My Booming Frontal Cortex

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Unborn Ideas by Catrin Arno

Unborn Ideas by Catrin Arno

I remember it clearly. I was twelve years old and one day, without any precipitating events, I looked at the world as if with new eyes. I felt as if I had been living in a bubble, and suddenly the world was big and I wasn’t a child. Or I was, but I didn’t want to be.

It was my first experience with “growing up” and I can only postulate that as it was roundabout the time that I hit puberty, my frontal cortex was busy myelinating like crazy. I of course believed that my brain was fully developed and that old people who claimed it was still developing were, well, old – but what would a twelve year old know, right?

It wasn’t so rapid this time but I think I may be having a similar experience now. I have been trying to put it into words but having largely neglected any kind of writing besides the odd blog post, that hasn’t gone so well. It started with a feelings of disconnect and then intense reconnection; and a lot of confusion about my role in society as a doctor, a daughter, a sister, a partner, a citizen. Continue reading

Sometimes It’s Attitude

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I hate platitudes. I hate when people say, “You can get through anything if you have the right attitude”. It negates the fact that sometimes, circumstances are atrocious. It puts the onus on people to grin and bear it, instead of on the system to change.

I’m not saying I’ve changed my mind, but I noticed something recently. I’ve met two community service doctors who were both placed in departments where they REALLY did not want to be. The nature of your community service year is that you get placed where you are needed and not necessarily where you want to be.

via @bunnybuddhism

via @bunnybuddhism

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Listen to me, Examine me, DIAGNOSE ME!

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I haven’t even been a doctor for six full months but I’ve noticed something:

I often like things my colleagues don’t.

On O&G, I loved my clinic days. Antenatal Clinics were awesome because I could show mommies their baby’s heartbeat, or I could pick up on potential dangers and do something preventative about it, or I could pick up that they needed admission, or I could just allay their fears. We often stayed late because the rule is that nobody gets sent home without being seen.That was the only thing I disliked.

I enjoyed Gynae Clinics too, even though most of my colleagues hated them. They were more challenging, took more time to get used to, and had a lot more specialised problems. But I enjoyed it. Infertility workups and abnormal vaginal bleeding workups and don’t forget those critical patients often actually had a ruptured appendix but since they had a vagina “it MUST be something gynaecological.”

via xel - at Deviantart

via xel – at Deviantart

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Hypothesis: South African Sights for South African Vision

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While I was in beautiful Cape Town for my leave (wow, that was a long time ago), my sister and I mused about how we have access to this gorgeous country simply by virtue of being born here. “Just think,” she said, “people pay thousands of rands to see Table Mountain, and here we are, just walking around and seeing it as much as we want!” She was quite right, of course – at the same time, the MV Explorer was docked in Cape Town.

But for a long time, I’ve been thinking how not all who are born in our country have access to these attractions on a very basic level.

Virtually everywhere I have traveled, foreigners pay more than locals to see attractions. I saw this for the first time in China in 2011, where foreigners are very clearly divided from locals wishing to visit the Huanglong caves.

china foreigners Continue reading

Two beautiful stories from OBGYN

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OBGYN is considered one of our “big” internship rotations. The hours are long, the calls are busy, the responsibility is huge.

I love when a baby is born. For the sake of honesty I’ll tell you that it’s not always a happy occasion. There are many, many babies born into seriously less-than-ideal situations. But in that moment that a baby gives his first cry, I swear the world trembles.

Womb | Beautiful Us | Aitch | Click for more.

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A Story of a Statue

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It’s a pretty bad time to be a statue in South Africa. If you’re not from here, a quick run-through: at the University of Cape Town, students have successfully petitioned (to put it mildly) the University Council to remove a statue of Cecil John Rhodes on their campus. Not long after that, a statue of Paul Kruger was vandalised, as well as a memorial for the animals that served and died in the Second South African War.

Click image for reference.

I haven’t really said much about the saga because I can understand, to some extent, the people on all sides of the argument. I did not attend UCT and I feel no particular loyalty to Rhodes. I don’t feel particular affinity for Kruger, either. And animals are awesome, but the real reason I feel strongly about statues being vandalised is because I believe in history. Continue reading

DIY ≠ Change Agent – But Right Now, It’s All I’ve Got

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My medical school always made a big fuss about training us to be “Change Agents” – so much so that I guess it sometimes became a joke to us. The idea was that we would be active role players in whichever environments we found ourselves instead of sitting back and complaining, but it often seemed like an unrealistic expectation, given some of the challenges we face in public healthcare.

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As I was reflecting on the past three months, I caught myself thinking: have I been a Change Agent? (And then I automatically almost scoffed at myself. I like the idea of being an agent of change but the term is so over-used that I have come to hate it.) Continue reading