Friday, March 27, 2009

Uh Oh

Look what came in the mail today.

I can't believe I've actually signed up for my first ever organized run. And, what's more, committed to doing a distance I've never even managed to do to date - 10 kilometers. I haven't even been running that regularly or properly these days! Just doing 5k has been an absolute struggle. What if I come in dead last in a field of 1000 plus?

Maybe I've bitten off more than I could chew. Maybe I should chuck the number in the bin and just forget about the whole thing.

On the other hand, who the heck will care if I come in dead last? Even then, it's already pretty amazing if I finish it at all whether at a walk or a run - considering where I was (both in my life and fitness-wise) exactly this time last year.

Backing out would be an insult to the person I've grown up to be this past year. And wasn't it just last year, when I was preparing to come over, that I also felt like I'd bitten off more than I could chew?

So, yeah, I guess I am going to be keeping my number - and pinning it to my singlet next Sunday when I do the run. I may be the slowest one there that day, but by hook or by crook, I am going to make it across that finish line... just to prove to myself that I actually can.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Song for the Meantime

It's probably a reflection of the loss of my expressive abilities that I constantly relate my life-in-progress to existing songs. I guess it's easier for me to use someone else's words and music rather than thinking up some of my own - because it's not as if I would be saying anything that hasn't been said before.

These days, I've obviously taken to channeling Sarah Mclachlan. Her haunting voice and the poetry of her songs are a perfect foil to where I am at the moment. The song that follows is from her "Afterglow" album, which is, for me, probably her best one. Moody, brooding, painfully honest songs that hit the heart of the matter, dead center.

Some things, like heartbreak and music, are simply universal.

Sarah McLachlan

Night lift up the shades
let in the brilliant light of morning
but steady there now
for I am weak and starving for mercy
sleep has left me alone
to carry the weight of unravelling where we went wrong
it's all I can do to hang on
to keep me from falling
into old familiar shoes

how stupid could I be
a simpleton could see
that you're no good for me
but you're the only one I see

love has made me a fool
it set me on fire and watched as I floundered
unable to speak
except to cry out and wait for your answer
but you come around in your time
speaking of fabulous places
create an oasis
dries up as soon as you're gone
you leave me here burning
in this desert without you

how stupid could I be
a simpleton could see
that you're no good for me
but you're the only one I see

everything changes
everything falls apart
can't stop to feel myself losing control
but deep in my senses I know

how stupid could I be
a simpleton could see
that you're no good for me
but you're the only one I see

There's no point in fighting these things, really. All that's left is to ride it out and hope that this song for the meantime will change - and soon.
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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Welcome to the Real World

To the new set of Clinician Wanna-Bes:

You've probably been waiting on this day for years. Some of you from the day you started medical school; most of you for even longer than that, from the moment you made that firm decision to become a doctor.

After years of hard studying, sleepless nights, and sacrifice, you finally have that crisp diploma in your hand, the hood symbolizing your new status pinned on your toga. Now you can choose to slip on that coveted white coat and apply what you've studied by beginning your practice as you've dreamed of doing.

Congratulations. You've made it through the easiest part of your journey. Welcome to the real world - where the worst is still to come.

Reality is that despite all your exposure and experience as a student, being a doctor is nothing like being in medical school. You will never really know what it is like to be a doctor until you have a patient who is entirely in your hands.

All at once, all the things you thought you knew recedes into the background and everything you know you don't know suddenly takes up center stage. Faced with a patient who hangs on your every word and takes everything you say as gospel just because you're finally wearing that white coat, all five years of learning the science of medicine is negated by everything you didn't learn about the practice of it. And when you need the most to deliver, you are appalled by the thought that 80% of the time, you're bluffing your way through it and praying with all your might that what you did, what you thought, what you said was right.

Reality is that we all have to start out this way... because medicine is about practice and experience, and that the mistakes we make with our patients along the way ensures that we'll be able to make a difference in more patients' lives in the future. Be encouraged by the thought that even the consultants we admire the most or are most impressed with started out exactly the same way.

The more patients you handle, the better you get - at learning, at practicing... and yes, even at bluffing. But despite the growth in your confidence and skill, that staggering terror at the weight of responsibility will never completely go away. Which is a good thing because no matter what we are doing or where we are practicing, it will keep us on our toes. It will drive us to keep our edge, to stay updated, to keep on learning.

You will not always be a young doctor. And doctors only get better with time. But you will have moments - many of them - when you will wonder if your heart can endure the seasoning it will take to become a good doctor... or even if that is what you want to become in the long run. There will be many heartbreaks along the way and your heart will sustain many scars before you are through. And reality is the process of becoming never really ends. It's a lifelong process.

But as real as the challenges are, the joys of practice are also there to be mined to the fullest as well. So take heart and know that it is actually in this real world of medical practice that the best is also always still to come.

Good luck and enjoy the journey!

A contribution to Gigi's TBR at hosted at The Last Song Syndrome - A Letter to the New Medical Graduates

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Nine Months

me, trying to bring home an image of Bunker Bay (Dunsborough, WA)

It's hard to believe nine months have passed since I began my "great adventure." Nine months since I'd packed my bags and come to this city I'd never seen with nothing but 2 suitcases and the clothes on my back, armed with nothing but the vague hope that doing this "one brave thing" would open up my life. Nine months into the year I said I'd give myself to breathe.

Time has certainly flown - and, to a great extent, I along with it.

In these past nine months, I've fallen in love with this city on the water, with its slow pace, easy rhythms, and stunning beauty. I've learned to appreciate the value of being on my own and, conversely, to open my heart to precious friends that would once have been so "other" to me. More importantly, I've learned to revel in the gift of this solitude, and to be more forgiving and loving to the "me" that's slowly emerging from her long time hiding place.

Nine months later and I can't believe how far away I am from the straight and narrow road I'd complained about walking on all my life. I've never been more aimless, yet I also don't remember ever feeling as free.

On the other hand, I'm no closer to a definite long term plan now than I was nine months ago. I may have signed on for another two years with my current job, but I'm still thinking in terms of living from the next few months to the next.

I know I have to start sorting out my life, to get into a training track while the opportunities are there. While I love my life here in Perth and cannot imagine leaving, I also know that it's time I started exploring my options. I know I have it in me to start over once more in another hospital, even another city, if that's where the opportunities are - I know because I've done it once.

So, no, I'm not yet up to making plans. But I am open to more possibilities - wherever they may lead me. Who knows where I'll be even just another nine months from now? The thought terrifies me, but it's heartening to realize that no matter where I'll be, I know I can handle it.

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Monday, March 09, 2009

Landing with a Splat

Modern pop culture will never run out of material to peddle romantic love upon hapless, easily influenced people. Whether it's in the form of the ubiquitous boy-meets-girl-and-they-live-happily-ever-after rom com movie, the prolific body of romance fiction, the music we listen to, the ads we see... yes, the whole process of falling in love has been beaten to death - and yet, we all still suck it in.

What they don't tell you, though, is that for a good number of people in the world, the whole romantic love thing often ends with one landing with one huge splat.

It's so easy to be cynical about the whole love thing these days. How can't I be when I'm surrounded by long-standing relationships falling apart? I recently took care of a patient who had recently divorced his wife of more than 50 years - he's 73. How does anyone get divorced at 73? Talk about disposable.

I've always been pretty pragmatic about relationships, consistently leading with my head rather than my heart, whether I am viewing others' romances or my long string of never-was-es. Despite never being in one myself, serious or otherwise, I know it takes a lot of hard work and commitment to make things work. But even then, there are still no guarantees.

It makes me wonder sometimes why people even bother trying.

The odd thing is, though, there's still a part of me that believes it is possible. Possible to fall without landing in a big, messy splat. Possible to make things work and go the distance. Possible for relationships to survive even when the amorphous Hollywood love has faded away and grown to become the real thing. And when it does happen - and thankfully I've seen this, too - it's a wonderful thing to see.

Besides, as one wise friend of mine says, "No one has really ever died from a broken heart. You can cry a little, hurt a lot, and then you get over it. You always get over it - and come away stronger and wiser besides."

So maybe that's why, despite the odds, people still keep trying. Because part of us all want to believe it can be possible. And because anyone who is too afraid to let himself fall will also never experience what it's like to fly.

I hope someday I can meet someone who makes me forget all about the ground so far below, just waiting for me to crash land. It must be wonderful to leap off that edge and just let your heart fly.

A late, very late, submission to Em Dy's TBR Round Up on Love.
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Sunday, March 08, 2009


I recently realized that one of the main reasons I love doing Body Balance and yoga so much is because I get to spend so much time upside down. And part of what makes it so much fun is getting to bend and twist myself into the oddest poses that would normally be socially unacceptable for any self-respecting adult to do in public.

It's as good as being a kid all over again.

Don't get me wrong I was never one of those kids who did cartwheels and other gymnastic feats with ease - things that must be taught when you're still young enough to know no fear. Even then, the only place I could do a handstand would be in a swimming pool. And I could never flip myself upside down and back on the monkey bars to save my life.

But I always used to enjoy folding over and touching my toes, let my head hang straight down between my legs, and look at the world from a completely different perspective. I also used to like raising both legs straight up or cross-legged against a wall while lying on my back and pretending I was sitting on the wall sideways. And I always liked lying on the floor and scissoring my legs into the oddest angles, toes pointed like some demented ballerina's.

All of the above I get to do in class - and more! No wonder I find it so much fun.

Serious practitioners may find what I am saying a little irreverent - maybe even sacreligious. Don't get me wrong - the poses are hard work and more difficult than they seem. But being given the license to basically be a carefree child again, even for an hour a few times a week, is part of why it's such a stress-release for me, too.

I suppose the longer I do it, the more serious I'll be and stop doing yoga to relive the joy of being a hyperactive kid. But, knowing me? I seriously doubt that will ever happen.

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Sunday, March 01, 2009

Billboard Dreams

This was much too fun to resist - and not to share.

I've never entertained any fantasy of having a huge, larger than life picture of myself hanging on the side of a building, but photo-imaging technology these days now makes it possible. Those clever dudes who made Photofunia makes it as easy as the click of a mouse.

Here's another one of the effects in a setting a bit closer to home... and just in time for the summer months, too!

And another of my posters, just in front of a big retail park.

Which one did you like best? Don't just sit there, go make ones of your own - and have fun while you're at it!

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