Sunday, December 18, 2005

i'm only a first year medical student, y'know?

i have two uncles who are doctor doctors, as in not PhD. one's a dentist and the other's a urologist.

as they're both based outside malaysia, it's a huge occasion whenever they come home for chinese new year or relatives' weddings or cuz they miss the fab assam laksa at the glutton street, whatever.

and, as they're both doctors (fine, one's a dentist, but he gets a gelaran "dr.", so he's a doctor), they have to answer friends' and family queries about their health from the very moment their feet touch malaysian soil.

for instance, my cousins would get my dentist uncle's opinion about their teeth when he comes back. "does he need braces?" "is that a cavity?" "did you bring any free dental floss back?"

as for my urologist uncle, he gets all sorts of non-urinary system related questions. "is this hypertension drug legit?" "i've been having palpitations after exercise. is that normal?" "so how does aspirin work, anyway?"

now, i've only been a medical student since august. the most interesting thing i can tell you is that the reason you feel like going to the toilet after a meal is cuz of this thing called a gastrocolic reflex, though i dunno how it works.

which is a bad thing cuz the countdown says i have less than a week till my summative 2. eep.

but people think i can answer their questions already.

this morning, my sister explained that the reason she couldn't go for a midnight movie last night/this morning because she suddenly ached all over and felt nauseous after lunch and still feels a bit sore today. then, she looked at me expectantly.

like i'm supposed to say something impressive like "well that must be because you ingested a pathogen which attacks your central nervous system and is now eating up your sympathetic dorsal ganglia, thus affecting the chromaffins in your adrenal medulla. too much norepinephrine. causes constrictions of your peripheral blood vessels."


i just gave her a look of what i hoped was empathy and told her to take it easy and get some rest. it was all i could do not to ask my nurse to give my sister some paracetamol ("three times daily, after meals") and charge her RM50 for consulting me.

then, my dad came over and said...

"hey, you're a medical student aren't you?"

glad you noticed, dad.

"my scalp hurts when i touch it. what does that tell you?"


i told him that it tells me he should go consult a dermatologist.

then, i threw in that line which the behavioural science lecturers told us to never use because it communicates a lack of self confidence: "i'm just a first year medical student, i can't help you much."

which is the truth. i don't know enough to help you.

i haven't even learnt pathology yet! i can still eat banana leaf rice without worrying about weird parasites.

i haven't even developed the "medical student syndrome", a real psychological condition where medical students start diagnosing themselves as having rare diseases just because they got a rash from using a new brand of shower cream!

good grief.

when my uncles told me that having to answer medicine-related questions from friends and family will be part and parcel of life as a health professional, i had no idea it was gonna start within the first 6 months of my life as a medical student.

and seriously, maybe i should start memorising large chunks of impressive medical jargon, screw what we learnt in behavioural science, and practice spewing them out without so much of a blink of an eye...just to give my loved ones what they want: an affirmation that their worst fears are true.

then maybe they'd stop asking me questions which serve no purpose but to remind me that i have a long way ahead of me before i join the ranks of my two uncles. sigh.

*note: that whole central nervous system and peripheral whatnot in blue is crap, btw. i'm only a first year medical student, y'know?

lishun at 11:24 AM