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I'm baaaaaccccck!

 Well, it's been a while. 7 months, probably the longest I've gone without posting. But it's also probably been the busiest year of my life so I guess it's understandable. It's certainly been the hardest I've ever worked.

So where have I been? In London doing a masters in Medical Parasitology. It's been soooo much more work than I had been expecting. I was bit naive. I guess I still had visions of undergrad, I wasn't expecting a walk in the park but I was expecting more assignments and less lectures. More time at home. Instead I had lectures/practicals 9-5 5 days a week and assignments and further reading to do on top of all that. After Christmas we had 3 5 week terms in which time we covered 6 modules each with assessments at the end. 2 final exams followed and then the summer project. I did however managed 100% attendance which for me is amazing, got some grades I am very very proud of and made some wonderful friends.

My summer project was a rollercoaster in itself. I had arranged to travel to the Philippines and conduct a study comparing the specificity and sensitivity of the current main diagnostic technique for detecting soil transmitted helminth eggs in human stool against a new technique in areas of high and low prevalence. It would have also looked at the prevalence of 3 helminth infections in school children in the two areas.

I have to say that I've always had a soft spot for helminths and this year has really got me interested in diagnostics. This project was gonna be awesome. I was a bit nervous as it would be so far away from home, and a bit sad as it meant I would have to miss oakleaf but I was really excited about it.

Unfortunately a week before my final exams and 2 weeks before I was due to fly I was informed that it would have to be cancelled as the lab wanted to do other stuff with their time. That had me disappointed and bit mad that they left it so late to tell me. I'd also already written my introduction and spent the last 3-4 months doing my literature search and reading papers. I then had to find a new project with 2 weeks before I was due to start it and catch up on all that lost reading. I ended up with a molecular biology project on schistosomes. Still worms but molecular biology, my worst topic which I don't really understand at all. The lab work was ok but the reading and writing and actually understanding what i was doing was a long nightmare that very nearly put me off research for life. But I managed to do it and hand it in and hopefully it makes enough sense to pass!

On the up side as it was now a UK based project I managed to go to oakleaf. Had a great time. For the first time I got absolutely blind drunk to the point of being sick. Apparently everyone has one year of going off the rails at oakleaf, this one happened to be mine. I had managed 6 years without it so not bad! My sister came to oakleaf finally and that was lovely, she really enjoyed it and I liked being able to share it with her and spend some chill out time with her.

In other news I have spent a lot of time this year trawling job sites and findaphd.com. When I did my undergrad I focused on finishing but not what was going to happen afterwards. That meant I finished and got a job with woolies and kind of forgot about science, then found it really hard to get a job. I was determined not to let that happen this time and so got on the case of planning whilst I was studying. I also needed to know what was happening next as we needed to leave the house we were in by the end of oct latest and we wanted to buy so needed to know in advance where in the country we would be heading.

I applied to a couple of jobs and a few phds that met my interests. I got a phone interview for one with an hours notice which went horribly and I got a face to face interview for another phd. The interview was fun but I really thought I had messed it up. I was very shocked to be offered the position. It's based in Edinburgh, Midlothian to be exact and will be a study looking at the current diagnostic techniques we have for detecting liver fluke in sheep, comparing their ability to predict adult burden and drug efficacy as well as looking into the epidemiology of the disease. It sounds amazing and I am soooo excited about it.

We took a trip up to Edinburgh in the middle of August and looked at about 25 houses, we found one we love and started the process of buying as soon as we got back. We are in a binding contract so if the owners back out now they have to pay a hefty fine so the house is pretty  much ours. We have a move in date of the 24th Sept my PhD starts 1st Oct but they have told me to come in on the 4th and take the weekend to get settled. Our stuff arrives on the 2nd. It's all systems go at the moment. I'm gonna be sad to leave London, and Edinburgh is cold and new but I am so excited about it all.

I also tried to shift some weight again. I started on a slim fast diet (had reached that level of desperation). It worked quiet well surprisingly, 2 200odd calorie shakes, 3 100 calorie snacks and a 600 calorie dinner. However the shake powder had lactose in it, and the snacks and lunch bars were sickly. So I modified it. I made my own snacks (breakfast bars, benecols and fruit) and my own lunches. I stuck to the calorie limits though. I started in June at 84kg and I'm not 79kg. Still obese according to the bmi scale but a big improvement. I stopped it mid august. Well I say stopped. The problem with diets is that people go back to eating the way they had been and of course the weight goes back on. So I modified my diet (not in the weight loss sense but it the sense of my diet is what I eat). I have a 200 calorie breakfast, I have roughly 200 calorie lunch and I have a sensible dinner. I have snack as well during the day. I've also had chineses, and kfc and mc donalds and a bunch of other fattening bad for me dinners and lunches and breakfasts and I'me drinking tea again. I've stopped loosing weight but I haven't put weight on again. I've maintained the loss and I don't feel like I'm dieting even though I'm eating a lot less than I had been. It's just that what I had been eating was sooo much more than my body needed. Once I get moved and settled I'll get stricter about the dinners and snacks and hopefully loose weight again. But it's made a real difference knowing that I can maintain a weight without having to be really strict on what I eat. I enjoy eating and the idea of a life of salads was not appealing. This is so much better.

I really am feeling blessed in life right now. I have an amazing partner who has stood by me, a little neglected, and supported me whilst I've worked at this masters and I love him so very much. I have been gifted with the opportunity to do this PhD at what seems an amazing institute with really nice people. I've found a gem of a house and *touches wood* the process has been relatively smooth and stressless. Someone up there really is looking down and smiling on me at the moment and I'm more thankful than I can put into words and sooo very happy with my life.

Well I best get back to the packing, nearly done. But yes this year I've been quiet but I've completed a masters, arranged to start a PhD, bought a house and arranged a move to the other end of the country, I've been a busy girl!

I hope everyone is well. Once I get settled I'll be reading peoples updates again. I'm looking forward to catching up with people!

*huggles f-list*



Welcome back!

'tis lovely to see you again!

Hopefully I can manage to stay around :-)

Congrats on the phd and finding an ideal house.

Wish you all the luck in Scotland and your research :D

Thanks hun!

Hehe thanks hun. I've said to Sam we have to live in Northern Ireland next as then I'll have lived in all of the countries in the British Isle. He's told me not to mention moving to him yet. lol



Darling you have had an amazing and challenging year, but risen to the occasion magnificently. I love how you have grown so far, so well. Very very proud of you. *hugs*

That was me btw...

Stupid LJ logged me out when I commented. :p

Re: That was me btw...

Thank you hun, means a lot. I'm really proud of myself as well. I don't wanna toot my own horn *ooo er misses* but I'm amazed by how far I've managed to come in such a relatively short space of time. I started this masters wanting to try and do something other than working in a store but very dubious that I'd be capable of it given my past but I exceeded my own expectations and I feel so blessed that I have finally reached a point in my life where I don't feel handicapped by my head and I feel blessed and thankful to the Gods for giving me that strength and to my family and friends for believing in me and supporting me. Argh words just don't seem to convey the feeling.

Right I'll stop rambling now. To summarise *huggles*



13 Moons by Fiona Walker-Craven


I would like to know if you would mind selling this book to me. I have been looking for this book for ages, and apparently it is rare to find. Please let me know if you would be interested in this deal.
I would appreciate your response. And also, in case you would not want to sell it, let know whether you know where I could find it in the UK.
My email: reasonsfirst@yahoo.com


January 2012



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