Friday, November 14, 2014

Confessions of a Workaholic - Hemmed In

Why standest Thou afar off, O Lord?
Why hidest Thou Thyself in times of trouble?
[Psalm 10]

...Then answered the Lord unto Job out of the whirlwind and said: Gird up thy loins like a man; I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me. Wilt thou also disannul My judgment? Will thou condemn Me, that thou mayest be righteous? [Job 40]

Sometimes, I wished I could say the same thing to God and challenge Him to give me an answer to my inner quandary. 

In my clear conscience I have done no premeditated wrong; neither have I acted out of pure malice. Is it right to test me, or judge me, when I know that all I have done was nothing short of trying to be a good person, albeit with my own imperfections? 

Yet I feel hemmed in. Have You hedged me in, and made me hard pressed? The wicked will not stand on the day of Judgment, or so You said Yourself. And yet You also opened a way for sinners to return to You. 

How then is it that You continue your sore displeasure against me? Is this the mercy You promised to the sinner who wets his bed with tears at night? If so, why not extirpate and expunge me in Your divine wrath?

Just so frustrated. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Confessions of a Workaholic - When the Heavens feel like Brass

Faith makes all things possible. It is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. It helps us to have hope even when the outcome is yet unseen. 

But if one has been assailed on all sides for too long, can Faith sustain him before his hope dies out?

Maybe I am too tired to think straight to the extent everything might have a slightly dreary look to them. But seriously, I am sure some of us would have had a crisis of faith at one point in time, right?

Nothing wrong with me actually - everything is going fine. Just that I somehow feel very disappointed inside, and I do not know why. I cannot pin point one single reason for feeling that way. But the bottomline is this - I am just tired of trying to work things out in a relationship, of trying to make a stand when everyone just keeps quiet, of trying to be a helpful person. Forgive me Jesus, I know being a good guy and expecting nothing in return is a noble thing to do and worthy of sainthood, but is it wrong to hope that at least people will do good in return? And not just milk the cow and then ignore it until the next milking session comes around? 

You wouldn't want to be me, seriously. When you feel like you are in a tight spot where you don't know what to do next and the heavens feel like brass each time you ask for an answer and the reply is either nothing or ambiguity. 

So what - Compline and Matins and Lauds - but to what avail? Maybe I need to wait a while longer. But for how long.

And the worst thing to make things even more complicated is that certain people just do not understand how hard I have worked for something. I work hard to make sure I know my stuff well - I friggin' finished the reading list for malaria just so that I knew what I needed to do when dealing with a goddamn case of plasmodium knowlesi infection. I friggin' made my own notes, figured out those long-winded sentences in Manson's and banged my head literally trying to decipher ambiguous lines in the therapeutics tables. I am already on the giving end in more ways than one - I help as much as I can, answer people's queries as well as I can, and I don't even try discounting my answers. I even take the time off to clarify people's doubts. But you can't ask me to just give away ALL my hard work away for free. How is this even fair to myself? Maybe Saint Theresa might, but I won't.

Great. The fatigue is talking. Time to time out.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Confessions of a Workaholic - Taking Pride in One's Work

Just two days ago, I faced my IC2 Pathology Continuous Assessment. But this time, for the first time in 5 semesters, I did not have any fear at all. Instead, all I felt was calmness (of course, the stressed out face was a little difficult to dislodge, but anyhow, at least this time round I knew my fear-o-meter was not shooting sky high). I somehow felt that I knew everything I needed to know for this exam, and I just knew that I had nothing to be afraid of.

Perhaps it is because this semester I had more time for myself, my time to appreciate what I have studied, more time to read and learn without constant distractions? Or maybe it is because this semester, in addition to working hard-ER than before, I have decided to dedicate each new day to the work of God?

Thanks be to God for His grace and providence this semester. Not everything was handed over on a silver platter - but it is enough that I know that Somebody still sets my steps on solid rock eventually.

Yeap, on some days I feel like having a liver attack (fulminant hepatic failure) after studying a stack of hepatitis notes.
But on other days, I could just sit at my desk the whole day and wonder at the intricacies of the human gut.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Confessions of a Workaholic - Compline Reflections

Reflection during last night's Compline:
Sometimes what we see is not the actual thing. Or maybe whatever we see is what our preconceived conceptions have chosen to see.
An old shoe in a corner - a lousy shoe dumped because it was deemed too uncomfortable to wear, or a shoe that has already been used optimally and has been left aside after many years of use.
A married man divorces his demure sweet wife in a sudden horrible twist in sacred matrimony, and in a matter of weeks gets hitched to his secretary. A faithless man gone in search for young passion, or an overcontrolling wife at home? Only God knows.
What the tongue speaks may not tally with the heart's. And what the eye perceives is just the outer trappings - but can it see what is inside? Perhaps it is better to know what a man truly feels rather than be satisfied with the sweet but empty exchanges. But the true reality may pierce right to the core. Yet better die knowing the truth than to knowingly live on illusions. So help me God.
Some persons preach, and others self-proclaim, with many self-acclaimed stories and supposed experiences. But what speaks for itself are the deeds. With many words can somebody spin a deceptive image, but it is in deeds and actions that the real intent may be made known. 'I know how it feels like to keep a family together' but with these words coming from a divorcee, does it make sense to listen to one who has a wrecked home? It is already written: Faith without works is dead. And a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.
Have I wisdom to live my days when I am lost in such a treacherous world? Or am I to play the game, and continue doing the things I never liked?
So confusing yet so true. Nerve plexuses and endocrine pathways may be astounding yet they are nearly set in stone. But the complexity that is human nature changes from time to time.
Many come flocking for favours and advice; but who shall I turn to when I need it? Many come aflocking like pilgrims to a saint's feast; but it is all ask, ask and more asking. Woe it is when there are more beneficiaries than friends. Where have my friends gone? If you are my friend, why do you just take and rarely give? Lip service, empty chat, double standard treatment and friendship do not come hand in hand. Simple common sense it is yet many deserve to hang themselves for not knowing this.
Stuck between two ends - to cruelly turn them away would be a mortal sin; but to continue this meaningless cycle? Self murder.
Is it possible to have silence in the midst of the crowd? Yes
Is it possible to live and yet be dead inside? Yes
is it possible to be sad and yet find strength to show the world that everything is alright? Yes
Is it possible to have many friends and yet not a single one? Yes
Is it possible to drown it all out? Yes indeed. With God all things are possible.
Not sure why I am writing this. Maybe the lack of sleep; or maybe because it would be such a waste not to put it into words.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Nine Tips for More Effective Studying

9 Tips For Better Studying 

Use All Your Senses - Abstract ideas are difficult to memorize because they are far removed from our senses. Shift them closer by coming up with vivid pictures, feelings and images that relate information together. When I learned how to do a determinant of a matrix, I remembered the pattern by visualizing my hands moving through the numbers, one adding and one subtracting.

Teach It - Find someone who doesn’t understand the topic and teach it to them. This exercise forces you to organize. Spending five minutes explaining a concept can save you an hour of combined studying for the same effect.

Leave No Islands – When you read through a textbook, every piece of information should connect with something else you have learned. Fast learners do this automatically, but if you leave islands of information, you won’t be able to reach them during a test.

I found this somewhere on social media, and I think it is a set of excellent tips especially for medical students who have plenty of ideas to integrate and apply. I may not have tried all the nine tips listed here, but the ones I have tried have all been very useful - none of them have been proven wrong so far.


Test Your Mobility - A good way to know you haven’t linked enough is that you can’t move between concepts. Open up a word document and start explaining the subject you are working with. If you can’t jump between sections, referencing one idea to help explain another, you won’t be able to think through the connections during a test.

Find Patterns – Look for patterns in information. Information becomes easier to organize if you can identify broader patterns that are similar across different topics. The way a neuron fires has similarities to “if” statements in programming languages.

Build a Large Foundation - Reading lots and having a general understanding of many topics gives you a lot more flexibility in finding patterns and metaphors in new topics. The more you already know, the easier it is to learn.

Don’t Force - I don’t spend much time studying before exams. Forcing information during the last few days is incredibly inefficient. Instead try to slowly interlink ideas as they come to you so studying becomes a quick recap rather than a first attempt at learning.

Build Models – Models are simple concepts that aren’t true by themselves, but are useful for describing abstract ideas. Crystallizing one particular mental image or experience can create a model you can reference when trying to understand. When I was trying to tackle the concept of subspaces, I visualized a blue background with a red plane going through it. This isn’t an entirely accurate representation of what a subspace is, but it created a workable image for future ideas.

Learning is in Your Head – Having beautiful notes and a perfectly highlighted textbook doesn’t matter if you don’t understand the information in it. Your only goal is to understand the information so it will stick with you for assignments, tests and life. Don’t be afraid to get messy when scrawling out ideas on paper and connecting them in your head. Use notes and books as a medium for learning rather than an end result.

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Medical School Report - End of Week 4 of IC2

Four weeks have passed and we have already completed two modules - Tropical Medicine and Gastroenterology-Hepatology.

Four intense weeks down, and another 9 more to go before the CLAMPDOWN.

Lord, give me strength.

So much to read, but I'm loving it. Call it being sadistic, but I love the torture.

For the past 3 weeks I have been sleeping upright in my chair. Mainly because I am too tired to walk down to my bed. But if I needed to, I could always sleepwalk my way there. Just like what I did a week back when I actually sleepwalked all the way down to my bedroom and plunked myself on that exotically soft bed.

The liver is so fascinating; so is malaria and dengue.

I felt so tired, but at the same time so exhilarated. You know, when you drop a stack of lectures on your study table, put your watch before you, and start SPEEDING like hell, with pages being flipped violently, that pencil scribbling like the screeching wheels of a race car, that mind of your coming up with whatever connections it can make, and that voice of your mumbling to yourself whatever bits of precious new knowledge it has managed to glean from the rapid readings.

Plenty to study, so little time, but double the sadistic pleasure,

I'm loving it. Bring it on, REGUB - I'm going to paw my way down you and smack you hard like the little bad mama you've always been. ROAR.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Med School Report - Sleepwalking

I believe I might have sleepwalked early this morning at around 4 or 5 am.

I was at my desk till 3 in the morning, and I decided to take a nap - I felt I needed to spend time with Tropical Medicine, so I really wasn't in a mood to sleep.

I shut my eyes, and the next thing I knew, I woke up on my bed, 2 stories below, snuggling comfortably under my blanket with my pajamas on. I knew I had taken a nap with my office wear - but as to how I awoke wearing my pajamas - the only explanation is I sleepwalked my way to the bedroom, changed into my pajamas and took a long rest.

Thankfully my subconscious Self was able to walk without tumbling down the stairs.