In Which I Try to Find Deeper Meaning

I don’t consider myself an intuitive person. I don’t get things straight off the bat, or come up with brilliant analogies for explaining difficult concepts. Our Orthopaedic consultant is really good at that – he managed to explain the complex immune process of opsonization (where bacteria get coated with special substances so that the body can destroy it) by comparing it to icing on cake (everyone wants a slice). 

But in a recent post on The Art in Life, Hannah noticed that she wasn’t talking about anything transcendental or abstracting about life and I had a moment of “So that’s what blogging is supposed to be like? Abstraction and transcendentalism are so not my thing. ”

Which, of course, isn’t true. At least, not entirely. There are whole blogs devoted to Birkin bags and sleeping in airports. Blogging is about anything you want it to be about. And today I want it to be about Fruit Ninja. And abstraction.

I am so serious and grown up right now.

You know the multiplayer option in Fruit Ninja? Both players get the same fruits to attack and the same basic bombs to avoid, only you can also launch bombs at each other from across the screen. I was playing with K, at first without realizing that he was actually throwing extra bombs my way, and when I caught on I started to retaliate in kind.

But then the games got shorter.

When we were playing without attempting to explode each other’s screen, we continued battling fruit and sidestepping minefields for several minutes. As soon as we started throwing things at each other, things got trickier and we tended to lose more quickly.

Which reminds me of relationships.

When you work together to tackle the obstacles (and dodge the catastrophes) that affect both of you, both of you last longer. And as soon as it becomes ‘every man for himself’, the playing field loses its footing and someone explodes gets hurt.

Morale of the story? Don’t throw bombs at people – it ends badly for everyone involved.

Also, never bet against your boyfriend on video games.

Don’t hate the player, hate the game.

Clinical Advice: “Wear Good Shoes”

If I could give you one piece of advice to surviving your clinical years, “wear good shoes” would be it. The rest of my advice has no basis other my own meandering experiences.

General Words

1. Be nice to the nurses, even when they’re not nice to you (and most of the time they won’t be). The phrase “kill them with kindness” has never been more appropriate.

2. Don’t be the student with the smartphone who spends their time on ward rounds tweeting.

3. Do be the student with the smartphone who looks up the answers to share while the consultant’s back is turned.

4. Never lose your consultant on ward rounds. They will prove impossible to find.

5. Patients will die. You will not be prepared.

6. Try to remember to sleep and eat.

7. Invest in a notebook that can fit in your pocket. Take it everywhere.

8. Don’t overdo it. Whatever people may believe, persons in the medical profession are just as human as everyone else. We all have limits; respect them.

9. Go to school. Please.

10. Don’t be a suck-up. In the future you’ll be practising medicine with the colleagues you spurned, not the superiors you kissed up to.

11. Be prepared to suck. Now, as a junior, being wrong is funny and correctable. As a senior, consultants will fail you for killing your hypothetical patient. Make your mistakes now.

12. Don’t take medicine personally. Your aptitude on the wards/in clinic is not a reflection of who you are as a person. Some days will be better than others but don’t let the horrible days make you doubt your self-worth.

13. Always take the opportunity to leave UHWI. Cornwall Regional and Kingston Public Hospitals are where you will get all most of your practical experience. And everyone is nicer there.

14. Get used to packing, un-packing, re-packing and doing it all over again in a matter of weeks.

15. Lower your expectations, of everything: doctors, patients, the government, the facilities. The joy of medicine is really more like a resigned indifference.

16. Don’t expect kindness or for things to be easy, so be grateful when they happen.

17. Balance your time. Med students study hard but they party harder.

18. Recognize that each consultant thinks his/her word is gospel. Like all gospels, they will frequently contradict themselves.

Academic Tips

19. You will never get asked about the topic you read the night before. You will always get asked about the topic you said you were going to read later.

20. So read. Read all the time. Read everything.

21.  Prepare for your tutorials. You will actually be able to follow the discussion.

22. Dress appropriately. This is a hospital – there are gross things everywhere. The less skin you show, the harder it is for the microbes to get you. And you don’t want to be the student in the consultant’s anecdote about wardrobe malfunctions.

23. Common things are common. Don’t be the med student who hears hoofbeats and thinks “Zebra!” (But if you are, don’t worry. We’ve all been there).

24. Practice your clinical examinations. All the time, everywhere, on anybody who will let you. You can graduate without knowing how to site an IV, but you will fail third year if you can’t competently examine an abdomen. (You won’t, but everyone will think you’re an idiot anyway).

25. Hold on to that sample case note from Introduction to Medical Practice. It will come in handy for your multiple graded case notes in third year.

To all the third years about to start their junior clinical rotations on Monday, good luck and Godspeed.

Edited to add: Oh my goodness, the abdomen station was removed from this year’s junior exams and that makes me hopping mad! (It is also probably way harder to catch the bad students now).

She buys carnival tickets; I buy bread. And Lasco.

Big up everybody who go Trinidad carnival last week go wuk up dem body and see Machel live. Big up everybody who couldn’ afford di plane ticket so dem a save up fi UWI Jouvert and Ring Road march. Don’ worry, ah di same wuk up you ah get.

I used to think I had it bad because I had no shoes, then I met a man with no feet.

Now, I know that unhappiness lies in the gap between where you think things should be and where they actually are and I know it’s bad to compare yourself with other people, but I find myself unequal to the task of accepting my reality. I’ve never been able to accept my reality. If it wasn’t books I was getting lost in, it was my friend’s lives, or my own daydreams. Reality has never been enough to satisfy me, except in those (warning: girl moment) random moments when I’m with the boyfriend and my world is rose-coloured.

So most of the time I am trapped in the depression of longing. I am writing this in the hope of finding out that I am not alone, and if you are also sometimes given to bouts of irrational envy: hey, you are not alone.

You are not alone in your wanting.

This isn’t about the necessities. No, I already have the things I need; this is about the things I want. Pretty things. Like popcorn. Or an HD TV. Or trips abroad. Okay, I’ve had my share of that. So I’m speaking on behalf of you now, anonymous wanter. Maybe it’s acceptance to the Master’s programme of your choice, maybe it’s just acceptance. Materialistically, emotionally; whatever or whoever it is, we can’t have it and that makes us unhappy.

The man with a toothache thinks everyone happy whose teeth are sound. The poverty-stricken man makes the same mistake about the rich man.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Before you go out robbing banks, understand that I’m not only talking about getting what you want. Sometimes we want things we shouldn’t, things that aren’t good for us, and not getting them is actually a good thing. So sometimes the solution is just to accept your reality and let go of those feelings of inadequacy and “less than-ness”. Use something that puts you at peace. When I’m sad, I put on my Sadface playlist and choreograph dances in my head until I fall asleep and by the time I wake up I’m not sad any more.

But I don’t think that will work for everybody.

On the other hand, that thing you think is a want might actually be something you need, something that you are meant to have or do. In that case, it’s more about bridging the gap than sitting on one side singing Kumbayah. That means hard work and sacrifice and plenty of BS&T. I’ve found that if something isn’t handed to you then you have to earn it, and that’s never easy.

Life contains but two tragedies. One is not to get your heart’s desire; the other is to get it.

Whichever way we choose, our goal is to dispel the sadness. Whether you get the want or give it up doesn’t matter as long as you’re happy with your choice.

As for telling the difference between a want-want and a need-want, if you figure it out be sure to tell me how.

BS&T: Blood, sweat and tears.

Advice, like good health, is often wasted on the healthy

Maybe my first post after nearly three weeks should have been more celebratory. All I know is I’m trying to get over a cold without the benefit of having my mother around for the first time in all my twenty years. And I hope to God it’s not Dengue Fever. (My mother says it isn’t).

English: Chapel on Mona Campus of the Universi...
Look: I go to school here! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have officially moved on to Mary Seacole Hall in the You Double-u Eye at Mona. Again, forgive the lack of enthusiasm, the department store was out of confetti. I had tried writing an advice post while waiting for the internet service to get up and running, but that failed rather cheerfully. At least, it wasn’t a miserable failure.

Really, I have no advice to offer. I’m making all the mistakes. Maybe I should write about my mistakes so people know what not to do. I’m a stellar example of how not to live communally.

At the same time, the only bit of advice I’ve gotten was from a security guard on the proper way of managing a chest cold.

“You need to get that out of you.”


“You need to get that out of you.” 


“You need some garlic and honey.”


“You have garlic?”


“Get some, crush it up on a plate -” at this point I swear to God I thought he was talking about some kind of aphrodesiac. Don’t ask. That’s just where my mind goes. “- add some honey and mix it up.” 


“Two spoons of that and you soon stop cough.” 

“Oh. Okay. Thank you.”

All this taking place as he escorted me to the guard post because I didn’t have a visitor’s pass and it wasn’t my hall.

Great start to a year, if any.

Time wasting, like sleep cycles, probably wasted on the studious

Don’t fall asleep.

If I could offer you on piece of advice on relieving boredom in an examination, not falling asleep would be it. The benefits of not falling asleep have been discussed by many students, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis other than my own meandering experience.
Sincerest apologies to Mary Scmich.
Hum your favourite song.
Rock back and forth, casting darting, suspicious glances at everyone who looks your way.
Try to use telekinesis to make the clock move faster.
Watch people.
Draw something.
Erase it.
Draw something else.
Spend time planning ridiculous blog entries like this one.
Sketch a cartoon.
Play doll house with your pens and pencils.
Write a story.
Count the number of tiles in the ceiling.
Leave funny notes on your exam paper for the invigilators to laugh at.
Measure your pulse rate.

And lastly, check your answers over exactly one minute before the end of the exam. This never fails to induce a last minute panic that you can do almost nothing about.