Thursday Born

The everyday life of a psychiatry resident (who was born on a Thursday).

Medicine Colored Glasses

with 8 comments

Three weeks ago, while studying for our Endocrine exam, my friend Joe starts to tell me about an experience he had online that really drove home the point that as medical students, we’re starting to view the world a bit differently from lay people. He read about this pregnant woman who went through a complicated delivery, and through screenshots of her facebook wall one can trace the sequence of events, and there’s posts like “just found out I’m not getting out of the hospital today. Stuck here for at least another day. Can’t remember being this disappointed in a very long time. Just want to get home to precious Isaac…” and it just gets progressively worse and things aren’t going well and eventually she dies.

And the whole time he’s talking about this I’m wondering “Huh, I wonder what she had? What went wrong?” and I’m thinking that his point about the difference between us and lay-people is going to be something like, I dunno, it was obvious that things were going to go badly but she unfortunately had no idea.

So he concludes with how all the other commentators were talking about how that was so tragic to read, etc, but he says not a single person said anything about what she must have died of, when that was the first thing on his mind.

Oh. Wow. Point.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think this is at all exclusive to medical professionals. I’m sure there’s lots of non-medical or even non-science people who would have similar reactions. But as medicine becomes more and more a profession and not just another random aspect of my life, my thoughts on things like this are going to diverge more and more from the general public’s.

Written by Aba

January 2, 2011 at 10:21 pm

Posted in Medical School

8 Responses

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  1. Wow, I read that article as well – she turned out to have peripartum cardiomyopathy. Very scary, very sad.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/metro/facebook-story-mothers-joy-familys-sorrow.html

    I agree with your friend, though – that was the first thing on my mind when I read it as well. I had figured it was because I was a woman and wanted to know what my odds were of getting the same thing, but… hmm, yeah, I guess none of the commentators really talked about it.

    Action Potential

    January 3, 2011 at 7:17 am

    • Okay, so confession. I looked up the article so I could quote directly from it in the post, and then decided not to post the link because:

      1) It’s really sad and I’ve made it a general policy not to share sad things unless there’s something to be learned from it.

      2) There’s a flaw in my friend’s reasoning if that’s the article he’s talking about, since they do mention the diagnosis, which means lay people would be even less curious about it. But I’d already written the post and I think the point does still stand, just not quite as strongly as initially thought through this example. Apparently I’ve been influenced by Tim O’Brien (“The Things They Carried”) in terms of what is a true story…

      Aba

      January 3, 2011 at 8:21 am

      • what do you mean by “what is a true story”?

        Hao

        January 3, 2011 at 3:47 pm

        • Hm, I’m going to let wikipedia explain.

          One attribute in O’Brien’s work is the blur between fiction and reality; labeled “verisimilitude”, his work contains actual details of the situations he experienced; while that is not unusual, his conscious, explicit, and metafictional approach to the distinction between fiction and fact is extraordinary: In the chapter “How to Tell a True War Story” in The Things They Carried, O’Brien casts a distinction between “story-truth” (the truth of fiction) and “happening-truth” (the truth of fact or occurrence), writing that “story-truth is sometimes truer than happening-truth.” Story truth is emotional truth; thus the feeling created by a fictional story is sometimes truer than what results from reading the facts.

          Aba

          January 3, 2011 at 6:58 pm

      • Oh! Haha, sorry! Oh man, I’m a ruiner of things.

        I agree – your point stands. Medical school leads to thinking differently about news stories like that. :)

        Action Potential

        January 5, 2011 at 9:16 pm

        • lol, no, don’t worry about it! I was going to go back eventually and edit in a note about this, so it’s all good. :)

          Aba

          January 5, 2011 at 9:22 pm

  2. Wow that is a different way to look at things and while it wouldn’t be my first question, I certainly would wonder. Having doctors for parents did this to me Lol.

    Stereo

    January 4, 2011 at 6:21 am

    • Having parents who are doctors must be interesting. My mother’s not a doctor but very into health matters and that certainly added a very distinct flair to her parenting. :)

      Aba

      January 5, 2011 at 4:28 pm


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