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!

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! 🙂

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

 

 

Lyngheisenteret

Lyngheisenteret or the Heathland Centre is a museum and an information centre about preserving the culture, traditions and lifestyle of coastal heathlands. According to their website this unique and beautiful landcape is dissappearing in a high rate not just here in Norway but also in Europe. The Heathland Centre is located at Lygra in Alver Kommune. From Bergen it is about an hour car ride. You can also reach Lygra by taking the boat for only 40 minutes from Strandkaien.

I took this trip out of curiosity (and spontaneity) and because I wanted to see and explore a new place that is not so far from home. Since I had a day off last Wednesday, I took the opportunity to be extra active by taking long walks with my dog. I was also lucky because the weather was perfectly sunny.

From where I live, circa at Vågseidet, it takes around 15 minutes to drive to Seim. Then from Seim to Lygra where the Lyngheisenteret is, in theory should only take around 15 minutes. So, in total 30 minutes. But, I found the car trip longer as I’m not familiar with the roads and plus the roads are also narrow as well. So yeah, I took it slow.

As I was getting near my destination, the views were also getting more and more picturesque. I had to stop at atleast one of them! My favorite is the bridge that connects Lygra to Børøyna. I find it fascinating because of how low this bridge is!

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The small and low bridge connecting Lygra and Børøyna. In the end of the bridge is a 79 meter long tunnel, the Lygra tunnel.

After a couple of minutes, my dog and I were finally there. There are signs along the way so it’s not easy to get lost. There’s a large info board by the parking area with a brief history of the Heathland Centre and the map of the place. It’s actually very detailed.

 

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The information board.

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Dogs should be on a leash because this is a grazing area.

 

One of the grinds.

 

The facade of the Heathland Centre

The Heathland Centre is closed during the offpeak season. However, people are free to explore and wander the place. Just don’t forget to close the grinds because there might be sheep grazing here.

Just another grind!

As expected of the west coast, the land is wet and moist. It has been raining a lot these past few months so there are short muddy trails. So I highly recommend that you wear good footwear here.

 

Zorro’s always excited to move on.

What I love about this place is that it has a beach. It’s not a typical mountain hike where there are mostly thick pine tree forest. Zorro and I took a break here on the way back.

 

The sign to the beach

 

The beach

For grilling

To sum up, I can say that this is a very easy hike for people of all ages who love to take long walks with their love ones or with a dog. The trails are easy to spot and the information is not lacking either. The duration of the hike from the parking area is around 1 to 2 hours depending on your tempo. My number one tip is to use a pair of waterproof boots or hiking shoes.

When it comes to public transportation, check the bus company Skyss’ website for the schedule. For the information about overnight stays, camping and other concerns, check out the museum’s information site.

Hiking Trip to Skausnøya

Skausnøya or Skausen tour is our one of must hike and must see for us here in Lindås in Alver kommune (county). It’s been almost two years since we moved here and to think that we’re just two minutes drive from this hike makes me think that we’ve been either the laziest persons here or just the busiest. Hmm.. I think it’s the latter. There had been an attempt though during the first year, but I was 9 months pregnant, I was too heavy so we just turned around.

Anyway, there are many options to where one can start the hike to Skausnøya, but I think the easiest way is to start from Vågseidet and park the car along the side of the road by the bus stop. From Bergen, it only takes around 45 minutes drive. From the bus stop it takes around 1 to 1.5 hour to the top.

This hike is a special one because this is the first time we went hiking with our toddler. My hubby took the honor to carry the little one to and from the mountain top. 🙂 Everything went fine until we reached the top. LO started complaining. But, what can we expect? LO is just a toddler and sitting on the carrier the whole hike is sure boring. So we resolved this by taking more breaks as we decended from the top.

As for me, I wasn’t in my top form during this hike. I had to walk slower than normal because my right knee started to ache and I was exhausted because of lack of rest. However, that didn’t stop me from finishing the hike. Just had to take longer breaks, though.


On the way up with dad and LO.



Half way through the top, there’s a stop place where anyone can take a break, sit down on the bench and enjoy the scenery.

The view from the stop place.

There are also small rivers along the way. The water is safe to drink. How do I know? Well, I forgot my drinking bottle, so I had no choice but to drink from here. Yet here I am still alive and writing! 😀

Clean running water.

The paths are easy to spot because they’re marked, but there are many steep areas. I’m glad that I have a good pair of hiking shoes because this hike is not an easy one. Some areas could be muddy, wet, full of snow or dry.

Narrow and steep

After the narrow part, I thought that I’m just a meter or two away from the top. But, wrong! There’s still more to go. I was about to give up but my LO and hubby were waiting for me on the top. Then there’s the snow that concerned me a bit because there might be a thin layer of ice under which means slippery. Thankfully, it’s not slippery!

A thin layer of snow near the top.

After 10 or 15 minutes, I finally saw my hubby and LO. It’s a very nice feeling to be able to reach them after the struggles that I had on my way up.

Finally!
The view from the top. The fog was quicker than us and has blocked the magestic view!

Skausnøya is 363 meters above sea level. Not that bad but there are steep paths to consider. Nevertheless, every thing is beautiful here. I must say that it’s worth every struggle.

The Driving Force

Motivation is one of the most important things that helps me get a certain task done or pursue my goal. It applies of course not only to me, but for everyone. Its intention is actually good. That is when it is around, when we have it. However without motivation, life could actually be boring and meaningless. I think that the word motivation is often misunderstood and misused, because many uses it as a reason to just wait for the right time or timing.

A friend of mine who is a psychologist find motivation both positive and dangerous. Positive in the sense that it helps someone to find purpose in life and dangerous too because it can paralyze someone’s ability to act. It’s like, hello, it’s alright to feel unmotivated in gloomy times too, you know!

I admit that I’m guilty of using the lack motivation as a reason to procrastinate. But later on I found out that it’s not motivation that I lack, because I have plans, goals and the reason to execute these goals. What I actually lack is nutrients that my body needs on order to function properly. So yes, sometimes food is just the perfect solution when I feel that the muse is not around!