Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Cerebral Shunts and a Growing Cello Obsession

What I would give to be playing that cello in this current heatwave!

Stardate: 92179.63

This week is a mixed department week for me, due to the second years still being on their assessment. I've been in both general and screening. I'm actually welcoming the radiology department's low temperature! It's well-known I don't do well with heat or sunshine. I want Summer to hurry up and give way to Autumn; or at least for the sun and heat to give it a rest. Also, for those of you who can hear it, I've added an audio-player to my blog, not because it's important, but the song is that beautiful, I want everyone to hear it! If I could afford one, I'd buy a white cello right this minute... but alas, without including money for rent, travel and food, I have about £20 to my name. Such is the life of an NHS student!

Recently, I was witness to a type of examination I rarely get to see. It was an x-ray examination regarding a cerebral shunt. Cerebral shunts are commonly used to treat hydrocephalus, swelling of the brain due excess cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), but they can be used in cases of brain tumours, meningitis, head injury etc. These shunts are thin tubes placed into the brain's ventricle and tunnelled beneath the skin to the peritoneum (abdominal cavity membrane). The shunt reduces the intracranial pressure caused by the CSF by draining it into the peritonial cavity.

In Radiology departments 'shunt series' are simple sets of x-rays (skull, chest and abdomen) that may reveal any breaks in the shunting. In comparison, a 'shuntogram' uses CT and involves a radioisotope being placed into the shunt reservoir in the patient's head and measuring the speed it travels to the abdomen. Any delay implies a problem with the shunt. It was interesting to see, and also to help, as when you feel for the shunt locations, they feel like large lumps beneath the skin. I was worried I'd press a little too hard, but apparently they don't hurt! 

Aside from that, all I've been focusing on is just getting my case study done, but it's so laborious after a long day on placement! So far, I've managed to write 1,000 words, read it through, delete about 900 of them, and stare at the now rather blank Word document, hoping for either inspiration, or for the words to magically write themselves. So alongside making plans and drafts for my case study until the wee hours of the morning, I've been downloading sheet music for my violin, listening to The Piano Guys (the people who perform the song being played), scoured the internet drooling over cellos, and playing Pokémon while watching Star Wars. Because I'm ever so organised and practical, you see.

Next week, I'll be in general x-ray, so I'm sure there'll be plenty to do... including the dreaded 2,000 word case study! Maybe after the next two weeks, for the first time in nearly five years (possibly longer), I might sleep before one in the morning!

LLAP guys!

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