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Come rain, come down.... - Nobody wears a white coat any more... — LiveJournal
...a tribute to becoming a doctor.
Come rain, come down....
Welcome to erichowens, feldspaar, and bradtastic, and well-met.

Today was my last day of Cardiology. I did nothing, as usual, but I got to listen in on a very interesting discussion. The woman in question did her PhD thesis on the role of women in the ?Mexican Revolution? between 1812-1818 (History people, please correct me) and talked about the fighters, the poisoned-tortilla-sellers, and the over 100 women who played a documented role in the combat. Her partner has a masters in something equally interesting. It started with them reading Margaret Truman's novels for fun and led to me listening as they and Dr. O talked about how they wished they could write, but didn't have the creative gift - the ability, as Dr. O said, to think outside the box.

It was a window into another world, O Best Beloved. They've tried keeping daily writing journals and found them to be dry, pedantic, and fact-oriented. They keep journals when they go on trips; the journals consist of "Drove down I-79 today. Stayed at SnuggleBear Motel." I am willing to put forth the theory, O Best Beloved, that neither the doctor nor either of these eclectic and fascinating women has stopped after the rain to stare at a leaf fallen onto the sidewalk, and the wet-dry pattern when it is disturbed. I wonder if it has even occurred to them that such an inspection is possible. To me, it is necessary almost, and I have been late by several minutes at times when I was stopped by the sun on a spider's web in the early morning.
My mother is a woman who does not consider herself a writer, but she writes. I am proud of her for that. I am even more proud because when she does write she avoids the needless pedanticism (is pedanticism a word? It sounds lovely) of recounting unimportant details and she tells a story. When my mother writes, although she does not consider herself a writer, she has the capability to shut up and tell the story. This capability is adjucated by the fact that creativity and verbal skills run in my family for many generations, and that certainly doesn't hurt, but what really makes my mother's writing worth reading is her narrative, her soul as it reflects itself onto paper.
My travel journals are punctuated with sketches (I am not very good, O Best Beloved, but if anyone is interested I will perhaps scan one or two in) of things, word-pictures of the people I see, pressed leaves and flowers, tickets and postcards; pages are dated occasionally but more often I forget to do even that. The facts of the journey I remember; some pedantic bit of my mind dutifully records them, discarding bits at whim. The feelings, though, are what I must be able to recapture later, and that is what I write down.

We could all do with fewer facts and more feelings sometimes, O Best Beloved. Perhaps I am being cynical, as I sit at my computer with a book of questions beside me, being quizzed on my ability to recall and synthesize those facts. I will depend on them, when I am a doctor, when this metamorphosis from naïvete to competence is complete. I will need those facts. But there is another part of being a doctor, and another part of being a human being.
I don't recall which day it was, now, when my preceptor closed his chart and looked at me very solemnly after I had just closed my lips around the last syllable of a question that began "Don't the studies show..." It was a doctor whose full attention I rarely got, and I was pinned down at that moment by the gaze.
"You can do studies and write programs that pretend to diagnose and treat a patient without ever having a human touch them," he said to me. "We have a computer program in this office that looks at the diagnoses a patient has and recommends medications." He drew up the chart for a patient we'd seen that day and adjusted the medications for; I stared at a screen full of red bars across prescriptions, making suggestions, giving warnings. At the top there was a list of things that the computer thought the patient should be on. I looked them up, while he went to see to another person. When he came back, he sat down again.
"I don't understand," I said. "Why is the computer trying to give drug X? It won't help in his situation, and it's likely to give him more problems."
Because, he said. studies show that in his condition, drug X statistically benefits the majority of patients. And the computer doesn't know him. He grew solemn once more, this man who was too busy for poetry, who answered my questions quickly, brusquely, who scoffed at the outdated information in a year-old review book and quoted clinical trials at me to back up his words; he took his time responding. "That is the art of medicine, Nicole," he said quietly. "That is why doctors will never be replaced by computers. We have the ability to look at a patient and see the person behind the list of problems, to put things together and figure out what's best for each person, not just what to do for each diagnosis. There is a science to medicine, and that science can be done by any lab, anyone who wants to study it; but there is an art as well, and that's what you're here to learn."

I could lose myself forever in the infinite beauty of a raindrop crawling from cloud to ground, take the time to savour the flow of sap from branch to leaf, appreciate the infinite echoes of a single heartbeat. And perhaps, sometimes, I will continue to be a little bit late.

now feeling:: thoughtful introspective

14 whispers echo . o O ( ... ) O o . whisper a word
From: silmaril Date: March 24th, 2004 12:06 pm (UTC) (etched in stone)
The feelings, though, are what I must be able to recapture later, and that is what I write down.

I try to do that, too... Having LJ has made me realize in one sense how fleeting life is. There's that moment when the sun is up, the wind is soft and warm, and you're sitting on a sunwarmed sidewalk doing embroidery while nearby a friend is working on his car's brakepads and you're out there to keep him company but now are realizing that this is one of those very few perfect spring days and yet three days from now you will forget it---and that'll be a tragedy.

So you should write it down.

I'm only sorry that I don't get to write as many of the beautiful moments that I come across---and that there is a line between making time for writing what you live and making time for living itself---but still, your words are words to live by.
ayradyss From: ayradyss Date: March 24th, 2004 01:11 pm (UTC) (etched in stone)
What I've learned sometimes is that just thinking about writing something down, for me, makes it crystallize in my mind. It's like the effort of putting words to the image makes it more memorable. All those little scenes that shuffle into your mind.

Pretty flowers in your icon, what are they?
From: silmaril Date: March 24th, 2004 01:20 pm (UTC) (etched in stone)
Corn speedwell, or Persian speedwell, or bird's eye---veronica persica. They are really tiny. That blossom in the icon would be smaller than the diameter of a US dime.

Here's the story of how I figured out their name after years of admiring them without knowing what they were.

Sometimes thinking about writing works for me too---that's how I remember that car fix day---but I'm afraid, more often, it doesn't.

Mind if I link to this entry?
ayradyss From: ayradyss Date: March 24th, 2004 01:42 pm (UTC) (etched in stone)
Link away. I'm flattered.

I'm going to have to find some. They look kind of like alpine forget-me-nots, only forget-me-nots have 5 petals, I think.
From: silmaril Date: March 25th, 2004 08:07 am (UTC) (etched in stone)
Where do you live? They are pretty prevalent in the East Coast (and actually pretty prevalent around the world) but I don't know if they grow more to the north of here, forex.
ayradyss From: ayradyss Date: March 25th, 2004 01:49 pm (UTC) (etched in stone)
I live in NE Indiana, and I don't get out much. :)
coanteen From: coanteen Date: March 24th, 2004 02:27 pm (UTC) (etched in stone)
beautiful entry.
*sigh* i used to write. i have some poetry about. but i haven't done any real writing since med school, and that's a shame. it's not even the lack of time, it's just so foreign to me now. all i write are patient histories, the more concise the better.

sometimes i have monologues running through my head, and they're interesting. but always gone or somehow diminished when i try to write them down.
ayradyss From: ayradyss Date: March 24th, 2004 05:18 pm (UTC) (etched in stone)
I wrote volumes of poetry and short stories before I went to med school...it's dropped off, and I feel the lack of it too.
I think maybe when we're no longer studying our lives away and driven to do things to meet someone else's standards, maybe it'll get a little better.
turnberryknkn From: turnberryknkn Date: March 24th, 2004 05:42 pm (UTC) (etched in stone)
(nods nods)

I guess for me it's a little different: a long time ago, I used to read the stories written by others of the adventures they had as part of certain Usenet newsgroups, stories in which they brought alive both the adventures themselves and the unique personalities that were a part of them. Their stories brought alive a whole world that I was able to live vicariously through their stories.

I was supremely fortunate enough to have been able to take a sabbatical from the relentless pace of medicine and join the stories myself; and discover in person all the laughter that the stories had tried to capture. So now I do the same: write stories for others, capture happy moments on paper; to do in return what others once did for me.

I guess for me, I've never really felt the need to write a diary for myself; I've never really felt the need to capture memories on paper that were safely held within my head. The act of writing, for me, has always been about writing for others.

Each to their own. :-)
ayradyss From: ayradyss Date: March 24th, 2004 07:41 pm (UTC) (etched in stone)
This is totally unrelated to your comment, which was interesting and informative, and totally related to the fact that you're in Ann Arbor. :)

Do you know anything about FP residencies up there?
turnberryknkn From: turnberryknkn Date: March 25th, 2004 03:31 am (UTC) (etched in stone)
Some, yes --what are you interested in knowing?
ayradyss From: ayradyss Date: March 25th, 2004 05:24 am (UTC) (etched in stone)
I'm pretty sure I want to go to residency here in FW, but I don't want to totally block out all options, so I'm kind of eyeing NW Ohio and south-central/SE Michigan.
At least around here people seem to know a little about the reputations of the various programs. Ann Arbor and most of the southern MI residencies are probably out - I want a program without a competing OB-GYN residency - but have you heard anything about the quality of the program at Kalamazoo?
feathered From: feathered Date: March 24th, 2004 08:16 pm (UTC) (etched in stone)
Actually 1810-8121 (these are the dates I learned, and I checked my book to be sure they were accurate) was the war for independance from Spain, not what they usually call the Revolution at all. What's called the Revolution took place from 1910-1920, and was more of an internal struggle. It's the one that had Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata, and I like their names so it's the one I remember. Either you got the name or the dates wrong, I'm not sure.

I liked this post a lot.
ayradyss From: ayradyss Date: March 25th, 2004 05:26 am (UTC) (etched in stone)
It's the War for Independence, then, I think. She mentioned Spanish soldiers :)

Thanks, Clarabear...sorry I missed you last night, I must've just gone to bed.
14 whispers echo . o O ( ... ) O o . whisper a word