Bird Spotting

I saw this beautiful creature today. I’m glad that my bird feeder is attracting birds. It only means that they’re beginning to trust us.

The robin. A european robin

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! 🙂

At what cost?

Some say that dreaming and dreams are free and that should be enough to reach it. My parents, mentors and friends have actually said the same. Of course I also did. But when I became independent and started deciding for my life, I have never looked back at dreaming the way I did when I was young.

For those of you who are new to my blog, I am taking up Bachelor in Radiography in Bergen and this is actually going to be my second degree. Most of my friends and family told me that I am lucky that I do not have to think about money when studying, because they know that Norway is kind to all its citizens. Well, I cannot say that I am lucky but I cannot say I am not either. I do not go to school for free despite of the student support from the government because it is still loan. Only a certain percentage is given to us students when we pass the exams.

This semester, I had two OJT’s. The first one is more inclined to basic nursing at the ortopedic department at the hospital and the second one is at the ER, taking x-rays of patients with suspected bone fractures. I had lots of fun and there are lots to learn that I got sad during the last days of my duty. However, my days (and evening/night) shifts did not go flawless because of lack of sleep and being a mom at the same time is exhausting. But exhaustion did not stop me from waking up early in the morning and driving late at night because I love what I was doing.

My microeconomic professor once told us during one of his lectures that nothing in this world is free. That we never get a free ride in life. In one way or another, we have to pay whether it is in monetary form, energy or for instance time. If you choose to stay at home rather than attend a lecture to save lunch money, yes you have probably added more to your savings but at the same time you pay for the missed information/knowledge.

Both of my OJT’s this year made me realized that it is never easy to work for your dreams. There is always turbulence along the way even though the skies are clear. In my case, every day at the hospital and the ER is very educational and memorable but at the same time stressfull and sometimes filled with anxiety because some shifts are just really busy and energy draining.

So, the cost of my dream this semester is two weeks of migraine attacks, stiff neck, a trip to the ER, time away from my little one, tears and a minor car accident.

Unknown Water

Staying at home for the past weeks has been though for everyone. Though I understand the sentiments people who complain about the community quarantine, I find it hard to accept that rudeness around the globe arises. I was like, they should just shut their mouth and focus on other things rather than hating on other people in this time of crisis.

Then it came to me that fear and angst lead to anger and despair when they are for instance get exposed to a sudden change. I should have known this because I act kinda same when my inner balance is being threatened. Social media is one of the factors why people are rude against each other, because we cannot accept the fact that people are different and think differently. So knowing other people’s reaction through comments on Facebook/Twitter is like having the ability to read someone’s mind and getting a clue about a person’s character.

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Sunset view from our terrace.

 

Back to Normal?

Norway is gradually going back to normal again. From next week, the gyms, shops, salons, kindergardens and primary schools will open again. Yes. You read it right. Kindergardens and primary schools. The government said that the risk for spreading and getting sick by the disease (Covid 19) is smaller in children compared to adults. That’s why they think it is justifiable to open the schools and day care centers again as long as the strict measures are being followed. So far, Norway’s Covid 19 statistic looks good despite the increasing number of infected. The health minister said that we have controll over the situation. The hospitals are doing great so far.

As a parent, I’m concerned of course about my child. The health sector has updated the guidelines for the Covid 19 prevention. Today, the guideline is more focused on the schools and day care centers. While the idea is good, I still doubt that it is going to be practiced. Well, a good hand hygiene and social distancing and dividing the groups into smaller groups can be of course fixed. But, I doubt that small children will do that. Because they are kids. They do whatever they like. They run, they sing and they are going to touch anything from their bums to their faces!

So, no. I’m not going to send my little one to the kindergarden yet. Even if all the children in this area are symptom free but they could still be a carrier of the virus. I’m worried not only for my child, but also for my hubby and I. We can’t afford to get sick now.

 

 

Reference:

https://www.fhi.no/sv/smittsomme-sykdommer/corona/

https://helsenorge.no/koronavirus/arrangement-og-aktiviteter

https://www.dagsavisen.no/nyheter/innenriks/bent-hoie-vi-har-fatt-koronaepidemien-under-kontroll-1.1695570

 

 

The Negativity We Need these Days

I got tested for the virus last week. Thank God it’s negative! But as I’ve told my hubby, we should still stay cautious and careful. The reasons why I got tested is first, my hubby have been abroad two weeks before the lock down and community quarantine and after his trip he developed some flu like symptoms. And then the other reason is that I’m a health worker. It’s not mandatory to test but we should because we’re working with high risk people. At the same time, I got sick too.

I’m not afraid to get the virus. I’m confident enough that my immune system can handle the Covid19. But, I worry about the people around me. Who’s going to look after my child if I get sick? Did my boss found someone to work in my behalf?

I got tested inside the car in a parking lot. The nurse in full hazmat suit came to me and asked me to remain seated in the car and gave me the instructions on taking the sample from my nose (nasopharyngeal swab). I was surprised because I never expected that I had to do it myself and I’ve never done it before. Not even on the nursing lab at school! So there I was sitting anxiously in the car. Pulled the car visor down while the nurse tried to cheer me up. She then handed me the long cotton bud (ca 10 cm long) and asked me to close the car window. The first 5 cm went well even though I find it disgusting and uncomfortable but after that I took a pause because it’s starting to irritate my nasal passage. I tried to bargain but the nurse insisted that I should keep pushing down the cotton bud thing further down my pharynx. Huhu.. I hate you Covid19!

It took two days before they called and told me the result. I was relieved that no one in the household is sick with this killer Covid19 and finally we don’t have to isolate us. It means that we can finally go out to buy some groceries and I can finally come back to work after my flu symptoms are gone.

About the situation here. Norway is still on a lock down. The line and the numbers are looking good so far. The department of health said that the imposed community quarantine and social distancing rules are working so far (they believe). They are hoping to gradually losen the lock down and quarantine maybe after the Easter. It’s alright to hope but I’m sceptical. Maybe Norway’s numbers are still in the “calm before the storm”.

Anyway, I hope everyone stays healthy and sane in this very special situation that we’re in right now. The world is full of negativity but a little negativity is good, like a negative Covid19 test result.