Thursday, June 19, 2008


So my brilliant idea of cramweek, aka insantorium, was simply this: a blog about learning. One thing that I was procrastinating about leading up to these Exams O' Doom was how to do learn more efficiently and I came across heaps of different approaches - photoreading, memory pegs, holistic learning, etc, but there was no one resource collating all this. There are blogs for students, but I'd like to focus on the principles of learning and not crap like "sleep before the exam" (pshaw! overrated!). Interesting to me at least, and I'd hope to make it practical.

Will it actually happen? Perhaps. I'll check it out more carefully, see what's already in the field. Been reading up how to monetise blogs as well, and if I do venture out and do this, I want to start if off properly...and that involves learning about SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and blog techie stuff (CSS and server management crapola) and marketing and all that.

I've recently realised that if I ever do write a book, it'd probably be non-fiction as, alack, I cannot plot and my visual imagination is pretty crap. This is a potential topic. And I've decided that writing a book is one of my life's goals. It doesn't even have to be published. I just want to have the satisfaction. That's the liberating thing about non-fic - it's not a matter of talent. Beyond being able to string sentences together and structuring things, which I believe I can do, it's just perseverance and discipline and finding the right questions to answer.

Damn it's uncomfortable to air ambitions in public, even with, what, 2 readers? This is idle speculation at this stage.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

66.66% done!

Today I...
  • Had 3 hours sleep before my exam
  • Sat one of my first OSCAs where I had to actually TALK to PEOPLE which I was scared about because a) I have not talked to humans for like a whole week and b) my sex counselling video was a total disaster and c) hello I'm an INTP! I hate people! hehe
  • Was so nervous at some points I wanted to spew my Weetbix
  • Counselled a fake patient about their herpes test results. I am in love with my tutor right now, because she STRONGLY HINTED that Breaking Bad News would be on the exam, so I actually looked up how to do it and had a framework for what to talk about and was practising "sorry, I'm afraid the HIV test is positive" last night in fact (aloud to myself). It went better than I thought it would. Was grinning all the way out, probably just the adrenaline. But it was like....maybe I'm not actually not as inept as I'd thought. I can do this stuff. I can do people. I listened reflectively! I empathised! And it didn't feel too fake!
  • Completely blanked on how tiredness would relate to indigestion. Well actually the question was, "how would this change your thinking?" but I was too stuck on reflux to expand to cancer and systemic diseases and haemorrhage. STUPID!
  • Had to scurry from the main exam room to the counselling rooms twice. Felt so sorry for the year manager because it's a huge logistics nightmare..they had to shuffle students up and down the corridoor like ten times, and sometimes people were too dumb to realise it was their turn, or went over time. There were walkie talkies involved and they had to co-ordinate timing and stuff.
  • Took lollies from a stranger
  • Took free tea
  • Got into a car with an acquaintance on a whim, cos he asked if we wanted to go to lunch. The food was semi ok though we did have "what meat is this?" *taste* "I still can't tell" issues, but it was fun talking to people I don't know well.
  • Told a guy he reminded me of my seedy uncle. hahahaaha he so does. He's our The Todd...a wannabe beefcake, real Alpha Macho "I like beer and cars and guys who don't are faggots" type. So closeted. Hilarious though. He smokes! We just did lung cancer, emphysema, ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION, diabetes and osteoporosis, and he smokes!
  • Had to amuse myself on blank OSCA stations. I did half a sudoku and some word thing, but that somehow made me more stressed when I couldn't think of a three-letter colour ending in e, so gave up. Then I made a paper plane which I really wanted to fly, but that would probably be against the rules or something. So lots of the time I sat with my eyes closed and played air piano. That was calming. Also this breathing technique I learned from Mind Performance take deep tummy breaths in for 3 counts, hold for 3, out for 3. Stops the hyperventilation.
  • Surprised myself at being slightly disappointed that this guy I know has a girlfriend. I never thought of him as potential! Not that he's that attractive, he's just the nerdy semi-weird but nice type I'll probably end up with.
  • Wondered if the faculty made the questions less demanding this year because they don't want to fail anyone since they're changing the curriculum next year. They're dropping the Regional Rotation would you believe?! This is "We Need YOU to be a rural GP!" Newie we're talking about! And it's entirely for logistics not educational rationale. What a shame. The clinical stuff is, I hope, what will make us think of ourselves as Doctors to Be for the first time, and prepare us more for the real world than this "sit in a room for a week and cram" bit. Shame on you, Newie! This is partly a result of government policy I think. Making new places in med school sells well politically - "look, new doctors on the production line = totally the solution to the shortage!" - but there's the small matter of the hospital system accommodating for the extra training that we wide-eyed wet-behind-the-ears types need. And seriously? GP community placements won't cut it.
  • Practically danced out of the exam. Such a weight off my chest. The written parts were ok, and regardless, having the two OSCAs out of the way means this hell is almost over.
  • Asked someone how they coped with failing last year. I'm surprised at who fails. Some of them are obvious slacker "I accidentally got into medicine" types, but then there are also the really studious and serious Malaysians, as well as the outgoing and at least verbally impressive types who teach anatomy and stuff.
Ahhh. Such a turnaround from last week. Some of the conclusions I drew then are still true, but I'm on less of an emotional hair trigger now. There is hope. There is life beyond Wednesday. This career is not a trap.

Holyfuckingshit, if I pass these exams, I am HALF A DOCTOR. Or at least half an intern. Dr T-Dizzle. Snort.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


A portrait of a nervous breakdown. In the past week, I....
  • Attempted to cram: dermatology, ophthalmology, diabetes, endocrinology, hepatology, nephrology, orthopaedics, immunology, infectious diseases, cardiology, neurology, respirology, rheumatology
  • Burst into tears multiple times, including weeping at the piano
  • Seriously contemplated skipping the joint and running away to do volunteer English teaching in South America, to Find Myself and fucking rebel for the point of wondering how I can get a debit card and what kind of camping gear I need
  • Stayed up til 6-7am
  • Studied in bed, in the bathroom, in the kitchen, on the dining table
  • Did not do any exercise beyond going downstairs for food
  • Read about 1000000 pages of notes and realised just how many lectures I napped in...the handwriting would start off impeccable and then deteriorate to scribbles by the end, heh
  • Relived some of my and Ru's intra-lecture exchanges via our margin graffiti
  • Thought about what I wish I'd told my first-year self: 1) from the beginning approach med as if you were gearing up for the physician's exam, to be a Real Doctor...rather than studenty "I just wanna know enough to pass" or "this isn't on the curriculum" attitude, 2) COLOURFUL PENS and highlighters make a world of difference to how much you feel like studying....typed notes in table format are boring, 3) reading up BEFORE the week starts makes you feel smart and feeling smart makes you study more and studying more actually makes you smarter.
  • Drank a LOT of Irish Breakfast, English Afternoon and Earl Grey tea
  • Obviously peed a lot
  • Wondered if I should take the USMLE boards just to solidify my knowledge in the basic sciences
  • Learned that apparently bee venom is good for fatigue in MS
  • Wore the same clothes for about 4 days straight
  • Undressed to go to shower only to realise that my mum had set the house alarm and had to run downstairs, redressing on the way, to turn it off
  • Practicised that Granados Oriental piece a bazillion times. Still got to do the middle bit, but am getting pretty good at the first bit except for that fiddly trill
  • Did not leave the house for an entire week
  • Drank about 12 boxes of lactose free chocolate milk (not that I'm intolerant, it was just free at the GP convention)
  • Hit my head against desk
  • Snapped at my mother
  • Talked to myself, a lot
  • Ate a lot of mandarins and bagels
  • Wondered if Jerry blogging was a three-year cry for help
  • Invented retarded mnemonics like "quatre femmes sit on your lap doing high kicks" (quadriceps, femoral nerve, anterior thigh, extension) (ok, I'm actually proud of that one. the stupid ones are the ones that I make up and then promptly forget)
  • Realised that I hate medicine and the only things stopping me from ditching it are 1) debt - this bonded thing is a MORTGAGE ON MY SOUL, 2) all these textbooks going to waste, 3) my grandma would be really sad
  • Realised I actually enjoy some of medicine and want to be good at it and in my dream "running away to S. America" scenario I'd bring my OHCM
  • Discovered that I like pathology (though not the microscope aspects, the mechanisms) and microbiology (cos bugs have identities) and immunology (very logical, fits warfare metaphors well). I hate rote rote rote learning anatomy and drug names
  • Went outside at 5am, thought about jumping in the pool with my pyjamas on
  • Considered my extra-academic marketable skills and came up with...diddly squat. Well I can type, write ok, speak French halfarsedly.
  • Prayed to, and railed at, god...who, by the way, hates humanity, going by some of the horrendous diseases I've seen
  • Did nothing but eat, drink, poo, pee and study for days on end
  • Told myself I'm a fucking idiot because I'm 22 and all I've done is study and I'm going to fail at that which means I fail at life
  • Realised that failure could be liberating and motivating and a Life Experience because I've had it all my way til now...a test of character
  • Napped on the floor of my study
  • Decided I need a life: closer friends, diverse interests, a job, LOVE SWEET LOVIN'
  • But decided I'm not really ready for the latter til I'm totally happy with who I am, which is not yet
  • Realised that I have never strayed from the path of least resistance in my life -- never made an autonomous choice, never acted against the destiny set out by my milieu (school, uni, make money, consume)
  • Was cheered by reading silly forum posts on the internet
  • Helped a friend do her job application letter
  • Wondered, in the darkest depths of 5am self-pity, who I could call for Listen&Support at such an insane hour...but as always, kept myself to myself
  • Got really excited about a potential new blogging project and procrastinated for a bit drafting up ideas and posts and thought about how I could even maybe turn it into a book
  • Woke up the next day and reconsidered it and thought it's probably stupid
  • Wrote half a post about how my family is totally fucked - >80% divorce rate, some multiple. Also realised I have no blood aunts! Well only one, but she's estranged.
  • Tried to meditate
  • Realised that this is all bloody self-indulgent and melodramatic because I have had it so damn easy: parents and grandparents who love me, money, education, health, opportunity...a giant big fat cushion of privilege...not that it was much comfort at the time
  • Realised that one day I'd look back and laugh in disdain at myself for thinking that THIS was stress
  • Was told by my grandma that according to astrology this year is meant to be a good one for me....hahahahaahahahaha right.
Phew. Catharsis.