Somewhere

The more you know, the greater you realize your ignorance is.

Upon beginning medical school, I knew there was a large body of information I had to learn, but, in all truthfulness, it wasn’t overwhelming. I mean that insofar as I didn’t think I was peering into some abysmal chasm of infinite black. It was more like looking at a swimming pool and understanding that there was a visible bottom. The pool had a volume of water and I needed to just keep my head above the water and get to the other side.

I float, but I have become more aware to the fact that there are vast chasms of knowledge to dive into. Unfortunately, I think most of the things presented in medical school are derelict and stagnant pools that don’t require exploring. There is a morbid sadness I associate with fruitless research and worn-out topics.

There is a modern approach to medical research that is far more exciting than what most of our books present, and it’s where I aspire to be. It’s just quite a ways away.

When a disease insinuates itself so potently into the imagination of an era, it is often because it impinges on an anxiety latent within that imagination.

AIDS loomed so large on the 1980s in part because this was a generation inherently haunted by its sexuality and freedom; SARS set off a panic about global spread and contagion at a time when globalism and social contagion were issues simmering nervously in the West.

Every era casts illness in its own image. Society, like the ultimate psychosomatic patient, matches its medical afflictions to its psychological crises; when a disease touches such a visceral chord, it is often because that chord is already resonating.

SM, The Emperor of All Maladies

When a disease …

m pizza

Macaroni pizza

So, I’ve been making pizzas for dinner because they’re cheap and tasty – also because the local pies are really expensive and not that good and only made in another town. I usually split them my study buddy Stephan. My tireless pan, compliments of my GF Amanda, continues to work hard.

pizza 2

Veggie pie

Making pies with a tight budget

Pursuit

alice-falling-down-rabbit-hole-2

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where —” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat

13.1 miles in, warmed up and steady

I’ve reached a symbolic midway point in the basic sciences portion of my medical education; three of five blocks in this semester are done, with this being the third of five semesters.

The work of men who died generations ago. From here, it looks like an achievement.

I have developed reservations about the whole process of school, but nevertheless, the fact remains that time has passed and I have learned. Is it an achievement? That’s a very subjective question. In old posts I spoke of what I considered two different types of achievement: personal and existential. In fact, I explicitly said that education was always a personal achievement rather than an existential one, and my opinion on the matter remains so. Over the last ten months, I have understood the machinations and theories of other men, not created my own. This is the key flaw to such an education; however, there is nothing worth doing to change it. Shortly, I will be gone from this place, and the island will be another memory of my past.

That said, the material we’re covering is the most clinically relevant stuff we’ve learned so far. Various pathogens, the complex function of the immune system, and very circuitous (but applicable) neuroscience. The current block for microbiology is a survey of virology, which is a very interesting subject despite the droning lectures we receive.

I am looking forward to starting rotations in a little more over a year, finally seeing things in full color and form. It’s a strange question to ask myself – now that I’m here, halfway, would I start over and do it all again? This question doesn’t really represent the process that will be the other half of my education. In the first half, I developed the capacity to handle large swathes of material and study habits that will assist me for the rest of my life.


Someone wise once asked me:

How do you make a test for someone smarter than yourself?

At the time, I didn’t fully appreciate the answer to the question. I was in high school, and academic achievement tests were a joke. They were timed, difficult, and represented the perfect opportunity to prove my intelligence to others without; the tests were a pure ego-flexing opportunity to have a numerical value to rank me against my peers. The point the question made, nonetheless, was that to make any test harder, you shorten the amount of time allotted to take the test.

Take this notion and supersize it from a test to an entire curriculum, and you have medical school. The material is not hard, the volume is just incredible. It is manageable, though, and begets a transformative experience. While I initially disliked the lack of creativity, the courses I am taking have become more and more detailed, which is to my liking; the purpose is to serve as a survey rather than canvas.