And Then I Realised I’m Basically Unrobbable…

So the other day I was looking for my wallet
I couldn’t find it and thought ‘Hey, maybe someone stole it’.
A few days earlier I put it in my bag while riding the bus
and this dodgy looking fellow saw me do it and I think that he must
have picked it out when I had my back turned
to be fair it was my own fault as I really should’ve learned
to observe better security concerning my personal possessions
but let’s move on – that isn’t today’s lesson.

See at first I was upset about it, as most people would be,
then I paused to think about it carefully
and I just couldn’t see why it should be
a concern that my wallet had been taken from me.

First off, I’m a medical student so I don’t have any cash
and the little I do I always make sure to stash
in my pockets so the balance remains steady there,
likewise my cards for ATMs, driving and Medicare.
Even the wallet itself was about ten years old
riddled with holes, starting to culture mould
and in the end, when all’s said and done,
I can’t help but feel the pick-pocket’s the one
who got the real bum end of this deal
I mean, what did he actually manage to steal?

But it got me asking myself on a bigger scale
was it just luck that this robbery failed?
And I’m lead to think maybe it’s not
if I tally up all the tangible possessions I’ve got
the entire lot comes to less than a grand
and understand that most of that’s rather bland
textbooks on obscure points of medicine or pharmacology
and not even I’m nerdy enough to mourn losing texts on biology.

Thus my conclusion that for this brief moment in time
perhaps I’m inadvertently immune to this common crime.
Now all I have to worry about is assault, fraud, kidnaps,
murders, mugging, drugging and other such mishaps 🙂

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Multi-Tasking in Lectures

The lights go off, we all sit down
the lecturer takes a moment to walk around.

I’m sitting in a lecture on urogenital development,
the guy in front of me is sleeping – clearly doesn’t think it’s relevant.
The professor’s explaining something about the meta-nephros,
I try to recall if I’ve heard it all before but still I’m at a loss.

The student to my right’s playing a game on his new i-phone.
The girl behind me complains about someone she once knew, in a whiny tone.
The lecturer says ‘penis’ and an idiot somewhere laughs.
Been seated long enough for DVTs so I slowly flex my calf.

Half the class tote Apple Macs for no apparent reason.
My feet are freezing cold ‘cos air conditioning knows no season.
Some guy runs out the lecture hall ‘cos he just got a text.
I’m starting to get bored and wonder which class I have next…

Comparison: Homeless People Vs. Med Students

Rather than wasting this blog just writing rubbish
I’ve decided to step up the quality of the things that I publish
so today I’m going to answer a question plaguing us all:
Do homeless people eat better than those at medical school?

I volunteer at a homeless shelter so that’s my control group.
They don’t eat great but they’re offered things like Vegemite scrolls, soup,
sandwiches, tea, coffee, meat and veg for lunch
and once a week on a Sunday even a cooked brunch.

Lets compare that to some of my colleagues at uni.
I know a girl who, after some thought, decided to be
a vegetarian. I assumed it was a condition of her religion
but it turned out she just can’t afford meat and uni so that was her decision.

I’ll admit they’re not statistically significant samples
but I’m sure you can extrapolate from these two examples.
I bet it could be proved with the help of linear regression.
I wonder if anyone’s ever considered it as a research question?

Review: One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (Ken Kesey)

After the success of my first book review
I’ve decided now’s time for number two.
This time it’s something on a quasi-medical theme
one which comments on the nature of conformity and power as seen
throught the lense of psychiatric care and remnants of the asylum system
an area which most doctors try to avoid based on conventional wisdom.

First a little about the author – Ken Kesey-
he graduated UO in 1957 then says he
became an orderly at a veterans hospital in Menlo Park
which along with MKULTRA gave him the creative spark
to complete the manuscript for a novel which would go on to drive
the creation of a succesful play in ’63 and a movie in ’75.

The story’s set on a psych ward run like a Stalinist state
where the head nurse uses her authority to insistently manipulate
her powerless patients and cowed staff to create a
culture which serves to magnify and inflate her
claims of beneficience to suppress patient rights
while maintaining ward-wide obedience at cult-like heights.

Into this mix comes the protagonist, McMurphy.
Upon entering the nurse’s tightly controlled turf he
starts encouraging inmates to take their lives into their own hands,
become empowered, address the future and make plans.
This modus operandi puts him in direct defiance
of the nurse’s strategy of tearing patients down to ensure their compliance.

The passive-aggressive conflict which subsequently results
sees the two threatening and charming each others allies and trading insults.
The battle of wills escalates as the book goes on,
with every freedom won by the patients receiving increasingly strong
retaliation and counter-measures until finally both reap the whirlwind they sowed
the nurse is choked ‘til she loses her larynx and costs McMurphy his frontal lobe.

There’s two main readings (though really they’re one and the same).
The monolithic institution vs the individual portrayed again and again
Indians and the government, mentally ill vs the asylum, man against society, but all across this range
the process never really alters, it’s only the names that change.
Because even if the individual wins a while it never lasts too long
they always slip, always lose, for the collective is just too strong.

The second reading’s just a more superficial version of the first:
the gross imbalance of power with which psychiatry is inherently cursed.
The implication is that the head nurse with her oppressive punitive measures
is just the natural consequence of attitudes that the system treasures.
The outlook of psychiatry in the ‘50s and society as a whole
meant they would always need someone like her to step into such a role.

Obviously this story paints a pretty grim portrait.
In the last 50 years have we improved this poor state?
Having worked in a psych hospital here for a year
I can only answer yes, but still I fear
modern medicine’s left psychiatry far behind
with a different paradigm being applied to the theory of mind.

There are various other themes to be seen
but I take the fact I’ve reached 500 words to mean
it’s time to wrap this up and get back to reading medical stuff
so it looks like this review’ll just have to pass as good enough.

They banned these the year before I started work (though drugs made them obsolete long before then).

One component of an old-school ECT machine at our hospital's museum.

Buzz

This post is born purely out of procrastination,
a sign that I’ve succumbed to the temptation
to abandon my essay writing activities
and instead indulge my less productive proclivities
such as writing inane, convoluted blog posts in rhyme.
I had a better post planned but at this time I’m
personally inclined to write about a topic that’s been on my mind
even though it’s probably less interesting than what you’d otherwise find
if I’d stuck to my original intention but as I previously mentioned
I’m writing a long pointless essay on ethics and I’d like to make a contention
that contrary to what my lecturer would like me to believe,
the thing that I think, what’s currently bothering me
is that try as I might I can’t help but perceive
that’s it’s less about ethics than trendy vocabulary.

Now, I have no problem with writing, as you can see,
I could write and write until my hands bleed if need be
but I suspect that those with a point and an ethical mind
will ultimately end up been left far behind
if they fail to tap the sociology marker’s real goldmine
of high BWPL (that’s buzzwords per line).
Fortunately, it’s no issue, with my word making up ability,
ie, this gem: ethnodiscomambubinility
(you could almost believe it’s a real word, right?
No? Well, cut me some slack, I have been up studying all night)

But my point (if I can really be said to have one at all)
is that even though there’s certainly a call
for ethical issues and written expression to get a
more in-depth treatment so tommorow’s doctors communicate better
(preferably, but not necessarily, in rhyming stanzas)
I still have to wonder, is this really our best answer?