It has so far been an interesting year for me. Ignoring the wild personal life winds and changes, allow me to relate just a few of the things i have seen and done:
1) Palliative care - one of the most rewarding rotations i have completed in medicine. Palliative care doctors are - unlike the emergency docs and intensivists - the unsung heros of medicine. To the dying and those in pain they bring comfort. This was a way for me to really get to know people in a capacity that few can ever understand. We get beyond the simple small talk, and dive into issues of life and death, guilt and fear, religion and spirituality, finding fulfillment in the things that we never really think about. Everyone i dealt with is dead now, and i hope that i made some difference in the lives of my patients. I know that they made changes in my life . . . .
2) Australia - i travelled the east coast for 3+weeks - from Sydney to the Great Barrier reef. I sailled the Whitundays, snorkled, surfed, drove a 4x4 on a sand island, and partied in countless bars with even more backpackers. I encountered only 3 Americans in my travels (all interesting and reasonable people, might i add), but i had the most fun with the MANY Irish, Swiss, French, and German travellers i encountered. The Canadian and Brits were fun too, but without the same . . . “verve”. I found the Aussies to be quite accomidating and hospitable, if a little racist, and the country was more beautiful and larger than i had imagined (and i had already contemplated it to be both beautiful and large already). For some interesting perspectives - In a Sunburnt (sic) Country is a very fun read.
3) Intensive Care - i spent a month doing this - basically trying to keep alive the sickest of the sick. This rotation made me really question what we were doing, as we worked our butts off trying to keep alive people who had either no business being kept alive, or had basically destroyed much of their bodies through their own actions. Still, it got ingrained in me to do my job, regardless of my thoughts about my job . . . .
4) I spent 4 weeks doing trauma and acute care in the Vancouver General Hospital Emergency Room. Vancouver is city unlike any other in my country (or the US, for that matter). It is a city of contrasts. There is unimaginable beauty - surrounded by the mountains, ocean, and islands. An overview of the skyline is compelling, and i met many kind and interesting people. At the same time, this is a city that has “safe injection sites” and heroin injection programs for heroin users. This city denies a Walmart a license, but at the same time had dozens of XXX/sex stores in close proximity downtown, in addition to several marijana and marijuana paraphenalia stores. Also - despite being from Winnipeg, i had not enountered nearly as many panhandlers and IV drug users on the streets anywhere in my travels as in Vancouver. Finally, for a city so complexed with multi-culturalism, i had worked up several asian victims of random beatings in the trauma bay.
5) Today i had completed a family medicine conference, the highlight for me had been a workshop i attended on cognitive behavioural therapy for anxiety disorders. This was important for me, as despite Agent Smith’s assertions, i am actually interested in helping people - particularly those with anxiety and other disorders of the mind.
A peripheral tidbit i picked up was an interesting dichotomy which resonated well with what i have seen on this series of fora. What do you identify with more - the “War” or “Peace” congnitions?
feel free to pm me if you have any questions or insights.