Monday, August 8, 2011

Studying Medicine

[This post is over a month old, written in the midst of my year-end exams and edited just after that. The new academic year brings a number of updates to this already, but I decided to leave it as is]

So I met a Grade 11 girl briefly at the airport, the other day; and she
asked me what I think about studying Medicine? I stared at her for a while not quite certain on how to answer. I was still waiting for exam results (*Nightmare*) so she got me in a wrong mood. Anyway, I managed to evade the question by elaborating on "hard work /consistency/IfYouLoveItDoIt" stories.

In retrospect, I decided studying Medicine can be likened to Bipolar Mood Disorder. This is especially true since mania and depression can occur within the same month, if you're lucky even within the same day.
(For the record: this post was written in jest and has nothing to do with bipolar disorder)

Manic Phase
  • Experienced when you elicit the biceps reflex on your colleague for the first time. No wait. The knee-jerk is a lot much more fun.
  • You can say dysdiadochokinesis. And you know what it means.
  • Can impress people by talking about the small and rather insignificant facial muscle called "Levator labii superioris alaeque nasi" or when you say "keratoconjunctivitis sicca" and all you mean is 'dry eyes'.
  • You actually understand the nervous system- you can talk about pathways and synapses with understanding. And think of everything that's happening when move your toes and when you're brushing your hair or driving or playing basketball (oops, I sound like Dr Z).
  • The most hilarious jokes have to come outta med school. Everyone would agree on this :D
  • You managed to spot aptly enough to get a distinction for a test. WOW. Brilliant. Note – these students are fully aware that they know bugger-all about what they just wrote. Spots and short-term memory fit well together.
  • You are asked what you studied. This is the best high-school-like feelings ever.
  • An ECG is no longer a series of squiggly lines.
  • You draw blood successfully on a real patient (not Mr Cronje/Mr Green) for the first time.

Depressive Phase
This is characterised by tremors, palpitations, hysterical laughter and sporadic increased lacrimal gland secretions. "Why the hell am I studying Medicine???" is dilemma often faced during this phase.

  • You fail an OSCE because you could not put up a neck brace. #Fail. (WTH! If the neck brace is there in that emergency situation, surely someone who can use the darn thing would be accompanying it. Just saying)
  • The impending doom experienced when you sit staring at the question paper wondering how you can suck out 10marks worth of pharmacology. Ah well, it's drug interactions so we'll just alternate between increase and decrease drug concentrations. Why not throw in a 'no effect' as well. (you would probably manage to score 1/10, or 1.5/10 if you're good at this game).
  • You see (in a test) the name of a drug or syndrome or bacteria that you've never heard of before. And now they asking you some detail about it.
  • The assessing doctor smirks at everything you do in a practical. Or worse still, you catch sight of a frown, or a raised eyebrow or a stifled laughter. WTH is he trying to sssaaayyyy! (Personal story: I am remembered because of my conspicuous scarf wearing. They going to remember my dumbness *aaaarrrghhh*)
  • You are sitting before a test with a list of acronyms or pneumonic, learning the answers to three basic questions:
                    What is the acronym?
                    What is it for?
                    What each letter stands for?
          You look pretty demented at this stage.
  • Your ECG interpretations are wrong. Oops sorry. Mistake. Maybe they are just squiggly lines after all? O_o
  • You screw an easy station in an OSCE by doing something so utterly stupid. It becomes immensely difficult to forgive yourself for this.
  • Other physical signs (especially before exams) include, hair loss, pimples and related scars, raccoon eyes, caffeine stained teeth. Weight gain or loss might also be noticed.
  • You start diagnosing yourself after every disease condition you learn about. A sore throat was probably some life-threatening pharyngitis. Ok, you're still living so it wasn't that; but something like it. Hoarseness of voice is often caused by laryngeal nerve compression. What! Carcinoma? Goitre? God forbid. Ag chill, you were just studying out loud. *Gasp*, are you now psychotic – talking to yourself???

You are welcome to add to any of these signs and symptoms.

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