Sunday, October 15, 2006

House vs God: The Complex Every Medic Develops

House Vs God
A hospital is many different things to many different people. To the patients lucky enough to get good treatment, it is a bastion of hope, a house of healing, or at worse an inconvenient stopover. To patients not so lucky, it can be a surgical slaughterhouse, a Prophecy-House of Doom, or The Official Scariest Place on The Planet. We medical personnel however, being trained and of sound mind, recognise the hospital for what it really is. And so among us it is known by the colloquial terms Prison Of Souls, Camp Auschwitz, or more favoured here in the UK, Azkaban. (Unless, of course, you're completely out of your mind, as defined in the previous post, in which case you might call a hospital a place of learning, an arena of competition to see who can scrub in on the most cases in the shortest amount of time, or worse, the Garden of Eden. In which case kindly send me your address so I can dispatch a nice genial contract killer from Thailand to come visit you. *sweet smile*)

However, there are some for whom the hospital transcends all its earthly definitions, for whom the squeaky-clean, sterile-smelling walls and corridors resemble a more cosmic design, for whom the Operation Theatres are more like sacrificial altars.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the Surgeon.

This particular species of medical practitioner stalks the corridors looking for fresh acolytes to convert, fresh sacrifices upon their surgical altars, and expecting worship and praise from all who deign to gaze upon their heavenly visages. Heaven help all who cross the Surgeon, for he is infallible, invulnerable, and not entirely human.

Heck, even if you're not a surgeon but simply a brilliant diagnostician with a cane, you can still fall victim to the God complex. We all feel it at times...when you bring a patient back from the brink of death, when you ligate an artery, suture a wound, when life and death seem to be in your hands. So it's really easy to forget that even doctors get sick.

While I was out this morning I met Professor David Riches, Director of Studies for Medicine at Gonville & Caius College, and one of the best anatomy demonstrators I have ever had the privilege of studying under. Prof Riches was a First Class graduate from the University of London, where he became a dermatologist before coming to teach anatomy at Cambridge. He also means something to me personally because he helped found the International Medical University in Malaysia, where many of my friends study. Here is a man whose passion for his job shines through whenever he teaches; he often describes anatomical features from an embryological point of view, enabling his students to understand more deeply (he has the highest count of "aaaaaaaahh NOW I see" moments from his students) and at the same time inspiring them with his passion.

About 4 weeks ago Prof Riches suffered a heart attack, after coming home from a vacation. When I saw him today, he looked much thinner than before. Thankfully, he appears to be well on the road to recovery.

We wish you well, Professor. It's great to have you back among us.

“I am here for a purpose and that purpose is to grow into a mountain, not to shrink to a grain of sand. Henceforth will I apply ALL my efforts to become the highest mountain of all and I will strain my potential until it cries for mercy.”
Og Mandino

Here's also a link to a doctor's account of suffering a stroke. Just shows you how much we take for granted.


... said...

I enjoy reading ur blog. :) It's well written. You certainly do have the passion and brains for Medicine. Wish i have ur brains coz medicine with passion but no brains = nothing.
Anyway, I'm going to be interviewed by Dr. R.J Barnes this thurs.. do you think he will ask questions on physics and chemistry or solely on Biology?

Chew YH
Help University College student.

The Angry Medic said...

aww why thanks for the kudos. I dunno about the brains part, though, as if you've read my blog you'll know I feel really dumb around here. the only brains in my life are the ones I study in my neuroloy class *lame joke drum-n-cymbal* heh. nope, I think Dr Barnes'll look at the subjects you've written down in your application form and ask you questions on as many as he has time for. note that he may not know the answers to all the questions that he asks (esp the non-bio ones) but he doesn't need to...what he wants to see is your ability to think and construct arguments. so stay cool and good luck :)

yh said...

uh oh.. not good. I wrote 4 subjects and Physics is my worst subject.. i have 25 minutes.. actually.. perhaps longer or shorter..since im the last one he will be interviewing before his lunch break. Perhaps i should bake him some brownies to keep him occupied before he blows up at me for stalling his break time.. :) Kidding.Anyway, if you can get into Cambridge, you must have the brains and attitude. People here are dying to get in Cambridge..:) just to let u know. haaha.. well, keep posting up stories about Cambridge.. I'll be reading ! Btw, just a random question.. whats the difference between a fly and a mosquitoe? :)

Mother Jones RN said...


Thank you for posting your note on my blog.

Your powers of observation are on the mark. I enjoy your blog, and I'm adding you to my blogroll.

I'll be back.

The Angry Medic said...

YH: oh don't worry, I intend to keep posting, simply cos my life here is so miserable I figure I might as well make people laugh with my tales of woe. if you get into Cambridge, good for you, but if you don't, remember it's not the end of the world...seeing me suffering should be enough to convince you of that :P what's the diff between a fly and a mosquito? well here's smth Wikipedia won't tell you...Dr Barnes doesn't mind flies, but he HATES mosquitoes. he complained about them when he lectured us last year, and he's bringing repellant with him this year :)

Mother Jones: it's an honour! thanks, and expect me to come nosing around yours as well. I'm adding you to my blogroll as soon as I can get the dang thing to work.

Anonymous said...

Wow.. your blog was down for quite a while.. i think there's lots of ppl from Help reading you blog just now, hoping that it may help for their interview tmrw.. :) everyone's nervous about it. LOL
Anyway, the answer to my question... is.. a mosquitoe can fly.. but a fly can't mosquitoe ! :) See, Cambridge student can't answer that simple question eh? haha. kidding.. it's just sumthing lame to humour you.

Jason said...

I actually Lol-ed at the fly/mosquito joke. :) I see your blog is rapidly becoming a must-read for Cambridge interviewees.

The Angry Medic said...

heh. yeah, give it a few days, and then my only regular visitors will again be the three people who read this blog. at least, until the results come out, or until I get an interview with Dr Barnes so he can yell at me about Malaysian mosquitoes. brilliant joke about the fly/mosquito, by the way. see? I really DID get into Camb by having very attractive eyelashes ;)