Bit of a difficult post this week; it’s quite personal but felt it was worth writing as a way of understanding learning experiences. And thanks to John Lennon for the post title.
Welcome to Malta. That is the shape of the largest lesion on my back. It has a family of others who have appered on my back, sides and chest over the last few months. I went to my GP about a year ago and they said it wasn’t a problem. So, I forgot about them.
Then Malta (and his friends) started to itch, change colour and size. So I went back to my GP a few weeks ago and they made an immediate referral to a dermatologist. This was on a Friday evening, the hospital called on the Monday afternoon with an appointment for 7 days later. Good service from the free at point of entry NHS again.
Malta is currently about 2in long, is raised, mottled in colour, etc. In fact, if you look at this page on Wikipedia, it looks exactly like the image presented and meets all of the ABCDE criteria, PLUS the EFG criteria.
Now, as you can imagine, this was a bit of a shock. My family has a history with cancer (my wife was diagnosed with Stage 3 Ovarian some years ago) and suggesting it was a little difficult is an understatement.
I had a little over a week to wait for my appointment. Was it my intrinsic motivation to learn that made me look up everything it could have been? In the days before our networks and tide of information, I would have happily sat at home, worrying about what it could be. Now, in the 21st century, I was able to research all the relevant sites, look at a raft of skin complaints, look up images of skin issues that I wish I could now forget. But I had to find out for myself what Malta and his mates may be.
Is this motivation to learn, in this context, something that the majority would pursue?
So I’d looked up information to acquire the knowledge, but I didn’t have any context. I started browsing skin cancer forums to understand the experiences of people in their context. Twitter was a useful place to find how the topic was being discussed, but it was of a specialised nature and online forums were the best source of context discovery.
Preparation, preparation, preparation; it all helped to settle my thoughts about my legion of lesions beforehand but I couldn’t sleep the night before the appointment. Only natural I guess.
Hospitals…I don’t like them. I’ve had to visit too many too many times but I felt prepared.
Into the appt and there was a doctor. And then 2 students, and then a consultant. Lots of poking, numerous views of Malta and his friends with an oil dermatoscope. The doctor asked questions of the students, the consultant showed the students different aspects of my family of lesions, pointing out specific issues, distinguishing features, development states, etc. This was true learning on the job for the students.
Finally, I was treated to the news that I had warts. Warts that behave, look and feel like melanoma.
The consultant asked if they could take a few photos, the students had more of a poke and prod and I was happy to be a guinea pig; I mean…I work in L&D and this was a great learning opportunity for them.
The doctor offered to remove the warts with liquid nitrogen. I had a wart removed like that when I was younger and it was painful…really painful. I learnt then (aged 13) that if you don’t need it, avoid liquid nitrogen.
There was great question in #lrnchat on Twitter today. Is training ever relevant and necessary? If so, when? Could the work that the consultant did with the students be called training?
There’s also been a great conversation following an article on Trainingzone this week. The author seems to be building 70:20:10 up then knocking it down again. I’d suggest what I learnt about melanoma fell into the 70:20 areas; similarly, the students learnt in the 70:20 areas too.
Any comments welcome as usual.