Friday, July 31, 2009


Over the past few days I've been reassessing my approach to life and to what extent I feel I have command over the 24 hours that I have each day to use. Unfortunately, for some reason or another, it seems to me that things are heading in the way of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics - in essence, that my life is becoming increasingly disorganised. There isn't one particular thing that I can use to illustrate this point; because it really is a combination of factors that are contributing to this down-ward spiral. When it comes down to it; the failure that I see on my part is lack of self-discipline. I've become quite accustomed to not having to account for the way that I'm spending my time (particularly since leaving high school all those years ago) and in particular, to the fact that I don't really owe anyone anything, as far as dedication of time spent. But of course, with this privilege, comes responsibility. So I want to start being a bit more responsible about how I'm spending my time.

Implications? Dedicating more time spent exercising, hanging out with the family, getting into healthier eating and sleeping habits.

I'm control-freak by nature... I feel like things are slipping. Let's see what I can do to stop that :-S

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Much ado about nothing

Sorry about the lack of updates - to be honest, I've been staring at the screen for almost an hour and for the first time, she who has a bone to pick about everything, has nothing to report :-S I guess I'll write a bit about what been happening in my life, though I warn you that it won't be anything exciting...

So, we are still within our Neuro block at uni and as far as I'm concerned, we can stay here forever. For the first time all year, I understand the concepts and I have the answers. I can do the physical examinations and interpret the signs and symptoms. I know the Circle of Willis, the difference between Broca's and Wernicke's Areas, the MOA of the major antiepileptic drugs and how to calculate the GCS. These aren't particularly hard concepts or bits of information to commit to memory; but I guess the pace of information processing required in studying medicine is often so hectic and overwhelming that it's such a relief to be confident with the basics. This also holds particular value in my eyes because I'm the kind of student who believes in knowing the fundamentals or the "bread and butter", if you like; and not much more.

Today we learnt about something called "pseudoseizures" (we are studying epilepsy this week). For those who don't know what they are, here is a pretty good article on them. Captain Atopic wrote about them earlier in the year and I agree with him completely: pseudoseizures are NOT funny! I have to admit though, I'm a bit confused about the extent of consciousness and deliberation involved? Regardless, most sources point out that they may still be of some clinical/diagnostic value - in the same way that other "weird" or anti-social acts can trigger warning bells about underlying psychosocial issues. Still, it's just such an extreme measure to take!

What else? I think I'm finally on the other side of the long and drawn out messy ending to my friendship/relationship with FMH. God, it's taken over 6 months!! I'm just so blasĂ© about the whole thing now and am actually REALLY glad it's over. When I reflect on things now, I'm amazed (read: utterly disappointed in myself!) by the trance I was under with him. It's so debilitating! I don't wish to use this blog for defamation - but he was *so* selfish to take advantage of my sentiments in the ways he did. I've learnt so much from the experience though and if I can get this message across to at least one person, then nothing would have happened in vain. My message is this: love and life are full of compromises - fair enough - but don't ever compromise who you truly are or your raison d'ĂȘtre (reason for being) for someone else (this includes not making anyone your reason for being). Even if your ambitions in life aren't giving you fulfillment, I urge you to search deeper within yourself for answers before relying on others to give your life a sense of worth. And that's all I have to say about that.

Anyways, moving right along... I'm going to the Spring Seminar on Emergency Medicine in Broome, this October. Anyone else going? I'm really excited as this will be my first real med conference :-D I hope it's not too advanced for me, but I think the experience will be worth it all the same. Plus, I'll get to check out what the other side of this beautiful country looks like. On the second day of the conference, there are a few workshops on offer: I signed up for paediatric resuscitation, regional anaesthesia, ophthalmology and some other resuscitation one where they are supposedly going to cover difficult airways and umbilical vein catheterisation :-S I'm sure I'll update more on it later.

Well, I think that's as much as I can write about my life for one evening. Ooh, one last thing - apparently IMET released intern (match) offers for some students yesterday. I hope that all my final year virtual buddies get their top preferences! It must be such a stressful time :-S Good luck!

Friday, July 17, 2009

The five people you trust the most from med school

The other day, whilst attending an interesting lecture about Schizophrenia, I looked around the room at my class-mates and contemplated the idea that these people would be looking after patients one day and - Heaven forbid - it may even be myself who is under one of their care. As I furthered chewed through this (somewhat disturbing) thought, I came to the conclusion that there are only about 5 people amongst my cohort whom I would ever want treating me or my family. These people are neither the smartest nor the closest to me in friendship - but I saw unique qualities in them that I could only hope to emulate myself one day.

1. C - the ex-anaesthetics nurse.
Placid as a lake. Reassuring. The epitome of calmness.

2. M - the ex-physiotherapist.
Sharp and astute. Professional. Logical. Oh so very humble.

3. R - the father of two, and ex-science teacher.
Sagacious. Organised. Street-smart and savy... and because there are somethings only a parent can appreciate.

4. N - the goth, and ex-forensic scientist.
Original. Passionate. Fashionably sensitive, outside the square thinker.

5. P - the ex-computer programmer.
Deep. Discreet. Impeccably reliable and trust-worthy.

Above all, the five people I would trust the most from med school are honest, tolerant and sincere. They respect issues of confidentiality and are particularly professional in their conduct.

They are people you would want looking after you too...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

"Yeah it's bad for you, but see how good it can look!"

I came across this awesome website last week called "Fancy Fast Food", which just had me drooling! It's a food blog specialising in extreme makeovers of fast foods - with recipes and photographs included!

Oh it's just perfectly ingenious, don't you think?! Global financial crisis affecting you much? Never fear - you can still whip up a culinary masterpiece at the cost of a Bic Mac Meal. Michelin star-worthy, I'd say!

Pictured here is a sure-winner with the whole family - the McSteak & Potatoes dish (aka spruced-up Bic Mac meal).

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Of blood, brains and glory!

My overall experiences of med school thus far have been pretty low key, somewhat tedious and, for lack of better words, quite boring. It's certainly not due to being so exceptionally talented that I find the content insulting to my intelligence - nay, almost the opposite! It's that a lot of the time I'm completely lost, either failing to comprehend the basics of what is presented to us or failing to see what the point of it is. Add to that our pathetic excuse for a clinical program (no hospital placements at all till 3rd year!!) and what you have is a med student soldiering on from week to week, head down, shoulders hunched... sometimes walking, often tripping... reaching for the light beyond the seemingly endless tunnel that is the pre-clinical component of the course. Excuse, the cynicism, it gets better.

Then, rather unexpectedly, you are granted a week of mercy - a week where uni is interesting, things actually make sense to you, and people - real people!! - are placed bravely under your care... and you allow yourself to quickly bathe in the glory of life as an active and diligent knowledge-seeking member of society. Perfectly aware, of course, of the transient nature of this phenomenon.

This week, with the start of neuro block, was my week.

I studied Neuroscience in my undergrad degree. I know the brain inside out and the other way 'round. From the minute biochemical neurotransmitters to the gross anatomical structures; I have devoted many hours trying to unravel, for my personal interest, the mysteries inherent within. I've done research on neurodegenerative diseases - I've found no answers for the betterment of humanity, but have answered *so* many of my burning questions.

I love the brain - I don't think I'll ever cease to be fascinated by it. The brain to the body; is the sun to the solar system. It is the only organ that cannot (as yet! :-S) be viably removed and/or replaced by a mechanical, electronic, or allogeneic substitute. Death, medico-legally, means having irreplaceable loss of brain function as indicated by a persistent flat electroencephalogram. Culturally and mythologically speaking, the brain is believed to house the soul and essence of self.

My highlight of the week was definitely dissecting a whole brain (with a perfectly intact arterial system!) out of my cadaver's cranium. I don't yet have any achievements at med school to be proud of - but, if I may so humbly point out just this once, that my partner and I were the only people to do so during our anatomy session (admittedly no one else did, not because they couldn't, but because they weren't interested in doing so when all they needed to do was look at a plastic model). Other thrills included being lectured on Parkinson's Disease by one of Australia's finest neurologists (who'd invited a PD patient to come with him to demonstrate the cardinal signs of the disease), and testing the good ol' cranial nerves during our clinical skills session.

My week was topped off with a St John's first aid duty at one of the most violent amateur rugby matches I have ever seen. Broken noses, dislocated shoulders/fingers/knees, concussions, sprains and strains. Oh my! I've had a very sheltered life :-S There were two games happening simultaneously on the oval and it was chaos! One thing I reflected on in hindsight was that I feel like I'm becoming a bit sloppy with formalities - I was forgetting to do simple things like gain explicit consent and explain what I was doing to the casualty. I think it's because we do so much clinical work in simulated environments at my uni, so it's easy to omit these essential details without dire consequences. Still, it's totally unacceptable to just jump in and ask someone "what happened?" without even exchanging names, for example :-S Anyway, I'm going to sign up for the 4-day new members' workshops run by my division in August - they'll cover everything from Senior First Aid, Advanced First Aid and Advanced Life Support. The SFA will mostly be a refresher, but the AFA and ALS will be completely new for me. Looking forward to learning something in the way of organisation and fluency in multi-tasking - and hopefully putting an end to this sloppiness!


I'll leave you with a link to a youtube video of "Candy" - one the most delicious songs I've heard this year. The voice is that of Scottish artist Paolo Nutini - he sings in his native accent, with a soulfully mellow voice that is mature well-beyond his young years. Another favourite song is "Million Faces". Check him out!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Sometimes, I really hate change

We would stand in the wind
We were free like water
Flowing down
Under the warmth of the sun
Now it's cold and we're scared
And we've both been shaken
Hey, look at us
Man, this doesn't need to be the end

Just let me hold you while you're falling apart
Just let me hold you and we'll both fall down

Fall on me tell me everything you want me to be
Forever with you
Forever in me
Ever the same
Call on me
I'll be there for you and you'll be there for me
Forever it's you
Forever in me
Ever the same

~ Rob Thomas, "Ever the Same"

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Review: Doctor's Diaries

A few day's ago I came across the website of a TV series called "Doctors' Diaries". It's basically a documentary series that follows the lives of seven Harvard Medical School students - their journey through med school and their personal/professional lives post-graduation. It took 21 years to produce and makes for very interesting viewing (the series hasn't aired here in Australia yet so I just watched the 10 minute summary of each doctor's journey online through the website).

These short previews alone made me laugh, cry, cringe and sometimes just nod my head in recognition or sigh in resignation of the reality. The transformation over the years for some of the doctors was remarkable; but I particularly liked seeing how most of them stayed true to their guiding principles and used their skills in medicine in the ways that their younger selves had envisioned they would. Another thing that also stood out for me was how they all had relationship issues, falling under one of three categories:
- never got married or partnered-up;
- married but divorced and (for some) re-married; or
- married quite late in life.

I'll spare you all a relationship rant for today, but let's just say I'm close to losing what little faith I had in the idea of doctors maintaining a healthy work-life balance :-/ Regardless, most of the doctors seemed very happy and at peace with where their journeys had taken them; and I'd say the sweet out-did the sour. Overall, a refreshing and honest insight into an intriguing world that surprises even those of us in it. Well worth watching (if you only watch a couple of clips, watch Jay Bonnar and Jane Liebschutzs' stories - the part where Jay is an intern and trying to elicit a history off a guy with leg numbness is hilarious!!).

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Crazy - Confronting - Considerate

Crazy: is politically incorrect and far from the truth. This is real, this is raw.

Confronting: are just how real it actually is; the mysteries that shroud it; how it affects those who have it; and the fairly poor prognosis.

Considerate: are the modern medical practices and reactions to it, particularly (amongst others) the act of scheduling a patient in the interest of protecting them from "harm to reputation".

And thus I was left feeling, after my first formal block of education in Psychiatry.