In My Lifetime

So.

It’s getting to be that time of year again for me! My birthday is coming up. I shall in 2 weeks be 24 years old!

Can you believe it. nearly a quarter of a century on Earth. Born out of no where onto this planet and survived 24 years.

I was thinking the other day about what was significant for me in these years. Or significant for the world, rather.

A lot of significant things have happened in my lifetime that has shaped me and my view of the world. My parents used to tell me that in their lifetime, there were a lot of new things. TVs, computers, phones, cameras, etc.

But there have been new things in my lifetime too. And to add, I have seen things die down in my lifetime also.

  1. The invention of smart phones. Quite recent in my lifetime. But still. Very big. I even remember when the smart phones were still in the pipelines, and the first smart device was an iPod touch. Does anyone remember those? It was the first device on which you could surf the internet, download “apps” to play games and connect with others. Huge! Then came the iPhone and Android.

    But these things kind of came without any big hoopla about them. Now, it’s an everyday item. For everyone. Even children.

    I’m sure in the future, paediatricians will add milestones for babies such as “can handle small electronic device such as phone or tablet” and “can use index finger to open apps on a mobile device” Probably as young as 6 months! Wouldn’t that be something.

  2. Internet/mobile banking. This was something that came up during my lifetime. No longer did my parents need to “go down to the bank” to carry out tasks such as opening a new account, applying for a card, taking out loans, etc. Again, pretty big.
  3. E-readers. Invented in my time. My beloved kindle. Can carry thousands of books at once. Your own personal library. Access to so many books at the touch of a screen. You didn’t need to go down to a library or book store to see the most popular books and decide to buy them. Kindle will suggest the most popular books for you, and give you a free sample to try before you buy! Very cool.
  4. Social networking. When I was very young, there was MSN messenger and Yahoo! messenger. As I grew up, there was bebo, MySpace, and then finally, the pinnacle of it all, Facebook. Then of course there was Twitter and Instagram, etc. But the idea of social networking grew massively in my lifetime. Globalisation was a concept they taught relentlessly in social science at high school. And it really was that. Not only was the world’s newest products, businesses and ideas available to everyone, so are people! The growth of “influencers” on the internet has been exponential in my opinion. You can literally say anything and thousands of people will hear it! People follow strangers and become fans just by watching videos on YouTube or following posts on Instagram. It’s pretty amazing.
  5. Dating apps. While blind dates and online dating websites were there when I was younger, I hear the word Tinder wayyyy more these days. Again, I’m not too sure when it became so popular, but I definitely know it wasn’t this big a few years ago. And that’s pretty amazing too. I guess it falls in the social networking category, but it’s just so weird to me that you don’t have to make calls or go to a social event to meet new people any more. You have to put up a profile and a blurb about yourself (which by the way I’m not even sure would be true for most people. You’ve got to either talk yourself up too much or too little) and a picture, and boom! You find someone who actually wants to spend a whole evening with you! Who would’ve thought! And it honestly works for a lot of people! I have a feeling this will be one of those things my parents will tell stories about in a few years. “Back in my day, we had to go out and meet people. Not meet them on a phone.”
  6. Wireless connectivity. Wi-Fi. I was a dial-up kid. Now, my house has fibre optic powered internet. While I used to wait 5 minutes for my computer to make those weird screechy noises before the Yahoo webpage would even come up, these days I complain that my 1080p movie is not loading fast enough on my big screen TV. It’s so bizarre to think about that. My internet would constantly conk out when I was younger. Not that it mattered much then, given I didn’t use the internet as much as I do now. Now, even moving buses have Wi-Fi because it’s so hard to go a few minutes without being connected to the world.
  7. Cameras. When I was younger, you still had to take your film roll to a photo shop to have the photos developed from photo negatives. Now there are people that don’t understand any part of that sentence. Now there are phones that let you take incredibly zoomed up pictures of the Moon. Now there are phones that have 5 rear cameras. There are DSLR cameras that you can share photos from directly using Wi-Fi. Taking photos and editing them and capturing something stunning and having the photos available instantly has never been easier!
  8. Movies and TV shows and music. When I was younger, you had to go see a movie in the theatres or watch a show on TV no matter what time it aired at. Or go to your nearest video store and get a tape or CD. Now things like Netflix has changed all that. While people still go to cinemas to watch movies, you can still watch new movies online and stream them to your TV

    I also used to be of the time when if an artist released new music, you had to wait in line outside your nearest store to buy the CD, get back home and play it on your stereo, then tell all your friends about it the next day. But these days, you can pre-download songs on your phone, you can take them with you wherever you go, artists tease new music online, everyone experiences it instantly on the go and everyone knows about how good it is straight away. Again, Huge.

  9. Electric cars. This is still up and coming. But Tesla, and Nissan leaf and other fully electric cars! I am still waiting for the day that petrol becomes obsolete. Because I’ve got to say, prices of fuel are just not helping anybody. I am 100% behind this cause.

 

I’m sure I could keep going. The advances in the world just in the last 24 years have been numerous. The rate at which things are changes is quite staggering. And I’ve been alive for all of this.

But some things still haven’t changed. Like listening to the radio, using a microwave oven, using a refrigerator, etc.

And not only in technology.

People still have so much appreciation for the world and it’s people. I guess the idea is still to bring everyone closer together and experience everything around the world. And there’s still so much appreciation for history. Just take a trip to Rome or Paris or Greece and you can see how people marvel at old architecture and things.

I guess if this much has changed in just 24 years, I’m in for a lot more surprises over the rest of my lifetime. That’s a lot to think about it.

But for now, I guess I’ll just try to muddle through the current things in my life and be grateful for what I have on my birthday.

ūüôā

PTSD/PGTSD

I feel weird.

Have you heard of PTSD? Post traumatic stress disorder?

It’s a psychiatric condition whereby a person had witnessed or been involved in a traumatic event, and in the days, weeks, months following, they experience distressing symptoms relating to the event.

Flashbacks where they relive the event over and over, a phenomenon where it feels like they are literally transported back in time to that event.

Nightmares featuring the event and possible sub-events or other outcomes relating to that event.

Avoidance behaviours, They try to avoid places or people directly related to said event.

 

Why do I bring this up? I think I have something of this sort.

No traumatic event, thankfully. Well yeah I’ve had traumatic stuff happen to me, but at the moment, I’m having flashbacks about a good time.

Is that weird?

I have been having literal flashbacks about a time period/event/thing that was really good. The reason is, it’s not good anymore. Maybe that’s why?

It was my graduation day. It was the day sort of before and after my graduation. I keep remembering how content/hopeful I was. Things happened over those days that I know won’t happen again.

Now I am sad. But my brain keeps replaying those days over and over in my dreams and in my day dreams.

I. Don’t. Know. Why.

I think my mind is broken right now. It’s really not functioning very well. I may as well be an automaton.

I wonder if it’s just my brain’s way of processing some of the yucky things happening now. But I can’t figure out why I keep thinking about those few days.

The reason it’s worrying is because I am kind of yearning to go back to those few days. And feel okay and content and hopeful. I don’t have any of those feelings currently. It’s almost like things now have undone all those good feelings back then. And yearning is definitely not a good thing. It’s hard to deal with because it’s a continuous cycle of oh man that’s in the past and it’s never coming back. And things now aren’t going to be that good.

Which is not a good state to be in.

So I guess this is a weird reversed PTSD? Like a PGTSD? Post good things stress disorder?

I don’t know. This doesn’t make much sense. I am very tired.

Future

So. Today was my oficial last day of this year at uni. We even had our orientation for the final year of med school. 

Man. Was it weird.

Because I’ll tell you why… Even though you didn’t ask.

For the first time in ages, all 244 of my classmates were in the same lecture theatre together. It was so packed that I couldn’t find a seat. And what was more, I still didn’t recognise all of them. It’s been 5 years and yet there are people in my year group that I do not know. And probably will never know. Because today was the last time we were all going to be in the same room together other than our graduation at the end of next year. Who knows what’ll happen by then. 

And my friends, well, the few med students I consider myself close-ish to, I wouldn’t be seeing as much of anymore. They are either at different hospitals altogether next year, or are on different rotations than me. Which means there’s very little time to meet up with them and discuss life. Today was the last day I would see them in a while. Of course, the ones I’m really close to, I would make an effort to keep in touch and catch up with. But then again, who knows what’ll happen.

What a melancholy thought.

And then, we had several lectures about the year after next year. First year house officers fresh out of medical school. Where are you going to go? What are you going to do??

This is where things got weird for me. By the middle of next year,  everyone has to apply to the hospitals they want to work at in their pgy1 year. Eugh. Too much pressure. Up until recently, I was an obsessive future planning person. I always had goals, lists, etc. But now, I don’t bother anymore. What’s the point of making plans that aren’t really going to work out? 

Well anyway. There are 20 hospitals across New Zealand that you may work at. Only 3 of them are in my home city of Auckland. So you’d think naturally, I’d want to pick one of them, right?

Well actually, no. 

I’ve been to all 3 hospitals in the last two years. And now. I want out.

I can’t really explain it. But events from the last 2 years have really made me think that I need to get out of Auckland. Auckland is home. It’s the only place in NZ that I feel attached to. And that is familiar. But the hospitals in Auckland have really made me want to forget all that other stuff and move on. 

I’m the kind of person that remembers things vividly. So a place where significant things took place, will always remind me of those things. It will invoke certain feelings. I’m not proud of that. I wish my mind wasn’t like that. But it is. 

Back in 4th year, I was in middlemore hospital. I’ve got to say that there isn’t a single part of that hospital that I have not cried or felt lonely in. Of course it may have been because it was a difficult year in general, but even so. I get the feeling it has this innate negative energy. 

This year I spent a lot of time at northshore hospital. I’ve never felt so scrutinised and judged so harshly in my life as I had been by people during my time at northshore. There are still people there I hope I never have to see again. 

And then there’s Auckland city hospital. I’ve not had any horrific experiences there as of yet. Which is why I’ve chosen to complete my final year at Auckland city hospital. But even so, it’s not a fantastic place to be. 

The environment you’re in can have a significant impact on your outlook and your mental well-being. Of course I am training to be a professional and I should learn to deal with such things and not run away from issues, but to be honest, no one should have to feel trapped in a place just because it’s in their job description. 

I also want to be by myself. If I continue to stay in Auckland, I will invariably be around the same people I have been around the past few years. And I just can’t tolerate working with people who once looked down on me or pitied me, etc. 

I know this may sound unbelievably childish, pathetic, etc. But I just think that everyone should have the chance to choose a comfortable environment to work in. Not that I think moving out of Auckland is going to solve all my problems and I’ll be happy etc. Because every place has its negativities. But atleast I know what it is I want to get away from. 

But hey. This is a whole year away. Who knows what’ll happen.

And here’s a picture of Mt. Taranaki. A mountain on the west coast of the North island. 

There’s no reason this picture is here other than to project feelings of calm as the rest of this post is pretty melancholy. And because I took it recently and I think it’s a nice photo. 

New Phone

And so it was with a heavy heart that I bid farewell to my lovely Sony Xperia Z

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It was like losing a relative to renal failure. My beloved Sony had been my companion and confidant for 4 years now. Through highs and lows, it was there for me. Bringing me closer to others, finding things I needed, storing information I kept feeding it and never repeating it to anyone. Taking photos that were just good enough in quality that hid the blemishes on my own face and the faces of my friends. And just being there for me.

In its day, this phone was top notch. Sporting a world class screen and camera, with the reliable water-resistant technology that sets Sony apart from all the smartphone giants out there. Leading them, actually.

But sadly, like all things in life, it became outdated. No longer upgrading to the delightful dessert versions of Android 6,7 and 8. No longer holding its power for a full 24 hours, no longer opening apps in the blink of an eye for efficient browsing. It just kept freezing up. Was too slow to understand what I needed anymore.

And so I decided it was time. Time to move on. Time to retire my favourite piece of technology. I miss it deeply.

I had my heart set on getting the newest Sony phone. The Xperia XZ is the newest and best version of the Sony class. I just adore the hardware and features that come with a Sony phone. But others disagreed with me. They found the new model to be exactly the same design as all the Xperia phones. This was bigger, and clunkier, apparently. But it had everything I needed. I’m not a huge techy. I have very little requirements for my phone. I need it to communicate with others, (phone, messages, whatsapp, viber, email, etc.) and it needs to be indestructible (waterproof, shatterproof). Sony satisfied both of these. I have dropped my Sony lots of times (not proud, but kinda proud of my phone) and it has never shattered. Unlike the Samsung/ Apple phones out there.¬† I also don’t believe in spending huge amounts of money on phones. Sony is generally an average priced phone.

But unfortunately, the XZ is not hugely popular in NZ. They’re going out of style altogether actually. The whole design-being-the-same-in-every-model thing. So what I ended up getting was this.

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The Samsung Galaxy S8! The revolutionary phone that has just hit the market and is beating sales of even the newest Apple iPhone. The screen is bigger and edgier than ever before. The camera is the best it has ever been, it is now waterproof, it has a processor and RAM equivalent to some high-end laptops, AND! it comes with your own personal smart assistant Bixby who learns how you use your phone and follows voice commands to bring you almost anything you need on your phone!

It’s new, it’s big, and it’s now mine.

Okay I spent a lot on this phone. And to be completely honest, I will probably not be using every new fantastic feature Samsung has racked up in the battle against Apple. But it is pretty cool. Shiny, waterproof, fast, latest Android….. and Bixby is really cool. xD

And I better keep to this phone for the next 4-6 years atleast. That’s how much I spent on it.

It just gets harder and harder these days though. The intentionally hold some phones back from getting the new Android versions just so you’ll upgrade. That makes life really difficult for me. I tend to keep my phones for a long time. If my Sony hadn’t become outdated, I’d still keep it.

Plus the newer models are following the trend of removing the headphone jack. That. Is a crime in every way to me. I just cannot. I need my music. I need it while my phone charges. No exceptions.

Hopefully this trend stops soon.

In the meantime! I am typing this on my new S8 and it’s pretty good! The photos were also taken on this phone. Ooooh so much detail.

I do miss my Sony very much. But hopefully my new companion will be just as great.

Half The Year Gone

Woah wait a sec. It’s the end of May already?! Where did my year go??

It seems like only yesterday I was being underwhelmed by the New Year posts. And now what? We’re 6 months into the year already! Apparently time flies when you’re in hospital trying to figure out what on earth you learnt in med school over the last 4 years. xD

Looking over my posts this year, it seems I’ve been kind of lost throughout the last 6 months. Well it’s not exactly new, but I do wonder if my readers get tired of my rather self-absorbed and confused posts. (If I even have any readers, that is)

Nah I’m kidding. I’m really grateful to all the people that are following me and the people that drop by just to read a post. It’s such a nice feeling to wake up to a new like or follow. Especially since I’m super critical about my posts on here. No, really.

For me, blogging is a really new and weird thing. As a kid, I had a heck of a lot to say. And I used to think that if I had a blog, I’d be so famous and people would want me to become a writer and combine my blogs into a book (as is the trend these days amongst YouTubers, bloggers, Kardashians, etc.). As I grew older, I realised that my opinions and delusions of grandeur should really be kept to myself. Because as I’ve said, I found out the hard way what I say and what anyone says really, can have huge impacts on others (that are not always good). So the blogger/writer dream never happened. Yes I know, millions out there are disappointed. I do apologise.

But now, due to inspiration, this blog exists. And I am so grateful I started it and immensely grateful to the person that got me to do it. What’s great about this blog is that there is only one other person in my life that knows about its existence. The person that made me start it. Unless of course they told someone else about it (they might have, but I wouldn’t know them so oh well). But anyways, that fact gives me a certain amount of freedom to write anything I want on here without the fear that someone I know might see it and start judging me. And it’s also nice to have something separate that’s mine away from the other people in my life. Not that there’s anything bad about those people, it’s just I haven’t had the inclination to tell anyone about this blog. I guess it’s an insecurity thing, in a way.

The other great thing is that I know nothing about blogging. Like literally nothing. I’ve read some pretty impressive blogs since being on here and I wonder if some of the bloggers spend time planning their posts or following a template. For example, a picture that describes the theme their post is about. Or a certain direction that each of their posts should take. I have none of these. When I blog, it’s usually following some form of mood swing I’ve just had. Not always… but usually. xD I blog without a plan. I sign in, come up with a title that describes my mood, then start typing sentence after sentence that pops into my head. I type the way I think (you’re probably thinking that’s why it’s so messy. And you’d be right). Because this blog has become a place for me to vent all my emotions and worries and happy little events. I kind of don’t really think about how it sounds. Whether it really has that ‘future best-selling author’ finesse.

To me, they seem like disorganised, far longer than necessary, often random posts. But I don’t think to go back and fix it. Part of the reason for that is that I’m kinda in this place where I’m trying to figure out who I am as a person. And I feel like a lot of what I put into this blog is who I really am. Not the med student, not the friend, not someone who needs to be the person appropriate to the situation she’s in. Just me. And when these posts receive ‘likes’, It makes me feel special. As though that person does have a small voice that someone likes. hearing.

I’m not sure how we got onto the topic of blogging here, but I guess it’s the perfect time of the year (that’s going way too fast), to stop and say thanks to everyone who has been reading my blog and say how glad I am that I have this blog. Oh and sorry for another long post. xD

And here is a picture of a famous beach in Auckland. As it’s autumn here, the weather has been questionable. But I still got a decent picture as I stood over Piha beach reflecting on life. As all good authors do.

Piha view

Hope everyone has had a lovely first half of the year!

22 Too Soon

In 3 weeks I shall be 22 years old. 2 decades and a bit on a little ol’ planet in the middle of a small solar system in a smallish galaxy in a rather large universe. How bizarre to think.

Birthdays don’t bother me too much. I’ve never fretted about becoming older, nor have I yearned to attain a certain age. I simply look forward to who I’ll get to talk to on the day. (Because in this day and age, the only time you hear from people you haven’t heard from in years, is on that day that facebook notifies them it’s your birthday). I also seem to get the same questions I do from all my friends. I am the oldest among my school friends, so every year they ask me “how it feels” to become that age. Every year, I say the same thing ¬†(“I still feel 12”) and every year I ask myself what’s changed, if anything. Every year previously, nothing had. But this year I think things have changed quite a bit.

Last year when I turned 21, I told people I still feel like I’m 12. Nothing’s changed. Nothing feels different. But I think I also meant that I didn’t feel particularly like a 21-year-old. Everyone says turning 21 is a big deal (I’m really not sure why?) I don’t get any special privileges.. I can already vote, drive and buy alcohol. I still can’t gamble till I’m 25 or rent a car. So for me, there was nothing special about 21. Also, I felt I seriously lacked the maturity to be a 21-year-old. I remember when I was about 5 or 7, I used to think of people who were 21, as adults. Like BIG adults. Like they’re essentially done with life. Not that they’re ready to die, but more that they would have seen a lot, experienced a lot, have a plan and direction, and just be put together enough that little kids would look up to them and think “I wanna be like you when I grow up!” But now that I’m 21, I see how wrong I was. I felt like I was a 12 year old. I was still in school, still living at home, still spending my spare time reading, watching TV, playing guitar, talking to friends and stressing about fights and wondering when things will start going my way. Not that any of these are necessarily bad things, because like I said, I’m still a very small kid inside that gets happy when my mum cooks one of my favourite meals even though I’m perfectly capable of doing it myself. But it’s just very different to the view I had of someone my age when I was younger.

Now, 22. What’s different? Well I feel like I’ve aged about 10 years in 1 year. Not physically of course (thank goodness). And not in filling any of those categories before about having direction, etc (eugh). But emotionally. It’s the kind of thing you feel when you realise songs like Adele’s¬†Million years ago and Ed Sheeran’s¬†Castle On the Hill¬†actually apply to your life. You start identifying with the themes they sing about and you feel that emotion vividly when you sing along.

1 day, 1 person, 1 year, 1 incident can change literally everything about you and how you view yourself and the world around you. In this year, I’ve realised who matters to me and who does not. Who cares about me and how they choose to show it. I’ve realised what -potentially fatal- weaknesses I posses and how latent they have been for so long. Have I conquered those weaknesses? Nope. Perhaps I shall spend my 22nd year doing that. But I’m aware of them. Which is a start. Yes all of this can happen in 1 year. I feel emotionally much older. Experiences don’t really correlate with age, I don’t think. That’s why I find it a bit silly when people who are just about 30 etc. say that they’re so much older and mature than I am. Well, if you really were that mature, you wouldn’t keep saying it, now would you? I think maturity is that quality you find in yourself that allows you to be in peace and find happiness without causing any harm to anyone else in everything you say and do.

In saying that, I’m still insanely immature. I don’t feel ready to be 22 and face the realities to come. But time stops for no one I suppose!

Another interesting thought is that if I live to 84, I have completed a quarter of my life already! Don’t worry, I’m not one of the people that think with every birthday they’re getting closer to death! I’m more of a live-in-the-moment-and-don’t-worry-about-the-future, kind of person. (Think that’s immature? probably). May then next 3/4 of my life be more productive on the tiny little 3rd planet from the smallest star in our itty bitty galaxy in the gigantic universe.

The Beginning Of The End…

It’s the beginning of the end

The end of an era

I can feel it. Can I do anything else? No. It’s not my choice.

This is the way it has to be

It was special. It couldn’t really be explained.
It was quite fast
A flash of brilliant sunlight
Before dark clouds shrouded everything

Something was given
Against all odds
I didn’t ask for it

But I treasured it

Taken away
I couldn’t stop it
Though I tried
It wasn’t mine to hold on to
I never really had it
It seems

Now it’s coming to close
Before my eyes
Slipping away with every second
As easily as that

No. It isn’t easy
It’s never easy when you’re not in control
And you don’t know why

But you’re not allowed to know why
Not allowed to mourn
Just get on with it
Move on

Wish for things to be different
Wish to redo
Wish to take it all back
Wish for forgiveness

Or wish none of it ever happened?

No. It happened
There were lessons
I can never stop being grateful

But because of that

There is no moving on
There is no forgetting

But then…………. How can I be free?
How can I change?

I can’t
My existence must be forgotten somehow

I have to forget

Though the voice inside says I never will…

 

That New Year Post

So I looked over my 2016 post today and thought to myself, well that seems like a reaaaaaally long time ago and a reaaaaally different person.

I had said “I aim to stay positive, keep improving myself, and survive another year with the help of those around me.” I can tell you that I survived 2016. I cannot say much else. I’ve said I’m no good with resolutions and I don’t believe in them right? Well I don’t.

But I won’t bring anyone else down! 2017 is a new year ofcourse! And with every new year come the preachers and the soul-touchers. I actually avoided going on facebook for about a month. But when I logged on in the new year, sure enough I was bombarded by memes about the betterment of self, society and the rest of the world in 1 day as 2017 began. Not to mention friends posting a picture somewhere on their summer getaway (Yes it’s currently summer in NZ) with a caption about how grateful they are and how this year shall be their defining year and how they challenge everyone out there to do the same. Eugh. I won’t rain on their parade. If they’re happy, good for them. But honestly, they had posted very similar things in previous years and it really makes me wonder if the things they “resolved” to do actually worked out for them to continue posting the same things over and over annually. But hey, most pictures are pleasant enough.

However, in the midst of the preaching angels, a friend of mine had put up a new year status that actually really impressed me. She had said:

Happy new year! May it be what we hope for.

That’s all. No pictures, no bells and whistles, no loud emoticons (or emojis if you prefer), and not more than one exclamation mark. Enough said. Seriously.

What caught me about her post is how realistic it is. She didn’t mention 2017, or anything about 2016. This post was about this moment. She didn’t hope you have a great year. She didn’t hope she has a great year. She just hopes that it is what you hope for it to be. She didn’t offer any guarantee or challenges or big positive words. And she didn’t need to. She just hopes. And to be honest, that’s all there is to it. Anyone could write pages and pages telling you how positive you should be and how they are aiming for great things. But in reality, it’s all about you in every moment, regardless of time period, year, etc. Just hope. Nothing more needs to be added to her post. It’s the most realistic new year wish, and it made me feel good.

I doubt she thought this far when she put up this post, but I got this feeling from it. Felt good. Strange things tend to speak to me and I never forget them. I’m weird. 

Oh happy new year to everyone by the way. 

I Wish…

Today I was on the train back from work as my car was not available. And the only reason I say that is because I dislike being on the train. I don’t know about your part of the world, but in mine, the train is full of weird strangers that tend to start conversations about their fishing trips and recently deceased dogs. But also, the train is a place for noisy high school kids. Not my favourite mode of transport.

So today, while on the train, a couple of kids (from my high school, funnily) sat in the seat opposite me and started having a very loud conversation. After groaning inwardly that it’s Christmas break and so these kids should NOT be on my train, I tried unsuccessfully to tune them out. It seems Tom was trying to convince Isaac to come on year 12 camp with him in the new school year. “Dude it’s in March. We get to do kayaking this time” Tom said. A bemused Isaac replied “Yeah but it’s AS this year. My sister said it’s really hard. And we get points for uni from this year too”. For a moment I stared at Isaac. I thought to myself, when did I have such trivial worries? In the next instant I wanted to shake him.

To miss out on school camp with friends, because you’re worried about not doing well in Cambridge AS in year 12? At that moment I couldn’t imagine anything more ridiculous. Then I remembered how I was at that age. I had skipped a year at high school and was really intent on planning out my med school dream. But I thought about what I gave up in doing that. I had the sense to go to year 12 camp on persuasion by my friends.So thank goodness for that. But I did opt out of being part of the school play with my friends to “focus” on AS. And I remembered a lot of things from high school. But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t remember my grades in AS. It just didn’t matter. Yes I ended up getting enough points for uni entrance, but beyond that, the actual scores were nothing for me. I mean, I hadn’t ever failed anything, but I was no A+ student either. Not even close. But at this point, no one cares about that. I wanted to tell this kid that.

When in year 12, I thought I’d get enough points to get into uni, do extremely well and get into med, then be a star pupil in med school and find the one specialisation I would excel at and pursue it and end up in my own hospital one day. ¬†Eugh. Even typing that out sounds so childish.

I realised my current position. I have had an incredibly awful year going through feeling like I was a failure. Everyone around me had a plan of what they wanted to do for a specialisation and were taking up research projects in that field etc. I felt hideously unprepared and felt like an oddball for not having a plan. And I’m no A+ med student either. So the high school “plan” is effectively gone.

It occured to me though, that I am 21. Not 31, and not 41. I’m still in med school. I’m still only a 4th year. There are doctors I met, in, or nearly in their 30s who aren’t sure of what specialisation they want to go into. But they’re not losers. I respect all of them as doctors and am sure they’ll do well in whatever they do end up choosing. They don’t seem to be panicking about their futures. So why am I? Let’s face it. Effectively I’m stuck in med school for the next two years. So no “planning” is going to change that at all. And when so much can change so easily – within a year, within a day, is there really any point stressing about a plan that may not even happen? I didn’t think so. Who’s to say the others will have their plans work out? Not that I’m wishing they don’t, but everything is in flux.

A classmate of mine is taking a year off med school to tour Europe. While me and some other classmates agreed we didn’t want to do that at this stage, I kind of envied her. What would it be like to care so little about the future? While I am so focused on completing my degree with no distractions, she’s doing something that’s always been on my bucket list. Would I ever get there? I hoped so. Taking each day as it comes. Facing the little choices everyday seemed more important.

I wished Isaac would go on camp with Tom. I wished that when I’m 41 and I see a med student on the train stressing about his/her specialisation choices and giving up friends or trips, I wouldn’t feel regret.

Vitamins as Medicine. Yay or Nay?

So I started my holiday reading with a book called¬†What your doctor doesn’t know about nutritional medicine may be killing you

My mum’s recommendation. And as all med students probably would, I scoffed at the title. Now I’m not a big believer in vitamin supplements. I had a lecturer who quoted studies that showed taking vitamins increases risk of heart attack. He said “You want to be the person who wants to take vitamins, but doesn’t.” My mum makes me take OTC iron tablets and vitamin C tablets because I get periodically anaemic. After arguing with her about doses and studies that suggest their uselessness, I gave up and started swallowing the tablets. She later on gave me this book to read because of my repeated crying.

Anyways! This book was written by Dr. Ray D Strand, (an American general physician) and mainly talks about the importance of nutritional supplementation not only to maintain health but also to reverse effects of many diseases such as fibromyalgia, heart failure, diabetes, asthma, macular degeneration, etc. He mentions many live cases including that of his own wife who suffered from chronic fibromyalgia. She made a stunning recovery after going on a vigorous nutritional supplement program. This prompted the initially skeptical Dr. Strand to start his own research in the field of nutritional medicine.

He goes on to quote studies that show a definite correlation between certain diseases such as heart failure and deficiencies of nutrients such as coenzyme Q10, etc. He talks about preventive medicine and studies that show that the deficiency of certain nutrients may be involved in the pathogenesis of diseases such as Alzheimers and Parkinsons disease.

Another major theme in this book is that of oxidative stress. Dr. Strand talks about oxidative stress as the major cause of many organ pathologies and insists that taking antioxidants will slow down and prevent these pathologies. While I knew that oxidative stress is one of the main theories of aging, a lot of the cellular changes mentioned in this book caused by oxidative stress were a real eye-opener for me.

Now this isn’t like those boards you see at pharmacies suggesting you should take Vitamin C around flu season to get fewer colds etc. I’m sure that isn’t conclusively proven. But there are trials and case studies suggesting that things like Vitamin C, coenzyme Q10, and grape-seed extract improve symptoms in diseases such as asthma, macular degeneration, emphysema, rheumatoid arthritis. Things that can really bring down patient quality of life. Worth looking up!

The disclaimer is ofcourse that this supplementation does not Cure any of these disease and is Not an alternative to any prescribed medication. The idea is that it is complementary¬†medication. Take with your regular meds, you won’t be cured, but you’ll feel a hell of a lot better.

While I can’t say I’ve been fully converted into believing in taking vitamins, I will say this book has sparked my interest in ‘nutritional medicine’ because a lot of what we’re taught about in med school consists of advising patient to “change their diet and exercise’, we’re not taught what exactly this “change of diet” should be and what benefit we’re actually supposed to be looking for in patients. And clearly, when you throw that vague statement at them, I don’t see anyone making “the change” straight away. I for one, would actually like to know what I’m actually supposed to be recommending to people. And actually have enough evidence and knowledge to believe in it myself.

Overall, I think this book is worth a read! Not just for med students/doctors but everyone really (my mum who is very health-conscious). It’s really quite interesting. But I’d love to hear what others and skeptics like myself think about nutritional medicine. How important is it really?