A Short Trip To Rex Garden

Stress has taken a toll on me these past few months. Physically, I got migranes and low energy. Mentally, I got depressed because of the situation we are in. Despite the effort to exercise and eat healthy, I felt that nothing is working. Good thing I have friends who motivate me to take a break and relax. I’m also thankful for those friends who stay despite our distance and lack of time to talk with each other.

Last month, I took a very short trip to Stavanger and Førde. The latter was an unplanned trip. My friend from Sandnes picked me up and then we drove to Førde to fetch our friend and her baby. Before we left and drove back to Stavanger, we went to the tourist attraction in Førde which is the Rex Garden. This garden is just a hundred meters away from my friend’s home.

So, what’s the story behind Rex Garden? Well according to my friend, this nature park is run by someone who apparently has a huge passion for landscaping. The park/garden has lots of plants and flowers. That’s why it is attracting visitors from other places. The wooden statues and sculptures here were made by a local artist from the area. The place is also beautiful because it is situated by the sea and a perfect place for grilling during the summer days.

Finished Strong

Another school year has ended. Now it’s officially summer for me. Well, at least I have summer break from school now. Still a reason to be happy because I finally have more time to my family and myself. I never thought in the beginning that I would survive this school year because of some personal issues. Being a student is hard in this pandemic times. Most of our lectures and almost all of our group presentations were moved online. Even the final exam was also held online. Also, I think I got depression too because I missed to socialize outside of my home. However, I’m still grateful that I have completed all the requirements and group projects to finish this school year. I’m fortunate because first my groupmates are hard working and very cooperative during our group projects and presentations. Second, my partner’s patience of my study situation. Third, my family and friends who never forget to cheer me up when I’m down and about to give up. Now it’s only one year to go and I can’t already wait! 🙂

When you have to review for the exam but fitness is life!

Not my Battle

For some cultures, talking with the opposite sex specially when one or both are married is still a bad thing to do even though the conversation doesn’t have any sexual tone. Still for some, it counts as flirting. A simple hi and hello is enough to get lawsuit threats.

Image courtesy of fotografierende

This week, I was verbally assaulted by my friend’s wife. My friend and I have been friends since college days and that was almost twenty years ago. The wife asked who am I on my friend’s Messenger account. I answered her politely, but she won’t believe me. She said that I’m a flirt because I’m writing to her husband! I was like, wth woman it was actually his husband who first wrote to me! She called me ten times. Then because I was getting tired of her and to put an end to her speculations, I answered her call and introduced myself. I was apologetic for the stir that I have caused between them. However, my politeness and my explanation were not enough. She called me a liar and then she hanged up because she didn’t want her husband catching her talking to me. So, I sent her a message saying that I don’t want any drama and that I want them to reconcile and sent her all the screenshots of my conversation with his husband. Yet, it’s still not enough. Though she replied that yeah she believes that my friend and I have no relationship but still I was writing to him and it is flirting.

Before I blocked the both of them, I reflected and reread all the conversation that my friend and I had for the past years/months. Almost all of them are simple hi and hellos and sometimes my friend would try to videocall me, but I never took his calls because I didn’t have time and I didn’t want to talk to him on Messenger.

She has insulted me and called me a hore and even said that I ruined a family. She also wrote that I’m not a decent woman because I’m cohabitating with my partner (not married). I didn’t get offended but I find it discriminating. However, she thinks that my pictures are nice so it might be photoshopped or applied filter to them, because she said that unlike her, women/girls like me need to prove something. Deep inside me, I wanted to answer her back that at least my partner is loyal to me and tells me everything and we don’t need to get married for that, but I didn’t because I don’t want to escalate the situation. Besides, this is not my battle.

I could have answered her back, but no. It came to me that she’s irrational because of her jealousy and I didn’t want to add fuel to the fire. I didn’t reply to her messages anymore but she sent me a lengthy one saying that she would sue me for concubinage and adultery if I don’t stop writing to her husband.

I have mixed feelings and thoughts about this situation. First, I find it funny because of the whole lawsuit idea thing. If you’re going to sue someone because of adultery and concubinage, check with your husband first and make sure that the girl he was writing to is flirting with him. Because there is a difference with keeping in touch with friends and flirting with someone. Second, I feel sorry for the wife, because she’s so blinded by her jealousy that she refused to listen to me and blamed me for his husband’s attitude. Third, just because someone chose to not get married doesn’t mean he/she is a wife/husband stealer.

Treasures

It started with a pinecone.

Then there came the twig.

And then another pinecone.

And another pinecone

More pinecones! and baby pinecones!

Stones were also added I see

Plus a small piece of wood

and another piece of tree.

Then one afternoon I asked her if I can throw these away.

She replied, “No mama, they’re my treasures. For you!”

And my heart melted. 🙂

Radiotheraphy Clinicals

Time flies, indeed when you love what you’re doing. My radiation theraphy (radiotheraphy) clinical has already come to an end and there are still lots of stuff to learn and master. Three weeks in the department is not enough. I’m sure going to miss the patients, the staffs and the linac (linear accelerator) machine. However, it would also be nice to go back to school again and prepare for the last exam this semester. The exam is going to be an oral exam via Zoom. Nerve recking but it saves a lot of time rather than a home exam for eight freaking hours!

Before the radiotheraphy clinical, I thought that this is the same as PET (Positron Emission Tomography) but no it is not. While PET is also used in the Oncology Department, its purpose is different from radiotheraphy. Radiotheraphy is used to treat sickness by killing cancer cells/tumors and relieve pain by ionizing radiation. PET on the other hand is used for visualizing the metabolic and physiological process of the cells in the body. In short, PET is used for imaging and examination only.

The first week in the department was both exciting and challenging for me and my classmate because we never had any lectures yet since this course about radiotheraphy and oncology is a third year course. However, the department’s adviser has given us some of her time and gave us an introduction and short lecture about the department and what radiotherapists do. We were also introduced to our respective supervisors and showed the treatment rooms that we were assigned to. My classmate was assigned at the treatment room for patients with prostate cancer and I was assigned at the treatment room with almost all kinds of cancer patients. Then my supervisor showed me around the department and of course showed me the linac machines. Linacs are used for external beam radiation treatments. External beam radiation treatment means that cancer cells are targeted and shot from the outside of the body. Then before the first week ended I got the chance to “drive” the linac and give my very first radiation treatment to a cancer patient. It was a great feeling and at the same time I was also tensed because it was my first time to operate a linac. 🙂

Varian True Beam at lab 3. A newer linac.

The treatment room I was assigned to has an old linac from 2007. I feel fortunate to be able to operate it because the department is going to replace it soon with a newer one. Unlike the newer models, this linac has two pedals (not in the pictures). Then, the newer ones are of course more automated and quicker. Thus, saving a lot of time and can treat more patients.

The control panel of Rapid Arc

The lab that I’m assigned to. The linac machine is a Varian Rapid Arc system from 2007.

During the second week of the clinical, I was again allowed to operate the linac and my supervisor gave me some “matching” tasks offline on the computer. When we say matching, it means that we match the CT images taken before the radiation dosage planning to the images that we’ve taken during the radiation treatment. Because radiation treatment is not just only done once but multiple times. To avoid unnecessary exposure and damage to other parts of the body or organs, the point of entry should exactly be the same every time.

Then my classmate and I was given short lectures about dosage planning, the software that they use, side effects of radiation theraphy, brachytherapy and hyperthermia treatment. Brachytherapy is an internal radiation treatment using a radioactive material enclosed in a capsule and hyperthermia treatment is a cancer treatment where the cancer cells are heated up at around 40 degrees Celsius to damage and kill the cancer cells. This old hyperthermia chamber (the picture below) is the only one in Norway. We were told that when this machine stops working, the patients who would need hyperthermia treatment should go to Germany because Norway has no plans of replacing it. Financial reasons, I guess?

A hyperthermia chamber.

Since the hyperthermia chamber doesn’t use/emit ionizing radiation, we were allowed to give it a try. Well, at least feel the pressure as the bag is being filled with water.

My classmate Magnus trying out the hyperthermia chamber.

Anyway, I can say that my clinical in the oncology department is a unique experience and very educational. I’ve learned a lot of new stuff and met wonderful people. The days varied as there were no days are the same even though most of the patients that I met are the same. There were the happy shifts and there were some sad as well because some of the patients displayed worsening symptoms and some had to stop the treatment because of the unresponsiveness of the cancer to the radiation.

School Progress (an update)

It’s finally spring break! I couldn’t be happier! This and Christmas break are the only breaks that we get at the school because you know, students taking up bachelor degrees are immortals! Nah, it’s just that we’re adults already and we should do adult stuff like worrying about our future through our assignment. :)) Kidding! Well, it’s the Lenten week (season) so it’s holiday here. I’m grateful for this school-free week because then my body can finally take the time to recuperate. All these roles (I’m a mom, student, gf, bff, friend, daughter, sister and a colleague) are making me insane sometimes because of lack of sleep and the stress I get from the deadlines and trying to have a social life in this time of pandemic.

Anyway, this semester started with the second part of clinicals or OJT (on-the-job training) in the hospital last January. This time I was back at Haukeland University Hospital (HUS) for the CT (Computer Tomography) clinicals for four weeks. I was excited and a bit tensed during the first meeting because I’ve never been on a CT clinical before and the last time I touched a CT scan machine was back in 2018 before I took a maternity leave. My clinicals last year was at the ER in Bergen and at Stavanger University Hospital (SUS) in 2018 and they’re both conventional X-ray clinicals.

One of the CT scan machines at HUS. Siemens Somatom Definition AS

I’m happy that I got another image modality the last time and in the right order too. Because this course always starts with the conventional x-ray then CT, MRI and so forth.

Unlike the conventional x-ray, a CT examination requires more time for the preparation. Depends on what type of CT scan examination, if it is with contrast or without contrast. If it is with contrast, the patient is required to have a PVC (peripheral venous catheter) in one of the arms. In Norway, the radiographer does this preparation. Then, it is also important to pay attention to the allergic reactions and contradictions to the examination.

After the CT clinical, I had to review for the exam that I failed last year. Because of the pandemic, exams are digitalized. Thus, turning the exams into home exams. While this type of exam sounds easy, no it’s not. At least not for me because I have a small kid in the house and radiation physics is not easy. I find it harder and brain draining because the exam load is more than doubled. So don’t tell me that I’m just pushing the button or else I’ll bite you! haha!

The control panel for the Siemens CT scan machine

Moving on, my efforts paid off after the stressful days and nights of reviewing for the exam and now I am qualified for the next clinical and it is after the spring break. This time I would be at the Oncology Department to work with radiation therapy. I’m ecstatic about this clinical since this would be the first time to work with a linear accelerator. At the same time, I’m sure that this is more challenging than my previous clinicals because this time I’m going to work with lots of cancer patients.

Till next update! 🙂