Thursday, October 25, 2007

The arrival of Halloween (and Christmas)

I started noticing this week that I am waking up, stepping on the train, walking into the medical faculty, leaving the faculty and coming home, all in near or complete darkness. I am a child of my environment, and this annual inevitability always gets me down. To counter my drop in sunlight induced serotonin I have increased my caffeine intake and returned to yoga. The sum of these factors leaves me tired, jittery and stiff this morning.

Yoga was at our new and shiny fitness facility at the health centre last night. As I left through the large atrium that connects the old and new buildings, I noticed a fluttering, flying animal swooping through the atrium. Sparrows are pretty common self-imposed indoor aviators, but this was larger and creepier. It was a rather angry bat. I thought it was fitting for the season.

This morning I woke again feeling like I had just returned from a trans-oceanic flight and should be asleep for another three hours. After dragging myself through the regular morning routine and checking the temperature (1 degree Celsius; not bad) I stepped outside. Everything was covered in crusty white snow. Merry winter!

Friday, October 19, 2007

I managed to get though Course 5. Course 5 is largely neuro and I have completed a Masters in neuroscience. You might think that this would put me at an advantage, and it probably did. Unfortunately it also gave me a false sense of security. My thesis was on learning and memory, which has almost nothing to do with the neurological diseases we learn about. Three days of studying after skipping most of the lectures, was not enough to feel comfortable with the final exam. Apparently I picked up more than I thought hanging around neuro labs for two years. I passed with no problem.

Now we are in Course 6 - Child and Women's health. A very different course from Neuro and aging. The course is run different, the patients are different, the health care workers are different, the attitude is different. But the most interesting difference to me is how much more opinions, and I would even say politics, play into this course.

All medicine has some aspect of "art" and we can't base everything on evidence, partly because we just don't know enough and partly because we are dealing with individual human beings and each one is unique. But I find it intriguing how often people (everyone from parents, to prenatal course instructors to doctors) argue their medical points about pregnancy and babies based on feelings or their own personal expectations. Maybe it is because everyone seems to have some. You rarely find someone who will tell you "I think you should have a stroke like this", but just about everyone will tell you how they think you should have a baby. And how you are suppose to feel about it.

Of course being pregnant (or being a baby for that matter) isn't a disease. A pregnant lady isn't sick or injured, but she isn't "normal" either. It is an extraordinary thing that happens everyday. It's a cliche but it is a common place miracle; not something you can say about a lot of other areas of medicine.