No joke – med life is hard.
And any Muggle would be very tempted to ask “why choose it and put your life in more distress than is humanely handle-able?”
Well, for some of us, this is simply a matter of parental choice that breaks no arguments. But for those (like me) who chose the constant adrenaline rush, there’s an unimaginable thrill in saving a life.
Medicine is no easy profession, it’s the hardest of them all. But there is no holier job to do than to save a life. Each day, to let fresh breath to a man dying of suffocation, to give a heartbeat to someone who flat-lined, to hear a newborn cry in it’s mother’s arms, gives intoxicating happiness; it is our rejoice.
As a matter of fact however, I haven’t yet saved a single life. For two years, I haven’t made a House M.D. diagnosis on a proper live patient or performed some miraculous life-saving emergency Code Black procedure. Honestly, I have just memorized the courses and extents of more nerves and blood vessels than I can count and learnt hundreds of physiological and pathological phenomenon, but I haven’t yet used them anywhere- all to no avail. And I am sure it’s the same for almost all second year medical students.
So sometimes, it starts to get frustrating when it feels useless and pretty stupid to study all these books, memorize thousands of terms, spend countless hours learning the anatomy of abdomen without seeing the chance of putting a scalpel on one any time soon, to know exactly what gait a person with cerebellar ataxia would have but not having one such patient walk into my fantasy clinic.
To me, the biggest anguish of a second year medical student lies in not being given the chance to be the angel that wards off death, considered skillful enough to use the magical healing powers in his hand, and deemed competent enough to at least be allowed to call himself a doctor- the chosen one.
In these times, I ask myself, “All this for passing these never-ending exams?” And there’s this voice that resonates in the cranial cavity in response: “For more to come, for the thrill of it”. And there is no greater satisfaction than in knowing the meaning of these nine words for they hold so much depth that I can’t possible explain however-much I widen their breadth. But to give you a path to make the anguish easier on you, I shall try for your sake.
Imagine reading a fantasy novel, giving in to it, and letting it take you into a parallel universe where you are the characters of that book and you can “feel what they feel”. Very similarly, if you read a medical textbook like it’s the story of you, you will enter an alternate dimension deep within your soul. A new aura of learning surrounds you, engulfs you. Your reading of the book is no longer a daydream, it is knowledge of self.
When reading a medical textbook, you are exploring the human body – God’s most complex creation – and making friends with yourself. You make friends with new anatomies. You make friends with the beauties you see under the microscope. You know that it’s not just some patient you are going to see years later; it’s you, here and now. You can almost glimpse the soul of the person who’s body you are doing some spotting or dissection on. You familiarize yourself with your liver, you get to know what your hepatocytes look like, what they do. You learn how your body moves, how you talk, how you think all this genius stuff. And the best part is that you know that you are not just making new concepts, that its not just clustered words out of a textbook in your head, its beautiful new synaptic connections and neural pathways, its birth to new chemicals. You can see the marvel of this creation and you can see in yourself every fragment of it. And when this happens, you feel this sense of belonging, as a wave of serotonin washes over you.
Medicine is not all about curing dying people. Sometimes, it has to be about looking into a mirror and learning what no piece of glass or criticism could ever teach you. Sometimes it is a way to your salvation. Sometimes it is the beginning of a new you, the learned you who knows itself. Sometimes the prospect of doing what you are best at and excited for must wait for the sake of learning mankind’s ultimate lesson: patience. And sometimes for becoming the excellent you must first learn what is waiting out there for us all to be learnt- humility.
Written by: Khair ul Barayya
Assistant Director and Editor Publications support division director
We as medical students go through a lot, A LOT of stuff. Veterans is an initiative, taken by IFMSA Pakistan Publications support division, to make all the medical students realize that they are not alone and to share experiences that may help someone. If you think your experience can help someone, don’t wait a second, pen it down and send it to us on Publications.firstname.lastname@example.org because every one of us is worthy of being helped and almost of all of us need it at sometime. Share before it’s too late for someone.