Stressing about not stressing

The calm before the storm. The night before it went all wrong. The eve of…

well. I’m not 1/2 done with my exams and honestly I’m not actually that stressed. This is so new to me. I normally can’t sleep, have a poor appetite and become an incredibly temperamental person around exams time.

I don’t know why this has occurred. I’m not necessarily better prepared or feeling more productive. I think it might just be that fourth year of medical school has so far been 11 months long and my body has been in a constant stressed out/ freaked out state.

Cortisol – which is the hormone released in response to stress. Adrenaline – our fight or flight hormone. They’re like not peaking. It is as if my adrenals went ‘nope, done enough this year. I’m not releasing more stress hormones.’

It has tricked my brain because I’ve not had the same drive for exams as I normally do. And I’m kind of stressing about the fact that I haven’t been stressed.

Weird.

5 days to freedom…

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Bruises and scars

We all have them. Bruises and scars, I mean. Not all are literal. Some bruises and scars are internal and hurt just as much. It’s not bad to have them. It shows you survived. You made it out to the other side when everything else had hit rock-bottom. Bruises and scars are a part of life. Some fade away with life. Others are there as constant reminders. Some only hurt if pressed. We’ve all had them. We all know the pain.

Recently, I saw a 16 week old baby with finger print bruises on her little body. Who did this to her? What’s her story? Who is to blame? Some bruises only grow with time. Her’s will. Maybe the physical bruises will go away. But we will know. She will know. She’ll grow up, knowing. She’ll grow up questioning. Why did this happen to me?

Some bruises and scars we accept as ‘occupational hazards’. I have a dog. I was bitten by him. I have a scar. I still love him. I went ice skating. I fell over. I got a cut on my finger and the scar from that is with me forever. I got hurt once. Emotionally. I’m not sure I’ll ever heal from that.

I met a 17 year old. He was having an existential crisis. ‘The world is so big. What can I even achieve here?’ His young life had been full of abuse and sorrow and pain. The bruises and scars from his childhood will keep re-visiting him like an unwanted guest.

Some bruises and scars remind us that we are alive. We are living. We are here. The scars from a depressed teenager who used to cut herself. The bruises of a man who got ‘beat-up’ in the street for being the wrong ‘type’. The hateful words that are forever etched in the mind of the kids as they watch their parents shout and scream.

All bruises and scars have a story. Most aren’t pleasant. Most are painful. All are important to acknowledge and remember.

What’s your story?

-Vitzy-

Midnight Musings…

Nothing really to say today…

I have been on easter break for the last two weeks…did a lot of catching up with friends and family. It’s also been nice to not have to get up at 7am to go to the hospital!

my exams are 3 months away. which is both far and too close. I can’t really relax but equally the finishing line isn’t in sight.

I’ve been listening to a lot of classical music. Mozart is the man! It helps me concentrate and stops the noises in the house from distracting me. I actually managed to study a lot of neurology (which is super complicated by the way) and hopefully retain it.

I’ve also been watching a lot of Vlogs recently. Medical ones, I mean. And I thought of starting one. But then what would I talk about? Also that means I’d have to be camera ready and that’s really not appealing. The hoodie and messy ponytail game is so lit. (Can’t believe I just wrote lit…)

Final years at my university start exams tomorrow. That’ll be me in one year. eek.

Anyway…gonna head to bed. Hope you have a nice Monday 🙂

-Vitzy-

All we hear is radio gaga

I first heard the song ‘Radio gaga‘ when I was probably ten years old. It and along with majority of the songs sung by Queen rapidly became my favourite go-to music. But it was only a few years ago when I actually listened to the lyrics properly. And understood its melancholic and wistful tune in its notes. 1984, when this song was released was only three years after the launch of the video station MTV.  Listening to music suddenly became a TV thing rather than a radio thing. Hence the song ‘Radio gaga’. It’s reminiscing about the fact that more and more people were turning to video stations for their music than radio. At the same time I also discovered that Queen’s lead vocalist died from a respiratory complication of HIV/AIDS. Whenever this song plays, I can’t help but feel a little sad and melancholic.  Continue reading

We need to talk (more)

We as humans are a social species. By that, I mean, we have the intrinsic need to meet and engage in conversation. Even people who call themselves ‘introverts’ have the innate requirement for social interaction. It is a physiological phenomenon, which eons of evolution has not gotten rid of. Or more precisely, eons of evolution has preserved our ability to connect to one another. Despite that, the modern human is not very good at engaging in conversation with another human, effectively. Continue reading

The worried luddite

Living in a post google search world means that the answer to every question is not only within reach of a 10 second computer search but also the answer can be a multitude of different things.

Take this question for example: ‘what is the use of Gabapentin?

This question produced 5,800,000 results in 0.92 seconds. That’s crazy. It would take me a life time to read through each one of these entries. So obviously I don’t. In fact I already knew the answer vaguely and just needed reconfirmation. But what happened is that on 5 different webpages, I was given a slightly different answer. Not only was I confused but also frustrated. Was the question I was trying to answer worth the twenty minutes of trawling around? Wouldn’t an old-fashioned look up in some book been easier (Yes: this is why the BNF exists).

Technology offers us so much. Hi-tech equipment to do routine surgeries. The concept of e-consultations where the need for doctor and patient to be in the same location is gone. The robotics used in complex surgeries. Even the blood pressure machine is no longer manually used. Let’s face it, technology has revolutionised medicine forever. And we don’t want to go back! We’re far connected, stable and stronger as an industry than we have ever been before. We are saving more people, treating more families and overall achieving higher feats on a day by day basis.

However a talk with my brother (and then subsequent many chats with many engineers) had me wondering what direction our beautifully expanding technological field will take us. We are already in the era of driver-less cars and 3D printing.  Surely it is not too incredulous to imagine a near future where routine check-ups are done by artificial intelligence? Or coughs and colds be automatically diagnosed through a system of exclusion criteria. I used to work for a service which used algorithms to come up with a likely diagnosis. Effectively using the knowledge of many doctors and compiling it into a workable computer program. How long until our machines start doing what we already do. This already has a name: machine learning. Recently a machine beat a human at the game ‘go’. A game far more complex than chess and undefeated by a non-human since its conception centuries before. And when our machines are as good as we are, how long until they get better? What will be the role of doctors then? Will we be there to provide moral support and talking therapies? Won’t that be a good thing? Doctors are always saying how over-worked they are!

But surely humanity cannot be replaced? Can it? What makes us humans so? What makes us tick? Why do we emote and feel? No one has completely figured this out. The more I study the more I feel that medicine is absolutely not just a science. It’s an art. Ask any doctor and they will give you examples of where they’ve not relied on computer algorithms and text-book learning. They’ve relied on compassion, empathy, communication and most importantly experience. Nothing in medicine is cut-clear. There are areas of grey, scales and degrees to diagnoses and disease. The reasons is because the human brain and body is complex. Far more complex than any machine ever built. We, the flawed, egoistic, narcissistic humans are the perfect example of the epitome of creation. We are also the creators of machines. We created machine learning and artificial intelligence and it is here to stay.

There may be a day many many years in the future when instead of seeing your doctor, you’d be seeing a machine. We are racing and advancing ahead in the field of medical-technology at a rate greater than ever before. Making leaps and bounds but is the future where humans are no longer needed really a future we want to jump towards? As the creator of the TV show ‘Black Mirror’ said: ‘I’m not scared about the future of technology but I am worried about it.’

-Vitzy-

 

Killer toothache

My grandad was a dentist. My cousin is also a dentist. I study medicine. And yet I’m on NHS Choices frantically working out why my tooth hurts. (and getting horrified by photos of terrible teeth)

We know very little about our teeth. I don’t know when teeth and gums divorced themselves from the rest of the organs and went off on their separate ways but it is a shame because the last time I had any official teaching on my teeth was back when I was 7 years old and in primary school. I think dentists and the field of dentistry is great. But isn’t the glorious oral cavity – the entry to the human GI system, still part of well – the human? Why is this not part of being a doctor? Why is dentistry its own vocation? Why did we draw the line with teeth?

Perhaps its because I have a toothache and am suddenly very aware of my aching teeth but I’m now trying to do all the things the dentists always tried to tell us to do. Here’s a reminder incase you also forgot:

  • Brush teeth twice a day
  • limit the sugary foods (this includes fruit, chocolates, juice and even bread!)
  • floss!!
  • go see the dentist regularly (last time I went was years ago)

Thing is in most countries healthcare is free. Take the NHS for example…if you have any kind of pain all you have to do is get yourself to the doctor and everything is fine. But for dental care you have to pay. You have to actually find a dentist and it’s a bit like looking for the perfect cake – you’re never satisfied because you paid for a particular type of cake and its not there. The point I’m trying to make is that dentistry is privatised and with it the sense of entitlement goes. And perhaps the state’s vested interest. If the government has to pay for our health then it is in the interest of the government to keep people healthy. Not so much the case with dentistry.

The second reason why I think the general public is so ignorant (like me) is because everyone for some reason seems to emphasise the importance of having ‘good looking teeth’. Now lets get real. Teeth are not meant to make you attractive. They’re purpose isn’t to bag you a marriage but to help you chew foods and remain healthy. So the idea that your teeth should be pearly white and straight is great; but also a bit misleading. They should also be cavity free, not have plaque on them, not be infested with bacteria and not developing gum disease.

Teeth are much more interesting than just providing you with a good smile. Look after them – they’re just as important as your heart, lungs or brain!

Click here  for a dentist’s parody of Ed Sheeran’s ‘Shape of You’ And Click here for Ed’s original song.

Peace

-Vitzy-