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Remembering the Croydon Riots 2011 from the frontlines: Medical trial at Richmond Pharmacology

Originally written Friday, 11 NOVEMBER 2011

Since I’ve been on the study I’ve had a few problems with the hospital’s internet connection. I’ve tried logging on several times using different passwords, but despite the fact the wireless symbol is showing that there is a strong feed the firefox Mozilla and google chrome are refusing to recognise it. I don’t know what I’ve done to my laptop and I’ve tried to consult it’s help support centre, but there doesn’t seem to be a reason why the internet explorer wouldn’t work. Technology is wrong. Or the people who made it are. And their mistake is preventing me from updating my blog as I would like.

Since Monday my experience on the study ward has been quite normal and routine. Well, that’s as ‘normal’ as you could possibly expect. It’s never boring as there is always something happening or someone to talk to, if you don’t mind a stint of claustrophobic isolation and periods of laying about checking your email and watching tv.

For the study, I and eleven other volunteers must spend a period of roughly six to eight hours laying silent and still on our beds while doctors and nurse tiptoe around us and hush us at the slightest murmur. They are taking heartbeat tests using an ECG monitor and blood samples from a canulla valve injected into the arm. It is not a painful experience except for the uncomfortable feeling of laying on your back for such a long duration, and where occasionally at 6 am a nurse might accidentally miss a vein and push the needle into your muscle followed by a brief controlled panic before she tries again. The only other complaint I have of the ward, besides the limited entertainment and DVD selection, would probably be the food. It’s back to school dinners, and if your pallet isn’t against bland microwave dishes consisting of endless variations of rice/pasta you won’t have a problem.

The trial is mixed sex, so often you’ll find someone to talk to, but you must be aware of etiquette and remain polite in this extreme space of limited privacy. You might be surprised to find yourself introducing who you are to your neighbour on the ward and chatting away on various subjects that you never even knew you possessed knowledge on simply as away of breaking the pulverising monotony. Most of the volunteers are students, graduates or travelers, alongside individuals who are either out of work or between jobs. I’ve met two medical students midway on there courses who have chatted to me a lot about their career interests, full moon parties and gap year holidays abroad. I feel like I know more about orthopaedic practice and the complexity of exams they must undergo over a 5-7 year period.

So far the trial has lasted for two periods of five days with one weekend intermission in between. On Monday 8th August, during my admission for the second period, I became a window spectator to the Croydon riots that occurred just 10 minutes away on the road leading to the city centre. My sister, who I’d stayed with at her flat in Brixton, had woken me that morning to tell me town centre and its tube station had been closed due to the damage caused by the riots the night before. Funny, that night as we’d met outside the Ritzy cinema near the main junction,  I’d felt surprised to see so many bystanders and young people, who I’d learned had been at a music festival that Sunday.

Some of the English speakers, volunteers and staff, perched on their beds and went to the bathroom to try to get a better look from the window. A live news broadcoast on the TV in the lounge room showed areal footage of a burning building whilst helicopters could be heard hovering around the nightsky.

I’d watched on the chaos onscreen and couldn’t believe what I was seeing, and wondered if the trial would be cancelled, or if we or the hospital were in any danger of being set ablaze. I’d spoken to the  Japanese volunteers, who couldn’t speak English and seemed oblivious to what was happening, they followed me to lounge where I’d pointed at the screen, and then at the window where the smoke and lights from the helicopters could be seen. Their eyes widened slightly and exchanged a look of surprise before returning to their beds to continue whatever it was they were looking at on their laptops.

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I’m listening to The XX and for some reason their song VCR released in 2009, I song I liked, seems like capture the chaos and confusion that was going on at that time.

Information about medical trials with Richmond Pharmacology can be found here:

http://www.trials4us.co.uk/

http://www.richmondpharmacology.com/contact_us/mayday.php

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