There are two TV shows which are largely responsible for my medical career. The first was ‘Doctors to be’ which scarily first aired on BBC2 in 1992. If you didn’t see it at the time clips still exist on youtube which I would wholeheartedly recommend. If that was my initial introduction to the world of medicine, the second programme quite literally got me through my A-levels….I speak of course of the one-and-only ER. It not only launched George Clooneys career, but in a round about way, also mine.
The one thing that TV medical dramas fail to ever properly convey is how ‘grey’ medicine is. Very often things aren’t clearly obvious and it is only with time, thought and patience that answers appear. Clearly this would make for very dull TV, but it does make for very good medicine. The reason for this preamble, is that most of the health concerns in the following article might be due to a serious underlying condition, but are more commonly caused by something much more benign. ’50 Shades of Grey’ may not have prompted my medical career but (the sentiment) is certainly what my day-to-day work is all about.
I love holidays. I’m certainly not one of those people that needs ‘a few days to unwind’, I’m in the holiday zone within seconds of the car rolling off the drive. Over the years I’ve had many different types of breaks and slept in all sorts of random (and often fairly unsanitary) types of accommodation. Back-in-the-day I embraced trips involving a pair of flip flops and a copy of the Lonely Planet. Nowadays holidays are more likely to involve cramming excessive amounts of paraphernalia into the people carrier and praying I’ve remembered each child’s thread bare toy required for sleep. Hey ho…times change, but a holiday is still a holiday.
If your thoughts are starting to turn to your next trip, and are pregnant or thinking of starting a family soon…have a look at my essential guide to the Zika Virus before you pick your destination.
Its fair to say that I’m a girls-girl. Not that I don’t enjoy male company; I can appreciate the subtleties of the six nations or the crescendo of a test match with the best of them. But when push comes to shove, an evening with my best ladies never fails to hit the spot. I grew up in a female-heavy household, and have somehow been lucky enough to always be surrounded by close groups of amazing girls. Its a long held cliche that women like to talk, and I think in the main is it a true stereotype. As we get older the topics may change, but mulling things over with the women in your life guarentees to make things a bit brighter. So this one is going out to the girls….read it and most definitely talk about it.
This wasn’t intended to coincide with Valentines Day…but perhaps it is appropriate that it has! If you have ever suffered with cystitis you will know how miserable it can make you feel. For many women urine infections can be triggered by sexual intercourse. For more in-depth information about of this, take a look at my latest Patient article.
The press was recently all a buzz about a new screening method that may be able to identify people at risk of ovarian cancer. Since I’m currently still on maternity leave I thought I should probably have a read about this before re-entering the world of work, and thought I’d share my findings with you all.
Ovarian Cancer is particularly nasty disease. It typically presents quite late, by which time the cancer can be fairly well established and treatment options are more limited. The main reason this happens is because the symptoms of ovarian cancer are very vague and insidious. There is no ‘lump’ to find or blood to see – so vague niggling symptoms can go unnoticed and unchecked for many months. An easy and quick test would be quite literally life saving for thousands of women, but as yet there is no such magic investigation. Continue reading →
I’ve recently had a few people ask me for my thoughts on the varicella (or chickenpox) vaccine…. so here goes….
The immunisation has been around since 1995 and is part of routine childhood vaccination regimens in many countries including the USA. In the UK (as in others) vaccination is targeted at specific ‘at risk’ groups only.
So assuming you don’t fall into that category, should you bother forking out to have it done privately?
When thinking about immunisation a good rule of thumb is to consider two things. Number one is; how does it affect me or my child as individuals, and number two; what is the impact on the wider community. Continue reading →
So today is Valentines Day! Whoop whoop…. or not. Between you & me I’m not a big fan of old St Valentines. There is something about all those stuffed teddies and row upon row of perfect ‘stepford-esq’ red roses that I find rather sinister. The whole idea of a day of enforced lovey-dovey-ness is a bit peculiar isn’t it? Anyway I’m much more excited about Pancake Day which is just around the corner, so I guess I’m more of a glutton by nature than a romantic.
However its Valentines Day whether I like it or not, and if there is one thing that is utterly synonymous with today, it is hearts. I guarantee that for the next 24 hours you’ll barely be able to move without colliding into some form of gigantic inflatable heart-shaped monstrosity. So it seemed fairly apt to talk hearts – but in the more literal, less romantic, sense.
I’m sure you’ve all seen some form of cringe worthy TV rendition of ‘The Heart Attack’. Typically it involves a middle-aged man staggering around the set, clutching his chest and then falling to the floor in an overly dramatic, if rather unconvincing way. Heart attacks, or Myocardial Infarction as its known medically, can indeed occur like that but there are many more symptoms to be mindful of.
You may not be aware that only around 2/3 of people who have a heart attack experience chest pain. A large study from the US found that 30% of men and 40% of women did not have any chest pain when they arrived at hospital with a myocardial infarction. Women under the age of 45 are even less likely to have symptoms of chest pain during a heart attack. It is therefore really important to be aware that you can have a heart attack without having typical symptoms of chest pain.
I hope you’ve all had a lovely Christmas and a great start to 2015! Father Christmas was extremely generous to us and brought the family a new baby boy, so I am now proud mummy to sprog3! So far it is all fantastic, if a little exhausting (huge understatement!) so I thought I’d kick of the new year with a short but sweet post.
One of the commonest concerns ladies have is that of finding a lump in a breast. We all worry that this could be due to something sinister but it is worth remembering that there are lots of innocent causes for lumps and bumps appearing. I’ve just jotted down a few of the commonest ‘benign’ (ie. not cancerous) types of breast lump. Remember it is really important to check your breasts regularly. Check out my previous post on how to do this and why not try to make it your New Years resolution! Continue reading →
I have just worked out an utterly staggering and shocking statistic; over the past 5 and half years I have either been pregnant or breastfeeding for approximately 70% of the time. That accounts for 2 children, one about to pop out and a couple of miscarriages thrown in for good measure. Blimey…I think this may explain a couple of things, namely my extremely poor memory and my general zombie like state much of the time. So as I come to the end of this pregnancy my mind beings to turn to the small matter of contraception…. Yup after sprog3 arrives this will be it for us (probably, possibly, most likely…..)
One of the things GP’s always harp on about at the 6 week baby check is contraception. On many occasion a mothers eyes have locked with mine in horror, to even suggest that they might have the energy, let alone the inclination to be getting jiggy a mere 6 weeks after their child’s arrival! None-the-less thinking about contraception post-pregnancy is important, unless you are inclined to crack on with the next whilst your tot is still in the Moses basket! Continue reading →
I think that before having children we all have preconceptions about what life will be like filled with tiny extra people. Usually the scenes we concoct in our mind are of blissful afternoons cuddling sweet-smelling newborns or soft-focused hours merrily spent playing with cheerful and chubby cheeked toddlers. As those of us who have crossed to the ‘other side’ (i.e. have children) well know, things rarely pan out as you expect.
Today is World Mental Health Day and in honour of this I wanted to write a few thoughts about Post-Natal Depression or PND. As a female GP with young children of my own, I see lots of similarly aged patients, so pre and postnatal care is inevitably something I am involved with a lot. I love this part of my job; seeing ladies arrive excitedly brandishing their pee’d on sticks, waddling in proud as punch with beautiful bumps and then of course meeting the tiny tot once it has arrived. However with all that happiness come many cases where things aren’t as straightforward or easy – from fertility issues, to miscarriage and all too often mental health issues. Post or even pre natal depression is something that seems to cut across the board, affecting women without warning and shattering what is perceived to be ‘the happiest time of your life’. I think, impart, that is what makes PND so exceedingly difficult, in that it fly’s in the face of all our preconceived notions of what motherhood and starting a family should bring.
Obviously PND is a huge area so here are just a few of my thoughts; Continue reading →