Friday, October 23, 2009

The Benefits of Cigarettes

The conversation began benignly enough: a discussion with my roommates of life cycle assessments (LCA) and how disposable coffee cups may or may not be better than re-usable mugs. It did not take long before the conversation went from the limitations of LCA to the much murkier territory of whether or not people will care enough to make changes before resource depletion forces us into a nasty evolutionary conundrum.

Why do so many conversations about environmental issues descend into philosophical arguments over human nature??

At that point it looked as if we were at an impasse - while I argued that people and society can make changes, I appeared outflanked by the cynical routine of "no way man, people just don't give a damn about anything except instant gratification". Mind you, this was a conversation among three medical students - so an interesting insight into potential predispositions towards patients. One (me) sucker thinking the reality TV junkies just might start exercising and the other thinking the lady with a sickle cell crisis is really looking for a morphine fix...

I thought about this for a moment and came up with a workable counter argument. I pointed out that smoking cigarettes was once commonplace: less than 30 years ago people smoked at work, in airplanes, at home in front of children - everyone smoked everywhere! If you had told people back then that there would be a time when you couldn't smoke inside buildings or even in bars(!) they would have thought you were crazy and that it would never happen... yet it did. And it happened because society as a whole recognized the inherit health risks from smoking and judged their lungs and wellbeing to be of greater value than convenience and gratification.

Unexpectedly, this point was granted and one more human realized that there is the possibility that things can change for the better...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Watching House as a med student

I watched my first episode of House (Season 5 - Episode 22 "House Divided") as a medical student. I think it was good timing being after midterms, because now I know just enough to catch some of the medical conversations, but not nearly enough to know what the hell is going on. It felt like trying to watch a film in a foreign language with only a year completed...The odd part was that there were two languages that I have very limited knowledge of presented in this episode: American Sign Language and, er, Medicalese...
In a way, it was more frustrating to watch the show because as the episode progressed I tried to figure out why the symptoms presented as they did:

Why can the deaf kid feel the boombox on his chest but not his arm? -- neuropathy is such a general answer!
They said Vagus and Phrenic nerve! And even mentioned hiccups with the phrenic! Yay thorax!
Eosinophilic something disease... I remember eosinophils...(meanwhile I miss 5 more lines of dialouge)

I soon realized there was no way I'd be able to do this.. this lead to my frustrated thoughts interfering with my ability to listen to the episode - which was a very good one... even the hallucination of dead cutthroat bitch was well done.
It was good to see myself progressing in my medicalese... and it gave me a bit of a better appreciation of the amount of work it will take to become truly fluent. Same goes for ASL.