“Good morning, it’s Gregory the surgical SHO. You bleeped – how can I help?”
To contact a doctor overnight, you generally paged them, and I had a well-rehearsed patter when replying. The delivery was slightly too jaunty for 2AM on a Saturday morning, but there were worse images to project than eccentric enthusiasm.
“Hello, it’s Sabine the sister on ward eight. Can you review Mr. Amir? I think his breathing has gotten worse.”
My heart sank. I was on call, and although Mr. Amir wasn’t under my team when I was working normal shifts, I knew him by reputation. Metastatic colorectal carcinoma, resection was unsuccessful, leaving him with both a poor prognosis and a major operation to try and recover from. I had heard his team talking about him with little hope – the best case scenario would be he would recover from our forlorn attempts to help him and could go home with palliative treatment. The worst case would be that he would die in hospital. I knew he wasn’t doing well: recurrent chest infections, multiple courses of antibiotics – ineffective, poor wound healing, bedbound.
“Of course. Is there a purple form?” Continue reading “Dying in hospital”
When I applied to medical school, I had to write a personal statement: selling how exceptional my achievements were, what wonderful personal qualities I had, and my noble motivations for wanting to be a doctor. The last of these is the most embarrassing in retrospect:
I want to study medicine because of a desire I have to help others, and so the chance of spending a career doing something worthwhile I cannot resist. Of course, Doctors [sic] don’t have a monopoly on altruism, but I believe the attributes I have lend themselves best to medicine, as opposed to all the work I could do instead.
These “I like science and I want to help people” sentiments are common in budding doctors: when I recite this bit of my personal statement in a talk (generally as a self-flagellating opening gambit) I get a mix of laughs and groans of recognition – most wrote something similar. The impression I get from those who have to read this juvenalia is the “I like science and I want to help people” wannabe doctor is regarded akin to a child zooming around on their bike with stabilizers – an endearing work in progress. As they became seasoned in the blood sweat and tears of clinical practice, the vainglorious naivete will transform into a more grizzled, realistic, humane compassion. Less dying nobly, more living humbly; less JD, and more Perry Cox.
I still have a long way to go. Continue reading “Saving the World, and Healing the Sick”
“Hi, single to the hospital, please.”
“You’re not ill, are ya?” The bus driver teased.
“No-no, I’m just training there.”
He let her go with a laugh and she walked up the aisle of the bus. The white tunic with blue trim poking out from under her coat made me guess student nurse. I was next in the queue; the driver spared me the same joke when I asked for the same ticket. Continue reading “Off duty”
I am now a doctor. The result that I passed my finals came on Friday, and the declaration happened Sunday afternoon. I start work as the most junior of junior doctors – a Foundation Year 1 – at the end of July in Milton Keynes. So now you know where to avoid if you get sick in August.
Traditionally (at least in the ‘States) students have a valedictory address at the end of their course, given by the top-ranked student of the year. This is a less auspicious farewell: I am a long way down any order of merit you care to name, and medical school has been a struggle. Things did get better in my final year, but the last six years haven’t been some Bildungsroman of how I transformed from spotty student to modern medical professional.
I’m still scared I’m not good enough. From what I haven’t done (at least, not on a non-plastic patient), from what I don’t know, to when I haven’t listened, there are fertile grounds for doubts. I find my mind keeps racing from these defects to hypothetical disaster. Although the medical profession is sane enough to carefully circumscribe the responsibility of junior doctors like me, this is still much more than I ever had as a student, and the excuses (“sorry, just a student, I’ll go and get a doctor”; “I can learn that later, I’m not qualified yet”) are gone. I feel like I am playing catch-up to the doctor I want to be, and I haven’t even started. Continue reading “Valediction”
I was another one of those who got no answer, despite my best efforts. If anything, my life was marginally less numinous than usual: nothing resembling spiritual longing, my life was slightly more fraught and disappointing than usual during the ‘prayer experiment’ (although nothing dramatic).
You can probably guess what I’m going to take from this based on my earlier posts: a negative answer is good (further) evidence for Atheism, as I’m pretty confident I behaved in a manner such that God (if he was really there) would get in touch. Yet he hasn’t. Continue reading “Atheist prayer experiment: Conclusion”
We’ve seen so far that Mawson’s recommendation that atheists should pray is along the right lines: so long as you don’t think prayer is too likely to lead to self delusion, and the costs for the added information are smaller than the benefits, it seems a good idea to pray. It also seems that negative results are valuable: if Atheist prays and gets no answer, that is further evidence their atheism is correct. Here’s another question: should Atheist hope there really is a God after all?
Given what we’ve said above, it seems atheist should hope to be made aware of god if he exists. Believing the right thing about God’s existence is likely a good thing ‘either way’, and particularly good if God does exist. Yet whether atheist should hope God exists is slightly different: should atheist think that a world with god is somehow richer or more valuable than one without god – and, if so, is it worth hoping that is what really obtains, even if the evidence speaks against it? Continue reading “Atheist prayer experiment, week 5: Should you hope there is a god?”
Nothing much happened this week. So, instead, lets talk about divine hiddenness:
It is implied by the rationale for doing the ‘prayer experiment’ that although a ‘positive result’ has value (“Oh, God exists after all!”), a negative result where nothing happens also is a worthwhile result, as it acts as confirmation for one’s atheism. How good is the evidence that no God gets in touch after 40 days for there being no god there? Continue reading “Atheist prayer experiment: Week 4 – What if there’s no answer?”