In The Middle Of Nowhere

Woah it’s been a whirlwind of an elective. And I’m sorry I’ve not been updating on here about my actual elective. Other things have been happening during this time that put my stress levels super high and got in the way of my blogging about nice things regarding my elective.

And now my elective is over! I’m leaving in 4 days for home! Super excited!

Time in India has been quite interesting! Had a really good time in the emergency department where the doctors let me do pretty much everything from being part of resuscitation, doing ABGs, (my first successful one made me so happy I felt like such a nerd), and I even successfully intubated a patient who couldn’t breathe.

Very neat. Lots of hands-on stuff is why I chose this elective. So that’s a good thing.

Most of the rest of the time though I was observing doctors and talking to patients. I saw some pretty neat signs like Janeway lesions which are super rare, Eisenmenger syndrome which I’d never heard about back home, and even heard the bruits of a bilateral arterial stenosis. Pretty cool stuff.

My rural hospital experience was pretty interesting too. Met a doctor who has single-handedly been running this clinic from 25 years. She is the lone medical officer there among about 15 nurses. She does literally everything. From seeing 40 patients a day, to delivering babies, to home visits, to colposcopies. Literally everything. Her knowledge was amazing. She basically knows more than any general practitioner I had seen back home in New Zealand. Not suggesting that they were incompetent or anything. But this doctor was just pretty extraordinary.

And then there were the patients. I could seriously appreciate what poor health literacy meant, in India. A woman had been given a prescription for her hyperthyroidism. She lived quite far away from the clinic and had lost her prescription. So she went to her local pharmacy and asked for “thyroid medication”. She was given thyroxine which is the treatment for an underactive thyroid that would worsen the condition for someone who had a hyperactive thyroid like this woman did. She had no idea of the difference. And of course it’s also the pharmacist’s fault for giving her that medication without a prescription, but still. She didn’t know the difference. And that had serious effects on her health before she was able to return to the clinic and the doctor had told her to stop the thyroxine and provide the correct prescription.

I also saw an elderly couple who both had complications from type 2 diabetes. But both of them, were beggars that lived at the local temple. The doctor at the clinic told me how difficult it is to offer diet and lifestyle advice to people like this. Because hey eat more fruits and vegetables doesn’t mean anything to someone who can’t control what they eat or if they eat at all.

Super intense stuff.

The rest of Coimbatore city was pretty quiet. Not much else happening. So I spent a lot of time writing my report for this whole elective. I did get some cool pics though! 

Coimbatore is bordered by mountains so mainly a lot of interesting flora and fauna!

I’m glad to be getting home after so long. My supervisor went on leave for the last week of my elective so I get an extra week of holiday before I get back to hospital in New Zealand. Should be fun!

So. The verdict.

Was my elective life changing? No. No it wasn’t.

Did I still learn a lot?

Yes. Yes I did.

Walk Away

Sometimes things get quite difficult. Conversations and conflicts. And sometimes, you’ve got to have the strength to walk away.

I used to think that walking away from a problem was a sign of weakness. When I was younger, I used to think everything was black and white.

And both black and white needed to be called out. Needed to be stated in every conflict. There was only ever a right and wrong. So why should I walk away when I knew that? I had to say it. I had to speak the truth as I knew it. And nothing else mattered. I thought that I would always regret what I didn’t say. 

As you grow up, you realise that a grey exists, and the number of shades of grey increases exponentially. To the point where black and white no longer exist. They’re essentially theoretical. 

When that realisation comes, I learnt that I can walk away. I should walk away. My thoughts and opinions are just another shade of grey. As is the person’s in front of me. As is the problem in front of me. 

I can try to fix the problem, of course I can. But when you’re in the middle of it, think about a few things: 

1. Am I going to make a difference by carrying on talking or fighting?

2. Is it going to make the situation better or worse?

3. Is it going to negatively affect the people involved?

4. Is it going to make me feel good about myself?

If the answer to any of those is not in favour of continuing the issue, you’re allowed to walk away. You should walk away. 

And that’s not a weakness, that’s a sign that you’re looking at the bigger picture. That’s what matters. 

This isn’t to say that you should shy away from dealing with issues. If you believe black and white exist despite the answers to those questions, then go ahead and continue saying how you feel. Big issues in society should be questioned by everyone. But when it comes to your circle and the issues that affect you, you can walk away for the benefit of everyone. 

You’ve got to have the strength to walk away. Despite your ego, despite knowing what you think is right, despite being in the position where you can say something. 

Don’t Smile Please

So the other day a family friend said to me “You really don’t look like a doctor. You look too small”

Before I could get angry, he proceeded to say “you know what you have to do? You gotta have attitude. You shouldn’t smile. If you smile or laugh, people won’t take you seriously”

I stared at him for 5 seconds. 

What in the heck?

This is actually a popular idea I’ve heard. But I’ve never heard it being said so blatantly. 

For some reason, people think that in order to seem put together, you gotta be serious all the time. You gotta have the attitude of a professional. You gotta have that command. And that command, comes with a serious face.

I think it’s the whole, in order to be experienced, life needs to have made you cold and hard. 

And I don’t really get that. Just how much value is attached to this kind of thing? I mean realistically it’s only a first impression kind of concept. Like when you walk into a room and greet someone with that attitude, they’re meant to be like woah. But after that nobody wants someone around who’s constantly serious, right?

And more importantly, how well you work should be ultimately what people should respect about you, right?

I mean that’s my thinking. 

Of course I could be analysing this all incorrectly. It could just be me who looks like I’m too small and needs to be more serious.

But to be honest, life is serious enough. I just try my hardest not to let that show on my face. 

Frankly, I don’t care very much about how others view me. But as I’ve mentioned I’m not cut out for the workforce. And this may in fact be a legitimate thing I should be concerned about maybe…

Oh well. I don’t know. I’ll find out next year whether people will take me seriously as a doctor or not.