Surgery Gives Me A Headache 

I don’t have the hands or the stomach for it. I don’t have the patience or the discipline for it. I just don’t have the drive and the attitude.

I’ve just started my 4 week rotation on general surgery!

Lucky for me, being a gastroenterology enthusiast, I was placed in the hepatobiliary and liver transplant surgical team! So naturally I expected to be super interested and learn heaps!

My first week has been far from that, unfortunately. 

Back in 4th year, we were given the opportunity to talk to patients, go to theatre and take part in surgeries, and be taught in tutorials by consultants.

As a 6th year, my duty is much like the house officer’s. I check blood tests, write discharge summaries, and write notes for ward rounds. I have little to no interaction with any consultants or patients. 

As I am part of a sub-specialty surgical team, there’s no need to make diagnoses. Patients admitted to my team already have a diagnosis and a planned management plan. So there’s not huge amounts of thinking involved. Which makes me sad.

And consultants are never around. Whenever they have a spare moment to check on their patients (this could be any time of the day), they buzz the house officer to come running to write notes on further management. This is usually after the initial morning ward round. Which means that the plan has been changed for the 6th time that day. 

It’s all very messy.

And the consultants aren’t exactly the most interactive. Which I can understand. Surgeons are busy people. They check on their patients in a record time of less than 5 minutes. Their place to shine is under the bright lights of the surgical theatre. 

But up on the wards, they wave ‘hi’ to the patients and the team and disappear in a puff of smoke.

This is a problem. And I’ll tell you why.

As part of that darn application for next year again, I need 3 references from my first 3 rotations of the year. Which means following general medicine and general practice, general surgery has to be my place to get my 3rd reference. Which means I need to have some face time with consultants enough for them to put in a good word for me.

Which is extremely self involved and to be honest I’m hating this process. Because I seem to be getting into the mentality of strategically sizing up every consultant I meet to see who would be nice enough to request a reference from and presenting myself in a certain way so they’d like me. Blech. 

I can’t wait until I get my last reference and I can go back to being normal again. 

But until then, how am I supposed to impress the consultant? No idea. 

I attended a couple of surgeries hoping to meet a consultant, but all week it’s been extremely complex surgeries where they were all crowded over the patient and I could neither see anything nor be noticed at all before I quietly slipped out.

Surgery isn’t awful. It’s just a bit mundane at the moment because of current role and the format of the teams in this hospital. 

Ahh what to do. 3 weeks to go! Hopefully it’ll get better

Frustrations Of Daily Living

HD mentioned this phrase the other day. Frustrations of daily living. Or FDLs.

There are points every now and then when a lot of things come together and just make my mood quite low for a while. And I quite like this phrase of FDLs. Because that’s exactly what it feels like.

And how do I deal with them? Well I have many coping techniques and I’m quite resilient so basically I turn on my positive attitude and charge through!

Yeah… not even close.

How I seem to deal with these things, is by making a post on here about them. That way I write it all down and can take a step back and be like damn. It lessens the load a bit I think. 

1. The family dramas. That are more frequent than posts on social media about Donald Trump. And these are the worst because hey I can’t do anything about them. I can’t exactly leave and be like I don’t care. Because it’s family. Which automatically means I have to care and I have to be involved in whatever mess goes on. It sort of gets to the point where I get quite anxious when I think about returning home and being around the chaos. I wish I could develop amnesia or something. And then skip the country. Blech. Wishful thinking.

2. My CV and other career matters. Yep. Still haven’t made progress on the personal statement. But it’s not even that. I have to decide where I want to work next year. Which means I have to have a plan for the years after that too. Well, everyone expects me to anyway. And that also gives me a lot of anxiety because there’s currently this talk about me being relocated to somewhere due to family circumstances. And relating to point 1, I’m not sure I want to be a part of that movement. At all. Which makes me more nervous because that does sort of imply that I’m quite self-involved, etc. More Blechhs.
And then there’s the actual application itself. What I should be taking into account, the fear of getting good references, etc. I just don’t know what to expect for this whole applying thing. It’s all just overdone in my head at the moment.

3. This thing that constantly makes me so conflicted where I am rapidly running out of options to approach. Like I desperately want it to get better. But not knowing whether anything I’m doing is making a difference, not knowing if I’m making it worse, not knowing how things will end up, makes me quite… eugh.

4. The futility of some things in my life. I find more often than not, I work super hard on something, put in time, effort and care, etc., and I still fall short of my intended outcome. Yeah where med school is concerned. I work super hard on studying (I think) and assignments and I still don’t do all that well. The frustrating part is that I don’t really even know how to improve. And then the scary part is that I’ve tried everything I can think of, which maybe means that’s it. That’s my full capacity. Not distinction, but just a pass.
And yeah it’s probably not a big deal. I mean, I’ve been in med school for 6 years. The scores and things now won’t determine how I ultimately end up. But it’s just the principle behind it. And I’ll probably get over this before any of the other things here, but I do want to be bitter about life for a while and complain about the unfairness. Oh well.

5. Money matters. I am currently becoming quite concerned about finances. I can’t go into details but things are pretty scary at the moment in view of my trip overseas for my 8 week elective (which I’ll do a separate post about later). It’s another thing I can’t do much about yet. I’m not earning money properly till next year. So yep. I gotta just stay stressed.

6. Next Friday is a big deal. Waiting for the resolution of a problem. Which I’m pretty sure will work out and I’m hoping desperately will come before next Friday. But until then, I’ll be stressing about it.

But yeah. Sorry this post is a bit of a downer. And honestly, my life is fine. I’m not falling apart or anything and this stuff comes and goes in waves. But sometimes I find complaining about it, (or posting about it) helps.

Selling Yourself

Another thing I have to do as a new adult, is something I dread immensely.

Writing a CV

Curriculum Vitae are the two least favorite words in my vocabulary.

Well, actually Drama Queen is. But anyway that’s not important.

I have to work on my CV to get a job in a hospital next year. I think I already mentioned this process before. But basically I have to put together a CV for the people that match medical students to hospitals in their first year post graduation. It helps that I’m pretty much guaranteed a job and all that, but wanting to be put in a hospital of your preference, apparently requires a pristine application tailored to that hospital’s needs.

And that scares me a little bit.

Okay not entirely because I haven’t quite decided on my preferred hospital yet. But the rest is true.

One major problem? I stink at selling myself.

The first part of any CV is the personal statement. Thus far, I have written “I am a..” before I had a panic attack and decided to do it later.

I hate this idea. What am I supposed to say? I am an extremely talented, determined student destined to be a fantastic doctor?

Oh God I can barely type that on here. It’s just not believable.

And that may seem dumb. Because come on just get over it and write something overly cheesy and talk yourself up! That’s how you win jobs.

And I completely understand that. But I just can’t seem to do it. I don’t have a lot to say about myself. I mean yeah I’m not bad. But that I don’t think that’s exactly what they’re looking for.

The other major problem is the part of the CV called awards and achievements. Oh God. I’m drawing a huge blank.

It’s ironic how a document that is supposed to talk you up and be full of your strengths can make you want to kill yourself.

I have next to no achievements. I am surrounded by people who have won awards in med school, have several notable achievements in school and current achievements in academia. Ie Research.

My last legitimate award was 10th grade French. Where I was top of the year. Not exactly something that says “hire me! I’m going to be an amazing doctor!”

Blech.

I have my research paper I published though. Just the one. I bet compared to some of the others in my class, that’s pretty average.

I just don’t like this exercise. And I suppose that’s another reminder of my underlying immaturity and reluctance to fit into being an adult.

Because now I’m filled with all this regret. Why didn’t I do more research papers in med school? Why wasn’t I more proactive in studying and attempting to win awards? Why didn’t I realise early enough and prepare accordingly?

And those are not fun questions to ask oneself. It makes you feel like you haven’t achieved enough compared to others.

But there’s nothing I can do about it now. I mean I regret not doing more things, but if I think about it, when I’m 60+ and have finished caring about my career and have muddled through being a doctor etc., what I’m really going to regret is not giving myself a break from things. Regretting not enjoying my summer holidays and doing research instead. Or staying home to study 20 hours a day instead of being around friends etc. When in fact, I’ll still have the chance to do all those things as part of my career. Doing them early wasn’t really going to put me ahead by much.

Well. This is what I’m telling myself as I work through my panic attack at writing a personal statement. I hope it’s true. I hope I don’t end up jobless and far behind everyone else who had 3 awards and 5 papers already.

Errr.. If only I could ramble on like this on my personal statement.

 

Farewell To An Idol

RIP Stephen Hawking.

I couldn’t believe when I heard that at the age of 76, Stephen Hawking had passed away.

I have a few idols. Many of them have already passed away. But Stephen Hawking was an important idol for me when I was growing up.

Before I jumped on the biology bandwagon and joined medicine, I was a physics fanatic. Everything to do with nuclear, theory, and astro physics was what kindled my curiosity and thirst for knowledge. The business of unraveling the mysteries of the universe seemed confined to the field of physics only. And that was thrilling.

Stephen Hawking was among the physicists I idolised. Way back when I didn’t understand a lot of what he was saying.

But perhaps the most amazing thing about Stephen Hawking that I had learnt was nothing to do with physics.

The reason I idolise him was because of his determination.

For those who don’t know, Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with a motor neuron disease much like ALS (or Lou Gehrig’s disease) when he was 21. At the time, he was given an estimated prognosis of 14 months. Which he outlived of course.

But back in the day, when this condition was diagnosed, patients were given a choice. They were told that once the disease reached their lungs and the muscles in their chest whereby they can no longer breathe on their own, they could opt out of being put on a ventilator. As in, they could die if they wished.

This may be considered a blessing for some people. If you’re paralysed and in a wheelchair, that’s one thing. But if you’re then put on a machine that breathes for you, that’s something else entirely.

So. Stephen Hawking had this choice. But he chose to live.

And that is so inspirational.

How much faith would you have to have in the world, in yourself and in your future, to choose life over this extremely disabling illness? How many people would?

I’m not sure I would.

But that takes so much strength. And despite that he went on to be so successful. Not one thing about his condition held him back from doing everything he wanted to do in the world while he lived.

He was given months and outlived it in years. That’s perseverance personified.

I aspire to have that kind of faith and passion for life, and the world, and what I do.

I am so grateful to have had such an amazing idol. And I know he will be missed.

And while he has some amazing quotes, this is something I love:

Triumph quote

Words to live by.

What Matters Most

Life’s tough.
Sorry to open with such a cliché line, but I’m a little bit frustrated currently. People ask me sometimes, what matters most to you? Or more specifically, Who matters most to you.

I find that whenever someone asks this question, you have to answer in a way that is politically correct. You gotta say your family, your friends, or your children or whatever. But in my case, if I were being completely honest, the answer would be

ME. Myself. I. Moi. Mi.

The most important person in the world to me, is me.

Now hang on. Yes you may view that as extremely self-centred. But frankly, I don’t think it is. And I’ll tell you why.

I have this philosophy. A lot of the major things in life are concerned with your relationships with other people. A huge part of every day for everyone is spent interacting with others. Things you value in life are people among other things. Then why is it that when it comes to themselves, people always fall short of appreciation?

You’re a person. You’re just as unique, beautiful, and important as any other life on the planet. Then why is it that people struggle with self-esteem?

My philosophy is this. You have to love yourself (Not in a Justin Beiber sense). If you cannot love yourself, how on Earth can you be expected/trusted to love anyone else?

Think about it. The person you know the most about, is you. Which means you know about your faults and your strengths more than anyone else. You can change them if you wanted. But in others, you could never know them as well as you know yourself. You don’t know for sure all their faults and strengths. And yet there are people you like a lot. In spite of faults. If you can accept the faults that you can clearly see in others and still like them, why can’t you do the same for yourself?

Conversely, if you cannot accept the faults in you and like yourself, how can you be trusted to overlook the faults in someone else? How can you like them or trust them? 

Everyone knows everyone has their faults. The people that matter are those that care about you, in spite of those things.

They say that if you can’t find a single fault in yourself, there’s something wrong with you. I’d say the same is true for the opposite. If you say there’s not one thing good about you, you’re either lying or you don’t care to look hard enough. 

You’ve got to realise that the only way you can form complete relationships with someone else, is by first appreciating yourself and deeming yourself worthy of that relationship. 

It doesn’t have to be major things. At the end of the day if you can say to yourself, hey atleast I have a nice smile, that’s enough. 

And heck yeah it’s hard. It’s hard to reach the point where you look at yourself and think, I’m not too bad. But you’ve got to try. 

You need an effective filtering system. One that focuses on the positives only. People that care about you regardless of what you do, are a good start. 

And you can’t say no one cares about you. You’re just not looking hard enough. 

Because even super villains have sidekicks that adore them….But this isn’t about Batman.

Everyone has someone they haven’t noticed who thinks they’re fantastic. Well if they do, then clearly there’s something about you that’s good. 

And it’s extra difficult if you feel that lately everyone seems to resent you. But even in that case, you’re still capable of helping others. 

In psychiatry, there are classes of defense mechanisms people have in times of adversity. The class that is considered most mature and healthy is to feel good about yourself by helping others. 

That probably also sounds rather shallow and self-centred (Ironic isn’t it?). But it’s definitely a good thing. By putting yourself in a position where you are useful to others, where they appreciate you for your actions, you should be able to realise that one good thing about you is that you have the capacity to help others. And if you feel great doing so, then hey! Win win. 

I’ve struggled with this quite a bit. I’ve had a long period of time where my reflection bothered me and I felt that that person bothered other people too. For me, this blog, the fact that atleast one person somewhere felt the need to respond positively to it, by liking or following, meant that I atleast had some good things to say. And that little mental note helped me feel much better about myself.

You’ve got to find it in yourself. If you want to be happy, you’ve got to be the most important thing to you. And that isn’t a self-centred thing. That’s caring about the only person you can truly influence in this world. 

If you’re all you have, you gotta make sure it’s good. 

I can’t say what made me write all this. But I guess I’m tired of people, who I know to be great, not seeing what I see.

The Other Way To Do Things

Since being in Warkworth for my general practice rotation, I have come into contact with a lot of people who present following being told by their Naturo/osteo/homeo- path, or their kinesiologist, in one case, to go see their GP

What the heck is kinesiology?? Well I looked it up, and apparently it’s the “study of human and nonhuman animal-body movements, performance, and function by applying the sciences of biomechanics, anatomy, physiology, psychology, and neuroscience.”

Which means absolutely nothing to me. But a mother brought her very young daughter in to see the GP saying that her kinesiologist had felt her tummy and deemed that she had an intolerance to gluten. Her mother had as such removed all gluten from her diet. Even though she tested negative for gluten intolerance.

Another young girl presented with depression and stated that she had recently changed her diet because her naturopath had carried out a ‘hair test’ and found that she was allergic to dairy and wheat.

Other patients have come in saying their ___path had advised they get an X-ray or should see their doctor after  having a few sessions with them.

Unfortunately, A few of these patients have already progressed far through their illness before they present to the doctor.

I don’t understand it.

Now. I’m not against alternative medicine. I have a background that appreciates alternative medicine a lot.

But I just have issue where medicine with no evidence, becomes “medicine” that interferes with good health and medicine that does have evidence.

If you fell over and hurt your hip. Don’t go to an osteopath for 2 months with no improvement and then have the osteopath recommend that you see your GP. At which point your hip is extremely injured and you probably need surgery.

What is it about this? Why are people so keen on this “natural therapy” ideology? Anything as long as it has the word “natural” in it. But why?

I’m not so much concerned about that as I’m concerned about the bad name alopathic medicine currently has. What is it that people find so horrible about conventional medicine?

The side effects? Well the only thing I can say about that, is that because these medications are so extensively studied, you’re able to isolate the cause of some particular discomfort you experience. Whereas with alternative medicine, you don’t know what the side effects are, so you won’t think to connect any new symptoms you have, with that thing that you’ve had 500 sessions for with your naturopath.

The whole prevention vs. intervention thing? Whereby people believe naturopaths work on preventative medicine. As in your allergy to dairy was caught early so you can avoid it and hence make your quality of life so much better. Whereas doctors just give you a medication to control your blood pressure when it’s become high already.

Err. Here’s the thing. Doctors do not only do interventions. I wonder why people still think that. The blood pressure medication given to you is supposed to control your blood pressure AND tries to prevent the multiple other conditions that can result from your high blood pressure. And hey, they can do that without pulling things like ice cream out of your diet.

To me, that can’t be a bad thing.

Again, I’m not closed off to alternative medicine. I’m sure it has definitely worked for people and has changed their lives and all that. But that doesn’t mean that conventional medicine is all full of harmful chemicals, etc.

Which is another thing. People say conventional medicine is not “natural”. I take issue with this word. Every medicine ever made, every chemical ever isolated could ONLY have arised from plants, soil, or water. Your blood pressure tablets did not fall from the sky. Neither did it spontaneously come about at the hand of your doctor. Nothing can be made “unnaturally” in the world if you go right down to the basics.

Basically, I guess I’m trying to understand. You can go ahead and opt for other therapies. But don’t do so with the assumption that conventional medicine is all a scam and there’s nothing “natural” about it. Because that isn’t true.

There should only be 2 classes within medicine. That which is evidence based, and that which isn’t. There shouldn’t be a question of “natural vs unnatural” or “good vs bad” medicine.

Also, what on Earth is an osteopath??