Friday, May 16, 2008


And possibly fingerworm as well, I just spent an age digging up a free score for this piece. Tis Granados, Danza EspaƱola No. 2, Oriental. It kills me.

Piano: the first one I found was by this 11 year-old girl. While it's prolly a bit less polished than this other woman's version, I love how she's really into it. Also, dudes, 11.


It's great being able to compare versions on different instruments. I reckon the guitar one is more romantic and soulful, cos they make up for the instrument's relatively limited dynamic range with sensitive phrasing and flexible timing. Or something. I'm only just beginning to work on my classical ear after x million years/dollars of music tuition. The slides on the guitar make it more lyrical as well. Sigh.

Why is this piece so familiar and haunting? I have a feeling it's from a movie. Godfather? I've definitely heard it before. Only came upon the title by chance, listening to ABC Classic FM: Up Insanely Late. Digging that channel lately. In my car I've got it programmed along with Triple J and Today FM. In company the cooler ones are chosen; alone I wind down the windows and blast me some harp action.

PS for Chris: I SAW A MOUSE IN MY ROOM!!! The first time it was exiting. The second time it was coming in. Errrr.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Candles and other obvious metaphors

So, radio silence.

What I haven't been saying here, or rather what I've been saying by not saying anything here (are we following?), is how I'm terrified that med is not my One True Vocation and that I'm going to turn out to be a incompetent doctor, bitter and resentful at how it's taken up my life.

I think it's partly because of our lack of clinical stuff this year so far, with hardly any patient contact. Buried beneath the books, the weekly grind of Working Problems, it's easy to lose sight of where it's all leading. I fear that I still don't own medicine; being a student doctor isn't part of my identity. Compare this with learning French- it is a part of me, it was my passion (at least for a while). Whereas with med, part of me is standing to the side, half amazed at what knowledge I have managed to pick up, half bemused and terrified at the thought of one day being Dr Tina. Who, me? What a ridiculous notion. With my heart not really in it, I was afraid that I would be a half-ass doctor, knowing just enough to get by, fooling the less critical of my patients. And that's just not what I want out of life; I want to be brilliant at what I do, passionate, absorbed. Sure there are doctors who can do other things at the same time, like my hero Oliver Sacks, the great neurologist who's written about things as diverse as music and botany. But I don't have that kind of protean genius; I know that just getting to grips with the mountains of med knowledge will take up most of my efforts, leaving my other interests by the wayside.

Also, med frustrates my desire for creativity and Making a Difference. You're at the coal face, applying other people's technologies and research, with your impact being limited to the patient in front of you, basically working as an algorithm-churning machine. Yes, it is a noble and important job and satisfying in its way, too. But it's constrained. The scientist who invents a new vaccine, the politician who brings in universal health care, the teacher who shapes a class-full of young minds...that's how you multiply your impact. Yeah I realise how grandiose and naive that sounds. I know my limitations, but I want to use what I've got for the greatest effect and satisfaction.

In short, I felt trapped. Trapped by the 5 years I've already spent at uni, the $100k debt, the expectations of family, the 5 years of Bonded practice and at least 7 years of advanced training awaiting me. So I've been idly surfing for alternative lives. An English-for-foreigners teaching diploma, a correspondence course for a Grad Dip Psychology.

These worries have been sloshing around for months now, and I never thought to speak them to anyone. It's taboo. Then yesterday had a chat with Chris. A light of hope! She told me that she too has doubts about clinical med being her life's work. I'm not alone. She's interested in business, finding a niche to fulfill future healthcare needs. Now that is exciting stuff, where new ideas are possible. She wants a non-profit branch to her biz too, and suggested that I be part of that, doing some kind of travelling medico-journalism kinda thing. What a pipe dream, what perfection! It's so obvious. One of my main objections to Being a Writer (ooh la la) is that I'm crap at making up stories. But lo, there are many stories in med. As I was reminded today- we had a palliative care placement, and oh how it was lovely talking to a patient. With 10 years of cancer but still seemingly well, he told us about his love for the bush and his career as a forrester, his worldwide travel, his passion for Schubert and art. In fact he's going to Sydney tomorrow to buy a Schubert CD of the most beautiful piece ever, he says. So among my notes about his medical history of hip replacements and diabetes is a citation for Piano Sonata in B flat, D960. Have a listen (I downloaded the Lipkin one). I dunno about "best evah", but it sure is beautiful, especially the second movement. For Friday I've volunteered to be the one quizzing him about the psychospiritual stuff (what a silly term for "what do you think about dying?").

Whether or not these are impossible dreams, suddenly the trap seems less deathly tight. The inevitable bitter end - haggard repressed half-assed GP - doesn't have to be that. There's something to work towards and hope for. I'm reminded how I convinced myself to get into med in the first place and it doesn't seem quite so self-delusional- that people and their stories are pretty damn awesome.

Now for the "study and pass" bit.