Archive | September, 2012

Sleep

23 Sep

You find that, in med school, you have better things to do than sleep.

6 am? Why don’t you get your ass to the gym, it’ll be your only chance today.

Midnight? Sneak in a few minutes with whatever poor sap is acting as a substitute for the emotional gap in your life.

5:30 pm? You think I should nap after class? Please, this is my time to reinforce what we just did in lecture.

2:30 am? Run through glycolysis! Why not?

Why not indeed — because sleep improves performance, right?

It’s just so damn tempting … to run on caffeine, instead. There just aren’t enough hours in the day, are there? We have to go to hours of class and lab a day, sifting through hundreds of pieces of new information to cram into overstuffed brains each and every day. Have to memorize eighty-five different mnemonics before sundown, fourteen cycles before sun up again. On top of that, we’re looking for some kind of emotional connection to the other students who are just as neurotic and sleep deprived as we are. Trying our best not to become too bloated on New York Bagels, Subway Cookies and Glovers Rice. Sneak in a beer to blunt the edge once in a while. And then, study some more! It’s a torrid whirlwind of crappy fast food, awkward social encounters, and flashcard after flashcard after flashcard.

We’re trying to be doctors. We don’t have time to worry about our own health, physical, mental, emotional or otherwise. What kind of silly notion is that?!

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Well hello there, BChem tutor …

12 Sep

“I have a thing for boys in superhero t-shirts.”

Detached

10 Sep

There’s something about seeing a man’s penis that is utterly detaching.

Not detached, although I’m sure that would be disturbing in its own right. But detaching.

With the cadaver, for instance, that’s donated for my learning objectives in medical school. It’s become clinical; but it wasn’t until you peel back the drapes to see every bit that detachment actually occurs. A complete wall between oneself and the body, the pathology.

Maybe that’s what that whole doctor-God-complex thing is about. The detachment, this wall makes us invulnerable. There is no fear — there may be no doubt or second guessing. Medicine is, today, largely about reassurance, isn’t it? But reassurance often means attachments, and there’s no room for attachments. Attachments mean emotional ties. And emotional ties, quite frankly, mean silly mistakes. What a thin line.

Maybe it’s medical school that does this to us. Strips us of the ability to function normally – in relationships, in the hospital, in life. We learn to treat our patients a certain way, to handle them, learn to interact with them. Spoken to a doctor recently? Better yet, do you have a friend who’s a doctor? They’re a whole different person outside sterilized walls. They’re not reassuring, they’re not wholly optimistic, they’re not thoughtful and probing and gentle and nice. That’s silly to believe, isn’t it? That doctors should be nice. And yet, it seems legitimate at the same time. Doctors SHOULD be nice! … Unfortunately, we don’t all want to be doctors for the same reason, huh?

It has become the same in my, for lack of a better word, (relationship) of late, as well. You peel back the mystery, the excitement, the … well, the pants … and it’s over.

God. Medical students. Medical school. Can’t fuck ’em, can’t…well…fuck ’em. Not without their own guilt spilling out of their eager, med-centric little hearts and scattering over your bed. They scamper away, bury themselves in books not to see the light of day for hours at a time. A day and a half!

Does that sound healthy to you? You’re human. Remember? You’re a medical student, sure, which is pushing it as far as humanistic activities can go. Remember these things, called social interactions? It’s called stepping outside of your head to have a conversation about the impending hurricane, the upcoming presidential election, the philosophics of religion in medicine. I get it — you need to concentrate. Make sacrifices. But you’re human. A little  physical activity would do the body good.

This is where the detachment comes in, isn’t it? We build these walls, these high, cold, punishing stone walls that are impenetrable — where we snuggle with histology slides, cuddle up next to Netter’s Atlas and  Biochem BRS. And even peeking out into the world outside seems unforgiveable — so much so that any act of defiance must be countered with long hours in a cramped room, shades drawn.

Do we really wonder why our doctors are detached?

Quote

Intimacy

10 Sep

“Your notes should be the only thing you know intimately in medical school.”

Fear

10 Sep

There’s a moment when you transfer from startled to scared – a moment that marks you. A moment that stays with you when you close your eyes, a moment that makes you grip your knuckles a little whiter and check over your shoulder a few times more.

I was under no impression that life in Grenada would be a breeze — going to school in New York makes you wary of the normative sketches of people, poor communities even, yes, muggings. But there is a deeper unknown to being so far from home — to not having a safehouse to return to. I’m always in Grenada. Walking down my dorm hallway from the laundry room at night in the deserted hallway, covering the mere forty feet difference that passes an open glass door the world can see me through .. my heart is racing.

And I blame this on the six idiotic, though probably poor and disadvantaged gentlemen — probably not much older than I am — that I was surrounded by, at a huge parade with easily hundreds of people. Upon trying to shove my way out, my clutch was yanked — hard. That is the moment I’m talking about — the yank I can feel through my twitching muscles when I close my eyes and remember, the pull of tendons, the reflexive adrenaline and anger that yanked back, the immediate fear that descended.

Do you think they knew the fear that would cause my limbs to shake until rum dulled the adrenaline? Did they know I would loathe the island at night and have an immediate distrust of any native man who approaches me on the island? Know that I would shake as I’m hit on, spoken to, complimented, clutching my ID and money behind my back?

Did they know what they were doing? Did they mean to?

I want to believe not. I’ve been taught not. I have to believe not, if I want to move forward, right? I should believe they’re a product of the shitty, poor atmosphere and culture of the island, products of thousands of years of oppression — slavery and rebellion — war, poverty, famine. People who are happy, and satisfied — they do not mark others in this way. Not by petty theft, by mugging, by trying to take what’s not theirs by force. Are these excuses?

Fuck you, I should have said. I wanted to say. As if they were entitled. Fucking entitled to marking and paralyzing other by fear — removing dignity. Fuck. You. Anger has returned to replace fear. Anger for it happening — anger for not having yet worked through it.

I’m still scared.

Still angry, I’m still saddened by the circumstances which have led to their feeling that stealing is the best possible current option.

Maybe I should have let it go.

Change

10 Sep

We have to believe that people are capable of change.

It gives us hope — that all, which is right now, will not always be. That we may learn. That this is not all necessarily in vain. Change is an indicator that we are growing. Time is moving forward. WE are not stuck, static, with out mistakes clinging to us like ivy tangled in wrought iron fences — they may be sheared. Erased. Weeded. Fixed.

If not capable of change, why do we look to others for inspiration, guidance? Why trust? Especially, why reinstitute trust?

And if we’re not capable of changing, how do we hold onto the hope that things will get better? If our surroundings are a product of our own design, we must at least believe we are capable of changing them.

That’s the crux of it – not that we are capable of change – after all, it’s been thousands of years of war and greed and slavery and torture — but that, individually, we believe that we are.

That is what keeps us going.