel in both of them I have passed a turning point that happily coincides with the new year.
The Christmas break was a vague and lazy time where, sprawled in my room, surrounded by mess, I did absolutely nothing of value. Lying in bed until lunchtime and enjoying the comforts of home, I wallowed in my freedom to not do anything. Unfortunately this did mean that for almost all three weeks I barely went running, looked like a shipwreck survivor and felt awful because of the mince pies coursing through my blood. Now I am back in Mid Wales I hope the damage I did to myself can be undone. How many runs will it take to reverse Christmas dinner’s effect on my heart? Will I collapse mid-way through circuit training and on autopsy show blood entirely replaced by custard?
After my dedicated Christmas training in lethargy and idleness I was worried my first day back would floor me – but it is great to be back in the practice, seeing who has been admitted and discharged to the community hospital, constantly having to look up what even the most common drugs are for, and once more baffling and confusing members of the public brave enough to volunteer themselves to consultations with the student.