Wednesday, 17 July 2013

What We Can Learn From Hannibal

I feel like it's about time I did a bigger post! Plus I'm bored tonight, and I don't feel like studying.

I read the Hannibal books a long time ago (in the distant times when I had the time to read normal books), and one of the things that struck me about the man was the mansion in his mind. The details of this mansion are but degenerating memories in my mind, but some parts are supported by links with other things I have since learned. Hannibal used his mansion as two things if I recall correctly -- as both a storage place of memories and knowledge, but also as a place that he could retreat to at any time, a place all of his own and removed completely from the reality that his body remained surrounded by. In year 5 our teacher taught us some relaxation techniques and my classmates and I went with it because really it just gave us an hour to sleep in class. But one thing did stick with me. She told us to create a place in our minds that was the most relaxing place to us that is possible, and keep it in the back of our thoughts and always return to it and imagine ourselves to be walking through it when we needed to remove ourselves from life for a moment. She told us that, and when she gave us a chance to try it my mind immediately went to task and in my mind's eye blossomed the most beautiful scene. And in all these years that place has remained completely unchanged. I won't give details of my place because that isn't the point -- despite irrationally not wanting someone else in my space, it should be up to you to know what you would find the most relaxing, and have a place of your own.

But my place is not as real as Hannibal's mansion is to him. He experiences his mansion as though his feet were actually on its carpets, his lungs breathing its air, his eyes seeing its displays (for that was the nature of his storage of ideas - putting them on display). Not only does my place function as nothing more than a place to relax and separate myself from the world, I experience it as though I am forcing it upon my mind. I think that is why Hannibal's construct struck me so strongly, because it represents something that I desire very much. This 'method of loci' technique may also help me to learn the immense and unending lists of things that I need to learn for medicine (possibly the start of Hannibal's use, too!). Method of loci is used by almost all memory champions, and if it can work for them then I would be willing to try.

Also, apologies for my last blog post. I wasn't having a good night!

The other night I was sitting with some high school students who are at the college as part of a program showing them what university is like, and to inspire them to attend I guess. I would have liked to have sat with my medicine friends but their entire table was filled with people from the college not wanting to sit with high schoolers, so I just sat with the younglings. At first I didn't say much, as is probably normal with me, but then I broached conversation with them by asking normal things like what were they doing at the college. These boys were probably the kind of kids that I wouldn't have been friends with in high school -- a bit too loud, very competitive, etc. However a couple of them became interested when I said that I was in medicine, that we got into a proper conversation. Much of it consisted of them asking me about my course, and about my future, but we eventually turned to talking about their futures. One of them said that he wanted to be an astronaut but the others laughed at him, and the others didn't say that they knew what they wanted to do (I presume some of them simply didn't want to be laughed at too). But I started to talk to them about what I had to do to get to where I am, and the amount of work that I had to put in. And by now about half or more of the table of boys were listening to me, and the tone of the conversation had turned greatly -- it was much less them and I talking, it was now more me talking to each of them individually, and as such they were much more open in their responses. I talked to them about the regrets that I have had in the past, and the things that I would have done differently if I could go back to their age. At this point the entire table was listening to me. I told the boy who had said that he wanted to be an astronaut that if he but started now doing a small amount of study per night, and kept it up, by the time he was in year 12 (a few years away for them) he would have the whole world at his feet, and he would only be a few small steps away from living his dream. No one was laughing at him now, none of them were talking at all! It's as if I had removed some long standing obstacle, and the gears of their brains were turning at full speed, imagining the possibilities. We talked for a bit longer, before their teachers brought them away, but quite a number of them thanked me for talking to them and one even said thanks for the inspiring words. I really enjoyed that conversation, and I sincerely do hope that some of them were inspired to put in the small effort now, so that their future is disproportionately easier.

We went ice skating last night with some of my friends, and it was absolutely brilliant to get away from the tedium of study. A number of the people who went are my friends already, from college or just from medicine, but a few I didn't know but proved to be very nice people indeed. One of my better friends from college and I both decided to try out proper hockey skates, and wow did they make no small amount of difference! By the end of the night I was properly running on the ice in that manner that hockey players do to get up speed, and taking corners in that way that looks so smooth. I did a small amount of damage to my feet though, with several blisters appearing because I hadn't worn socks that were thick enough to pad them. To be fair I don't actually have thick enough socks because I left them in Perth, but I should have bought some or something.

Anyway, in medicine we're in neuroscience block and even though people all year have told us that it's the worst block I'm actually loving it! Well, I've never liked learning the cranial nerve nuclei and I have to learn them now, but aside from that it's all fantastic. Even the physical exams and the patient interviews have effortlessly imprinted themselves on my mind. 

Yesterday too I bought a new phone -- the galaxy s4 -- but today the company that I bought it from said that I needed to provide proof of who I am by sending them, including other things, a utility bill with my name on it. Well, I live at college...we don't get utility bills. So I've had to email them back and ask them to cancel the order. It's sort of easy for me to go directly to their store, so I'll maybe do that tomorrow. The news has come out tonight though that Verizon is set to reveal their new line of motorola droids on july 23rd which isn't too far away, so on the off chance that the motorola X is revealed at the same time, and on the off chance that it's a more attractive option than the galaxy s4, favour may pay the one who waits a few more days with refunded cash in hand... In other but related news I finally got around to getting my forms to the college and now they can pay me for the tutoring I did last semester. I think it's actually going to come to quite a handsome amount, which should hopefully pay for me a tablet computer! I'm thinking of getting the galaxy note 8.0.

Well this post did end up being one of a reasonable size, but I have run out of things to blog about which is a sure sign that probably you have already passed the point of being boring! Haha. So here I shall sign off.

Till next time!

Monday, 15 July 2013

Like the lion with no teeth, or the jester with no jokes, or the banker with no coin, behold the hollow man.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Dr Universe?

So, I think either today or yesterday the Australian contestant for Miss Universe was decided -- and whaddaya know, it was a medical student from Melbourne! As far as I know she isn't from the University of Melbourne so she's probably from Monash but she's 19 so that's young to be in graduate medicine...either way, I'm pretty sure I'm getting a transfer to wherever she's from!

Just goes to show, med students are the most beautiful people ever. That's my unbiased take from the news. Also, good luck Olivia Wells!


Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Neuro, and the study timetable

So we started neuroscience this week, and by all accounts of students from previous years it is by far the hardest block in first year. So we have all been looking at this block coming up with a large degree of apprehension...but for me it hasn't so far turned out to be so bad! I've done quite a bit of neuroscience and neuroanatomy in the past however so that's probably the only reason I'm going along ok. I actually am loving it so far -- I think what I like so much about neuroscience is that any deficit in it you can see in immediate ways in the patient. You have damage to your spinal cord? Ok, let me touch you at specific levels...oh, you can't feel below this line on your chest? Ok, the damage in your spinal cord is here. In other areas to investigate function you have to do all sorts of complex things like run lab tests, attach all sorts of weird wires to the patient, or look for the consequences of poor function in places that the patient is quite surprised you're looking at (like looking at the fingernails to get information about actually several different organs, a couple of which are in the gastrointestinal system!). In neuroscience the cause and effect relationship is immediate and plainly obvious, and that's one of the things that I find extremely interesting about it.

Also, I made a study timetable over the holidays (it actually took me the whole two weeks, that's how good I am at avoiding work) and it planned out my every 15 minutes between 6:45am and midnight every day of the week, monday to sunday. Call that ambitious? It was. The issue was always going to be how well I stuck to it, and I'm finding that with missing my girlfriend it's all the more difficult. Still I am finding that I'm doing more study, which is good I guess...I'm just being more liberal with my free time periods than I should teehee. I should get a handle on it soon -- I'm already finding my focus improving though.

Until next time! Sorry for the boring post!