Saturday, March 21, 2009

[Photo] Grip

Port Campbell, Victoria
1/1250s - f/3.5 - ISO 100 - 26mm


Friday, March 20, 2009

How to Stop The Buzz in An Earbud

So your earbud / earphone produces annoying buzz when it plays low frequency sounds? This is what to do:

... gently place the earbud to your mouth and suck, taking care not to get the earbud wet.
Worked like a charm. Saved me a trip to the Apple store.


Thursday, March 19, 2009

A Medical Student's Apology

Doctor and NurseWe wander around the ward corridor
Chirping, chattering, cheering, conniving
Stealthily we peeked at you
And we thought you would be interesting.

You are awake, you are not sleeping.
You don't have any pain, you are not eating.
You are not demented, and you have got no one visiting.
You look okay, in fact you look welcoming.

We come to you, and start to greet you
The greeting is always the same
Official, boring, and impersonal
And we always go like this

"Hi Mr. Smith my name is Yang,
I am a fifth year medical student.
Do you mind if I spend a few minutes with you,
to talk about your recent condition?"

You agreed to that because you are nice,
But deep inside you let out a grunt.
"Those students again"
"How many of them are out there lurking?!"

"What brought you to the hospital?"
"An ambulance, obviously"
"Tell me more about the pain"
"It hurts, doc"

Minutes dragged on to hours
Hours dragged on to days.
Your stay in the teaching hospital,
Is punctuated by endless visits by annoying students.

At times you see us on the corridor,
Laughing, sniggering, jeering and bantering.
And you probably wonder,
whether we realise we should be a bit more proper.

At times you accidentally hear us say,
"Mr. Smith is an interesting case, go do a long case on him"
And you probably wonder,
whether we realise you are not here for our exam rehearsal.

So an apology this is
For all the patients we have hurt,
For patients we saw as a long case or a short case,
And for patients who are not good for any type of case.

We don't mean to annoy you,
Although at times we probably do.
We don't mean to use you,
Although in reality we probably do.

We empathise what you are going through,
At the very least, we used to.
But after toiling for a year or two,
Even the warmest heart probably turn a bit cool.

My dear patients, we wish we really could
Be a bit less rude and do a bit more good
We are really sorry what we subject you to,
Hopefully, just hopefully, we will all pull through.

Image Credit: Lupus Comedy


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

[Photo] After the Rain

IMG_2563 (by changyang1230)
1/100s - f/1.8 - ISO 400 - 50mm
I am feeling much better now. Thanks for your concern!


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Of Feeling Sick

sick_puppy-600x319 (by changyang1230)It's quite easy to overlook the experience of illness as one progresses in their medical career. As we fret over how best to present our long cases or how best to study the Oxford Handbook of Clinical Medicine cover to cover, we often forget that we are not really there to study medicine; we are there to learn how to treat sick people, and how to make them feel better.

I had my share of illness today. It started this morning when I went to the Austin Hospital at about 8.30. Feeling unwell in the tummy, I immediately went to the toilet, and there I was flushing out some humongous amount of bowel content into the toilet. However, at that stage I was feeling alright, and the watery bowel motion didn't bother me at all.

At 9am, I went on to have a tute with one of the doctors without much problem. After the tute, I had to go to the toilet again. And again. And again. In the next three hours, I went to the toilet four times, feeling more and more unwell in the process. Come lunch time, I struggled to finish my tuna sandwich due to a lack of appetite.

I wanted to stay back to clerk some patients but my physical condition was deteriorating quickly. My tie started to strangulate me, and my anal sphincters were unforgiving. I could feel some chill overwhelming my body, and I immediately knew I was not gonna make it to the 5pm lecture.

With an ashen face, I braved the chill and physical weakness and walked to the train station opposite my hospital. What usually seemed like a short walk became an endurance race. Each step I took was harder than the step before, and I was in fear - I knew that there was a possibility I was going to collapse on the street. At that moment, weakness ceased to be a mere physical descriptor of the patients; it became a real entity, a thoroughly debilitating sensation. It became a fear.

The train ride back to the city was uneventful, but I was not feeling better. By the time I reached city, it was apparent how feverish I was. From the train station, I boarded a tram to head home. The tram was packed like a sardine. To worsen the matter, a girl in front of me kept on swearing bad words like 操你妈的 to her boy friends. She was making me nauseous.

Two minutes into the journey, I was on the verge of throwing up. They say that nausea is the worst feeling of all physical afflictions, and it can't be more true. I had a patient who developed some nausea due to morphine, and without hesitation she wanted to cut down on the morphine just to get rid of the sick feeling. I had to get out of the tram and get some fresh air.

I sat in the toilet of a shopping complex having the seventh bowel motion of the day, but I didn't vomit despite the continuous tug in my stomach. At that juncture, I started to wonder how I was going to get home at all. Am I going to take a tram home and risk myself vomitting in it? Or should I just wait in the shopping complex to get better? The loneliness and helplessness was killing me.

I decided to visit a pharmacy and shelled out some money to buy oral dehydration salt (at which Xuan Ni later ridiculed :P), paracetamol and water. Immediately I mixed the salt with the water to make up the rehydration solution. I guess the other shoppers must have thought I was mixing some illicit drugs.

Eventually I got home via a bus. I collapsed on my bed immediately and fell into a deep, warm slumber for the next three hours. Xuan Ni and Anthony (my current housemate) came home and visited me. I am very grateful for their care - Anthony cooked porridge for me (which I only ate a little due to nausea), and Xuan Ni was simply there for me. Social support is not just something that earns us extra points in long case presentation; it is something that truly helps.

Right now, the diarrhoea has stopped although there is still some lingering weakness and my temperature is still a tad up. The metoclopramide I brought to Melbourne four years ago worked wonderfully against the nausea. Today, as cliché as it sounds, I reminded myself of what it truly means to be sick, and hopefully, how to be a better doctor (or a better medical student, for that matter).


Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Of Learning in Medicine (1)

medicine20logo (by changyang1230)I enrolled in medicine in the most unusual yet not unexpected circumstances.

Since I was little, I have always been a maths and physics guy. I read popular science magazines, I read my dad's old Chinese maths textbooks (they ARE interesting). I have never picked up a Biology textbook with much enthusiasm, neither have I ever been attracted by the animal or human body documentaries in National Geographics Channel.

Throughout my high school years, most people expected me to go on to study maths, engineering, actuarial science and the sorts, and I kinda took up the expectation as my own goal too. At one point I was considering MIT as a goal, seeing that participation in the IMO could be a useful line in the CV. However, my procrastination and lack of motivation eventually reigned over my temporary ambition. I never got beyond reading the university brochure.

Eventually, I enrolled in medicine. You could probably argue that I was just following the footsteps of my sisters, and I can't deny that it did play a huge part in my decision. But beyond that, I chose medicine because of the satisfaction I thought I could derive from medicine in terms of intellectual fulfillment, job satisfaction, social status and monetary stability.

Besides, I chose medicine over the other aforementioned options because I thought that those paths offer less satisfaction, and that I don't want to be doing maths in a cubicle forever. That could be just an excuse, I don't know. Even today, I still suspect whether this line was a lie I obstinately hold on to, just so that I could justify my not pursuing paths in alignment with my interest and talents.

But I thought it didn't matter.

[To be continued...]
Image Credit: Vagus Surgicalis


Tuesday, March 03, 2009

[Photo] The Flyer

The Singapore Flyer
1/640s - f/5.6 - ISO 100 - 33mm
The Singapore Flyer, taken from a bus through a very weird posture


Sunday, March 01, 2009

[Photo] The Young Pianist

Playing the Piano (by changyang1230)
1/400s - f/2.8 - 41mm - ISO 800
Yes, another random photo for Yee Pin


The Trump Card

Knowingly or not, most of us love to play "the trump card" whenever we get involved in debates.

donald-trump (by changyang1230)No I am not talking about this guy. -->

I am talking about some values which some people so fondly embrace as the fundamental truth of the universe: The sanctity of life, democracy, human rights, social stability, honesty, faith, anti-racism, gender equality, ownership of a land and so forth.

When occasions arise, one of us is bound to join the discourse, choose an appropriate fundamental truth, stick to it throughout and happily use it as the ultimate trump card. By repeatedly invoking the truth and tagging all contrary opinions as immoral, we often proceed in the discourse in blatant ignorance of the outright subjectivity of our value. Despite evidence to the contrary, and examples of why our values aren't always applicable; most of us will nevertheless come out of the debate with the conviction that we are right, and they are wrong.

That's all because we have that imaginary trump card.