Oct 27, 2010

facing my fears

I sent my thesis outline to my advisors last night. It shouldn't have been a big deal - just a sketch of my plans to get our conversation started...and yet...I could not start writing.

After reading over 200 articles on my topic, I'm a walking library on physician-patient relationships - but I am terrified to put my thoughts to paper.


Because I failed before. I received an F on a paper I did in my first year of the program during one particularly bad struggle with brain fog.

It was humiliating. I started to doubt that I belonged in the program. And for some reason it is still haunting me.

Even though...
- I graduated with distinction in my undergrad program
- Received A's in all but one course (A-) in my masters
- Managed dozens of staff, millions of dollars, and partnered on several CIHR grants.
- was accepted into two PhD programs

Why am I letting one failure in an otherwise excellent career hold me back?

Oct 20, 2010

how did i miss this one?

I recently came across this article, "the other side of the speculum" in Canadian Family Physician, written last year by a then 3rd year medical student, Brent Thoma. Under the heading of "Reflections", Thoma discusses his distain for the "horrible ritual" of the pap smear. [hint: it is not more enjoyable on the woman's side of the speculum, FYI]

In the article, Thoma describes his distain for giving pap smears; "Suffice to say, herpetic lesions, warts, yeast infections, and week-old tampons are not what get me up in the morning."

For once, I am speechless.

This was actually printed in a medical journal? I will have difficulty seeing this as a credible publication after their editorial board stood behind this juvenile, sexist rant.

I suppose to his credit, Thoma wrote a reflective letter about his article in a later edition of the journal. However despite his apology for the "use of humour", I think that the original article tells us more about Thoma's view of women and about his professionalism.

I know I would never want this man involved in my medical care.

Oct 19, 2010


Sometimes, when I have almost forgotten what it feels like to be healthy, I wake up to a good day.

Today was a GREAT day.

Shoulder pain - gone!
Migraine - none!
Fatigue - nope!
Brain fog - nope, complete clarity!

Driving downtown tonight - my ipod blaring Atomic* - I realized that if feeling this well and energetic could be bottled, I would be an addict.

It was bliss.

*Atomic by Blondie, from Eat to the Beat, 1974

Oct 16, 2010

not myself

My thesis outline is overdue and I'm stuck. The ideas are not flowing. My brain is feeling foggy again.

The pain from my shoulder is driving me insane. Nothing seems to soothe it. I can't focus on the lit review when my head hurts if it moves in any direction.

So...is this depression rearing its ugly head again? Now the days are getting shorter, its a worry for me.

I feel like I need more direction from my advisors, but I don't know how to ask for it.

If this is depression, it makes the idea of pregnancy that much more overwhelming.

Good thing for California dreaming...I'm just not feeling myself today.

Oct 13, 2010

my unwanted guest

I woke up three days ago with the most awful, stabbing pain in my upper right arm - lil' miss shoulder pain had arrived for another visit. She literally took my breath away. The back of my arm down to my elbow was numb.

I will never forget the first time she inflicted me with her presence - it was about 8:00 am, the morning of September 11, 2001. Shortly before I turned on my television and found the world changing before my eyes, she stabbed into me and twisted herself into my fibres. Since then, she comes to visit every few years, bringing days of relentless pain.

Despite setting her up on dates with Tylenol and Advil, shoulder pain is playing hard to get. She laughs at the humble analgesic's efforts to sooth and comfort her. She is a real bitch - an unwanted guest.

I want to show her the door, but she seems to have unpacked her bags and plans to stay a while.