sterileplayground

Tying it all together.

Our introduction was little over 5 minutes old before I began work on you, your skin cold to touch. I thought about how strange you looked, disconnected from everything you were once a part of, now lying cold and alone on my table. I could feel the ripples on your still pink skin, almost goose bump like, scattered along a tough exterior. You were not the first I had seen, but you were oddly different, something was missing.

I didn’t have long, so I needed to work quickly. The first incision, calmly made, perhaps a little too deep, sliced easily through to the lower fascia as I realised how sharp my instruments were. Unfortunately for you though, I was not to stop there. Little blood flowed as my blade drew across your skin several more times, each cut revealing more than you thought possible; it was not long before I reached bone.

I stepped back; observing my work while you lay motionless, insides now facing outside. I doubt you ever imagined your life leading to this, to be used in such a way, however you were naïve. I was not the only one in the room to realise you were bred for this. While the incisions were important, the next step was of more use to my education. I grabbed my forceps, my needle holders and my lastly, my 4/0 non-absorbable sutures and with little training, I begun to put you back together. I started in the centre of the longest and deepest area, using an interrupted technique to join your skin, a task that was at times, much more difficult than first thought.

Unfortunately though, whilst my technique improved with each knot, nothing could be done to save you and with that, I was brought back to reality.

The room of students breathed a collective sigh as time ended, 50 discarded trotters placed back in a box.

I said goodbye to you, content with what I had achieved, but forever knowing that you, my cold, pink little friend, would never be going back to market, would never be eating roast beef again and worst of all, would not be returning home. 

shy-wolves asked:

When did you decide that you wanted become a doctor. What inspired you?

Hi there!

Well, this is a tough question, and one that is often asked of us as medical students. I think one of the most interesting things about medical school is hearing the individual journey of each member of the cohort. Unlike certain universities (cough, Melbourne), the university I am fortunate enough to attend does not have any prerequisites and thus it’s rather interesting hearing how everyone managed to end up in the same place, some from quite obscure backgrounds. While some other members of my cohort have always had the dream of becoming a doctor and thus went down the biomed path, the notion of medical school is somewhat of a recent discovery for me. 

When I was younger, I had a quote written down by Mr Carl Sagan. It said, ‘somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known’.

I think I knew from an early age that I was destined for a career in science, I just wasn’t sure which area. Biology always fascinated me, however chemistry had my heart. As a result, I completed an undergraduate degree in chemistry, however as I was not fond of inorganic chemistry, my second major was in immunology. It was during these classes, shared with other biomed students, that my interest in medical school grew. After graduating, I was offered the chance to take up some research work in an organic chemistry lab. It was during this time that I seriously investigated the idea of medicine as I didn’t like my chances of dying young due to toxic chemical exposure…

To say I sat the GAMSAT on a whim is a lie, I had every intention of doing my best and as a result, I studied, hard. I sat the test, got my results, and applied for certain schools. Medicine is interesting, it’s ongoing, and as a doctor, you commit yourself to a life of learning. There is always something else to know, and that excites me.

Helping people is merely one of the perks of the job, however for me, the main reason I want to be a doctor is because the field fascinates me.

My inspiration came in the form of a little old lady named Rosa, please see an earlier post more information on this. 

I hope this answered your question and I also hope you are still reading! 

thenotquitedoctor.com
The Not Quite Doctor: The Privilege

thenotquitedoctor:

“Doctor, did you see her prom pictures?”

The young woman in the office beamed as she turned her iPhone to show us a group of girls all wearing brightly colored dresses.  ”It was a little skimpier than I would have liked, but she looked beautiful,” her mother continued.

Had you walked in at that moment you wouldn’t have realized that minutes earlier we were discussing advanced directives for the beaming 17-year-old who wore the bit too skimpy dress.  Next week she is going to be evaluated for a clinical trial.  But, as the doctor confided in me after we left the room, she is probably going to die from her cancer.

That is how the whole afternoon went in the oncology clinic.  There was the middle-aged man who had a recurrence of his brain tumor.  The 50-some-year old with renal cancer who decided she was done dealing with chemo and wanted to die comfortably.  The man who had part of his frontal lobe resected and wanted to know when he could wrestle with his young boys again.  Those are just a couple of examples.

I walked out of clinic feeling emotionally drained.  I thought to myself, “is this what my life will be?  Giving people bad news over and over again?  Am I spending all these late nights studying so that some day I will have to be the person telling a 17-year-old she is going to die?”

I wrestled with that thought as I headed home and cooked dinner.  Then I was reminded of something a great doctor once told me.  ”All of the work you are doing is to earn the privilege of being a doctor.”

Privilege.  That is a funny word to assign to a job.  I continued to play his words in my mind…”As a doctor I have been the first person to touch a new life as it was coming into this world.  I have also been the last person to touch someone as they left it.  People entrust their lives to you.  That is the privilege you are working for.”

As I mulled over my day and his advice I realized he was right.  Seeing patients like that, struggling with their impending death, definitely tugged at my heart strings.  But what an honor it was to be part of that.  They trusted me enough to let me be part of that vulnerable and intimate point in their life.  More than that, they put their faith in the fact that the doctor, and I, could somehow help them through it.

I struggle with this part of medicine.  It is hard for me to sequester my emotions.  But I think that doctor was right.  We aren’t working towards just a job.  We are working towards an entire lifestyle.  I won’t have to be the one relinquishing terrible news to my patients.  I will get to be that person. That won’t be my job. That will be my privilege.

I think of things like this every time I’m learning something that I don’t necessarily think will be on the exam… I’m not learning medicine to just pass the course, but to hopefully help someone in the future. They might not know that I slaved over metabolic pathways to try and remember each individual step and how it relates to overall body physiology, but I’ll feel better in myself knowing that i’ve done so, just in case it ever comes up. 

Country life - Week 1. 

After two months of travel around parts of the United States with my two best friends, I returned back to Australia to begin my third year of medicine; the most important year of the course.

Since my return, i’ve made the move out to the small country town that i’ll be calling home for the entirety of 2014. So far, after only one week, country life has completely lived up to expectation.

Firstly, there is so much, space. Everywhere I look, there are endless hills and trees. There are no skyscrapers blocking my view, there are no huge concrete jungles to meander through, there is only space. It’s really quite incredible. Secondly, it’s hot. Australian summers get bad at the best of times, but after spending a significant amount of time at -25 degrees Celsius (thanks polar vortex), adjusting to 40+ degree temperatures has been difficult to say the least, but it’s even more difficult when shade is hard to come by and the house only has one small air conditioning unit. Thirdly, the town is small. After only a few days in the clinic, i’ve already run into several patients in and around the local supermarket (one even going so far to comment how young I looked in my Chicago Bulls jersey and backwards cap… I’m still getting used to this professionalism thing). And lastly, like any good country town, birth rates are high and in only my first week, I’ve was able to scrub up for an emergency C-section, and assist in one other natural delivery! 

Needless to say, the first week was utterly exhausting, 7.45am - 5pm each day and then hours of study afterwards… But so far, it’s been incredibly enjoyable and i’m eager to see what next week has in store for me! 

Tiempos diferentes.

June 3rd, 2011.

On this day, I took the first steps towards my future. On Monday, the 3rd of June, 2011, I walked into that small health clinic in Peru.

This time last year, I was handing out medication to people suffering from Tuberculosis. I was young, and no matter what I told myself, I was immature. I had no right to be there, I had no qualifications demanding my presence, I had no place in their world. I merely had an interest and and an opportunity, armed with only an open mind and a pocket dictionary in spanish.

June 3rd, 2012.

On this day, I am locked up in my room, studying towards my future. I am currently halfway through my notes on biostatistics, memorising formulas that I will most likely never have to use in my career.

Sometimes it’s hard to remember that you are moving forward, when it feels like you’re stuck in reverse. 

Qué diferencia hace un año… What a difference a year makes. 

Pneumonia and the respiratory block.

It’s been a little while since i’ve updated this blog and much has changed in that time. Our rapid 5 week crash course of all things cardio wrapped up nicely, covering pretty much everything you can think of about the heart, the vasculature and the main pathologies affecting each. It was overwhelming and run at a much faster pace than what I was used to. This has also been the first time i’ve felt lost in lectures… It’s taken some time (and many textbooks) to get used to.

But, now we’re keeping the pace and trying not to lose our breath (apologies for the pun) as we rush through the respiratory block. It seems only fitting for this to be the time I suffer from my first illness, what appears to be a minor case of pneumonia. Luckily for me though, I am now able to use my stethoscope to keep track of any rales or crepitations while I let the antibiotics do their work.

Now to just kick this fatigue so I can continue to make the 8am lectures!  

Why do they call it ovaltine?

So for my upcoming exam on Monday, the lecturers have told us to study the first 4 weeks of our cardio block, and the first 2 weeks of the respiratory block. 

What this really means though, is ‘learn about all the different drugs used to treat hypertension and COPD’.

Pharmacology is interesting but seriously, what’s with all the different names amiright?

cranquis asked:

May you heal quickly from your PNA! But hey, better to have PNA during respiratory block, than an MI during cardio or HIV during infectious disease -- you get the idea.

- Dr. Cranquis, making my day.

I think I laughed a little too hard at this but at least i’m out of the woods for cardio and infectious disease… Let’s hope I get through the gastrointestinal block unscathed! 

More textbooks and more exams. What a busy week! I’m very much looking forward to the Easter break, my first bit of time off in over 2 months. Family and friends be warned, I will somehow manage to accumulate as much food as possible from you!

Also, the pocket companion to ‘Robbins and Cotran’s Pathologic Basis of Disease’ is by far one of the best investments of my life.